If Obanikoro has a conscience By Waheed Odusile

Musiliu Obanikoro“I am highly honoured to be considered by you for appointment as Secretary of State. I am fully confident that I could serve our country ably and effectively in that role. However, if nominated, I am now convinced that the nomination process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country. It is far more important that we devote precious legislative hours and energy to enacting your core goals, including comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation, and maintaining a robust national defence and effective US global leadership. Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”

That was Susan Rice, then United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the United Nations in a December 13, 2012 letter to US president Barrack Obama requesting the president not to forward her name to the US Senate for confirmation as Secretary of State.

Ms Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor was in line to be named the Secretary of State as the president prepared for his second term. She was to take over from Senator Hillary Clinton who had served in that position during Obama’s first term in office. A top diplomat with a rich experience in the State Department under Ms Madeline Albright during Bill Clinton’s presidency and a member of the National Security team, Ms Rice was as good as getting the prestigious position, the third most powerful in Washington, until the 9/11/2012 attack on US consulate in Benghazi, Libya during which the ambassador, Chris Stevens was killed.

In the wake of the attack, Ms Rice, then US Ambassador at the UN made some comments on television suggesting that the Benghazi attack was just a spontaneous reaction to a film released on YouTube in the US mocking the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW), and not a coordinated attack by a terrorist group, and there was no way the embassy in Libya would have prepared for it ahead. This position was later discovered to be wrong as the embassy had intelligence that the attack was likely and the State Department did not react to it quickly.

Having just lost an election to President Obama, the hawks in the Senate, especially the Republicans saw this as an opportunity to hit hard at the Democrats as a party soft on national security.  And for somebody being proposed to head the State Department making that kind of misleading comments, without proper cross checking of facts, the Republicans believed, showed that she cannot be good enough as Secretary of State. And they made a meal of that mistake by Ms Rice, the fact that her comments were based on briefing supplied by the CIA notwithstanding.

To save herself the indignity of a humiliating confirmation hearing and also prevent any embarrassment to her leader, the president, Ms Rice, in the overall interest of the United States, told Obama not to put her name forward for confirmation, even though the president had shown support and implicit confidence in her. And the president did. The rest is history. That was a person with a conscience.

Though Ms Rice was sticking to the initial position of the administration as provided by the CIA, it was a mistake not expected of a senior member of the administration, especially one intending to become Secretary of State. She had to pay for the mistake and she did without complaining.

Musiliu Obanikoro, a one-time chairman Lagos Island Local Government (remember the fire at City Hall that time), former commissioner for Home Affairs in Lagos State (remember the incident at Hajj when he was Lagos State Amirul Hajj), a former distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic, former High Commissioner to Ghana and until recently Nigeria’s Minister of State for Defence, is a name on the lips of most Nigerians at the moment.

A controversial politician, Obanikoro as minister of state for Defence, was responsible for the deployment of soldiers to Ekiti State during last year’s governorship election in that state, a decision, according to recent revelation, that was part of the plot by the Federal government to rig the election in favour of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ayodele Fayose, now governor of Ekiti State.

Thank God for that patriotic Nigerian Army Intelligence officer, Captain Sagir Koli who secretly taped Obanikoro and others as they met to plan how to rig the election using the military, now we know to what use the federal government was ready to deploy our military just to make sure the PDP retains power at all cost and by all means. Now we know what Obanikoro is capable of doing if given the power and authority over our military. Now we know that if this man returns as a minister as President Goodluck Jonathan is proposing, he will repeat the Ekiti magic all over the country on March 28, during the presidential election, and in selected states during the April 11 governorship election.

Now that we know the evil that Musiliu Obanikoro can do if given the power and authority, should we still entrust him with the position of a minister of the federal republic? Except we want to destroy this democracy, Obanikoro has no business being near any position of authority and responsibility again in this country. We have tried him and he has failed, let us not repeat that mistake again.

If he were to be a wise person, he should write to President Jonathan today advising him to withdraw his name, now before the senate for confirmation as a minister of the federal republic if only to save what is left of his falling reputation. He should borrow a leaf from Ms Susan Rice and do the needful, and save this democracy from further ridicule. And if both the man and his principal failed to do the right thing, the Senate should be bold enough to reject Musiliu Obanikoro and tell the president to choose another person.

In the wake of the Ekiti rigging tape scandal, the president should have known better by distancing himself from Obanikoro. And this is the problem with Jonathan. He kept on associating himself with persons of questionable characters yet his publicists kept on saying he is a good man. Which good man surrounds himself with bad people? Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.

 

STILL ON JONATHAN’S VISIT TO YORUBA OBAS

It does appear that President Jonathan has suddenly discovered the importance of Yoruba votes as he continues his campaigns for a second term in office. In the last couple of weeks he has practically relocated to the South west, visiting one Yoruba Oba after another soliciting their support. Like I said last week, it is rather too late for him. Yoruba are no fools. In 2011 when he got our votes overwhelmingly, how many Yoruba palace did he visit?

NATION