In Defense of Governor MA Abubakar

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Mukhtar Muhammad Mk

The subject of this article was triggered by comments of some Nigerians attributed to the recent Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar’s interview about the Paris club refunds and the 2019 APCs flag bearer. Going by the comments, most of the commentators did not know the genesis of the Paris Club refund assuming that the refund was a windfall possibly made for the jamboree to the governors.

This is because the assertions and counter-assertions by most of the commentators are largely devoid of specific facts to support their claims, which means that their arguments and counter-arguments are simply too unreasonable to constitute reasonable reasons that will straightaway incriminate Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar. After all, they were largely motivated by the hatred that rendered them too blindfolded to see anything positive about the Governor, as they were largely too opinionated to accept the truth from him.

The two tranches of money shared by the state governments were part of the $3.2 billion refund by the Paris Club following a court judgment against the Federal Government of Nigeria which had illegally deducted statutory allocations meant for the states and local governments to settle foreign debts.

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For a long time, the Federal Government initiated a policy of deducting part of the allocations meant for the 36 states and their local governments from source without the consent of the states and used same to service some external loans obtained from a group of banks in Paris and London by the Federal Government in the past. The deductions had continued unchallenged by the states and local governments until Hon. Ned Nwoko drew the attention of the Federal Government to the illegality of its action. Under the auspice of his company, Linas International. Nwoko, the former member of the National Assembly who represented Aniocha North-South and Oshimili North-South of Delta State, kept mounting pressure on the Obasanjo administration to stop the deduction and make a refund of earlier deductions. The government did not budge and Nwoko had no option but to consult foreign lawyers to institute legal action against the Federal Government.

Nwoko’ s argument was that if the Federal Government needed money to offset its external debts, it would be wrong to divert the money statutorily meant for the development of the states to serving of federal government’ s debts.

In an interview with newsmen, Prince Nwoko said “The implication was that some states that were not in existence when the foreign loans were contracted suddenly found themselves making repayments for loans that they did not contract. The 774 local governments that never contracted any foreign loan were brought into the repayment. We found that some of the loans were of dubious origin. Old Gongola State was listed as having contracted a huge amount of foreign loan from an Austrian bank to build an international hotel. In the process of our investigation, the bank wrote to say that it had no business relation in Africa, let alone in Nigeria”.

For any unbiased observer, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar’s claim that Paris club refunds belong to the states and local governments, and that they are not begging for anything, but demanding what belongs to them and that it should be paid to the states, has nothing vogue. But the statements are mare factual claims backed up by legal pronouncement.

With regard to the governor’s response about President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 candidacy, the governor who said APC has a constitution, and we will abide with the tenets of the constitution has given credit to the rule of law. As he is expected to do as a lawyer. This is because Article 13(1) of the APC constitution stated that: “The final authority of the Party shall rest with the National Convention which shall have the powers to: Ratify policies and programmes of the Party; Elect or remove the national officers of the Party; Elect the Presidential Candidate of the Party … “

Simultaneously, section 87 (1), (2), and (3) of the electoral act 2010 stated that: – (1) A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions. (2) The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries. (3) A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given the equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party. While the same section 87 (4a) [i] [ii] and [iii] added that: (a) In the case of nominations for the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each State Capital on specified dates. (ii) a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes. (iii) the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, shall be declared the winner of the Presidential primaries of the political party and the aspirants name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party after ratification by the national convention.

Going by his words, the veteran lawyer is alerting the supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari that the incorruptible leader has both moral and constitutional right to contest come 2019. However, the party will not declare him its flag bearer until the party constitution and the laws governing the Nigeria’s electoral system are followed. And I personally believed that even Buhari, being the believer of the rule of law will not abscond.

Mukhtar Muhammad Mk is writing from Bauchi.

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