How OBJ’s electoral massacre cost Akande, others second term – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, painted a graphic picture of how former Osun State governor, Chief Bisi Akande and his counterparts in the South west, with the exception of then Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, were politically ambushed by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in the 2003 poll.

He said the electoral ‘massacre’ masterminded by Obasanjo was what ended the second term ambition of Akande and others as incumbent governors of their various states.

The president described Obasanjo’s tactic as diabolical double-cross.

He revealed this at the public presentation of autobiography of Akande: “My Participations” at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“It is common knowledge that Akande was the victim – along with other Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors, of a diabolical double-cross, which ended his gubernatorial career. Only the steadfast Asiwaju Bola Tinubu escaped the electoral massacre masterminded by President Obasanjo. Desperately disappointed though he was, and being a good Muslim, he accepted this setback as part of the trials of life. He looked to the future of service to the country,” he said.

Buhari described Akande as a ‘perfect public officer and the type of person he could go into the jungle with, saying he had retained his ‘inflexible integrity in and out of public office, never accepting or offering bribes.

The president further described him as a decent, truthful and friendly person as well as an administrator of the first order, whose leadership qualities made him the unanimous choice as the first Chairman of the APC.

Buhari narrated his first meeting with Akande, his passion for Nigeria, achievements, and disappointment as governor of Osun State as well as his many battles to wrest power from the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party.

“My first personal contact with Chief Akande was, if I recall correctly, in 2006 when preliminary consultations were coming to fruition for a grand coalition to unseat the PDP Government. Those efforts eventually came to nothing. Neither he nor I, nor many of our friends and associates gave up as, in Chief Akande’s words: “the country was going down and down under PDP” (p.396 of My Participations).” .

Buhari also narrated how Akande had risen to prominence from his participation in the Constituent Assembly established by then military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo.

“He was always in the thick of things through the difficulties and political discontinuities of the 1980s and 90s. He emerged as Governor of Osun State in 1999 when the military handed over to the civilians.

“Chief Akande had a horrendous baptism as governor of Osun State with discord from his own party; his State Assembly (including an attempt to impeach him without any reason whatsoever); from the trade unions and from his own deputy Governor!

“On top of that, he inherited a deeply indebted Treasury, huge arrears of salary, allowances, and pensions. Enough challenges to overwhelm many aspiring leaders.

“Bisi Akande stood four square and faced all the challenges head-on and overcame most of them. His first action was to stop payment of “critical allowances” a euphemism for government money customarily shared by the big boys in Osun State. This set the tone of his administration” the president said.

National leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, said Chief Akande places high premium on integrity, straightforwardness and truthfulness and remains a hero and a figure so exemplary and excellent.

“Baba Akande represents what a public figure in Nigeria ought to be. He is what many should aspire to be.”

Tinubu said that Akande’s written record of the events, ideas and lessons of his profound life would serve to enlighten and educate both the present and the future.

Chairman of the occasion and Minister of Science, Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said Akande’s 82 years had been years of service to fellow human beings.

“He always stood by what he believed in. His honesty spoke for him at all times. He was born poor but never allowed that to deter him.He became a politicians politician, but remained humble.”

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu also showered encomium on Akande for his leadership style and for also being a good role model to young ones.

Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola described Chief Akande as a leader par excellence, who is always ready to give his best while in charge and always ready to give counsel, guidance and direction in familiar terrains, not afraid that his successors will surpass him.

“He is an apostle of good and visionary governance.  The Osun State secretariat, Abere, stands as a testimony to his enduring legacy.”

By Lukman Olabiyi            

10th December 2021