Chief Akande was Critical to APC’s Merger- Asiwaju Tinubu
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Lagos said former interim Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, was a victim of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s diabolical double-cross which ended his gubernatorial career.
Buhari also said the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos State escaped the electoral malfeasance masterminded by the former president.
The President spoke at the launch of ‘My Participation’, the autobiography of Chief Akande in Lagos.
Asiwaju Tinubu, who also spoke at the event noted that without Baba Akande’s guidance, the merger that led to the formation of the APC in 2013 could not have been possible.
Other personalities at the occasion were: The chief host, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Speaker Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
Former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, represented by his son, Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, represented by his deputy, Gawuna, Governor of Kwara State Abdulraham Abdulrasak, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who is the Chairman of the occasion and Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi.
Others include: Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, Senator Solomon Adeola, representing Lagos Senatorial West
Senator Opeyemi Bamidemi, Governor of Yobe State, Mai Buni, Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, Senator Musuliu Obanikoro, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Prof Ayobami Kehinde, the book reviewer, Mr. Segun Ayobolu, members of the Lagos State Executive Council, Executives of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Supporters Group, Women for SWAGA, Lagos State, delegation from Osun State, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu I, represented by White Cap Chiefs, and others.
The President, who heaped praises on Akande, 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 used the occasion to narrate his first meeting with Akande, his passion for Nigeria, achievements, and disappointment as governor 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),” he said.
The President also narrated how Akande had risen to prominence from his participation in the Constituent Assembly established by the 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!
”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,” Buhari added.
Recounting the achievements of Chief Akande as governor, President Buhari noted that it is on record that within one year, he had paid off all the salary and other arrears, showing his mettle as a competent and serious administrator.
”By 2003 Chief Akande had virtually sanitised governance in Osun State having cleared some of the troublemakers from his government and, though reluctant to serve a second term, he was persuaded to run again,” he said.
Reflecting on the political history of the author, particularly his bid to seek a second term as governor, Buhari declared: “It is common knowledge that Akande was the victim – along with other 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.”
The President said Chief Akande was instrumental in ensuring that APC took over governance in 2015.
”Chief Akande was in the thick of further attempts in 2011 and 2014 to fuse together different groups and dislodge PDP from governance.
”The key to his thinking which coincides with mine is that Nigeria can only be successfully managed by alliances between major groups.
”Although we failed in 2011 but by persistence and knowledge that PDP was driving the country towards disaster, several major parties were able to finally coalesce into APC in 2014 .
”Chief Akande was unanimously chosen as the first Chairman of this great coalition. Throughout the difficult negotiations, I found Akande truthful, steady and always with an eye to the ultimate goal.
”In or out of office, he has retained his inflexible integrity. On p.400 of his book, he wrote: ‘I never gave to or demanded bribe from anyone all my life.’ A perfect gentleman. A perfect public officer,” he said.
Quoting a famous Hausa saying, ”Labarin zucciya a tambayi fuska” (loosely translated -if you want to know what is in a man’s heart watch his face), President Buhari affirmed that Akande has a permanent smile on his face, saying ”he is the type I will go into the jungle with.”
In his speech, Asiwaju Tinubu said, “Chief Bisi Akande is such a person. Our lives are better because of the selfless public and private contributions he has made to this national family we call Nigeria.
“Thankfully, he decided to make a written record of the events, ideas and lessons of his profound life so they may serve to enlighten and educate both the present and the future.
“Being a key light in our political firmament, whatever Baba says about his life also doubles as an intimate account of the political story of Nigeria.
“Baba Akande represents what a public figure in Nigeria ought to be. He is what many should aspire to be.
“From humble beginnings, Baba Akande rose through hard work, intellect, courage, perseverance, sacrifice, dedication and what he called ‘self-tuition’.
“Baba did not walk the easy road. He earned things the hard and principled way. Nothing deterred him. Though easy-going in demeanor, he was always strong of character. Without seeing the four walls of a university, Chief Akande tutored himself so well that by age 22, he had become a qualified accountant.
“People saw in him the rare combination of the gifts of fairness, tolerance and vision. Because of this, he was chosen as chairman of the AD, AC and ACN. As a crowning achievement regarding to party leadership, he served as the APC interim chairman, helping to shepherd the historic merger of several major parties into one.
“Without Baba Akande’s sage guidance, that merger might never have come to pass.
“We owe him deep gratitude for his singular devotion to consummating the complicated merger in such a positive manner that then Candidate General Muhammadu Buhari was able to demonstrate his popularity by achieving a monumental victory in the 2015 election.
“The connection I share with Chief Akande is longstanding and broad. We have been fellow travellers in the struggle for democracy and progressive governance. We also shared similar backgrounds in Accounting and Finance. We both honed our accounting skills in oil companies, Baba in British Petroleum, me in Mobil, before our forays into politics.
“Indeed, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s Foreword declares: ‘This is one historic reckoning that will make many uncomfortable. Many will be reminded of roles played by them which they would rather the nation, indeed the world, forgot.'”
In his address, the author, Akande who was highly elated seeing the caliber of attendees, said: “In the olden days I will burst into tear, but today I am very happy.
“I am only uncomfortable, that each time our President is coming here, he is always in a hurry. He is our President, we love him, he is one of us, we always want him to relax, and come and stay with us, have a dinner with us, let our children eat with him, touch his clothes, and let him know that we love him.
“But his handlers never recognised that he is no longer growing younger, they think he is still a soldier, they match him everywhere.”
The former Osun State governor expressed reservations for the blame being heaped on the President for everything happening in the country,.
He noted, however, that Buhari had no option but to accept the blame being the president of the country.
“We want Nigeria to be united, we want Nigeria to be peaceful, we want Nigeria to be prosperous.
“You and I want Nigeria, Nigeria is not yours alone, because you are our leader, we accuse you for every move that is wrong. Even though when we know that we are not being fair to ourselves. We know we are fraudulent, we know we are deceitful, we know we are cheaters. Of all the things we are doing wrong, we blame on you, I didn’t sympathise with you, you applied for the job.
“May your tenure be prosperous, may Nigeria be greater in your time, May Nigeria be united may Nigeria be peaceful,” Chief Akande concluded.