By Rotimi Akinola
A professional group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the Nigerian Senate confirmed Musiliu Obanikoro as minister because he threatened to expose the role President Goodluck Jonathan played in the #EkitiGate scandal.
In a leaked audio that generated widespread uproar, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, Musiliu Obanikoro, and other top government officials and a general in the Nigerian army were heard plotting to rig the 2014 governorship elections which the Fayose won.
“I am here on the order of the president,” a voice believed to belong to Obanikoro said in the audio.
President Jonathan said he would not probe the incident as the audio was “fabricated.”
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Musiliu Obanikoro as a federal minister, appointed by President Jonathan, brushing aside allegations Obanikoro played a key role in the alleged election fraud in Ekiti State.
Lawmakers belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) responded by walking out of the session in protest.
Convener of pro-APC Salvage Group, Peter Ajayi, said the President agreed to push the confirmation of Obanikoro through the hallowed Red Chambers so the minister would not expose role played the President. He also said the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is planning to use Obanikoro in rigging the 2015 general elections.
“It was a dream come true for the PDP,” Ajayi said.
“One of their options to win the next elections is to repeat what they did in Ekiti which was spearheaded by Musiliu Obanikoro.
“More so, since he has threatened to expose the roles of the Presidency in the Ekiti saga if President Jonathan does not ensure his confirmation as senator.
“It had become an obligation to reciprocate his kind gesture. Nigerians have seen how it all went at the national assembly. Despite all allegations against him, the senate president, on the instruction of the presidency ensured his confirmation.”
Voices in the PDP, to which Obanikoro belongs, however, had a different view. They said Obanikoro’s confirmation was a victory for democracy.
“I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Senator @MObanikoro on his confirmation as a Minister of the Federal Republic,” Lagos PDP guber candidate, Jimi Agbaje (@jimiagbaje) tweeted on Thursday.
A social media aide in Agabje’s campaign team, Oke Umurhohwo, said the APC senators who walked out before Obanikoro’s confirmation were enemies of democracy and should hide their heads in shame.
He said: “Just as Obanikoro was about to be confirmed, some APC Senators abandon the Senate. As is always, whenever a democratic process doesn’t favor them, they abandon their duties and walk away.”
“APC should hide their heads in shame. Power doesn’t make noise, the more the noise, the less the power.”
Another PDP loyalist, Israel Oladipupo Ogunseye, told The City Reporters the confirmation was “a very laudable development, a big step in our democratic development. The parliament shouldn’t operate on mere newspaper assumptions (in reference to the alleged Ekiti scandal).”
Despite the widespread approval the PDP has unsurprisingly expressed at Obanikoro’s confirmation, most Nigerians seem unhappy at the development.
“In advanced countries, Obanikoro would not be confirmed until the Ekiti scandal was investigated and resolved,” Mr. Alade Yusuf who teaches at the CAC College in Itire area of Lagos told our correspondent, Thursday.
Christiana Agada who lives in Lagos said the confirmation “is one of the greatest scandals that has ever faced the Jonathan administration.”
“It is so demoralizing and shows how corruption is gloried in Nigeria,” she said.
Deji Ajelana, a Journalism graduate, said the confirmation was “an insult to every Nigerian. By nominating him despite everything, the President has sent a loud and clear message to us all.”
“Let me just go and keep my voter card in a cool dry place. Congrats Koro. Adieu Nigeria.”