Minister of Sports and Youth Development Solomon Dalung and former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant Dr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed yesterday clashed over President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
The two politicians spoke during the 16th Daily Trust Annual Dialogue held in Abuja.
Baba-Ahmed, the pro-chancellor of the Abuja-based Baze University, was a guest speaker at the event. He accused the Buhari-led ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of hypocrisy.
However, Dalung said it was unfair to make sweeping allegations of corruption against the President Buhari-led administration even as he
challenged those making such allegations to provide evidence.
Baba-Ahmed, in his presentation, alleged that “a certain serving political party of people who claim not to be stealing has set aside N250,000 each for 120,000 polling units totaling N30 billion? Anti-corruption indeed!”
He said a fraudulently elected government amounts to a civilian coup d’état which Nigerians must rise up and reject.
He said any political system that could neither be corrected nor be allowed to correct itself was doomed.
“Our system is evidently failing and not only lacks the capacity to correct itself but destroys any attempts to correct it,” he said.
He said any government willing to find solutions to the current problems must not promote corruption under the cover of assumed integrity, condone nepotism and fraternity, look away from insecurity and terror, and lack simple economic management competence. He pleaded against any temptation to rig the next elections.
“Nothing demeans democracy like electoral fraud. Now, it seems electoral fraud ended with the coming of APC to power; all that was happening before they came to power was electoral fraud. But all that happens now is not electoral fraud,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed also said that the fear of backlash from the public in this year’s elections was responsible for Buhari’s refusal to assent to the new electoral act.
“Card readers may or may not be used as the president has refused to sign an amendment to the election law,” he said.
Baba-Ahmed said there is tension in the country “arising from fraud allegations” and Buhari’s administration’s desperate “schemes to return itself,” thereby making it “the worst performing government in the history of Nigeria.”
The former senator and House of Representatives member said the Nigerian youth were having their psyche damaged, their morality stripped, their education denied, and their dignity depleted by the country’s propaganda-driven system that thrived on worsening their situation and destroying their future.
“The constructive roles for our youth to play in Nigerian democracy remain a myth. And all prospects are being diminished by yet preparations for the 2019 elections,” he said.
But speaking during the comment session, Mr Dalung said it’s unfair to say President Buhari is corrupt, daring anyone who made the allegation to bring proofs. “Buhari is not corrupt,” the minister said.
Referring to the PDP presidential primaries in Port Harcourt where Baba-Ahmed contested and lost, Dalung said he understood Baba-Ahmed’s frustration because he was “schemed out by dollars at Port Harcourt.”
He said “let us move away from lamentation and blame game. Scholars come to paint a picture of doom. Buhari took over power by preparing himself as a man of integrity. 2015 was a revolution and there is change everywhere including security.”
He said three years ago, most Nigerians would have found it very difficult to move around or attend an occasion such as yesterday’s dialogue. “People are moving around freely,” he said.
He said Buhari prepared himself for leadership by building a record of personal integrity, and he urged every Nigerian youngster to prepare himself or herself for leadership by similarly building a record of integrity.
The dialogue was chaired by Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja. The Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III, was the guest of honour.
The two other guest speakers are the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Plan, Hajiya Maryam Uwais, and the coordinator of the Not Too Young to Run movement, Samson Itodo.