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President Obasanjo shuts others, plays foul himself
VIKASH KUMAR | Issue Dated: April 1, 2007
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OIL ON THE FACE Not that a Nigerian politician can be taken as an authority on fighting corruption but when Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo kept Vice President Atiku Abubakar out of the race in the 21 April presidential elections, it was fishy. Abubakar’s name has been excluded from the list of 24 candidates by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Said Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media), Oluremi Oyo, “All patriotic Nigerians must therefore rise up now and join hands in defending the hard-won gains of our democratic dispensation against the evil schemes of corrupt politicians who want power at all costs, so that they can resume the unbridled looting of our national wealth.” Sounds good.

So, why was the name of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (the son of Nigeria’s first millionaire) cleared? Especially as the Federal High Court had barred INEC from recognising Ojukwu’s faction. The INEC Chairman has defended the President by referring to Section 137(1) of the Constitution that says, “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud... by the federal or State government”. The Opposition parties are livid. Their point is that blacklisting some names without legal backing is evidence of rigging and an assault on the sanctity of the ballot box. Corruption is a major concern for oil-rich Nigeria and President Olusegun Obasanjo had gained immense popularity by cracking down on corrupt officials and politicians. However, this time he did not play his cards properly. If corrective steps are not taken immediately, disqualified candidates may resort to violence, something not desirable in an already unstable society. 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017