I have spent the last few weeks in Nigeria stressing the importance of credible elections with a number of speeches in both Abuja and Lagos on the issue. I refer you to my speeches at the Nigerian Institute of Management and my recent remarks at the civil society gathering of CODER -- both events focused on the road map for election reform and the future of the credibility of the Independent Election Commission, more commonly known here as INEC.
Just before the Acting President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, dismissed federal ministers, the Citizens for Nigeria wrote to him. We can now reveal the contents of our letter delivered to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa by DHL:
This Is Your Moment To Act [Download Letter]
The Citizens for Nigeria worldwide write you with warm greetings, enthusiasm for change, hope for the future and tender care for the fatherland. We have watched with great interest events in our dear country over the last 100 days and are relieved that you have eventually received the necessary backing to assume your duties as Acting President, following the indisposition of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
"I don’t think it was right for the former president to share President Yar’Adua’s medical records with the public.” The Special Adviser to President Umaru Yar’Adua on National Assembly Matters, Senator Muhammed Abba-Aji, speaking about General Olusegun Obasanjo's yet-to-be-admitted disclosure to the media that Yar'Adua is brain damaged.
Dear Mrs. Clinton:
With all your years in politics, foreign affairs and the resources available to the United States government, I do not think there is anything about Nigeria that I need to tell you. You have read about it and you have been there to see for yourself. You know who the big players are in the country’s world of corruption and you know where they have stashed their stolen wealth.
The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) welcomes with optimism for the future of Nigeria, the attempt by the National Assembly to find ways through which the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has impoverished the nation. It is now public knowledge that the former President is nothing but a pretender, having helped himself, family and cohorts to loot the nation in his eight years in power. However, the CFN is also interested that the dragnet be spread so wide that all those who stole from the national treasury long before now, from anytime of possible record, be publicly scrutinized for fraud. The list should be long, and include all those retired generals, bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen living in unlimited influence and affluence.
The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) is deeply troubled by media accounts of the possibility that within the National Assembly lurks dishonorable fraudsters. Senator Nuhu Aliyu of Niger State, who raised the fear that some federal lawmakers are known criminals, was ready to immediately release names of the masquerading legislators to the citizens of Nigeria, but was abruptly and inexplicably shut down by the Senate leadership.
Only the unintelligent optimist would have failed to observe subtle moves since the inception of the Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua administration to weaken anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria. It cannot, therefore, be stunning to hear that the last bold move to remove the remaining block in the immensely strong Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) - the plot to send its Chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, to a useless training program that has helped to breed the most corrupt administrators in the country - has been hatched. It is a shame, a repugnant outcome for a government that ought to be very humble before Nigerians. It is a distraction we unambigously reject.
Nigeria has a Justice Minister whose main preoccupation is to help corrupt officials escape with stolen public money. The man, who also serves as the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, was counsel to some of the same dirty scoundrels he now attempts to protect, ironically, with the rule of law. President Umaru Yar'Adua can no longer pretend the war on corruption is not being watered down from the inside. The Citizens for Nigeria has, therefore, decided that the President must let Aondoakaa go, or Mr. Yar'Adua will be on record as ending the hopeful war on corruption in Nigeria.
The Citizens for Nigeria, on September 11, wrote President Umaru Yar’Adua, demanding the immediate removal of Mr. Michael Aondoakaa from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. A few days later, legal luminary, Mr. Gani Fawehinmi, echoed the CFN, asking that Mr. Aondoakaa be let go.
The CFN letter sent by DHL to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, was received by a presidential aide, Mr. Nuhu Ibrahim. A copy of the letter was also sent to the embattled Attorney General. The CFN took the position that the Minister had become an impediment to the progressive fight against corruption, working from the inside to weaken the national will for honesty in pu blic service, while serving only the interests of his former clients.
Read Letter: Loss of Confidence in the Minister of Justice
For the second time in a month, we wrote President Umaru Yar'Adua and he acted within a week on our request. This is a positive sign that the government will respond to public opinion. The Citizens for Nigeria, worried by rife speculations that the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, was about to be sacked, stepped up pressure and wrote to Aso Rock to fight corruption and support Ribadu. Days after our letter was delivered, the corruption body has swung into action, arrresting former governers and showing renewed strength.
The CFN, in the letter titled "Show Commitment To Corruption, Support Ribadu," delivered by DHL to Aso Roc, wrote: “We are aware of the intense mobilization among the political elite, the very group that is responsible for most of the corruption in our nation, to replace Mr. Ribadu with a less formidable anti-corruption czar. This is a disingenuous move your administration cannot afford to entertain. You must appreciate the flood of hope that came with your asset declaration, and must continue in the same path. Most Nigerians see Mr. Ribadu as a strong force against corruption, and want his role preserved. For these reasons, we strongly believe that Mr. Nuhu Ribadu's abrupt replacement will do irreparable damageto the fight against corruption.”
Once again, the issue we raised have become prophetic in life of the war against corruption in Nigeria.
EFCC'S web site: Group makes case for Ribadu
Four days after President Umaru Yar'Adua received a letter from the Citizens for Nigeria, widely publicized by The Guardian and Punch newspapers, he has ceded to the request to declare his assets publicly for the first time in Nigeria's history. For four weeks, the President had hesitated the move, a fact attested to during the declaration announcement by one of his aides.
The CFN had specifically requested in a letter delivered by DHL to Aso Rock: “For Nigerians to appreciate your seriousness to deal with endemic corruption, we ask that you, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, declare your personal worth, release your tax returns for the past three years and ask all your officials to do the same. This, Mr. President, will give you the moral authority to tackle corruption.” In an apparent response, Yar'Adua released to the public photocopies of his completed assets declaration form.
Many of the issues raised by the CFN became the highlights of his declaration, including self-empowerment for Yar'Adua against corruption, and being the first to President to take the dive. Read the historic letter which spurred President Yar'Adua into action after four full weeks of indecision: