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I can go into jungle with Akande, says Buhari

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor, Gbenga Salau, Terhemba Daka and Jesutomi Akomolafe (Lagos)
10 December 2021   |   4:26 am
It was a morning of encomiums and tributes, as Nigerians from all walks of life gathered at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State, to honour Chief Abdulkareem Adebisi Akande, whose memoir, titled: My Participations, was presented to the public, yesterday.

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan (left); Chairman of the Occasion/Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sannwo-Olu; President Muhammadu Buhari; Author of the Book/Former APC Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; Guest of Honour/APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Book Presenter, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam during the public presentation of the book, ‘My Participation’ an Autobiography of Chief Bisi Akande in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Insecurity: I don’t sympathise with you, you applied to be President, says Akande
• At book launch, Nigerians pour tributes, encomiums on Akande
• Buhari commissions made-in-Nigeria navy ship, helicopter, boats to boost maritime security

It was a morning of encomiums and tributes, as Nigerians from all walks of life gathered at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State, to honour Chief Abdulkareem Adebisi Akande, whose memoir, titled: My Participations, was presented to the public, yesterday.

The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Akande, said he had no sympathy for President Muhammadu Buhari over bashes being received on the challenges of insecurity bedevilling the nation, saying, he applied to be Nigeria’s President.

The event, which was akin to a political carnival, attracted APC bigwigs from the Southwest, except for a few, who could not make it to the venue or were away, as well as members of the party from other parts of the country.

The high net-worth guests eulogised the founding National Chairman of the ruling party, who is fondly call ‘Baba Omokekeke’, describing him as a hero and man of integrity.

President Muhammadu Buhari described Akande, as a “perfect public officer,” and the type of person he could go into the jungle with.

According to him, Akande has retained his “inflexible integrity in and out of public office, never accepting or offering bribes.”

The President, who heaped praises on the former governor of Osun State, 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.

He used the occasion to narrate his first meeting with Akande, his passion for Nigeria, achievements, and disappointment as governor of Osun, as well as his many battles to wrest power from the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“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 Akande’s words: ‘the country was going down and down under PDP’ (p.396 of My Participations),” he said.

Reflecting on the political history of the author, particularly his bid to seek a second term as governor of Osun, President Buhari declared: “It is common knowledge that Akande was the victim – along with other Alliance for Democracy (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.”

Reminiscing on APC’s ascent to governance at the Federal level in 2015, President Buhari said: “Chief Akande was in the thick of further attempts in 2011 and 2014 to fuse together different groups and dislodge PDP from governance.

“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,” 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.”

On the book, President Buhari recommended it to students of Nigeria politics and the general public alike. “This book is a historical document. Students will find this an invaluable source of Nigeria’s politics, notably between 1999 and 2020,” he said.

Tinubu said: “Baba Akande represents what a public figure in Nigeria ought to be. He is what many should aspire to be.

And 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.

“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.

“The book, My Participations, is razor-sharp. Apart from giving valuable insights into the makings of this great Nigeria, it provides a view of our political intricacies through the gifted lens of one of our foremost public figures.”

The Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who described Akande’s life and career as ‘a remarkable example for people coming after,’ said he has always remained a father, mentor, patriot and elder statesman.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who welcomed President Buhari to Lagos, thanked dignitaries at the event for their support and efforts.

WHILE thanking the President for coming, Akande prayed for him to have a successful tenure in office. He, however, said: “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.”

He said: “We love you because you love Nigeria. We want Nigeria to be united, we want Nigeria to be peaceful, and we want Nigeria to be prosperous.

“We accuse you for every move that is wrong, even 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 it on you, I don’t sympathise with you, you applied for the job.”

PRESENT were Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; the chief host, Lagos governor, Sanwo-Olu; governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola; Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; governor of Kwara, Abdulraham Abdulrasak; governor of Yobe, Mala Buni; governor of Ogun, Dapo Abiodun; Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who was the chairman of the occasion; and Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi.

Others were former Ogun governor, Gbenga Daniel; Kebbi governor, Atiku Bagudu; Senator Tokunbo Abiru, Senator Solomon Adeola, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Senator Ganiyu Olarewanju Solomon, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Prof Ayobami Kehinde; the book reviewer, Mr. Segun Ayobolu; among other dignitaries.

EARLIER, the President commissioned a Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) III, NNS Oji locally made in Nigeria by men of the Nigerian navy and a helicopter in Lagos.

The SDB, NNS Oji vessel, built by engineers of the Nigerian Navy is the third of its series to be indigenously built at the Naval Dockyard Limited, after NNS Adoni and NNS Karaduwa were built in 2016.

Buhari also commissioned six newly acquired ships which include NNS Lana, Kano, Ikenne, Aba, Sokoto and Osun, 111 boats and one helicopter, charging all naval personnel to maintain professionalism and ensure good use of the newly built and acquired vessels including NNS Lana, Kano, Ikenne, Aba, Sokoto and Osun.

Speaking at the event, which also marks the keel-laying ceremony for the construction of Boat-IV and Boat-V, President Buhari said the new inductions to the Naval fleet would boost their capability in securing Nigeria’s maritime domain.

He said: ‘’We should note that we are in a critical period where our country is faced with a serious decline in our revenue and the security challenges we are facing.

‘’The present realities, therefore, call for prudent resource management, innovativeness, accountability and careful maintenance.”

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, said the commissioning of the SDB III, NNS OJI and others was a manifestation of the Federal Government’s commitment to maintaining a well-equipped navy that Nigerians would be proud of.

He stated that NNS Lana, an Hydrographic ship received from its maiden voyage from France to Nigeria on 17 May 21, would be involved in the hydrographic survey of the nation’s territorial waters towards ensuring safety of navigation within her waterways while SDB III, Inshore Patrol Crafts (IPC) and Fast Patrol Boats (FPB), which includes NNS ABA, NNS KANO, NNS IKENNE, NNS SOKOTO and NNS OSUN will be deployed for surveillance and patrol duties within the nation’s waters.