The recent announcement of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, as a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC)’s presidential campaign council for the 2019 elections raises concerns of a conflict of interest due to his membership of the non-partisan National Peace Committee.
Background: In a statement on Friday, Dangote was announced alongside fellow businessman and CEO of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola, APC leader Bola Tinubu, VP Yemi Osinbajo, Senate leader Ahmed Lawan and House leader Femi Gbajabiamila, as members of a seven-man special advisory committee to the president.
Key point: Dangote’s support of a candidate and membership of such a partisan advisory committee is the farthest he has gone in taking a public political position. But that is not a problem in itself. As a Nigerian, he is entitled to support any candidate of his choosing. However, if he accepts the offer, then he has to publicly step down from the Abdusalami Abubakar chaired National Peace Committee.
The Committee was constituted ahead of the 2015 general elections and is partly credited for the ease of transition of power between former President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari through the Peace Accord it made contestants sign. It is a non-partisan committee committed to promoting peace through interventions, agreements and consultations with political, security, intelligence and electoral stakeholders.
Comprising of eminent Nigerians including traditional, business and religious leaders, among others, the committee recently coordinated the signing of a new Peace Accord ahead of the 2019 presidential polls which saw various candidates agree to a set of conditions that would make for peaceful elections in 2019.
Bottom line: As a partisan adviser, it is only fair that Aliko Dangote recuses himself from the committee so as not to tar its perception of neutrality. Dangote cannot be a referee and a player at the same time. One has to go.
How about Father Kukah?: The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, was one of the clerics at Ota on the day former president Olusegun Obasanjo reconciled with his former deputy Atiku Abubakar. His presence in that meeting ought to be disqualifying as it appeared to be an endorsement of an Atiku presidency. Infact, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said in a statement that Kukah was no longer fit to sit on the Peace Committee having taken part in the process. However, Kukah denied being part of any endorsement, saying he only facilitated reconciliation between the two men and was not part of the subsequent meeting in which Obasanjo endorsed Atiku.
Hello BMO: It would be interesting to see whether the BMO takes the same forceful stand and calls on Dangote to step down from the Peace Committee.