Aisha Buhari-Halliburton Scandal: How Gov. Fayose Finally 'Walked Alone'
There is a popular Yoruba saying that ''even if a lie strives for 20 years, it will only take the truth one single day to overshadow it.''
This wise saying perfectly fits into the political gimmicks of Governor Ayodele Peter Fayose of Ekiti who parades himself as the most potent voice of the main opposition party in Nigeria; People's Democratic Party.
A close study of Fayose will reveal that the young man who grew up in Ibadan craves desperately for media attention. Fayose has carved a niche for himself in the area of taking controversial stands for publicity purposes. He has exploited the current prowess of the social and online media to boost his popularity based on epic emptiness.
Fayose has mastered the craft of what I have coined as 'political acting' which is constantly initiated to cajole laymen.
Fayose is a man that frequently engages in plebeian activities like buying roasted corn on the streets, drinking palm-wine, cutting fish, meat, driving trucks, assisting on constructing sites and the likes while an aide snaps him to share on social media as pre-planned to portray him as a humble ‘Governor of the people’. In fact, the only activity Fayose is yet to do is to walk naked in public to celebrate the beauty of a man like it’s done in developed countries.
This charade has been very instrumental to his prominence in the Nigerian polity as well as in Ekiti State to distract the hapless masses until the his questionable ties to the Office of the National Security Adviser as manned by former NSA, Sambo Dasuki were established by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC as well as the non-payment of salaries of his state civil servants for grossly a period of 5 months as at May, 2016.
The truth is simple; a fake shoe will always appear attractive and beautiful on purchase but the question is if it would stand the rigorous test of trekking over time.
I respect Fayose so much. He is a successful politician and businessman. Fayose boasts of being the only Nigerian to defeat an incumbent two times historically and the fact that he grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State just like me established a quick connection. I also respect his criticisms of the All Progressives Congress-led administration even when they were extreme like his letter to Chinese President, Xi Jinping to stall the infrastructural loan process by Buhari even though it’s against the 7th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria binding on State Governors which states;
“That I will exercise the authority vested in me as Governor so as not to impede or prejudice the authority lawfully vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
I believe for democracy to strive successfully, APC needs a viable and constructive opposition to serve as a watchdog for the purpose of checks and balances. But when Fayose went on national TV and authoritatively averred that the missing Chibok girls saga was a ruse on their infamous 2nd year anniversary on the 14th of April, 2016; I re-traced my steps as such an insensitive statement deliberately made to score selfish political points without due consideration of the plight of the over 200 affected families of these ill-fated girls speaks volume of the cold-hearted nature of this verbose man now deemed a rabble-rouser even by his own supporters currently.
Well, the onus of this piece isn't to chronicle Fayose but to focus on his unfair rift with a weaker sex, Aisha Buhari - the wife of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari whom he purposely indicted in the Halliburton scandal he lacks a vivid understanding of.
Fayose and his media team flanked by his former sworn-enemy, Lere Olayinka; Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media organized a press briefing on the 20th of June, 2016 during which they alleged that Aisha Buhari paid $170,000 in a bribery scheme to an American Congressman, Williams Jefferson who is currently serving a lengthy jail term of 13 years in United States of America after conviction in 2009.
In Fayose's words:
“Even the President cannot claim to be an angel, the estate he built in Abuja is known to us. His wife was indicted over the Halliburton Scandal. When that American, Jefferson, was being sentenced, the President’s wife was mentioned as having wired $170,000 to Jefferson. Her name was on page 25 of the sentencing of Jefferson. We can serialize the judgment for people to see and read.”
Lere Olayinka distributed a link to the U.S. Department of Justice Web site showing court documents where Mrs. Aisha Buhari was alleged to have transferred suspicious funds to a convicted former Williams Jefferson.
Fayose in his usual fashion of making populist statements to present day Nigerian journalists who are only interested in the marketability of reports made available some not-well-authored pieces of paper to back up his claims. As usual, a weighty allegation like that on an eminent woman married to a corruption-intolerant leader served its purpose as it went viral in the media space but for how long?
Former Chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission namely Nuhu Ribadu and Ibrahim Lamorde who at some points in time deliberated on the Halliburton case while in office waded into the issue by disclaiming Fayose's slanderous accusations and affirming that the coincidental 'Aisha Buhari' indicted in the scandal was a mere impostor and fugitive wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A People's Democratic Party chieftain, Oyewole Fasawe who was indicted in the Williams Jefferson bribery scandal also truthfully absorbed Aisha Buhari of complicity in the malfeasance.
But Fayose was defiant in his claims, giving the public the notion that he had done his investigations despite Aisha Buhari's denial. He challenged Aisha Buhari to visit the United States of America where he alleged she was wanted for crimes by security operatives.
Fayose's unfounded claims corroborated with Aisha Buhari's sparse visits to America even as her husband, Buhari went three times since emergence with some of his family members at a point.
The fact that Aisha Buhari delegated a scheduled September, 2015 visit - an international meeting of Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York City, United States to Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President; Bukola Saraki indirectly affirmed Fayose's accusations as he firmly refused to apologize or retract his statements in spite of threats of a law suit by Aisha Buhari.
As the drama played out, some intellectually grounded Nigerians refused to be swayed by the typical 'market women' standard of arguments. A simple Google search revealed Fayose was confusing the Halliburton scandal (1994) with the Williams Jefferson scandal (2005) which are two different cases that happened 11 years apart.
Foremost newspaper, Punch also wrote to the U.S Consulate General in Lagos to inquire about Aisha Buhari's involvement in the infraction. The acting public affairs officer of the US Consulate General, Frank Sellin, affirmed her innocence in an email reply.
“We have no fraud information to provide on this matter.” He stated.
But again, this wasn't convincing enough to some recalcitrant Nigerians with prejudiced views of the President and his family. An unofficial APC Facebook group (APC News TV) in a desperate bid to needlessly save the face of Aisha Buhari concocted a report that Aisha Buhari was billed to visit the state of Colorado, U.S to attend a non-existent first World Ladies Conference on 30th of June, 2016. It ended up playing out as a hoax disappointingly to the supporters' camp who believed it.
On the 22nd of July, 2016, Sahara Reporters published an official letter inviting Aisha Buhari to the United States for a list of events from the 1st of August to the 10th.
She was scheduled for bilateral meetings at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As part of the timetable, she was billed to be hosted by the United States Institute of Peace
in collaboration with Voice of America media organization. The invitation also said that Mrs. Buhari will attend the 25th Anniversary celebration of Zumunta Association USA Inc.
The 'wailing wailers' marked the date on their calendars and a day to her scheduled visit which was reportedly delayed due to administrative hitches, news from lowly sources emerged that Aisha Buhari's trip had been cancelled again for obvious reasons.
This is to show the height politics in the Nigerian society has degenerated to; orchestrated attacks on personalities while issues of national efficacy are ignored.
Then finally, the expiry date of Fayose's calumniation of Aisha Buhari came to pass on the 3rd of August as the beautiful mother quietly visited the United States of America not purposely to clear Fayose/public doubts or other trivialities but for serious business. I must commend her media team for efficiently flooding social media with the pictures of her recurring 'triumphant' appearances. Social media is the heart of calumny, odium, scorn and public opprobrium in Nigeria. The pictures and videos of Aisha Buhari's activities right from her departure from Nigeria to her arrival abroad were lethal aerial attacks on the camp of the wailing wailers spearheaded by a man who is supposed to be regarded as a fatherly figure, Fayose.
Amazingly, Fayose has been unusually silent about the development despite being called out on social media to at least modify his lies to suit the realities on ground. His attack dog, Lere Olayinka made a last minute effort to ascertain the correctness of his principal's claims with views that may not even convince 'Yaba Left' (Psychiatric home) veterans.
It’s almost 72hrs now since Aisha Buhari stormed America without any harassment or invitation by security operatives working in concert for her safety as an eminent Nigerian figure and Fayose has technically gone into hiding in a rare fashion. It’s crystal-clear that Fayose libellous claim against Aisha Buhari was a desperate move of a drowning man for survival after his personal Zenith Bank Plc were frozen by the EFCC on strong suspicions of money laundering.
But for the sake of future positive criticisms and public sympathy, I will urge Fayose to tender a public apology to the President's wife. This action of utmost humility and acceptance of guilt is not for political reasons but because it’s the honourable thing to do.
Psychologically, I believe it will melt the hearts of angry supporters of Aisha Buhari who was humiliated publicly with baseless accusations. It will set a good trend for us youth and even appease the heart of God which Christianity preaches. I am glad Fayose is a 'devout Christian' that even prophesied the emergence of Hon. Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the corruption-ridden House of Representatives.
Legendary Hong Kong American martial artist, philosopher, filmmaker and actor; Bruce Lee said; ''Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them" I sincerely urge Fayose to toe that line.
This is a very lonely moment for Fayose as he 'walks alone' but I appeal our aspiring 'Vice President' to do the right thing by admitting his wrong stand. Let nobody judge him as we are not perfect. I am still full of admiration of him and I hope he still retains a spot in my heart as the self-acclaimed voice of the masses.
Osayimwen Osahon George
Associate Writer and Editor @ Tori.ng