It is not known how the kitchen cabinet hopes to impose their agenda on restive Nigerians, but Tanimu Yakubu reportedly told Bankole and Mark yesterday that the Yarâ€™adua group was prepared to spend three times what Obasanjo spent on his third term agenda to stop the popular movement for Yarâ€™adua to resign and hand over power to Jonathan.
The groupâ€™s selling point against Jonathan is to tell legislators, judges and Nigerian opposition groups that Jonathan is too close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and, as president, would be controlled by the hugely despised Obasanjo.
In interviews with several lawmakers as well as sources close to the Yarâ€™adua camp, Saharareporters gathered that the huge pay offs to Bankole and Mark were part payment of a N20 billion campaign to stop the judiciary and the legislature from acting against Yarâ€™adua as he struggles against a deteriorating health condition.
Several sources told Saharareporters that Speaker Bankole has always been a central player in the project to frustrate Jonathan, beginning the day Yarâ€™adua was evacuated from Nigeria on November 23, 2009. We had reported a deal which delivered $5 million to Bankole through an oil lifting company -Addax Petroleum-to stop the lower house from embarking on any debate that would have forced the House of Representatives to take a position. Bankole has also infiltrated and compromised the leadership of a group of 200 lawmakers who made their intention clear last week to ask Yarâ€™adua to transmit the letter to Jonathan to act as president pending his return.
Saharareporters sources said the legislative group had planned to introduce a resolution next Tuesday that would give a definitive deadline for Yarâ€™adua to transmit his letter of handover pending his return.
But Bankole as well as David Mark have been recruited with a combination of lush cash dole outs as well as juicy contracts to sabotage the plans.
Last week, the Senate passed a resolution asking Yarâ€™adua to transmit a letter of handover, but the resolution had no force or traction to it because it deliberately did not include a deadline. In the words of Senate spokesperson, Ayogu Eze, it was â€œpolitical solutionâ€ not a legislative action.
In addition to huge bribes to legislators and judges, the members of Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s kitchen cabinet have resolved to deploy a few strategies to handle a restive nation in the days ahead. Part of this strategy is to use the media in a constant campaign to misinform the Nigerian public to the effect that Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s return to Nigeria was imminent.
â€œThe plan is to tell Nigerians each week that President Yarâ€™adua is on his way to Nigeria,â€ said a source aware of the plan by the Yarâ€™adua camp. He added that the ultimate plan â€œis to keep everybody confused until such a time that the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP) will decide to have an early convention to pick its candidate for the 2011 presidential election.â€ Our sources said the Yarâ€™adua camp wants to present former Nigerian dictator Ibrahim Babangida as its presidential candidate with former Governor James Onanefe Ibori is to become his vice presidential candidate.
Our sources said that Babangida has finalized plans to re-enter the presidential race by claiming that it was the â€œlast wishâ€ of his late wife, Maryam, to run Nigeria in her memory. Last week, Babangida reportedly moved into his Kaduna mansion to coordinate a series of meetings with his cronies, military top brass and new political friends, including the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.
In the event that Babangidaâ€™s plan fails, the group plans to plant former General Aliyu Muhammad Gusau, a close ally of Babangidaâ€™s who ran his intelligence operations, as the PDPâ€™s presidential candidate, again with Ibori as VP.
Ibori, who is a member of Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s inner circle, has been entrusted with handling the bribing of the judiciary to ensure that no court judgment would change the status quo ante regarding Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s continuation as president even in absentia. Ibori is experienced at compromising the judiciary. He was instrumental to bribing justices of the Court of Appeal and, ultimately, those of the Supreme Court who in December 2008 affirmed Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s flawed election as legitimate.
The kitchen cabinet felt a great relief when the chief judge of the federal high court, Dan Abutu, ruled two days ago that Yarâ€™adua had not broken any law by not transmitting a letter to the National Assembly regarding his absence. A source told us that the â€œFirst Ladyâ€ Turai Yarâ€™adua had called Mr. Abutu a day earlier to secure his assurance on the ruling. Turaiâ€™s call came after she and the Yarâ€™adua camp was rattled by a letter signed by several former heads of state and former chief justices and sent to the National Assembly asking Yarâ€™adua to go. That same evening Turai called one of the former heads of state to tongue-lash him for accepting to be part of the delegation. Turai was furious that the former president signed the statement after the Yarâ€™adua camp had reached an earlier agreement with him to support Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s right to rule notwithstanding his prolonged absence.
Our sources said that the Yarâ€™adua camp was so intent on retaining power that they have designed a â€œlast option,â€ which is to fly Yarâ€™adua back to Abuja in his vegetative condition, hook him up to life support machines, while kitchen cabinet members commit all sorts of financial shenanigans in his name. â€œHis wife actually seriously weighed this option last week, but it became impossible to implement, as Yarâ€™adua could not be flown out of Saudi Arabia in his condition,â€ said a source familiar with the plan. Two other sources told Saharareporters that there is no way Yarâ€™adua can walk on his feet in the next two months even with the best medical care in the world, if at all he could again.
Yarâ€™adua has not been seen publicly since November 22nd 2009 when he collapsed and had to be evacuated to a Saudi hospital in Jeddah on November 23rd 2009. Saharareporters was first to report on his emergency evacuation a day before he was ferried out of Nigeria.
Yarâ€™aduaâ€™s wife, Turai who heads the kitchen cabinet and directs the affairs of Nigeria from Saudi Arabia, is said to have become â€œparanoidâ€ over the decision of the former presidents who called for her husbandâ€™s resignation as well as a joint letter issued last week by the US, the European Union and the UK expressing concerns about Nigeriaâ€™s political uncertainty.
Saharareporters made calls to Speaker Bankole and Senator Mark, but was unable to speak to either of them. Even though we got through to Mark, a voice who claimed to be his assistant claimed that they were travelling in separate cars from Anambra State where Mark led the PDPâ€™s governorship campaign for Charles Soludo, the controversial former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The â€œvoiceâ€ claimed that he couldnâ€™t hear us.
Bankoleâ€™s line rang, but he did not pick up. When our reporter made a second attempt at reaching him, Mr, Bankole had shut off his phone.