By Gbenga Ogunleye
There have been interesting events in the political terrain in the past few weeks, but the one that has gained unnecessary attention was this allegation by Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, presidential flag-bearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) that the president, Mohammadu Buhari and his family owned shares in Etisalat and Keystone Bank. He also called for probe into the substantial shares in Etisalat now known as 9mobile which has an estimated $2b (about N727b at 360 per dollar) of its estimated $20b global net worth.
No doubt, all that have transpired in the political circles do not spring any surprise to many a political watcher, because we know it is all politics, going by the fact that 2019 elections are just few weeks away and this has elicited desperations from desperate politicians. However, the masses, nay the electorate will end up getting more confused as a direct product of spurious allegations like the aforementioned.
Luckily, a group of investors in Lagos have put things in the right perspectives, declaring that the sale of the two companies followed due processes with the involvements of industry regulators. They affirmed that neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor his family members owned shares in either Etisalat or Keystone Bank.
The above explanation should have put paid to further grumbling over who owns either 9mobile or Keystone Bank.
But it is so unfortunate that Nigerian politics have been reduced to this appalling dimension where an aspiring leader or leaders would leave issue-based discussions and campaigns to embark on mud-slinging and false claims. We as Nigerians expect our politicians to tell us what they have in stock for us when they claim the mantle of leadership, instead of beating about the bush just to hoodwink us.
In recent times, careless talks and spurious allegations have had telling effects on businesses, Nigerians and it is high time we exercised restraints to save the nation. Are our youths truly lazy? Succumbing to the carrots dangled by these politicians and helping them to spread their lies, peddling unfounded stories? Nigerian youths, this is a clarion call to put on your thinking caps ahead of the election.
In a saner clime, the miraculous transformation experienced by Keystone Bank which was almost a dying entity a few years ago, would have attracted kudos and commendations from both the general public and politicians alike. It would be recalled that after many years in the doldrum and following its most recent acquisition by Sigma Golf-Riverbank consortium, Keystone Bank, for the half-year ended June 30, 2018, recorded a Profit Before Tax of N5.9billion compared with a loss of N7.1billion over the same period in 2017 while deposits have grown from N209billion in August 2017 (when the new management came on board) to N358billion as at November 2018.
On the part of 9mobile, the Investor Group had said after about a year of back-and-forth process of selecting a preferred bidder for the sale of 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) jointly, in their roles as regulators opted for an innovative approach to deal with a distressed company operated by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (EMTS) which its predecessor, Mubadala Group, Etisalat International brand pulled out of the country due to massive debt.
At this point in Nigerian history, politicians are expected to show maturity in their chase for political positions rather than heat up the polity in a way that would further damage an already dented economy.
Nigerians should be asking the candidates to present their manifesto/ plans to re-energize the economy rather than falling for their cheap tricks to distract us from the real issues.
Hopefully, 2019 will not be the usual tea party.
– Gbenga Ogunleye, a political analyst wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.