The Director-General of the #iStandWithBuhari campaign, Engr. Chinedu
Okpalanma, has responded to Kayode Ogundamisi, the journalist and political
commentator who accused him of being a fraud because of his past role as
co-founder of the #BringBackGoodluck2015 initiative. He said he was
dismayed by Ogundamisi’s vicious campaign against his character and
person just so he could pull down a nationalistic movement to which I and
millions of well-meaning Nigerians have freely subscribed to via the
affirmative statement #istandwithbuhari.
Okpalanma has also resigned as the DG of the campaign, saying that he took
the step to show that the initiative is sincere and not about him. He said
that following the backlash which greeted the news that he was the DG of
the organisation, he felt the need to resign so that the group can achieve
its lofty ideals without being bogged by distractions about his personality.
Admitting that he was one of the founders of the group, he said he was not
alone as the campaign is a collection of young Nigerians from all works of
life and different religious beliefs & political inclinations who came
together with one ideal in mind: that it is time for us as individuals to
see ourselves as Nigeria and seize this golden opportunity towards ensuring
that Project Nigeria does not fail.
From the time Goodluck Jonathan won the 2011 election, I was one of his
biggest critics. I was vocal and marched on the streets during the
#OccupyNigeria protests, I wrote open letters to the Presidency in anger at
some of the names his government found worthy of national merit awards, I
also wrote on various public platforms on my disappointment at the then
President’s seeming inability to act even when it seemed there was
overwhelming evidence of impunity against his cabinet members. In all of
this though, I remained steadfast in the belief that things would change,
However, Okpalanma stated that as the 2015 elections approached, he began
to be convinced that the Jonathan administration was more under siege for
political reasons and that sabotage was a scheme being used to oust him by
any means necessary. Coupled with the revolution I was witnessing in the
agricultural sector & seeming revival of our railway system, I felt he was
my best candidate to continue and thus I put in my whole support for his
candidacy without coercion.
He however insisted that he never met the former president in person, was
not sponsored by the presidency as he went about expending resources in
trying to sensitize Nigerians to vote for Jonathan, and was never given a
penny or contract by former ministers, agencies of government, friends of
the President or even the embattled NSA Sambo Dasuki.
Okpalanma insisted in his statement that he withdrew support for Goodluck
Jonathan along with his group long before the 2015 elections. My reasons
then were simple. By November 2014, I was no longer comfortable with the
information filtering out on how huge monies were moved from person to
person in government circles. I concluded then that Nigeria was being sold
off to the highest bidder without our knowledge, and I believed that even
if Goodluck Jonathan won the elections, there were facts to suggest this
same people around him fingered in various illicit transactions would
continue in office with him, as it seemed he was incapable of acting to
change things, he said.
As a result, Okpalanma said by December 2014, he started a process of
moving his support with that of 1.9 million Nigerians who had signed up to
his campaign, to supporting the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari. He
said there are people currently in government who can attest to the fact
that he stood with Buhari even before the elections.
He took exception with the attempts by some people to make it seem as
though only those who supported President Buhari before can participate in
any cause to support his policies now. Are these advocates now saying that
President Muhammadu Buhari & his political party should not work with other
well-meaning Nigerians who believe in this administration and are ready to
sacrifice all to ensure things change for our collective good? He said.
Speaking on why he supported Buhari, Okpalanma said his turning point was
#DasukiGate. He lamented that such huge amount of money could have been
diverted by one individual under our noses, and even though he thought at
first that it was a witchhunt, he now believes it is true due to the
confessions by those who received cash. Furthermore, he said he understood
that the fight against corruption needed to be more people oriented than
government oriented when he saw some Nigerians defending #DasukiGate. That
was when I made up my mind to sign up with #istandwithbuhari, he said.
Okpalanma said it will be criminal to leave the task ahead to Buhari alone.
As at this moment, everything I am seeing shows me that President
Muhammadu Buhari is not sleeping on the job, but doing everything within
legal means to ensure Nigeria lives. To rejig a system that has completely
decayed and failed needs courage, prayers and support. I am doing my bit by
supporting #istandwithbuhari, not trying to bring it down. If my stand is
giving certain individuals or group of individual’s sleepless nights, then
May they remain awake for eternity, he said.
He insisted that the #istandwithbuhari group has no endorsement from
President Buhari and has not sought any sort of financial support from the
President or by extension his government. I have never vied for any
political position in my life (and have no intentions of doing same), nor
have I ever submitted my CV for consideration for political appointment to
any government, thus my involvement with #istandwithbuhari is not for
political favours. I am in this because I believe in this, period, he