A former two-time member of the House of Representatives, Sidi Ali, has narrated how various forces within and outside the shores of Nigeria fought hard to stop the emergence the National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN).
Speaking in an interview, Ali, who represented Dambatta Federal Constituency, Kano State, in the National Assembly in the second republic, said influential Nigerians, like the late MKO Abiola, Akindele Williams, were not happy with the coming on board of ANAN.
He said the other accounting body in the country, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), was being run by cabal, citing an incident where a professor of Mathematics failed to pass the exam because of the politics.
He said : “We championed the course of the National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and did everything because in England and Scotland there were six national organisations of accountants but we had only one—the ICAN.
“One day, MKO Abiola and another accountant, Akindele Williams and other supporters of the ICAN told them that the only person they could stop was Sidi Ali. When I was told that Abiola wanted to see me, I didn’t believe that. We were able to pass that in the House of Reps but it was blocked in the Senate. But one accountant, Dafinoni, now late, was able to mobilise it through.
“Luckily for us, President Babangida signed it into law a day before he “stepped aside”. It was the last bill he signed into law. The ICAN went to court to challenge that he was not president when he signed it, but I argued that he was still the president as he did not resign, he only stepped aside. That was how they lost the case….
“Also, when Major-General Abba Abdulkadir, who was referred to Abba Sirisiri, was the chief accountant of the Nigerian Army, the budget of the army was bigger than those of some state governments, yet they said he would not be a member of the ICAN.
” Again, a professor of Mathematics from the University of Calabar took an examination and failed because the ICAN was being run like a cabal. Every year, they were passing only five or two people. When we looked at the list of the leadership for 15 years, we discovered that they came from only one state. When we raised that issue, can you imagine that 15 people passed that year. This is the type of society we have.”
Speaking on some of the past leaders in the country, Ali, who rated Ibrahim Babangida high, said he was also thrilled by the leadership qualities of late General Murtala Mohammed.
His words :”When Murtala was making appointments, he mixed up two names—he penciled down Aliko Mohammed, who was the leading accountant in the North, as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but put Adamu Ciroma, a journalist who was supposed to be the chairman of Daily Times. It was done in a hurry. When Ciroma was announced as the governor of the CBN and his attention was drawn to the mix-up, Murtala said he would not change it, insisting that it was what God had destined.
“Secondly, Major-General Akinrinade fought him almost physically at the warfront because he brought some malams. Akinrinade said that in the military they did not depend on malams or bishops but on strategies. We lost a lot of people when we tried to cross the Asaba Bridge.
“Murtala was my classmate, and we were always going to my house. He was a charismatic leader like me. No matter how good you are as a leader, you would have people who would not like you.
Immediately Murtala became head of state, the first order he gave was that no governor would be driven with plenty cars on convoy. He said you must be driven in the front of your car. One soldier was very anxious for his people to know that he had arrived, so he secretly sent a car to wait in front of his village so that he would make a show, but Murtala dismissed him. There are certain things you can do as a leader, but influence is something we can’t go against.
“Among the past leaders, I have great respect for Babangida. There was a day a friend of mine stole my papers and I took him to court. I was in court when somebody came and said Babangida wanted to see me. He paid the man N1.5 million at that time to get my papers back.
“A friend wrote a book on Murtala Mohammed, which was sold at N10 per copy. He bought eight copies at N80 but didn’t have the money. And he didn’t give the money until he became the head of state. I was telling some people that at least I would say that the head of state was owing me. Can you imagine that within two hours he got the information because men of the State Security Service (SSS) were working effectively at that time, especially in that branch? The following day, the chief security officer came to my house and brought N100,000. That was very big money.”