Yet again, I believe that as the campaigns take on a life of their own, the issues that should be bothering us as we listen to the two leading presidential candidates: President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and Gen Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress (APC) is to judge from their utterances, their promises, body language and guage the measure of belief and faith we can attach to them.
In the places President Jonathan has campaigned, all I see is the determination to hoodwink Nigerians all over again. He says he will not disappoint Nigerians. Once he was trusted. But not much came out of such trust. The enormous goodwill he had in 2011 has been burnt. Many of those who were on his side then have long left him. He knows. Were it not so, re-electing President Jonathan would have been a fait accompli. But it can hardly be so now. All other talks to the contrary are only in the character of political propaganda.
In areas he has not done well, he blames it on past governments, forgetting that he has been in office now for almost six years. As a Commander-in-Chief for six years, he has held the forte for 72 months against Buhari’s 20.
President Jonathan should have no excuse about the shortcomings in the army. With talks about a Trillion Naira every year for the military to refurbish and upgrade its system and equipment, latching back on what happened 31 years ago, is to seek an easy escape from the issue. How effective did he expect a 31-year old weapon?
If that much is truly appropriated for the military every year, how much of monitoring has been done in ensuring that indeed the money was being used for what it was meant for and not being diverted to private pockets?
If there is a failing in this regard, who should we blame? The president of course, on whose table the buck stops.
To blame the failings of the military on what Buhari did or failed to do 31 years ago is to behave like a typical bad workman who usually complains about his tools.
Another thing that counts against President Jonathan is the shrinking economy.
Either by his own management default or global economic downturn, Nigeria is in dire straits right now. With the Excess Crude Account nearly razed, to the Naira that has lost almost all of its essence, with the concomitant inflation, Nigeria is truly on her knees economically. Worse still, the unchecked huge crude theft have only helped to deepen our economic woes. Many states would soon have difficulty paying their workforce. It happened last December. Little wonder that they are already echoing the song of austerity measures. Life is gonna be tough!
Beyond the shrinking economic strength is also the shrinking geographical space. With 20 Local Governments, seized by the Boko Haram insurgents, for months now, Nigeria’s territorial integrity has shrunk under Jonathan’s watch. His own home state of Bayelsa has just eight LGAs. And that could mean that a size more than a state is in the hands of insurgents.
Yes, he inherited the Boko Haram scourge, but has he done enough to tame the menace? I dare say no. Jonathan should have realized that his public rating dropped sharply after the abduction of the Chibok girls. The presidency kept fumbling and bungling the rescue efforts and advocacies. Suddenly those clamouring for the release of the girls became government’s enemies. . It soon became a government-versus-us tangle.
The Police, represented by Mbu Joseph Mbu, now an AIG, like attack dogs, were unleashed on them. That same erratic and controversial cop has been sent to Lagos few weeks to the election. The message is loud enough
Not even the rousing offer of international help in the wake of the Chibok kidnap yielded any fruit. Many advanced countries like France, Germany, UK, USA, Israel, Canada etc had offered to assist Nigeria trace and recover the kidnapped girls.
But week after week, with no progress, all the countries, one-by-one, have all gone back home and left us in our quandary. Recently, even neighbouring African countries who had agreed to form a joint troop against the insurgents have all pulled out. Does it not show that something is wrong somewhere? Why is everybody abandoning Nigeria? The US authorities recently disclosed that the discontinuation of America in the programme was because Nigeria had failed to keep her own end of the deal.
Do we need any military expert to tell us that something is wrong with our army? Were we not told recently that the feat in recapturing Mubi, for instance, was because soldiers based in the south -east had to be deployed to Mubi before they could chase out the militants? Were we not told of how just 30 insurgents overran a platoon of soldiers?
Yet another drawback for President Jonathan is the rising cases of impunity. The brazen acts of impunity is believed to have been fuelled by the fact that the system can always be circumvented. There is neither fear nor caution in the way most government personnel carry on. I will not be tired of citing the case involving the Petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke who was said to have spent N10 billion on flying private jets. The members of the House of Reps wanted to probe it. But because she had presidential cover, she defied all invitations to appear before the House. The president once berated the lawmakers for harassing his ministers.
It is interesting that unemployment has been an issue in the campaigns. While the PDP is promising 2 million jobs a year, the APC is promising 3 million jobs per year. Interesting! However, the federal government has been bandying figures of employments provided in excess of a million. I hardly know where they were employed. I suspect that most of such figures emanating from the Finance ministry are just phony.
Pray, with the price of crude crashing to less than half in the international market in the last six months, how come President Jonathan only realized he had to slightly reduce the price of pump price last week? Is it for nothing many have attributed it to a political gesture, meant to lure voters?
Recently, the Senate president, David Mark had assured that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be passed before the 7th session of the National Assembly winds up. We can hardly wait. However, with a good lobby system, all the barriers against the Bill would have been surmounted long before now.
Here is an executive whose party controls the national assembly until few months ago when the Speaker defected to a rival party. To what advantage has the executive put the majority of the PDP in the National Assembly to use? Does it not show something is wrong? There is something not adding up? For how long shall we run a serious business of governing Nigeria like a game of chance?
Perhaps one major issue that has dogged the Jonathan administration is the issue of corruption. The president hardly believes there is corruption in the country. He recently said, in Enugu, that Nigerians are very hardworking. True! But to say that he cannot see the corruption dancing on the streets of the nation means that he badly needs the glasses of Tinubu so his eyes can see what we are all seeing. After all, he had discounted the crime when he said stealing is not corruption. The boast about Nigeria having the largest number of Private jets in Africa does not quite represent the hard work of Nigerians.
Sadder still, such line of arguments by the president inadvertently embolden the crooks in the land. That is why they have been carrying on with the unstated Paulean declaration: if the presidency be for me, who can be against me? Is anyone still in doubt why the anti-corruption agencies have gone tepid over the years? They are reading the body language of Mr President.
Did we not hear that a top member of the government, using a proxy floated a new airline—Peace Airline, flying several routes in Nigeria? How clever we can be in illicit acts!
Don’t we know that many of the private jet owners are into deals with the Nigerian state?
With just about three weeks to the elections, I am yet, like many other Nigerians, to get my Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), for no fault of mine.
I had gone to both the local government headquarters of where I live as well as the INEC office in my Local government all to no avail. At the INEC office, the lady who attended to me, explained that of the 700persons in the unit where I registered, only two of the PVCs have been printed. Shocked! Two out of 700! The story was the same last Wednesday, when the lady explained that over 50 per cent of PVCs are yet to be claimed.
Here is an election that INEC announced almost one year ago. It is amazing that as basic as the card, without which no one can vote, is yet an issue of plenty grammar. Professor Jega, will need more than mere assurances to calm the frayed nerves. We want our PVCs!
The Pains of a Country
That is the title of my book billed for presentation and launching on Tuesday, January 27 at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos..
Published by Posterity Media, the book, which appears heavy and beautiful, had taken a while in coming.
But it is ready now. Those who have done a few preview are enthralled.
It is a collection of some of the articles I have written over the years. Looking back into some of the articles, I find that our problems as a nation remain largely the same, year-in-year-out.
Media mavens, captains of industries and well heeled politicians amongst others are billed to grace the launch which should also host a mini Colloquium on The 2015 Elections and the Prospect of New Nigeria.
If there was any more evidence needed to prove that Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State lacks the gubernatorial content and character, his mindless front page advertorial in the Punch Newspaper last Monday, proved it beyond every reasonable doubt. The advert has already suffered so much condemnation in the public domain, both for Fayose and the newspaper house which accepted to publish such reckless rubbish. But in dragging in the sacred issue of death into the banal portal of politics, Fayose had attempted to play God. But he is not. Like everyone else, he is a mere mortal. One who could go to bed today and not wake up tomorrow.
To draw a link of death for all leaders from the northwest, prefacing the infamy with a Biblical verse is to elevate heresy to a ridiculous height. It casts vexatious aspersion on that region, implying that it is a region that produces leaders who die in office. How reckless! It is most ungodly to wish another man dead, all in the name of silly politics.
Here was a man, the other day, who was rolling on the floor of Deeper Life Church altar in thanksgiving. How hypocritical!
I have always known that Fayose portends the despicable and ugly image of Nigerian politics which we are labouring to do away with.
Who says the Buhari that he is reviling cannot outlive even him? Is Fayose God?
Echoes of Violence
I was quite glad penultimate Wednesday when both Gen Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan as well as the other also-ran presidential candidates agreed to sign a pact that they will not encourage or support violence, before, during or after the elections.
However, it is one thing to sign such a pact and give an impression of being disposed to peace, and it is quite another to secretly supply all the gasoline that can infuriate the fire of violence.
Already, the signs of war are being seen across the horizon. With the destruction of campaign posters and bill boards of opponents, attack and burning of the buses of President Jonathan’s campaign organization, plus the bombing of APC office in Okrika, Rivers State, the stage had seemed set for electoral Armageddon. But hopefully, the signing of the pact should have zipped the act finally. Last Wednesday Jonathan’s campaign vehicles were attacked and burnt, with a casualty in Katsina, also in Bauchi the president’s convoy was attacked with six SSS operatives hospitalised despite the signed accord. No election or office is worth anybody’s life. Politicians must therefore, both in their body language and pronouncements be seen to be regularly denouncing electoral violence. Their supporters must be cautioned enough.
All said, what will fan the embers of violence is injustice and fraud. Let the preachment of free and fair election subsist and be upheld. It hurts to be denied your place on the later of electoral fraud and manipulation.
What it therefore requires is that all must strive to play by the rules. In all cases, let the better or best candidate win and collectively make Nigeria better for everybody. That is the whole essence.