Prof Tunde Bewaji
In the din of the controversy surrounding the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Nigeria originally scheduled for the auspicious love date of February 14, 2015 to March 28, 2015, it seems from a narrow perspective that the warped purpose of shifting the election dates is being realized: to give the inept, clueless, destructive and profligate government at the centre the opportunity to regroup to steal, rig, abort, truncate or destroy the rights of Nigerians from all walks of life to freely use the ballot to make a final and telling pronouncement on the performance of Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan over the last 8 years in the saddle of governance of this potentially great but perpetually crippled country. The official narrative is that Nigeria is faced with grave insurgency from a rag tag group of extremists which must be “defeated” or “eradicated” in order for elections to be held across the length and breadth of the country. Also, this narrative pretends to be altruistic – ensuring that the masses are not in any way threatened when they go to the polls to choose their leaders. But the reality of the postponement must be placed on the table of our collective consciousness as a product of a scared poor performing PDP regime afraid of losing elections after botching the trust of Nigerians over a near two decade period. It is like saying that poverty must be eradicated before elections can take place by a group whose policies and decisions are responsible for the pauperization of the masses of the people. Or, suggesting that dissent must be tamed before elections can be organized in order to forestall the prospects of disagreements about the reality of contest for office by a group whose performance calls into question their capacity to reason or to be trusted with governance. Let us recap, in order to understand why we are in this predicament:
But what happened?
1) First, Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan allowed the world to believe that he had a PhD in Zoology, when he knew that he did not. In fact, a PhD Dissertation is public document crediting worth to which a degree is awarded and which anyone could request for and read or study, but it would seem that Mr. Jonathan’s Dissertation does not exist.
2) Second, Mr. President allowed his wife, who did not work for the Bayelsa State Government, to draw salaries for years, and to even be promoted while not in the service of the state – showing that stealing by obtaining money under false pretense is not corruption and he simply doesn’t give a damn for the 170 million people of this country who toil honestly on a daily basis to make a modest living.
3) Under Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Nigeria virtually imploded, with Boko Haram, a ragtag band of criminal fanatics with no meaningful agenda except wanton destruction of life and property, taking tracts of Nigeria and shamefully making a mockery of our collective national existence.
4) Under Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, 219 young girls were abducted and carted into captivity, slavery and prostitution without trace and without even the President or his team of so-called international executive members showing any pang of anxiety or desire to give the girls and their families any sympathy. For nearly one year, these children are still in captivity. And we now approach the anniversary of their abduction, yet the irony does not strike Mr. President that it would be a gross injustice and irony to schedule elections around the date of the abduction of 219 Nigerian children without any trace or action by Mr. President or his cabal of associates, advisers or hangers-on.
5) Under Mr. Jonathan market women from Oyo State who went to Borno State from the South West to buy goods were butchered by criminals and no one has been apprehended or brought to justice.
6) Under Mr. Jonathan Ministers of government spend billions of public funds to charter Jets and to buy armoured vehicles without any NASS approval or budget and nothing happens.
7) Under Mr. Jonathan billions are spent “transforming” the International Airports only to find that after the cosmetic facelifts, simple things such as drainage to prevent runway flooding, proper runway lighting to guide pilots taking off and landing, air-conditioning in the halls to provide conducive environment for workers and passengers, proper access and exit roads to facilitate free movement of persons and to prevent logjam in case of emergency are not attended to.
8) Under Mr. Jonathan the state of the National Electricity supply to power production-distribution became worse, as the so-called “transformation” privatization of the sector only led to poorer services to the consumers. From an inherited near 4000 megawatts of power in 2007, which was inadequate, we are now at near only 2500 megawatts, which explains why the nation is in collective darkness and little or no productive work ever gets done on any regular day as the cumbersome individual generation of power is economically unviable and poses a health hazard to the families so doing.
Under Mr. Jonathan the basic purposes of government, which are security and protection of life and property were neglected, with the insurgency claiming needless thousands of lives, robberies become routine, kidnappings becoming national pastime and life degenerating into the Hobbesian state of nature – being brutish, nasty and short. Simple health problems and hazards lead to death or required journeying to neighbouring countries for treatment – as his own (the President’s) sister’s case, which he gleefully narrated in an interview, serves to indicate, even while he did not feel any shame that it is disgraceful for his sister to have to go to Ghana for such simple procedure!
1) Under Mr. Jonathan the Naira has seen its worse devaluation since independence in such a short period of time, losing nearly half its value within the last 8 years of his watch, with the knock-on effect on the declining standard of living of the masses of the people.
2) Under Mr. Jonathan the foreign reserves have been depleted and borrowing is the only way to continue to give the appearance of normality in the business of running the government. In fact salaries are in arrears and basic maintenance works are abandoned.
3) Under Mr. Jonathan crime and violence have been raised to a national height and criminals, racketeers, ex-convicts and hoodlums are his bosom friends, confidants, advisers, ministers and associates. This is even more evident in the kinds of spokespersons that are selected to provide narratives of deception to the public space.
4) Under Mr. Jonathan more Nigerians now own more jets than nationals of countries where these jets are manufactured and 16 become greater than 19.
5) Under Mr. Jonathan billions of dollars vanish without trace and those who had the temerity to complain are victimized. Even more significant, false claims are made about subsidies which did not exist, in order to punish the already dispossessed Nigerians even more. And when the NASS did not approve of any more subsidies on kerosene, the cabal of friends and associates of the President continue to claim and pay same to each other at the expense of the Nigerian masses.
6) Under Mr. Jonathan the Military of Nigeria were used to subvert the existence of Nigeria and to rig elections in Ekiti State, when they should have been used in the North Eastern part of the country to perform the role for which they were set up originally, which is to defeat insurgency, protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to repel external aggression should such arise.
7) Under Mr. Jonathan our Military are sent to the war front within Nigeria to die while the resources to equip them are diverted to personal use of the officer corps or funneled to the enemy – which is why USA said it will not share intelligence with or give resources to our army, because it will be used to kill Americans, as our resources are being given to the criminals to be used by the insurgents to kill Nigerian soldiers
8) Under Mr. Jonathan poverty, unemployment, destitution have gained momentum, to the point where desperation is the order of the day for many Nigerians who now sell their own kids, engage in baby factories, die while seeking non-existent jobs at the National Stadium in Abuja, engage in armed robberies, embark on kidnapping of people for ransom, sell human body parts and become suicide bombers on the instigation of their mentors than ever before in our country.
9) Under Mr. Jonathan civil servants, special assistants, special advisers and aids who dare to speak the truth are targeted for destruction, either through the procurement of accidents for them to eventuate their demise, or through sack or through character assassination.
10) Under Mr. Jonathan the Boko Haram sponsors and financiers which he said are in his government are shielded and protected and even pampered, as in the trip to Chad with one of the financier of Boko Haram.
11) Under Mr. Jonathan, the Nigerian Army that has been reputed for valor and gallantry globally became a scorned institution which needed the bailout of neighbours such as Chad, Niger and Cameroons.
12) Under the most “educated” Nigerian to have had the opportunity to lead Nigeria (with a fake PhD degree which was never awarded because never completed), the saying that book knowledge does not amount to wisdom, which explains the cynicism of many indigenous people about Western education, has been shown to be correct. In fact, under Mr. Jonathan the failure of Western education has been demonstrated to everyone beyond doubt. We have known before that going to school and passing examinations does not mean that you are a humane person. In fact, the contrary has been proven to be the case with Mr. Jonathan, showing that we all need to revisit the whole purpose and content of what passes as education in the school system in Nigeria today.
13) Under Mr. Jonathan, our collective integrity has been assaulted, and no amount of taking the fight to Boko Haram in 6 weeks and now 1 month as mentioned in his interview with the BBC can correct 6 years of unnecessary loss of life and destruction of property. Indeed, what will Mr. Jonathan tell the families of the Chibok girls? Will he tell them that they were unimportant when the abduction happened because it was not election year? How does he explain to the families of the thousands killed or maimed by Boko Haram during the time of his self-imposed stupor? Would he console them by saying that they should take heart, election has woken him up to his responsibility and he should be commended for waking up and rewarded with reelection to the highest office in the land?
What is the solution?
APC must continue to dialogue with our friends in the international community to ensure that we prevent the disaster that is lurking in the shadows of Jonathan’s greed, ineptitude and megalomania. APC must not relent in showing that what was never good in the morning cannot become good in the afternoon or in the evening. We have experienced near 8 years of Mr. Jonathan in power, and he has been a peculiar mess, an unmitigated disaster, a nightmare to Nigeria and the African continent. He fumbled everywhere he went, from ECOWAS to AU, from the United Nations to ACP. Even from his state of origin, there is nothing to write home about. A President who says to his state of origin and neighbours that he acknowledges he has totally ignored them for 8 years, but now on the eve of an election he is sure to lose, promises a sudden change of habit cannot be trusted. When you are called a thief, you do not play with a kid goat: but the President seems not to have any element of elementary cultural education to know that people who praise you when you do well have a right to blame you when you mess up. And if your masquerade only has disaster to parade, why should anyone wait for a performance of perfidy?
Fellow Nigerians, it is time to liberate ourselves from the scourge that is PDP. 16 years is enough for the experiment in disaster. Compatriots, it is time to tell the man from Otueke, to your tent Oh Jonathan. While we all embraced you, given your minority pedigree; while we all fought to ensure that you were not cheated out of your constitutional right to the Presidency on the demise of Yar Adua, and we all ensured that the “Doctrine of Necessity” propelled you to substantive position that was your right; while we thought that two years running the rest of the deceased President’s term was not enough to make your mark and we voted for you in 2011, you must now recognize how that golden opportunity to make an indelible mark on the sands of time was totally wasted by your clueless, feckless, often mentally inept self. You will agree that Nigeria deserves better treatment from capable hands. And for this reason, you will agree that the best interest of your country must be served, against the parochial interest of your clansmen and women who may have benefited from your office, and against the selfish interest of the cabal that holds Nigeria in a stranglehold of death, including the senile Edwin Clarke who refuse to understand your failure.
Should you refuse to do the necessary, by conducting a free and fair election, acting on the Yoruba adage that kaka k’eku ma je sese, a fi s’awa danu, history is replete with the sorry examples of what happened to those who have gone that route in the past, showing that the ends of such persons have never been other than terrible disgrace for themselves and those who prop them up. Do not forget the Mobutus, Idi Amins, the Taylors and others who have defied reason, logic and humanity to plunge their societies into unnecessary strife and destruction. You have been President, whether by accident, fate or luck. There is no way Nigeria’s history is going to be recounted without your name coming up as a past President.
Should you continue along the path you have embarked upon by postponing the election to crown your arrogance with absolute annulment or cancellation, remember that you have been warned. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. If you fail to heed the advice of well-meaning Nigerians and friends of Nigeria internationally, you can be sure that you can run, but you cannot hide from the inescapable fate
Bewaji contributed this piece from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.