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Which Way Nigeria: The 2014 Issues As I See Them

February 12, 2014

As I struggled to find out time to scribble down a few notes for my article, I found out that the more I tried, the harder it got and each time I tried to write down my thoughts, something came up which distracted me and before I knew it, time was slipping by.

Politics I discovered was a topic I have a passion for and something I could not run away from and you will agree with me that there is never a dull moment in the political landscape of our land. So many questions go unanswered but like the chorus of the famous song by the famous Omawumi, if you ask me, na who me I go come ask? Anyways, as they say, the show must go on…

It was the late Tony Banks, the ex-Labour MP in the UK who sometime in the 90’s said that “the only thing you can be certain about in politics is that you can’t be certain about anything”. Coming back home to Nigeria and looking at our situation, that statement couldn’t be any truer. Suddenly, everyone except the present Government is bad and all the former “bad” guys are now in the opposition, working together to “liberate” our nascent democracy. It reeks of mockery to the entire nation and even though I had taken a self-proclaimed exile from the political commentary, recent happenings just give me itchy fingers. But not to worry, I will try to navigate the mines by avoiding the controversial stuff.

Never a day passes by that there isn’t something interesting to write about – and we are all good at it. If you are ever in doubt, please spend a few hours on Facebook and you will see that we have abundant resources that have been deployed in that direction. Some people say the sic “-largest” political movement in Nigeria has already begun a sequence of self-implosion – something, only recently a number of “experts” thought would never happen in 60years. In this article, I would try to look specifically at the recent episodes of open communication, public commentary, look at some history, some of its actors and give my impression on everything else in between.

First there was the leaked letter from former President Obasanjo, popularly referred to as OBJ or baba Iyabo, to President Goodluck Jonathan popularly referred to as GEJ where some very serious allegations were made. Some said it was treasonable while others said it was the truth and we should be happy that he had said them. I would rather not take sides here and this is my reason: I am in no position to verify the credibility of the contents of his letter and I would not want to for the sake of national security but I think everybody who knows Baba Iyabo would realise that this is his style – he is the only ex-President who will take the pains to write to any government in power. If he could write to the dreaded Abacha when most of the so-called democrats were glorifying him, why not GEJ.

What I find wrong and this is my personal view, is that he decided to put it in the public domain and our President further took his time to respond to the letter – in the open. Yes, some will say he needed to clear the air but my response is that he could have done that in his New Year’s message to the nation. In my opinion, President Jonathan’s response further exposed his government and made a mockery of the Presidency and the Office of the President. As we were told growing up, two wrongs don’t make a right. Some persons had even tried to exploit the moment and went ahead to forge “open letters” purportedly written by Iyabo Obasanjo and even Former President – Ibrahim Babangida aka IBB but anybody wise enough will know that it was all a ruse.

The other day on a return flight from Abuja, I saw OBJ’s former bulldog – Femi Fani Kayode and some people who were working at the airport approached him and started telling him how “he is the voice of the common man and they were proud of him” and I could see that he was elated. I left the airport thinking to myself – “why would we change when some sycophants actually make these guys believe in themselves”? This is the same Fani-Kayode that has abused everyone from General Gowon to the great Madiba. Someone that was in charge of the aviation ministry with all the the rot in the aviation infrastructure at a time when planes were dropping out of the skies like paper kites suddenly has recovered his voice. I mean I don’t get it!

Then again, there is Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who is permanently on twitter doing what he knows best – tweeting and ranting without care!  He comments on everything from cattle sharing to the existence of a hit list that he so eagerly wants to be on. I recall back then when I was a civil servant in the Federal Civil Service in Abuja when OBJ, in his first term created a special salary scheme for his kitchen cabinet members regarded as the “special ones” and there were even allegations that they were paid in forex – it was very convenient for him not to see anything wrong then even when the rest of the country cried foul. I also recall him getting executive approval from OBJ to demolish people’s houses under the Abuja Master Plan even when they had court orders restraining him to do so.

The other day I also read somewhere in the papers that Obiageli Ezekwesili, the erstwhile Madam Due Process was going on twitter, asking her former “friend” – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to explain something’s about the economy, particularly the “missing” $10bn. Whether money is missing or not is not my headache right now, but no matter how I try to look away, the actors in this drama are not saints in themselves! The same Madam due process that was hiding under executive powers of OBJ and carried on like the country belonged to them and now they are all saints? I think it’s just “bad belle” – when you are not part of it, you are ready to ridicule your own country in a foreign land and bring the house down. But the question I have always asked is this: when they finish burning Nigeria, where will they go?

Then again, there is either Junaid Muhammed, Asari Dokubo or Edwin Clark threatening fire or brimstone if their candidate doesn’t win the election and it’s either the election outcome goes one way or the other else Nigeria will burn. These do-or-die affairs which gained prominence in OBJ’s era is like a monster which they have all created and now we are suffering from it. I mean who gave them the right? I honestly feel that while I would love the President to continue another term in office, if the electorate decides otherwise, he can quietly respect that wish and hand over to whoever wins. Theories of him running for a “3rd” term are in the fantasies of those who only see evil in the land. The man has a right to run and so does those who are up against him.

Even Segun Adeniyi, the Chairman of the editorial board of Thisday Newspapers, who was late President Yar A’dua’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs, stoutly defended his former Boss – stating that the late President Yar a’dua had signed the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill on his bed at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when it was obvious the man was too incapacitated to do so has also picked up his voice and is making an attempt to re-write history. I have one question for him: if you felt Turai was running the government then, why didn’t you resign honourably? Instead, you stayed put, used your contacts and gained a fellowship and now you can open your mouth and tell us lies. Nigerians may have been fooled before but we are wiser and knowledgeable now. We may listen to your fairy-tale but we know how you got where you are.

In all of this, I think there are good things and there are also bad things coming out of this land. The advent of the GSM revolution and penetration of the Internet can be credited to OBJ’s government with the doggedness of Engr. Ernest Ndukwe et al who were at the helm at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Some will argue but the truth is that they were more interested in the start-up and were not as much focused on quality of service which was an approach that has worked for us. Today, prices are down, competition is stiff and you can port as many times as you like.

President Jonathan and his team should just, even though this advice might be too late in the day, prioritize their goals and identify at least one thing – say POWER and fix it! Ignore the APC bandwagon because as it is right now, they can’t win the media war. Reuben Abati and his team are not worth their wages. If only he can fix power for example, the ripple effect it will have on the nation will be so good a reason for the masses to line up behind the umbrella and vote for him again in 2015. If he ignores that and continues to respond to every comment from Lai Mohammed and co in APC, they would have succeeded in distracting him and giving the people good reasons why he can’t continue in office come next election.

It is important to note that it’s not all bad as being painted. Nigeria is our homeland and it doesn’t pay us to rubbish it at every turn. There are indeed some giant strides in power industry that has attracted the likes of Siemens, GE and Alstom to Nigeria with significant investments; the unbundling of PHCN; improvement in the gas supply; transparent privatization of power plants; the silent revolution taking place in the agriculture industry; the passage of the Local Content bill and indeed the Freedom of Information bill that has now made it even possible for information to get to everyone upon request.

Sometimes, like they say you just have to stoop to conquer. This I was told a long time ago and when it is in the greater interest of the people, you just allow it go. This daily tirade between the Federal Government and the likes of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and so many others are not necessary. Politicians will always do what they know best – play politics and in our country, the dirtier, the better. Our politicians from all divides are self-centred, selfish and egoistic. Present day Somalia started in one day and with recent events all around, we are gradually getting close to making that US prophesy of disintegration within a few years come true.

Democracy in itself is a good thing as it makes people in government accountable to the people who “elected” them. However, I don’t think we are ready for it in its current shape and form, at least not yet! It’s an expensive venture for starters – nobody has told us the official cost of running the National Assembly and not one Senator or Member of the House of Representatives – be it APC, PDP or APGA has come out to say “we are earning too much money, we would like to cut it down or return some of it to the Federation account”. They are all enjoying the largesse that has been made legitimate by means of legislation. The same Governors complaining of high handedness by the Federal Government will starve Local Government of funds if they don’t show “loyalty”. In so many states, LGA elections are always won by the party in power – no wonder the opposition are struggling to make Goodluck unable to contest. It’s a game they are all familiar with playing.

These people who call themselves our leaders have stashed our commonwealth in their private accounts all around the world buying up estates and luxury goods; and ensuring that their children never ever have to lift a finger to survive ad then come back and preach hard work to the rest of us! What I would say to any of them who goes around instigating the people to fight for their rights is this: bring your own children, wives, brothers, sisters and entire family to the front of the demonstration and we will be there with you. Until you do that, you lose my respect whoever you are.

People like Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters that sit in their comfortable apartments in New York and instigate people back in Nigeria to fight the government should come back home and join everyone else. Same applies to all those Facebook commentators who live in comfortable climes all over the world yet they are quick to write instigating those living in Nigeria to do this or that. If you so believe in Nigeria, come back home and join in the struggle and bring your family with you like the Philippines and the Orange revolution in Ukraine otherwise, please keep quiet – thank you very much!

The truth just has to be told: APC just like PDP is one and the same; there is no common ideology that keeps them together. For a matter of convenience, old foes are gathering to defeat a common enemy. The big question is when the battle is won, how will they share the loot? That’s when the true APC will reveal its ugly head. Our society is a reflection of all of us – nobody is going to come from the moon to rule us. Only Nigerians will rule Nigeria and the earlier we begin to change ourselves, the better for everyone!

While I will not call myself a soothsayer here is my theory on what will happen and I will be happy to swallow my pride come May 29, 2015 if I am wrong. President Goodluck Jonathan will run come February 14, 2015 and will be announced as winner of the elections, not necessarily that he will win it. The big wigs in APC know this game all too well that’s why they are trying all measures to stop him from running. Even Baba benefitted from a flawed election. The Supreme Court established that when it argued that though there were irregularities, there were some degree of compliance with the process and decided to rule in his favour for the stability of Nigeria – it will happen again. There’s so much at stake that the real kingmakers will not want to see any instability. Just imagine a Cote d’Ivoire happening in Nigeria for a moment and you will quickly drop the thought.

From → Politics

  1. Osam permalink

    Interesting thoughts. I think Nigerians should keep our eyes on the positive changes we are making and continue to be creative on more changes. One would think that the power problem should be a business opportunity in Nigeria – where we focus on distributed power solutions, combined with some kind of financing/credit checks that makes it viable. But we are still fixated on Big power…

    That said, may be we pay too much attention to politicians. We should start to ignore them. May be they’re not worth our time…

    • Okuein permalink

      I agree with you my brother Osam. We have in deed paid too much attention to the politicians! We the Nigerians own Nigeria and should be willing to make sacrifices towards improving our current situation. the question anybody should ask himself is – how can i help ? the sooner we come to terms with that the better for us all!

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I agree with you and also disagree with you on a number of your points chief of my serious disagreemeent is when you say FOI bill is why we are able to get more information. FOUL!! Technology is the reason for our access to information. Imagine that I can read all the newsapers online now without buying any as long as I am able to put on my generator and recharge my phone.
    Do you still have the temerity to blame El-Rufai for demolitions in Abuja? I know you have been to A-Y-A recently and seen the flyover and the half Texaco filling station. Pls recall the days you were a civil servant in Abuja and how A-Y-A was and that filling station was operating. Pls don’t ever touch my anointed again.
    I agree with you that all these politicians are the same. Lots of them ran to ACN and now running to APC simply because they think APC will win the presidency, I mean look at someone like George Akume of Benue state. He jumped to ACN when Suswam will not allow him get nomination in PDP for his 2nd tenure in the senate after 8-yrs of wasting resources as governor.
    Please make your man hear you and give us power in PH, I will campaign and vote for him as well but if all he can do is send NIMASA & Tompolo to kill companies that are contributing to national income and he can’t reach like in NNPC then too bad.
    I agree with you that former attack dogs like Fani Kayode should be stoned but of course our people have been battered to pitiable syncophancy.
    I finally agree with your last paragraph too that these politicians are not just worth our time but it is said that man is a political animal so it looks like we are stuck.

  3. Muhammed permalink

    Just to note that planes actually didnt crash during fani kayodes tenure. I dont like the guy either but just thought to put it out there. In addition, as repugnant as sahara reporters is, they provided the evidence that nailed stella oduah amongst other things. Such persons have a use in our society and we should not be seen to rubbish them totally or ask them to keep quiet. I know you know about the relevance of whistle blowers.

    Asides that, you have made very good points; APC and PDP are more of the same, medicocrity and greed in all places.

  4. onyeintari ziworitin permalink

    pls I am an llb degree holder in law and I did my nysc in 2012 and was also called to the bar in 2012. I will be most grateful if I am considered for this job

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