Tag Archives: President Jonathan

2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: THE BATTLES, THE VICTORY AND THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA

There are elections and there are elections but the 2015 Nigeria Presidential Election will for years be considered as “The Election”. It is the election that has defined the Nigerian spirit. A spirit which from independence has been tried, pummeled, and abused by the political class.  The 2015 presidential election had everything in it: campaigns rallies, slanderous documentaries, hate speeches, and an iniquitous squander of state funds.  Even the release of election results by the collations officers was froth with tension. The suspense was palpable.  Professor after professor- the heads of our esteemed Ivory Towers graced the podium and pronounced results that either sunk hearts or made hearts merry. Everyone stayed glued to their TV sets, computer screens, or clutched transistor radios close to their ears: A New Nigeria was about to be born.

In 2011, President Jonathan was greeted as the breadth of fresh air in the political stratosphere. He was seen as the one to liberate Nigerians from hegemonic northern oligarchs. After about two years in office, it became clear the President had fallen prey to some unforeseen powers. His administration floundered over basic responsibilities; from the fuel subsidy removal, the granting of clemency to Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, to the celebration of non-declaration of assets and of course the response to the kidnap of the Chibok school girls. Allegations of corruption by his government were met by defiance and the President stood by ministers who were in the wrong. As time wore on, hope in Jonathan died like a candle flame.

Come 2015, the dynamics had changed. Nigerians were faced with two options: reelect a Jonathan who had nothing else to offer or vote for change at the hands of a ruthless General. We were polarized as the east is from the west. General Muhammadu Buhari, a three-time contender who failed in three previous attempts at the Presidency was here again. Though successful with northern voters, he was bound to fail again unless he did something differently. That difference was offered to him by the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a dogged man and political juggernaut in the South-West. Asiwaju, as he is fondly called resisted then President Obasanjo’s attempt to make Nigeria a one-party state. As the governor of Lagos State, he fought Obasanjo’s overtures to take over the South-West. Tinubu, aware that the key to the centre of government was a coalition between votes he could garner in the south and those guaranteed by Buhari from North, sought an alliance the general.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) party was formed and it wore a National outlook. With a formidable opposition in place, the mission was clear: Take the fight to the PDP and become the ruling party at the center. Buhari candidature presented a fundamental problem: How to convince southern and Christian voters he was not a religious bigot and fundamentalist.  The answer to that puzzle was Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as running mate. Prof. Osinbajo, a former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of the Lagos State government under Tinubu is also a Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Osinbajo was not just a regular Pastor; he was close to the heart of the General Overseer of one of the largest church organizations in the world- Pastor Enoch Adeboye. It worked!

The campaigns began:  The APC’s Change versus the PDP’s Continuity rang over the airwaves.  APC had an earlier start and sprung into action bringing the failure of the sitting government and the PDP to the fore. On the other hand, the PDP in characteristic fashion dismissed the APC’s campaign and used the only tool they knew: hominem. They hired Femi Fani Kayode, a hatchet politician who centered Jonathan’s campaign on lampooning Buhari rather than on promoting the President’s achievements. From certificate forgeries and senility of septuagenarians to Buhari’s ruthless human rights background; the PDP fired on.  The ruling party’s campaign failed, in fact it seemed that the more the attacks on Buhari, the more popular he became with the people. His acceptance grew like a wild fire and “Sai Buhari” chants were heard within walls of the most ascetic conservative.

February 14, the original set date for the Presidential Election drew near and the PDP entered panic mode. Everyone had caught the Buhari bug and the jury was out on Jonathan’s administration. His petroleum minister and ministry, an inept media and communications team and an anonymous Vice President had done him in.  His trusted Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy had mismanaged our economy.  Falling crude oil prices and wide-spread corruption were more watershed moments for the President. Something desperately needed to be done and the ruling party threw everything to discredit the electioneering process and the man in charge of the Electoral Commission-Prof. Attahiru Jega They opposed the use of card readers, a device that would obviously improve the integrity of the process.

Six weeks preceding the new election date of March 28, Nigerians saw a metamorphosis in the campaign and personality of President Goodluck Jonathan.  Like a Phoenix, President Jonathan rose from the ashes and became a new man. He became the President he wasn’t in the previous five years. He went to Mubi and Baga-towns ravaged by the dreaded Boko haram. He finally visited the troops to boost their morale as their Commander-in- Chief; he met with various interest groups and rallied youths around the country. It was too late. The people had made up their minds, Jonathan must leave.

As the election figures poured in, my heart made sounds I had not heard before. With pen and paper in hand, I painstakingly took note as the last state-Edo- gave Buhari the required coverage he needed. History had been made. “Sai Baba” had done it!

In Nigeria, elections are “winners’ take all”. Usually the party who wins cheers and jeers and goes on as though they do not recognize the citizenry who put them in power.  But this is like no other election; it was the people’s election. Buhari’s victory became a victory for all Nigerians irrespective of class, age, ethnic cleavage or religion

It is a victory especially for the electorate because we have sent a clear message that we are the ones who matter. It does not matter what Nollywood actors say or think; it does not matter if Royal fathers point “scepters” at you, it does not matter if thugs and warlords try to disturb the peace, what matters on election day is what the Nigerian people want.

Believe it or not, It is also a victory for the PDP. Nelson Mandela in his book, Long Walk To Freedom said:   “…the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.  A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred; he is locked behind bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness”. The PDP, being prisoners of their arrogance and misrule for sixteen years, must search their souls to discover where they failed the people. The next four years would give them time to put up a proper manifesto to sell to the Nigerian people.  As an opposition party they must ensure that they strengthen democracy by keeping the APC on her feet.

President Goodluck called General Mohammadu Buhari to congratulate him. I have been worried over the legacy of his Presidency for a while now and I am happy he has finally etched his name in gold in Nigeria’s history books. He has defined himself in the hearts of even those who did not support his candidacy. He probably will not completely understand the importance of his actions but history will judge him well.

In the same fashion, let everyone congratulate his neighbor irrespective of religious or ethnic affiliation. Let everyone arise and shine and jubilate for this victory of democracy and Nigeria. Let the President elect reconcile all Nigerians especially those of eastern and southern extraction. Let us discover things that made this change possible and promote them. It is clear that we cannot ignore the importance social media played in enabling a more transparent process. The introduction of technology in restoring the integrity of electioneering must continue.

General Mohammadu Buhari has won the 2015 Presidential Election. He is truly a phenomenon in Nigerian Politics.  He is a success and a clear example of   resilience and perseverance. I hope he can go the mile and deliver on campaign promises.  Nigerians are in desperate need for change. And that change is here!

By: Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

Follow me on twitter: @otaigbe05

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GOODLUCK JONATHAN: A PRESIDENT IN SEARCH OF A LEGACY

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Sir Winston Churchill

Goodluck-Jonathan

The Goodluck Jonathan administration is in its twilight. There is a chance the President will get another shot at the top job if he wins a second term into office. But let’s ask ourselves a question: What if he doesn’t return reelected; are his achievements impressive enough for Nigerians to remember the President for good? Right now, the answer may well be in the negative. Jonathan’s presidency has been beleaguered within and out with criticism especially because of the Boko Haram leads insurgents and incursions in the North-Eastern part of the country. Important aspects of National discuss critical to Nigeria’s development such as the economy, power, education and road infrastructure have taken the back seat.

It is unclear the direction Mr. President has taken the nation in the last four years. The transformation agenda has been more a rhetoric than a blue-print. Although the Presidency will lay claim to some accomplishments; on the whole, they are not enough to save Jonathan’s name for posterity.

On foreign policy, Jonathan’s administration has made commendable progress. Nigeria has responded promptly and responsibly to the needs of her citizens abroad. For instance: when the issue of the £3000 visa bond by the United Kingdom came up, the Nigerian government rose to the occasion. Also, after South Africa deported Nigerians for allegedly possessing phony yellow cards, the Nigerian Government responded in kind. Nigerians felt proud and a level of patriotism was palpable because we saw that the government would come to our defense whenever the need arose. Under Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria also assumed membership of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, trade ties with the Asian giant, China have been robust under the Goodluck era.  On the African continent, Nigeria may not possess the “Big Brother” mien she did under Obasanjo (in trying to stabilize other African countries’ democracies) but she is well positioned to assert herself in the committee of nations both in the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Still, the president’s progress in foreign policy is not enough and will not guarantee Goodluck’s legacy.

If there was ever any area one could call a “quick-win” for the President, it was in power. A solution to Nigeria’s power problem is sure to confer a “savior-like” status on anyone who delivers on the mandate. Nigerians have not seen remarkable improvements in this sector even after the privatization of the PHCN. A large number of people still live in darkness and have to generate their own electricity. Despite the 7% growth in GDP between 2002 and 2012 and the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, it would be near impossible for this growth to be felt by the poor without stable electricity. The much talked about diversification of the economy through agriculture is still a work in progress. Nothing this administration his working on is complete! So here again, Jonathan will not be venerated for his efforts in the economy and agriculture or for improving power. The Obasanjo era achieved better in terms of debt relief, telecommunications and banking reforms.  As outlined earlier, Jonathan’s administration may have made some strides in some areas but these developments are too slow and too minuscule to give a long lasting legacy.

It is becoming clear that it is the security challenge that will define Jonathan’s legacy for good or bad.  Violence linked with Boko Haram have claimed at least 10,000 lives. Boko Haram have burned schools, killed teachers and raised churches and mosques. They have gone after traditional rulers and governors. Women and children have turned refugees in their own country. The physical infrastructural damage run into billions of naira while the psychological cost will not be quantified for years to come. Boko Haram is public enemy number one. This terrorist group sunk a new low when they kidnapped over 200 Chibok girls in the dead of the night. The world was aghast and queried the government in power whose responsibility it is to safe-guard the girls. Celebrities and notable figures around the world including Michelle Obama got on #BringBackOurGirls campaign demanding the release of the girls.  Jonathan’s administration floundered in its military and media response following the abductions.  World-wide criticism from local and foreign media including Aljazeera and CNN did not spare disparaging remarks on Mr. President and his armed forces. Jonathan’s already wounded image took yet another plunge.  In a self-redeeming effort, the President put up an OP-ED in the Washington Post explaining his silence over the Chibok abductions. The editorial has done little to help him because so long as the girls remain at large, it is considered another failure in his responsibilities. There is a growing hopelessness and despair about his leadership style and Nigerians and the world await any kind of good news about the girls and the security of the country.

I am certain the Chibok abduction would define President Jonathan’s administration forever. He has done well in trying to galvanizing international support in fighting terrorism in Nigeria. He has also sought more funding (about $1 billion) from the National Assembly to fight terror. As much as Nigerians want Boko Haram stopped, we are also skeptical to believe the money would be utilized for what it is voted for given our antecedence with corruption. It would indeed be sad if this money find its way into private pockets. While we await the findings on the $470 million invested in the procurement of CCTV cameras in the FCT and Lagos; we are yet to highlight a single crime that these cameras helped prevent since their deployment.

Although Boko Haram is the obvious threat to our dear nation, corruption is the cancer that has made Boko Haram’s activities thrive. Aside from security issues, our inability to prosecute corruption has undermined Jonathan’s efforts to transform Nigeria.  It is fact that the EFCC is no longer revered like it was under Nuhu Ribadu. Under Late President Yar’Adua, Farida Waziri lead the arrest of ex bank chiefs accused of corruption. There was ‘sanitation’ of the banking sector that saved Nigeria’s economy from taking more damage from the global melt down. Under this administration, Nigeria has had to rely on the British Justice System to bring her citizens to justice. This President has also pardoned crimes that bother on corruption. It is the prerogative of the President to pardon whoever he wants, but he pardons send a clear signal to the world that President Jonathan’s anti-corruption mantra was a tale for the moonlights.

A television advertisement has tried to draw a parallel between President Jonathan and great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and President Obama. Our President must know that these great leaders are praised for actual achievements and not for campaigns.  These men stood up for something or against something and these defined their legacy. Mandela stood against apartheid and stood up for the rights of black South Africans. Lee Kuan Yew grew Singapore from a just another country to one of the most developed in Asia. And of course President Obama brought a new meaning to the word-change- when he defeated John McCain in the stiffly contested election to be the first black President of the United State of America. It is a good thing that President Jonathan has set such high standards for himself and aspires that his name be called in the same breath as such great figures; but this can only be done if he achieves the mandate he was actually voted for and not with foreign PR firms helping to launder his image.

Whether he likes it or not, President Jonathan’s actions or inactions regarding security especially the return of the Chibok girls will be the defining moment for him. Winston Churchill will forever be known as the man who in war time rallied the support of the world especially President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United State, against the evil Adolf Hitler. It is clear that the war defined Churchill’s legacy. President Goodluck can do same and can be that man who will lead Nigeria out of the doldrums of terror. He can be that man if he decides to face the battle headlong devoid of political interests.

Nigeria has had more than her share of killings. The security problem has claimed innocent lives and the blood of the innocent knows no religious or ethnic cleavage. There is no Christian, Moslem, North or South divide when it comes to life. The air we breathe has no color or race or religion. President Jonathan must be that man to bring Nigerians together and win the fight against terror which has tried to change the way we live. He can bring his people together like President Bush did after 9/11. He can show us who we are as Nigerians. He can inspire faith in him once again and it has to begin with bringing the girls home. Gandhi did it, Mandela did it and Obama is doing it. President Jonathan, can also achieve greatness if he will just put his personal ambitions aside and put Nigeria first. That is the only way he will succeed. Nigeria will work someday, I am certain of it, but whether it will be Jonathan who would lead the people from the wilderness into the promise land, time as they say will tell.

 

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OTEDOLA, FAROUK LAWAN AND A FALLING HOUSE

The Nigerian state has yet again been thrown into another circus. For those that have been following the news, Hon. Farouk Lawan, a member of the House of Representatives, a man loved by many and hated by some has been the object of mixed emotions lately. But whether you love him or loathe him, he was definitely a star on the rise in Nigerian Politics. In a country known for people worship, adulation came the way of Mr. Farouk like waves on the sea shore. I put him on the pedestal somewhere right below Malam Nuru Ribadu. I have always had the feeling that if there was going to be a genuine fight against corruption, it would be spear-headed by a northerner.  I don’t know where I got that idea but it stuck like glue to my mind for a while before this very ugly incident.

I have to ask this question before I go on: What the hell was Hon. Farouk thinking? For a man who I thought was intelligent, he obviously lacks street smartness. You don’t deal with “cowboys” without having an ace on you. You don’t dine with the devil without a long spoon, in fact you shouldn’t even show up for dinner. I have tried to analyze the recent bribery findings in ten different ways, and Farouk loses out every time.

My candid opinion is that whenever you are put in a position to fight corruption especially in a country like Nigeria, the first thing you ought to do is insulate yourself. By insulation I mean a complete sequestration from anything that can discredit you while you hold that office. Mrs. Farida Waziri was right when she said that in Nigeria, if you try and fight corruption, it would fight you back.  To quote the rapper Jay Z, “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”. Mr. Farouk ought to have known he was walking a tight rope, and should have kept himself from any form of blemish.

After the January fuel subsidy crises that led to a microscopic look at the oil sector rumored to be arguably the most corrupt in the world, it became obvious that the gloves had been taken off so to speak. It was general opinion that the subsidy regime was laden with corruption at an iniquitous level.  Consequently it would be impossible not to have the so called “cabal” unmasked. The Jonathan administration was under pressure to offer some credibility to the much professed anticorruption crusade. And this was the litmus test. This administration has had a poor showing so far as far as anticorruption campaign is concerned and thus the need to engender confidence was necessary. Nigeria can never move forward if corrupt people aren’t put in prison for the simple reason that if corruption is rewarded, and not punished, it becomes lucrative. Right now, you are more likely to be labeled as foolish if you are honest.

Let’s try and build a case for Farouk (there is no case but let’s try anyway)

If we assume that he really did want to use the money as exhibit against Mr. Femi Otedola, why didn’t he lodge the money with the CBN? And why the desire to take the initiative against the oil mogul?  If he was so sure people wanted to bribe him and he was only considering a sensational finale to his remarkable accomplishment as a crime detective, why didn’t he wait for the “crooks” to come to him? He would have had a more tenable argument. Second, let’s also assume he was trained in Quantico at the FBI bureau or worked with Jack Bauer on the second season of 24, why didn’t he have an alibi. No one knew, not the House Speaker, not the EFCC chairman, not the CBN governor, not even his partner, Tony Almieda (wink wink). He went alone, for he works alone.

It may have started like a real espionage mission but it sure has ended as a freak show from hell. I strongly believe Farouk legitimately wanted to be a hero but seriously you can’t have that sort of “cheese” in your house and not be tempted by it. The bible warns us to be flee from every appearance of evil. Farouk Lawan did not flee. In fact he embraced it and went to bed with it. And along the way he decided he was going to keep the money for himself. If that wasn’t the case, Zenon oil wouldn’t have been expunged from the list. The mere fact that it was originally there and it was later “amended” and removed by him (Farouk), he and by extension the full report cannot be said to be credible.  Its common sense, If I know I am going to be hurt badly by a repot I would either attack the legitimacy of the report or attack the credibility of the person who wrote the report or attack both. We have seen this game before with the power probe and SEC probe.

The Otedola Angle                                                                                                                                

It beggars belief that the state will collaborate with a man under investigation to implicate a man empowered to conduct the investigation.  Common sense suggests it should be the other round but hey there, this is Nigeria. On the other hand, Mr. Otedola may as well be the victim of the serial probes by House committees.

The Way Forward

First and foremost, I believe strongly that Nigeria needs to uphold its institutions and for this reason the House must bring stiff disciplinary actions against Farouk. Not since the Water Gate scandal, has an arm of government witnessed this amount of embarrassment that has come the way of the Lower House. From Patricia Ette, to Hembe and now Lawan, the House must take deliberate steps to redeem its image. It’s a shame that such a fine gentleman is being used as a scapegoat but the law must be seen to work. He should resign honorably and if he won’t he should be removed by whatever means the law affords. If people begin to see all House members as corrupt people, our democracy is dead and buried.

Second, this may be far-fetched but something in me hopes the original report would still be implemented. The whole point of this charade is to discredit the report but we can’t allow people who stole over 1.6 trillion naira to walk. That would be carnage.

If this probe ends this way I would never believe a single word the President speaks about anti-corruption ever again. If this were the US, President Obama would have said something by now, our President’s silence is deafening.

©2012 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

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