The President's Eye For Violence - By Odimegwu Onwumere
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It was this time last year. December 15, 2010, was the date. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) and Abubakar Atiku threatened Goodluck Jonathan. This was during the build-up to the 2011 general elections. IBB and Atiku were two of Jonathan's major
challengers. The duo declared their intention to stop Jonathan at all cost. They spoke at the National Stakeholders Conference organised by the Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum in Abuja. The two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirants vowed that if Jonathan made peaceful transition impossible, he should be prepared for the inevitability of violent change. In their words: Any attempt to disrupt zoning arrangement portends ominous prospects to the electoral fortunes of the PDP and also endangers orderly political transition in the nation. The event was chaired by Babangida to drum up support for Atiku in the South.
Many Nigerians condemned the statement by IBB and Atiku that they were inciting treason against the country. Their heads were called for. Many people suggested that they should be arrested and prosecuted. Nigeria nearly stood still. Tension graced the electorates in the April, 2011 elections. Boko Haram was bombing parts of its targets in the country. Men of God and Men of Satan prophesied doom and boom for the elections. Witches even supported some of the aspirants. The elections however came and have gone with some electoral casualties in some states.
On the contrary, this article is not intended to exhume what IBB and Atiku had said or to call for their debasement, but to look at what could be the fate of a train when the head is heading for collision. President Goodluck Jonathan had (the same time last year when IBB and Atiku could not bridle their mouths because of the quest for power by all means) on the 10 th December, 2011 said that he was ready for Revolution if Nigerians are stoical that the oil subsidy would not be removed. ("Subsidy removal: I'm ready for mass revolt" -Jonathan. This was the news in the Nigerian newspapers from 11 th Dec. 2011).
As if that one was not enough Olusegun Obasanjo who is rather a comedian than a statesman had come up with a shocking revelation on 5 th December 2011, saying that Nigeria faces unrest, unless jobs are provided for youths. He said this in Abeokuta at a workshop entitled: 'Economic diversification and revenue generation', organised by the government of Ogun State in conjunction with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). He was of the belief that the civil disturbances that took all the peace of the Arab world this year is likely to be experienced in Nigeria, if there is disengagement between the government and the people.
In Obasanjo's word, 'It doesn't matter which way you look at it today. People are now talking of Arab Spring. Some people will say, 'Is Egypt not developing?' On economic scale, after South Africa, it is Egypt in Africa. Has Libya not got resources? At one time with a population of about five million, Libya was producing as much oil as Nigeria was producing. But there was still discontent because, yes, in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it may be growing well, but in terms of employment generation, there is disconnect. That is one of the elements that led to the Arab Spring. There are others, but let me take this one that is relevant to our discussion today. If this is the case, agriculture and agricultural business is important.'
While Nigerians had condemned IBB and Atiku for saying deviation against the country because of the issue of zoning, Jonathan whom many of us thought was a humble and honest man is today pushing Nigerians to the wall of violence, by his statement, simple because of monetary gains in governance. Jonathan has shown, by his call for Revolution, that he was pretentious to be what he was not and has started unfolding his real self by using violence words, just as IBB and Atiku, as a means to get what he wants.
How could this country come back to the part of honour when even the president has an eye for violence? It is saddening that someone as the president threatened the nation he is heading. What an economic interest! Jonathan is making the 2011 project looks like it is a reversal of 1993-1999, when the opinion of Nigerians mattered nothing under the generalissimo Olusegun Obasanjo. The tension that IBB and Atiku mounted on Nigeria made people to characterize the 2011 elections as North vs. South. But today, it is Jonathan vs. Nigerians, because of oil subsidy. Jonathan has made Revolution as alternate manifesto if Nigerians did not give him chance to subsidize the oil. He forgot that he is frustrating Nigerians. Wow! Revolution becomes Jonathan's highest show of solidarity. Is Nigeria not finished when someone whom Nigerians held in high esteem as an educated person, because he holds a PhD, is brainwashing Nigerians to think towards Revolution?
After the elections and Jonathan won, we heard people saying that this Goodluck should not turn to be Badluck to Nigerians. Many of us waved this statement with the left of the hand, saying that it was coming from the Northern mercenaries, who were characterized as being power drunk. The insinuation was that they were making such statement, because power had eluded them and they felt that Nigeria would be in big trouble.
One could not say whether the incessant bombings and motiveless killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram were the build-up to the violence inevitability in the country that was credited to IBB and Atiku or the Revolution mindset of President Jonathan; or was it the objective of zoning? The Federal Government was always asking Nigerians to avoid post election violence and the threat of violence. The 'crusader of Revolution' today was it who was saying that any form of violence would not be taken for granted.
It is a pity that some people are making a Rwanda situation in Nigeria. PDP should respectfully tell Nigerians again what it did with its zoning formula if that was the case. We are tired of living in a climate of fear. Whatsoever violence that erupts is not consuming the Big men, but the poor and their loved ones. The era of intimidating the south or the north is gone, but replaced with the intimidation of Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigerians are today picking their nostrils thinking, sighing in stupour of disconsolation. We now understand that if IBB, Atiku and Mohammadu Buhari were desperate to be president of Nigeria, Jonathan has shown that he was most desperate. While the two of IBB and Atiku made us to believe that without the zoning there would be chaos, Jonathan has made us to believe that without the oil subsidy removed, there would be revolution.
Nigeria will never be better with the mindset of her leaders intimidating the 'common' Nigerians when we speak out. Hardly is Jonathan thinking about the fortress of our chequered financial institutions, how to leverage the sufferings of the people. Farming is dead in Nigeria, research in the schools are dead… and the Jonathan-led government talks equivocally as if without oil there will never be anything like Nigeria. No wonder the national security and stability are threatened because the President also has an eye for Revolution.