If Jonathan Is Not Good, Who Is?

By Kali Gwegwe
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Political opposition is to democracy what spices are to food. Sadly, opposition politics in Nigeria has been characterised by deep parochial sentiments, thereby making it difficult for several decent minded people to embrace the opposition. Apart from the fact that most of the leaders in the opposition performed poorly while they were in government only some few years back, their language is mostly dirty and unexpected of persons that desire to lead others.

There is a big difference between political opposition and the ventilation of anger, frustration, and hate. At the beginning, many had thought that the emergence of the APC would bring sanity to the culture of political opposition in Nigeria. They had believed that the spirit behind the merger would be able tame the excesses of some unmanageable individuals but things seem to be getting worse by the day.

Only last week, Buba Marwa and his teeming supporters in Adamawa State dumped the APC for PDP, accusing the leadership of the opposition of deceit, highhandedness, and impunity. The question many curious observers are however asking is: Can a leopard change its spots? The APC says it can. Godfatherism is one of the several spots the party says it can change.

Barely one month after its formation, the integrity of the APC was put to test. True to popular opinion, it failed woefully. In its characteristic style, the leadership of the party, influenced by the ACN Spirit, met in Abuja and endorsed Senator Chris Ngige as its gubernatorial candidate for Anambra State. However, following angry protests by aggrieved party members, including some of the aspirants, a stage-managed primary was later conducted in Awka, where Ngige eventually won. This was when it dawned on most Nigerians that a leopard would remain a leopard. It cannot change its spots.

Not impressed by the dictatorial tendencies of its leaders, the APGA and CPC components of the APC in Anambra State threatened to pull out of the merger to align with other parties. The bitter truth is that, political merger cannot work in the face of injustice. This was why Buhari was initially cautious and therefore preferred an alliance to an outright merger.

Of greater worry is the fact that the leadership of the APC has rudely abandoned democracy to promote 'Insultocracy.' This is a strange political culture based on insulting political opponents. Bisi Akande, the interim national Chairman of the APC, in an effort to paint the president black before Nigerians, referred to Jonathan as a 'kindergarten president.' This is the height of political recklessness. There are indeed several civilized ways to conduct opposition politics.

Only recently, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State told Nigerians that when President Jonathan presented himself for election into the most exalted office in the country, the only credential he presented was that he 'had no shoes.' This is not political opposition but ventilation of frustration. The response from Nigerians, most of whom are his admirers has sent a strong message to the leadership of the APC that Nigerians are not ready tolerate negative political opposition. Nigerians should be careful of desperate politicians. Desperate people can afford to do anything, including destruction of lives and properties just to express their frustration. This is the very root that waters militancy, insurgency, and fundamentalism.

For Mallam Nasir el Rufai, former minister of the FCT; his hatred for President Jonathan defies every sense of morality and natural wisdom. He insults the president as if it is his civic responsibility to do so. El Rufai, who is currently the assistant national secretary of the APC went as far as calling President Jonathan a scumbag. Is this the language of political opposition?

The greatest problem with el Rufai is that he thinks Nigeria cannot move forward without him. He therefore gets angry and frustrated whenever his opinion is not sought or accepted. Political opposition built on anger, frustration, and hate can never withstand the burden of leadership. This is one reason discerning minds are distancing themselves from the APC. The party will continue to lose a chunk of its well-mannered members and supporters as long as the likes of el Rufai remain in the party.

Many ordinary Nigerians are thinking aloud that if the leaders of the APC can have the effrontery to insult the president and commander-in-chief of the arm forces for merely attending Church every Sunday, their fate would be in grave danger if the broom party sweeps its way into Aso Rock. I appreciate these fears because they are genuine and potent. This writer believes that there is nothing wrong with the opposition disagreeing with the president. The question however is this: Is insult the appropriate language of opposition politicians? There are civilised ways to engage political opponents.

El Rufai and Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation and chieftain of the APC have always tried to make Nigerians believe that President Jonathan is weak and therefore incapable of leading Nigeria. For sure, they are entitled to their opinions. Nevertheless, they need to be reminded that the world is no longer living in history. Like every other progressive society on the face of the earth, Nigeria does not need strong leaders. What we need are strong institutions. This is what the transformational agenda is all about.

No doubt, Buhari, Babangida, and Obasanjo were all strong leaders. Despite this fact, they allowed the rail transport system in the country to grind to a halt. Jonathan has resuscitated it. New standard gauge tracks are being extended to other rail-less states across the country. Although Buhari, Babangida, and Obasanjo were undoubtedly strong leaders, the once flourishing textile industry in the north was deliberately allowed to collapse, throwing thousands of people into the job market. Again, Jonathan has revived the textile industry. These strong leaders could not do anything to stop the overreliance on crude oil earnings. Under the nose of strong leaders, agriculture relegated to the back seat. It was hellish to get ordinary fertilizer. Farmers had no access to cheap credit facilities. Jonathan has returned agriculture to the front seat. Fertilizers and credit facilities are now accessible by farmers without passing through the eye of the needle.

Several years after gaining political independence from Britain, our strong leaders could not take the right decisions about the all-important power sector. Jonathan has launched a private-sector driven initiative in the power sector. Soon, power outage will become history.

We had strong leaders who never knew that the alimajiri caste system was man's inhumanity against children. The alimajiri caste system was one root that watered unemployment and crime in the northern parts of the country. As part of practical efforts to remedy this ugly trend, hundreds of alimajiri schools have been built, furnished, and handed over to northern state governments. A few selfish elites from the region were benefiting from the alimajiri caste system. This was why the presidential initiative to cater for social rights of hundreds of thousands children was criticised by some self-seeking politicians from the region. Because of his strong desire to free northern youths from the shackles of ignorance, President Jonathan went ahead with the project.

It has been obvious that the available universities in the country were not able to meet the demands of Nigerian youths desirous of pursuing tertiary education. It was for this reason that the Jonathan administration established 12 new federal universities. Not just that, government has signed an agreement with ASUU to upgrade all public universities in the country to international standard within the next four years. This is unprecedented.

Our airports, which were like junkyards under the leadership of Fani-Kayode as aviation minister have now been remodelled and upgraded to meet international standards. Enugu and Bauchi airports now enjoy international status. Sadly, Fani-Kayode finds courage to insult President Jonathan. In some developed societies, the likes of Fani-Kayode are supposed to hide their heads in shame.

Rather than fight corruption, our strong leaders watered it. While this writer is not attempting to run away from the truth, opposition leaders, most of whom were in government before falling out of favour due to their anti-party activities, corruption, greed, desperation, envy, and treachery have been talking as if corruption started in 2011. This writer is challenging opposition leaders to make public their lines of income. It cannot match their assets and the flamboyant lifestyles they pursue. This is another reason many reasonable Nigerians are ignoring the opposition. They believe that political opposition should be left for only those with clean hands. Hypocrisy hurts decent minds. Kettle calling pot black is hypocrisy.

As part of efforts towards fighting corruption, Nigerians must continue to speak out against graft. Efforts by the National Assembly to enact laws to protect and reward whistle-blowers are highly commendable. Perhaps, this writer should use this medium to comment on Sanusi's allegations bothering on unremitted revenues by the NNPC. The responsibility of exposing corruption is on the shoulders of all. Sanusi should therefore be commended for trying to do that even though his allegations have not been independently confirmed.

The media have been inundated with suggestions that the apex bank chief was suspended because he exposed graft in the NNPC. Chief among the promoters of this opinion are Sanusi himself, a few beneficiaries of his multi-billion Naira CBN contracts, and the leadership of the APC. This writer would like to know if there is any known legislation that says a person who exposes corruption is above the law and can therefore do no wrong. This enquiry has become necessary because a tiny community of commentators feign ignorance of the fact that Sanusi has been accused of GRAVE financial recklessness and abuse of office. Sanusi has not been sacked. He has only been asked to step aside to allow for proper investigations. This is in line with international best practices.

For those who may raise questions about why same action was not taken in similar cases, here is the answer. A statutory body; the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) recommended his sack based on its findings. However, the president thought it wise to give Sanusi opportunity to defend the allegations against him while on suspension. In his characteristic arrogance, Sanusi went on to embark on a media war against the presidency. Sanusi has now made many people to believe that his loyalty was not to President Jonathan, but to the leadership of the APC.

Kali Gwegwe,

2, Gwegwe Street,

Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

[email protected]


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