By Lekan Akinosho (Scoro 8)
The advent of civil rule in Nigeria in 1999 was full of lofty expectations considering the extent of privation which Nigerians experienced during military rule. In spite of the fact that no constitution was in place until after the election was held and the departing military junta promulgated the decree at the eve of their departure, the consuming passion on the part of the populace was to ease out the military.
It appears that this objective was achieved in the main, judging by the successful hand over from military to civilian. Perspicacity impels one to look beyond the specious appearance of civil rule. Many of the actors who once held the country by the jugular are still the major actors under this dispensation. Worse still, they put their cronies in public office in a bid to perpetuate their avarice.
There have been complaints bordering on bad governance since the inception of the current democratic experiment. One is bound to conclude that there has been a phenomenon of progressive degeneration. The last civilian regime, headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, was considered the most hypocritical and corrupt.
This profligate and dictatorial regime was succeeded by Umar Yar’ Adua in 2007 and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, respectively. The out-going regime did not hide its preference for the duo, generally perceived as inept and not totally immune from the virulent virus of corruption if their previous records of public service were considered.
The imposition of Umar Yar’ Adua, whose deteriorating state of health was public knowledge, and his clueless sidekick, Goodluck Jonathan, on the electorate, through a process of “do-or-die” politics, was seen by many as presaging an ominous reversal of the tenuous and the gains of the nascent democratic experience which virtually all the current participants in politics worked against, assiduously, during the military era.
Their fears were to be confirmed not long thereafter. First, with the death of Yar’ Adua soon after he became president and the conscious destruction of the polity on an unprecedented scale in her history currently going on under the rudderless, incompetent, profligate and corrupt Jonathan, Nigerians now appreciate what good leadership entails.
The predilection of Mr Jonathan to treat with contempt the law of the land is legendary. In a manner akin to the story of a recalcitrant Alafin in ancient Oyo Empire, Awole, this man continues to treat with bovine contempt all statutory provisions guiding the business of government. He presides relentlessly over the despoliation of the land in a way hitherto unimaginable in the country.
Alafin Awole, who ruled from 1789 to 1796, was a bohemian, bubblehead, faithless and unscrupulous slave merchant who succeeded Alafin Abiodun, a man described as one of the most charismatic leaders of the Empire. His reign witnessed a steady political and economic decline. There was a general feeling of insecurity. His greed for material acquisition goaded him into committing a constitutional mistake when he ordered his army to attack Apomu, a town under Ile-Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba. By so doing, he committed a sacrilege.
There was the understanding that no king in Yorubaland should levy war against Ile-Ife and the towns and villages under it. He broke the oath taken on his ascending the throne. The direct consequence of this indiscretion was the pervasive chaos in the Empire.
As noted by political historians, before any Alafin was crowned, he must obtain the “Ida Ajase” (Sword of Victory) from Ife. No Alafin could rule without that authority. The sword served as a constant reminder that Ife and the neighbouring towns and villages were immune from attacks. Any Alafin who disregarded this age-long injunction was rejected by his chiefs.
He was presented with a calabash which signified total rejection. He was expected to commit suicide. Awole did the unthinkable and faced the dire consequences but the Empire never recovered from it. That event was one of the factors which led to the decline and the eventual collapse of the Empire.
The compelling parallel between the reign of Awole and the ruinous rule of the erstwhile shoeless President, Goodluck Jonathan, is instructive. While the late Alafin worked, consciously, against an age-long tradition with dire consequences for the empire, Jonathan pretends to be running an administration based on democratic ethos. He often times mouths his determination to see his nebulous agenda through. But very few people are in doubt as regards his predilection to disregard laid down precepts to achieve parochial objectives.
The s/election of this man generally perceived as clueless was not without its melodramatic angle. There were those who romanticised with the idea of having the president emerge from one of the minority groups in the south after the near-absolute domination of the major ethnic groups in the country, the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.
So strong and pervasive was the sentiment that even those adjudged highly enlightened fell for the bait of the myth of equity predicated on some dubious rotational arrangement designed for the benefits of the kakistocrats. Jonathan was returned as the winner in all the regions of the country and the rest, as they say, is history.
The precarious state of the country vis-à-vis security, economy and politics, considering the ubiquity of both human and material resources, exposes the successive leadership in the polity as bankrupt and patently bereft of ideas. The very fact that the current president parades a PhD degree from one university in Nigeria, expectedly, raised the bar of the yearnings and aspirations of the people. The performance of this administration since its inauguration has obliterated all optimism. This president lacks the capacity to steer the ship of a state such as Nigeria.
As things stand in the country today over forty million youths are jobless. The more tragic aspect of the whole unfortunate situation is that most of them are not only unemployed but are, more disquieting, unemployable. Furthermore, the Global Finance of June 2013 published that “Nigeria currently has the unemployment rate at 25% compared to 19.7% in 2009”.
The numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that “about 112million Nigerians live below the poverty line which represents about 67 per cent of the entire population”. When the youths are unemployed and there is extreme poverty in a country, it portrays great danger to the society especially in allowing the underground economy to strive.
The profligate and reckless manner which his administration has reached an alarming level that even his godfather, Olusegun Obasanjo, has been forced to write an open letter to him. He is accused of being clannish, inept, diabolical and corrupt. His reply to this acerbic criticism and those of his hirelings have been mainly ad hominem, attacking the personality of his tormentor-in-chief and erstwhile benefactor and leaving the substance of the allegations largely unattended to.
Virtually all sectors of the country have been adversely affected by the directionless government of the day. The economy is not only monolithic but has been basically consumptive. In November 2013, the Debt Management Office put the nation’s total debt at N8.32tn ($53.42bn). However, by June 2011, the total debt of the country stood at $37bn. It was calculated that in the last two years, the debt stock had risen by $13.91bn.
This shows a growth rate of 37.59 per cent. (See Punch of November 12, 2013). It would be recalled that in 2005, Nigeria paid off most of the $30 billion external debt it owed the Paris and London Club of creditors and in the process, reduced its debt to GDP ratio from 52 percent to less than 7 percent.
What about the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which was recently announced by the government that from nearly $10 billion in December last year, it crashed to $3.598 billion, as result of the withdrawal of $1 billion. These indicate that President Jonathan and the public administration do not have the organizational capability or capacity to establish, enforce or execute consistent priorities in required economic reforms.
The over-dependence on crude oil was the main worry of the citizenry. Oil theft has now reached an industrial scale to the point that the government appears to be making provisions which suggest connivance at the criminal activities of felons who are mainly of the south south extraction, the president’s kinsmen. The federal government under Jonathan has contracted the security of the pipe lines in the country to some notorious ex-militants.
Billions of naira has been expended and yet the phenomenon of oil theft hitherto considered impossible or, at best, was regarded as a mere beer parlour gossip, is now an alternative and highly lucrative export trade. In 2013 the data and statistics released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the months of May, June and July, the crude oil price (Bonny Light) were 106,106.06 and 109.78 (US$/Barrel), Current Crude oil production/day-2.5M barrels per day,Domestic Production 2.06 2.03 and 2.20.
The current daily price is now $113 per day and when you add it up with 2.5 M, it becomes $282.5million. We have monthly sales of $8.475billion.The Naira equivalent gives us 101.7billion x # 160= 16.272trillion naira per year. The budget approved by the National Assembly for 2013 is 4.987 trillion naira. What happens to the excess from oil sales?
The Ribadu report on the oil and gas sector for instance, put daily crude oil theft at a high 250,000 barrels daily at a cost of $6.3bn (N1.2trn) a year. The report said, “This puts the total amount lost through oil theft in the two years of Jonathan’s government at over $12.6bn (N2trn)”. This criminal activity involves the high and mighty in the society and their international collaborators.
The National Assembly is often invited to take cognizance of the precarious situation in the oil sector in approving the benchmark for the sale of crude oil in the international market. These miscreants have become stupendously wealthy to the ludicrous extent that they are now establishing “universities” and “donating generously” to social welfare programmes.
They even threaten Nigerians on the dire consequences of not allowing this state of affairs to continue for a second term starting from 2015. Asari Dokubo has declared war on all those who may imagine the possibility of not returning Jonathan as president for another term of four years.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, just ended its strike after six months. The Nigerian government employed asinine tactics to prolong the face-off unnecessarily. Spokespersons of the government employed all manner of under hand methods to blackmail the striking lecturers to return to the classroom.
The union insisted that the rot in the educational system must be halted. Okonjo-Iweala alerted the country on the imminent collapse of the economy if the union demands were acceded to. She accused the union leadership of being unpatriotic. She appealed to parents and other Nigerians to appeal to ASUU in the interest of the students and the country.
This woman claims to be an international scholar. She has been with international imperialist agencies like the World Bank and the IMF. She is quick to remind whoever cares to listen that Nigeria ought to adopt the best practices as obtainable in other parts of the world. The 26 per cent bench mark set by UNESCO as the minimum budget provision for education in any country which expects to be taken seriously in the comity of nations is observed in the breach in the country.
This Brenton Woods economist does not believe that education is a basic right. She warned that our country faced imminent collapse if the government listened to the university lecturers. She announced N92 billion as the impossible figure. The government gave assurances to the striking lecturers that N200 billion had been deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria before the strike was suspended. The coordinating minister of the economy has not resigned.
The Nigerian Medical Association just finished a warning strike with the threat that all doctors will go on an indefinite strike in January 2014. The health sector, according to the doctors, faces a potent threat of total collapse. They complain about the near-impossible working conditions under which they are compelled to work.
The oddity inherent in having some funny elements who parade themselves as health workers designate themselves as “consultants”is part of why they are on strike. As it is in the case of other trade unions, this government has no immediate answers to this problem. Many poor people with serious medical conditions will die in January 2014 as the government is only interested in re-election in 2015 after a dismal performance. Anything which is not even tangentially connected with the re-election bid cannot be taken as important enough.
The government, under the coordinating minister, has been granting questionable import waivers to dubious politicians including clergymen. Industries are relocating to neighbouring West African countries such as Ghana, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire because of insecurity and the prohibitive cost of production. Local industries are winding up and churches buy up their warehouses.
Getting a job is a miracle. Meanwhile, the president and governors are only interested in sharing proceeds from crude oil sales. No serious investment has taken place. Recurrent expenditure gulps about 75% of the annual budget. In spite of this, the government still believes it is executing some nebulous agenda.
The level of insecurity in the country should have caused serious social upheaval in other climes. Nigeria is gradually but steadily sliding into a state of pervasive and all-embracing anarchy. Kidnappers now operate at will and nobody is spared.
The array of victims ranges from nonagenarians, octogenarians, septuagenarians and infants as young as three months old. The ease with which they operate clearly indicates the complicit nature of the security arrangement in the country. The amount often demanded as ransom also depicts the nature and character of this fast growing business. Armed robbery is now seen as a demeaning pastime of small time criminals. The criminals are well connected to government officials. Nobody is immune.
Religious fanaticism is at its worst under this government. What started as pockets of protest from bands of confused people, the most prominent of whom is the violent group known as Boko Haram, has developed into a full blown terrorism hitherto unknown in the country. The scope and intensity of operation of these groups is scary indeed. Army barracks, churches, motor parks and airports have witnessed the incessant attacks of these elements who claim to be fighting to change Nigeria into an Islamic state, among other laughable demands.
Public institutions have virtually collapsed. We are more dependent on foreigners now after the so called independence than the time when we were subjects of the British. The precarious state of affairs has gotten to the point that Nigerians now long for a past they once rejected. Letters now fly from a notorious farmer to the former shoeless boy. The polity is set on edge by the cronies of a man who has no idea about what leadership entails but is insistent on continuing to foist his ineptitude on the rest of us.
The next general election is 2015. Jonathan and the sycophants goading him to perdition are only interested in how they will compound the misery of the people. Anyone whose body language or action supports the opposition is subjected to all manner of persecution and intimidation.
This has led to the implosion of the PDP, a so called political party with the largest assemblage of hustlers, sycophants, drug barons and fraudsters on the planet. Some opportunists are moving to other platforms to secure their political future. Others remain in the party because they are beholden to Jonathan for being beneficiaries of certain undeserved favours.
Leadership, political and economic visions are the measurements of a great nation, and it comes about with a strong personality. The political game is exciting to watch though it brings with it disappointment and frustrations. The political systems are of conflict management, general respect for the rules of the game, and an overarching set of values or political culture.
Roger Gibbins, a Canadian Professor of Political Science postulates, “Politics is a great spectator sport. Politics, however, is much more than a spectator sport, for the political process molds our lives and shapes our future”. That is to say, to be players, we need to leave the sidelines, be conscious and understand the game.
Politics, therefore, is science, which teaches the people of a country and their elected leaders to care for each other. As things stand, some have predicted that 2015 may be the end of the amalgam called Nigeria. Jonathan’s kinsmen are threatening fire and brimstone if he is not retained as president. Many contractors are floating NGOs to support the re-election bid of the most profligate president in the post-independence history of the country.
It is becoming increasingly clear that even if Nigeria will not cease to exist in 2015, the current may be the last one from his region for a very long time. However, in my personal opinion, the person I do strongly believe that has the pedigree in the quagmires we are facing, is Gen.Muhammadu Buhari. Some may want to disagree or ask why Buhari again- and not someone else that is younger?
I am not a maven; however, I shall play the marketer role and my preference for Buhari despite the unfounded negative issues some have raised on his candidacy. I am backing Buhari because I believe in him within the context of good leadership, strict discipline and his antecedents as an incorruptible Nigerian when he was in the army.
Nobody has ever come to say Buhari enriched himself when he was in the army and was Head of State of Nigeria. Gen. Obasanjo, a former Head of State and President of Nigeria, gave a good account of Buhari in his book “My Command”.According to Gen.Obasanjo, “Among all the officers that served under me, Muhammadu Buhari is incorruptible”.
This is what I want to hear about a worthy leader and he remains my kind of paragon in terms of leadership and integrity as Nigeria needs a leader that can command respect, build confidence in our polity and institutions. When Buhari was the Head of State, corruption was said to have been at its lowest ebb as he brought discipline to governance. I would have loved one of my generations to have these impeccable credentials, but we missed our opportunity in the 1990s as we just fought to let the military go without comprehending the context of power structure. I guess one of my regrets.
In terms of power play in Nigeria, political historians will agree that when a section of the entity called Nigeria forge a power bloc, it is very difficult to defeat. It was the power bloc of the West, East and South that won the 2011 elections for Jonathan. It is a common knowledge that the North is yearning to produce the next president and they see their best chance in APC.
This is going to be possible through the bloc votes from the West and winning or taking away few states from PDP. How is this going to be possible? By the political map of the 2011 presidential elections, this is how 2015 election is going to look like. In the 2011 elections in which 74 million registered, only 25 per cent of the voters in more than two-thirds of the 36 states people voted in the crucial presidential elections and Jonathan won 25 per cent of the votes in more than two-thirds of the 36 states.
However, he failed to win a single state of the core 16 Northern states of Nigeria, but in the whole of the South except Osun State. In the break down for Jonathan, he won Abia by 1,175,984; Adamawa: 508,314; Akwa Ibom: 1,165,629; Anambra,1,145,169; Bayelsa: 504,811; Benue: 694,776; Cross River:709,382; Delta,378,85; Ebonyi: 480,592; Edo: 542,173; Ekiti:135,009; Enugu: 802,144; FCT (Abuja): 253,444; Imo:1,381,357; Kogi: 399,816; Kwara: 268,243; Lagos: 1,281,688; Nassarawa: 408,997; Ogun: 309,177; Ondo: 387,376; Oyo: 484,758; Plateau: 1,029,865; Rivers: 1,817,762; and Taraba: 451354. PDP scored 22,495,187 out of the 38,199,219 representing 58.89%.
While Buhari won in Bauchi with 1,315,209; Borno: 909,763; Gombe: 459,898; Jigawa: 663,994; Kaduna: 1,334,244; Kano: 1,624,543; Kebbi: 501,453; Katsina: 1,163,919; Osun: 299,711; Sokoto: 540,769; Yobe: 337,537; and Zamfara: 624,515.
The total votes cast for Buhari was 12,214,853 representing 31.98%. The third party was ACN and it won 2,067,301 which translate to 5.41%. That was good enough for Jonathan and his PDP, but this is what the 2015 elections are going to look like. The Southwest is going to have a bloc votes for APC that is to say, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Lagos and Ondo going away from Jonathan. In the Midwest, Edo state will go to the APC and also Adamawa, Nassarawa and FCT, Abuja. In the middle belt, PDP will lose Kwara and Kogi states to APC. The battle ground states are going to be Benue and Plateau, while votes are going to be reduced for PDP in Rivers, Imo and Anambra states.
In this simple political measurement of power structure, I assert that no theory is absolute as it must be probable and the counterfactual argument is, if the ruling party rigs the elections through collaboration with INEC.
It is my hope that this bone called Nigeria can walk again under a committed leader and not the current charade we are witnessing under Jonathan. I have no monopoly of ideas but this is my little contribution to nation building and I wish those who think otherwise to be ready for another perfidy and good luck to them.