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How the mighty fell




IT is deliberate that this piece begins with the Biblical lyrics: “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” (2nd Samuel, chapter 1, verse 27). It is no grandstanding that I have witnessed many elections. That of December 4, 1959 (Ba Ko Daya) was one.

In the previous ones, I was either not born or I was in school. Under the 1922 Constitution, there was the legislative council election.

There was an election in 1954, when the country became a Federation. The just-concluded March 28, 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections could be described as unique, for civilian government to handover to civilian government peacefully for the first time.

On this score, President Goodluck Jonathan deserves congratulations for doing what Napoleon could not do.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidates are symbols of national unity. The incumbent President Jonathan, an Ijaw is from Ogbia, Bayelsa State.

The President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), is from Daura in Katsina State.

Buhari has emerged victoriously, like the old mythological Phoenix and to be more popular, having tried four times. Dr. Jonathan is not as lucky as he was in 2011. Why is it so? At the time, we all voted massively for him believing in his ability to deliver.

His defeat is not just now; it began on May 29, 2011, after he was sworn-in. With the transition of his boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a seven-point programme was bequeathed to Jonathan. Each of the seven items was fundamental to the existence of the citizenry; it touched their lives.

But President Jonathan, in his infinite wisdom, abandoned the seven-point programme. This may be one of the reasons for Obasanjo to distance himself from Jonathan.

In an 18-page letter, titled “Before it is too late” Obasanjo accused the President of pursuing “Selfish personal and political interests”, based on advice from his “self-centred aides”. If he had pursued the bequest with the necessary drive and verve, the result of March 28 election might have been different. Quality performance is the desideratum to judge a leader.

In a country with mono-product economy in which 70 per cent of its revenue is derived from crude oil and 90 per cent of its foreign exchange from the same product, corruption is a menace. Jonathan’s regime is perceived as one of the most corrupt in the history of this nation. There was the allegation of corruption in the Aviation Ministry.

The alleged purchase of two armoured (Bullet-proof) BMW 760 Li cars for N225 million ($1.6 million as at October, 2013), is still within living memory to decide the outcome of presidential elections in 2015. It took the concerted efforts of Nigerian print media to have the culprit removed from office. There was also the allegation of unremitted $20 billion oil funds.

Besides, oil theft was a threat to the economy during the tenure of President Jonathan. Evidence? The Nigerian Navy authoritatively once revealed that the country was losing about 100,000 barrels of crude oil estimated at N1.18 billion every day to oil thieves who took advantage of poor law enforcement on the nation’s territorial waters.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, who stated that in his presentation while defending the 2015 Budget of the Navy before the Senate Committee on Defence (Navy) recently, said the development was making this country to lose N433.62 billion annually.

Be that as it may, President Jonathan continued to repose confidence in some featherweight advisers, least realizing that the electorate were watching, waiting for the day of judgment at the elections on March 28, 2015.

Still on economic woes, our 14th Head of State, President Jonathan, provoked the ire of retired federal workers on pensions. Some might have died in their long wait for payments; the living ones could be disenchanted with voting for President Jonathan’s second term. Retired federal civil servants, under the umbrella of the Federal Civil Servants branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensions were incessantly pleading to the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan to pay their pensions and other benefits, lamenting that they were under difficult times. If the suffering retired civil servants were paid their entitlements, their votes might have added to Jonathan’s score, making Muhammadu Buhari to trail behind.

It might be expected that corruption could reduce. But it did not. Since 2011, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) did not record a single high profile conviction. In the past, the EFCC had the record of former governors and many public officials accused of defrauding the Nigerian people, have them arrested, and prosecuted.

Jonathan reversed some previous achievements of the EFCC by granting state pardon to past governments’ officials who were guilty of corruption. Worst still, the Commission’s staff members were unpaid for several months.

If a hunter is hungry, how effectively can he hunt? Will he not be hunted? Will he not fall prey to crime? As the Transparency International ranked the country low in the world, most of us feel uncomfortable. The reality is that the PDP government is actually corrupt. Corruption permeates from the top to the lower strata of our society.

Elders are more far-seeing than the young ones. “To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than the fat of ram”. The PDP might have won, if President Jonathan heeded the shrewd pieces of advice of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He thought that the Egba chief was playing God. I am not an admirer of the ex-President, per se.

When Chief Obasanjo seemed to be hyper-critical of President Jonathan, having newly assumed power, I wrote in support of the latter. But in my own part of the country, elders are revered for their experiences and wisdom.

An elder may not be a monster of omniscience; it is the Supreme Being who is the wisest. Goodluck Jonatnan’s newfound mentors in their abysmal ignorance, misled him into PDP’s defeat.

The PDP elders “have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s (that is, the rank and file members) teeth are set on edge”.

While the PDP was hammering on ‘Certificate’, Buhari and Osinbajo campaign team, in APC’s manifesto, was emphasising core areas of education, massive housing scheme, social security, employment, power /energy and health-care services to win voters.

On corruption, Muhammadu Buhari assured us: “I will fight corruption and I will plug all the loopholes through where money is lost and re-invest it in areas like agriculture, industry and security. If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.

In the light of the fore-goings, Nigerians say; “Congratulations, Muhammadu Buhari. But be magnanimous in victory”.

•Oshisada, veteran journalist, lives in Lagos.

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