Lecture delivered by Festus Keyamo on the occasion of the marking of Isaac Adaka Boro Day in Port-Harcourt on Sunday, May 15, 2011.
Permit me to wholeheartedly thank the organisers of this event for having considered me worthy enough to stand before you to say a few things to mark this day. It was only a few days ago that my friend and brother, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari informed me that I have been chosen to say some things on this occasion. He duly informed me that the topic would be “Goodluck Jonathan and the expectations of Nigerians”.
It is so apposite that today, being a day set aside to celebrate the life and times of Isaac Adaka Boro, we are discussing Goodluck Jonathan, the first person (whether military or civilian) from the South-South extraction to become President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There is no gain-saying the fact that the central theme of the life and times of Isaac Adaka Boro was the struggle against the marginalisation and oppression of the minorities from the South-South region especially the Ijaw nation. He was prepared to live and die for that cause.
Coincidentally, it was the same time in history that Adaka Boro lived and died for his people that Martin Luther King also lived and died for his race in America . Curiously, it is now the same period in history that the dream of Martin Luther King to have one of his own (a black man) become the President of America on the principle of equality that he preached, that one of the dreams of Isaac Adaka Boro which is the emergence of an Ijaw man, (a minority) to become the President of Nigeria has also materialised.
It is because of this long wait for the presidency and long- suffering of the people of the South-South region that it has become almost impracticable for Jonathan to do any wrong in the eyes of some of our people from the South-South region. That is why it is so difficult to criticise your own brother or blood in public. People would normally expect you to make such matters a family affair. Hence, this topic given to me today is a difficult one from the point of sentiments, but an easy one from the stand point of truth and statistics. So my brothers here today must forgive me if I appear too hard on the side of truth and honesty in assessing Goodluck Jonathan.
The sentiments that preceded the emergence of Jonathan as President when a cabal that was beholden to the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua treated him so shabbily as Vice-president and tried to prevent him from wielding executive powers, coupled with his minority status that gives him the character of an underdog in a shark infested political environment, are the major twin reasons he has enjoyed some level of sympathetic support and consideration from political bystanders and even from normally critical sections of the country.
However, let me warn that this is where the danger lies, that is, if we treat the administration of Goodluck Jonathan with kid gloves because of these sentiments mentioned above and especially because he is one of us from the South-South region. I think it is enough of the holiday Jonathan has enjoyed from the critical section of the country. If we turn the blind eye and a deaf hear when we see evil and hear evil under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, we shall have no moral basis to mount any crusade in future against bad governments if the heads of those governments happen to be from other parts of the country. There is also a danger of allowing a government rest on its oars if we do not put it on its toes. Therefore, this is a clarion call to all of us not to ethnicise corruption and bad government under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Because, really, shorn of these sentiments I mentioned earlier, Goodluck Jonathan is really not a breath of fresh air that he professes to be. He is same of the same. These are my reasons:
Goodluck Jonathan has been a top member of the PDP since the return to democracy in 1999. He was first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State , and later Governor, then Vice-president, then Acting President and finally President. All these positions are some of the highest positions given to him by the ruling party since 1999. So Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim not to have been part of the rigging machine of the ruling party and mal-administration of the ruling party since 1999 till date. When it is convenient, they tell us that Goodluck Jonathan has a lot of experience that even that of Atiku Abubakar could not match his own, and when it is not convenient, he distances himself from other politicians and they tell us that he is a breath of fresh air. How fresh that air is, I don’t know. Yet, because he is one of us, we are told that we must accept him and tolerate him. We have no choice.
Two, if we are angry at Obasanjo for sending soldiers to kill hundreds of innocent lives in Odi and Benue State during his tenure under the guise of looking for some militants or miscreants, what can we say about Goodluck Jonathan who ordered soldiers to invade the Ijaw village of Ayakoromo in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State immediately he became President last year to kill, maim and burn the houses of innocent souls?. And even last week Thursday, May 12, 2011, Goodluck Jonathan again, ordered troops back to Ayakoromo village and in the guise of looking for John Togo, an acclaimed Militant, properties were again destroyed and innocent lives were lost. What a breath of fresh air indeed! Yet we are told that we must accept him and we must tolerate him because he is one of our own
Three, if we accuse previous Government of condoning corruption, what has Goodluck Jonathan done about those high ranking public officers that have been accused and investigated for corruption and corrupt practices and yet Goodluck Jonathan have not done anything about them. For instance, I have openly accused the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, of forging all his Certificates to become the Comptroller-General of Customs, which accusations and claims have been confirmed by the Institutions concerned by their refusal to confirm that he attended them and obtained those degrees, yet Goodluck Jonathan has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to this issue because the Comptroller-General of Customs is an in-law to the wife of his late boss, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. In fact, in order to appease Jonathan and to thank him for condoning him, the Comptroller-General of Customs recently commissioned a whole housing scheme in Abuja for Customs officers and named it after Goodluck Jonathan.
The present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole, has also been investigated by various security agencies for corruption, yet the President has prevented his trial for corruption because of political consideration. That is why when Bankole accepted his woeful defeat in my mother’s State, Ogun State , I said that is not the end of the matter. He must still account for all his misdeeds whilst in office. In shielding him from prosecution, Goodluck Jonathan has shown us that he is a breath of fresh air, indeed! Yet, we are told that we must accept him and we must tolerate him because he is one of our own.
Four, let us not forget also that Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim to be a fresh of breath air because the election that produced him as Vice President (which placed him in the pole position he was to become President at the death of President Yar’Adua) is still adjudged till tomorrow to be one of the worst elections the world has ever seen. Therefore, Goodluck Jonathan cannot claim to find himself where he is today without mentioning one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the masses of this country. Yet when he became President finally through that fraudulent process, we were told we had to accept and tolerate him because he is one of us.
Five, one of the greatest conspiracies of silence we have witnessed of recent and one of the greatest lie we have been told is that the 2011 election that has produced Goodluck Jonathan as President was totally free, fair and credible. Whilst it is true that there was a slight improvement to that election conducted by Prof. Maurice Iwu in 2007, if you look strictly at the statistics, you will discover that fundamentally the little improvement was not commensurate with the N87billion we spent trying to restart the electoral process and is not worth the innocent lives that were needlessly lost in the post election violence. Let us look at some of the statistics:
In the 2003 Presidential election, the registered voters were 60,823,022. The purported voters’ turnout was 42,018,735 which represented 69.1% of the total voters. Meanwhile, PDP scored 24,456,140 which is 61.94% of the total votes cast. However, the 2003 election was adjudged to be heavily flawed and was condemned by both local and international observers.
In the 2007 Presidential election, the number of registered voters were 61,567,036 whilst the purported voters’ turnout was 58%. PDP scored 24,638,063 which was 69.60% of the total votes cast. That was the election we said was the worst in the history of Nigeria .
Now, in the 2011 Presidential election, the total number of registered voters was 73,528,040 and the purported voters’ turnout was nearly 54% which is just 4% less than that of 2007. And Goodluck Jonathan of PDP this time scored (or was allocated) 22,495,187 which is just less than two million of the votes Yar’Adua was given in 2007.
It is also laughable to come to terms with the percentage of votes the PDP secured in the South-South and the South-Eastern States . These are the figures:
1. In Anambra State, PDP scored 1,145,169 which is 98.96% of the total votes cast.
2. In Enugu State, PDP scored 802,144 which is 98.54% of the total votes cast.
3. In Akwa Ibom State, PDP scored 1,165,629 which is 94.58% of the total votes cast.
4. In Imo State, PDP scored 1,381,357 which is 97.98% of the total votes cast.
5. In Ebonyi State, PDP scored 480,592 which is 95.57% of the total votes cast.
6. In Bayelsa State, PDP scored 504,811 which is 99.63% of the total votes cast.
7. In Abia State, PDP scored 1,175,984 which is 98.96% of the total votes cast.
8. In Delta State, PDP scored 1,378,851 which is 98.59% of the total votes cast.
9. In Rivers State, PDP scored 1,817,762 which is 98.04% of the total votes cast.
In 2007, this was the same trend of unjustifiable figures that did not match normal voting patterns that discredited the election. What, then, is the fundamental difference between both elections? Yet we are told one was the worst and the other the freest and fairest. This is nothing but a joke.
Unfortunately, the international observers in their various reports avoided commenting elaborately on the collation process which was where the fraud actually took place. Paradoxically, almost all the reports of the international observers consistently mentioned the issue of underage voting, especially in the North. Yet they painted their report with beautiful, flowery language and declared it free, fair and credible. Here are some of those reports:
The National Democratic Institute, in its report of April 18, 2011, made the following report:
“The delegates noted the complicated and multi-tiered collation process that is vulnerable both to human error and malfeasance as tabulation proceeds from the polling unit to INEC headquarters. Despite efforts in this election to fast-track election returns, this process created added work for INEC officials and observers”.
Yet, after this observation, the NDI said the election was free, fair and credible. Pray, what can be credible about a result that was not properly collated and cannot be a true reflection of what was actually cast at the polling units?
The International Republican Institute had this to say:
“Among the issues to be covered in those will be: 1) revising recommendations of the Electoral Reform Committee which were not adopted by the National Assembly; 2) improving the voter list to ensure people are properly registered; 3) strengthening civic education so all Nigerians fully understand the nature of the election process and their role; 4) ensuring that the political parties evolve into constructive actors in the process, respecting democratic values in their internal behaviour and commitment to transparent election; 5) addressing the problem of underage voting; and 6) ensuring polling stations have a manageable number of registered voters”.
Again, if under-aged persons voted massively, how come they concluded that the election was free, fair and credible?
The African Union in its own report said as follows:
“Voting by under-age was one of persistent problems observed in the recently held elections. To address this, the Mission suggests that INEC, in conjunction with other relevant authorities, should put in place measures for proper screening and registration of prospective voters, in strict compliance with constitutional and legal requirements”.
Once again, the African Union also concluded that the election was free, fair and credible.
The Commonwealth Observer Group in its statement signed by its Chairman, his Excellency, Festus Mogae had this to say:
“There remain shortcomings with the voter registration, based on the number of people with voter cards but missing from the voter register. This needs to be urgently addressed.
There’s need to be stricter safeguards against underage voting, a phenomenon witnessed in parts of the country.”
Once again, it concluded that the election was free, fair and credible.
The European Union Election Observation Mission was the most honest in its report. It first complained about those unjustifiable figures from South-South and South-East when it wrote the following:
“Nevertheless, during voting, inconsistent implementation of procedures and attempts to influence voters were noted. Moreover, the INEC results coming from the States in South-South and South-East show percentages close to 100 percent…”
“While the shift from accreditation to voting was smooth and carried out in a timely manner, shortcomings were noted during voting. In 17 percent of the sampled polling units, attempts to influence voters were observed; in 26 percent there were instances of interference by party agents in the process and in 47 percent the secrecy of vote was not respected. General lack of organisation was noticed in 19 percent. These figures indicate deterioration since the National Assembly elections. The share of underage voting remained constant in both elections at 12 percent, while in a few cases serious malpractices, such as double voting and ballot snatching were observed.
The observed polling units closed on average around 16:00 hours, leaving time for the counting to be conducted during daylight. In a sixth of the observed polling units, the unused ballots were not properly accounted for and their number was not recorded. The copies of the results were in general distributed to all party agents and the official results were posted outside the polling unit in 87 percent of the cases, which is a remarkable improvement over the National Assembly elections (when the procedure had been followed in only 54 percent). Nevertheless, the results forms were packed in tamper-proof envelopes only in two-thirds of the observed polling units. In spite of some procedural deficiencies, counting was overall evaluated positively in 91 percent.
Arithmetic errors were noted in 70 percent of the visited ward collation centres and in 87 percent of the observed LGA collation centres. This demonstrated insufficient training of the Collation Officers. The results were posted outside the ward collation centres only in 49 percent, which is still a tangible improvement compared to the 9 April elections. However, at the LGA level results were posted outside only in 35 percent of the cases. This had a clear negative impact on the transparency of the election process. It is commendable that the final stage of the collation of the Presidential results and its announcement was broadcast live on NTA and AIT”.
Funny enough, unlike other observers, the European Union refrained from specifically concluding that the election was free, fair and credible.
From all we have seen above, it is obvious that the malpractices were not the exclusive preserve of the ruling party. Because of massive underage voting and some malpractices, many of the figures in the northern states credited to the CPC were indefensible and unjustifiable, just like many of the figures in the South-South and South-East region of the country credited to the PDP.
So, the scenario was that whilst manipulation was going on in the far North through underage voting, manipulation was also going on in the far South through manipulation of figures. The result only shows that the far South out-rigged the far North. That is why General Buhari and his CPC have absolutely no moral leverage to lead a campaign of civil disobedience and bloodshed in the North because they also did not come to equity with clean hands. It is also obvious that General Buhari, cannot, in his true conscience, claim to have won the Presidential election, because if he was so confident, he would not have embarked on those last minute efforts he made to form an alliance with the ACN and some other parties.
On the other hand, it is quite obvious that Jonathan got more popular and evenly-spread votes than Buhari because of the structures of the PDP in all parts of the country, but whether he won with the margin that was credited to him and whether he won outright on a first ballot is highly debatable. But we must accept Jonathan because we have no choice in our continuous search for an acceptable democratic system. The only thing we must resist and my conscience cannot accept is to call black “white” and to call white “black” all because we want to support our brother at all cost.
The sad thing about our situation is that those who are supposed to speak up and tell the President these home truths so that he can make adjustments and we can all make progress, are busy chasing him and his wife all over the country for appointments in the new government. Even the President had to run away from Aso Rock to Obudu Ranch recently, yet, the lobbyists chased him all the way to the mountains of Obudu.
So, one of the expectations of Nigerians concerning Goodluck Jonathan is that he will shun these sickening sycophants, political jobbers, shameless praise singers and bootlickers in picking a team that would work with him for the next four years.
Sadly, I have not heard Goodluck Jonathan say he would strive to continue to improve on the electoral system since the last election. In other words, it would appear that the President is content with the process that produced his recent victory at the polls and that is the standard he would want to continue. That is most unfortunate. Like his late boss and predecessor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he must admit that there were fundamental flaws in the process that produced him and he must seek to partner with everyone to continue to improve the process.
Nigerians also expect that in the next four years Goodluck Jonathan would stop sending troops to kill innocent persons in Ijaw villages or any other village for that matter. Instead of massive troops deployment to the villages, we want to see massive deployment of construction equipments to the villages. He should not do this just because he is from the South-South region. He should do this as a matter of equity and justice because even previous President before him agreed that there was need to pay special attention to the Niger-Delta region, even though they paid only lip-service to this commitment.
The pattern of votes that were actually counted during the last election and the riot that greeted the victory of Jonathan in the far North reveal that this country is still a highly-fractured country and there is urgent need for him to extend a hand of love and fellowship to those areas where people were killed and maimed because of his victory at the polls. But he must bring the actual culprits to book. He must not deny the North of the massive development it urgently needs because of the post election violence and he must not deny tested and capable hands in the far North of key appointments into his government because of those incidents.
What Nigeria needs urgently is a total recreation and rebirth. Nigeria urgently needs one particular infrastructure that is inevitable when you are creating a new environment. In the book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1-3, we read:
“(1) In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth
(2) And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
(3) And God said: Let there be light; and there was light”
Like in the beginning, Nigeria is now without form and void and darkness is upon the face of the Nation. There is no power supply.
And so just like in the Bible since Nigerians expect a new Nigeria under Goodluck Jonathan, they expect Goodluck Jonathan to make the pronouncement, followed by action, “Let there be light”, and then, we should have light!
Thank you and God bless you.
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.