Many would fault my conclusion in this write-up as jumping the gun because they would argue the President needs more time to prove his mettle. I just don't buy that crap. The man has hitherto been too much of a spare tire, which is what Deputy Governors, and Vice Presidents have been reduced to in Nigeria. Vice Presidents are selected in more stable countries for their readiness to be President in a heartbeat should anything happen to their boss. Not so in Nigeria. Dr. Jonathan had been Deputy Governor in Bayelsa, Vice President for nearly three years and acting President who had spent much of his one year in that office fighting for recognition and legitimacy from a powerful segment of the PDP which strongly believe they own Nigeria in perpetuity and that terribly sick Yar Adua, if he was still alive, was entitled to his two terms of 8 years in office even if he was running the country from the Intensive Care Unit of a Hospital in Aso Rock, or Germany or Saudi Arabia, and even if the country was static or totally crippled for the whole period. That is the Party Nigerians voters have again returned to power in Nigeria for another 4 years. If insanity as defined by the Chinese is doing the same thing time and again but expecting a different result, it can be argued that Nigeria is truly insane.
The same faction of the PDP has argued that the presidency has been zoned to the North for 8 years and that Jonathan had no right under the PDP Constitution which they presumed is superior to the Nigerian Constitution to automatically succeed Yar Adua.. That a powerful and vocal segment of the PDP in the North has tried to find a consensus candidate to quietly dislodge Jonathan in the PDP Primaries was one categorical proof of their arrogance and insanity. Their biggest blunder, however, was picking a damaged good in Atiku Abubakar instead of the evil genius who in spite of his political baggage in some quarters in Nigeria had piled up sufficient IOUs, leverage and loyalty to give Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money in the primaries.
The South East, the South/South and the South West and the Middle Belt in particular voted massively or allowed the votes to be massively rigged for Jonathan in the just concluded elections not because Jonathan had a fool-proof credibility or track record but just to send a powerful message to the core North that the presidency does not belong to them in perpetuity. The message to the North would have been more skewed or diffused if IBB was a candidate for another party. Neither Buhari nor Ribadu had the leverage to alter that configuration because they both didn’t match up to IBB pound for pound in terms of their personal appeal and charisma, their track record and followership in Nigeria.
I continue to believe that IBB in spite of his personal shortcomings as a man and former President had the best chance to change Nigeria but he blew it all because of the greatest blunder of his political life – his decision to annul the best election ever conducted in Nigeria. If he had not robbed MKO of his mandate he would easily have been begged to return from retirement to come rule Nigeria again like the North did to Obasanjo The A4 system of voting IBB’s Government had engineered was still the reason why the just concluded elections are still being toasted in many credible quarters as the least controversial and arguably the best despite some of its glaring limitations and manipulations of voting results in the South/South in particular as brilliantly and courageously revealed by Professor Itse Sagay in his overall assessment of those elections. It was true that Attahiru Jega played a part, but he would never had succeeded like he did without relying on the A4 system as his baseline.
If IBB had run, he could have pointed to a few good things he had done that could have been cited as signature achievements for Nigeria had they been improved upon or more wisely executed or implemented. I can tell you that the controversial Structural Adjustment (SAP) was one of them even though many Nigerians may disagree with that. I submit that it was the implementation that was so badly handled by some elements of the Northern oligarchy and half-baked economists in IBB’s Government who continued to believe and argue that Government should only worry about today, and that God will take care of tomorrow.
There were also few of IBB’s economic advisers from the South East in particular who believed in the Ukpabi Asika’s precept of “Oyun Ube ruru ya ra ra ma” meaning that you have to suck your pear when it is ripe because if you delay just because you want to save the pear for the rainy day, you could well be missing a huge opportunity that may never come your way again.
The SAP as an economic strategy was not as bad as it was bad-mouthed by some Nigerians, but the implementation was deeply and profoundly out of touch with the discipline needed to make it work in a country like Nigeria. Half the politician who were assigned to implement it did not understand its primary goal. They butchered it in the process. That was why it failed so miserably putting Nigeria in greater jeopardy and stalemate.
I was at the material time the Secretary to the Joint Economic Commission of Nigeria with the rest of the world and I knew, firsthand, what actually transpired. Chief Oluyemi Falae who was one of its architects as the Secretary to Government would confirm this statement if you ask him.
The same IBB had tried to break the logjam of having too many political parties in Nigeria by cutting them down to 2 major parties i.e. the SDP and the NRC. It was a very smart move but IBB rubbished the whole idea when he annulled the election because he did not want to relinquish power. IBB had gathered around himself the best brains he could find in Nigeria and he was willing to pay them and pick their brains to good effect. He brought back Oluyemi Falae from the Merchant Bank to become Secretary to Government and he continued to pay him his salary and allowances at the Bank. He got Professor Omo Omoruyi and some distinguished intellectuals working for him as a think tank at the Institute for Strategic Studies. Those individuals were actually bent on taking Nigeria to a new level of stability and economic buoyancy, if they had been allowed to do their work.
Yes, IBB may have been the chief architect of Corruption in Nigeria but he believed in “live and let live” and his human relation was first class. I can tell you he, IBB would have performed better than Buhari in the elections, and he would have divided up the votes for Jonathan in the South if he had run. In a way you can give the credit for running IBB out of town to Olusegun Obasanjo the only man IBB feared in the Military for some reason I cannot get into in this write-up. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who believed in compromise as much as the late Zik of Africa would not have coasted to victory the way he did in the last election, if IBB had run. There could possibly have been a run off which could have made the whole outcome a pyrrhic victory for Jonathan even if he wins like he finally did.
My position is not new because I am one of the early critics of Jonathan as weak candidates who cannot change the PDP talk less of changing Nigeria. I still hold that belief to be self-evident because morning shows the day as boyhood shows manhood. I have nothing personal against Jonathan. I just think it is awfully hard for a leopard to change its color. He is a finished product of the PDP in many ways. I just went thru Jonathan inaugural speech where he completely missed the road by defining the problem of Corruption in Nigeria as being a systemic one. I say “foul over the bar”, Mr. President. If that is your mind set coming in as a newly minted President, I say you are on to a very weak start because you cannot solve a problem you have totally misdiagnosed. You even stand a chance to make it worse because of your mindset. That is point number one. The second point is your outrageous budget for your inauguration, which is very disappointing and totally out of sync with the reality on the ground as we speak.
Nigeriaworld columnist, Mr. Temple Ubochi, one of your early supporters recently wrote an article titled “Spending more than a billion Naira on Jonathan’s Inauguration” That article has covered everything that need to be said. I cannot improve on it beyond citing it as one more reason why I think Nigerians would be disappointed when they look back, 4 years from today, and they find that little to nothing has changed in Nigeria under Jonathan’s leadership. He is not one to seriously rock the boat for the PDP from all I can see.
I welcome the fact that the South West to which I belong has totally rejected the PDP giving it a red card it truly deserves. But I would have been happier if the PDP had lost their majority in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. That would have been a great change in my judgment because the Legislature would have put the President feet to fire by forcing him to keep his promise to the nation. Mr. Ubochi has rightly drawn attention in his brilliant article to the cover-up report on what actually happened to Mr. Jonathan’s convoy in Kampala, Uganda when the President’s car was reportedly stoned by irate protesters demonstrating against the President of Uganda. Even though the Ugandan President later apologized to the Nigerian President for the unfortunate incident, the Jonathan Government had literarily lied to Nigerians about what really happened. If the Jonathan Government is lying about such a little incident, who knows what else they could be lying about? It is a legitimate question to ask.
That kind of cover-up does more harm to the President’s credibility as he settles down running the country. This President must be aware that the whole nation is watching him and paying attention to everything he does. If Nigeria is ever going to move forward, the President must be reminded that the names “Goodluck and “Azikiwe” which he has flaunted many times while going around the country looking for votes and support would amount to nothing, if he is not going to put his own positive stamp on the presidency as the first representative of a minority group in the South to ever win the presidency. He must therefore guard the position jealously and try to make the best out of it for the benefit of generations yet unborn.
I will be very glad if the President can prove me wrong by doing the right thing and leading Nigeria the right way. He is very lucky that charlatans like Oyinlola and Omisore in Osun, Agagu in Ondo, and former President Obasanjo in Ogun have been so humiliated in their own states in the last election that they can no longer continue to claim to be the wizard of Oz who have delivered the South West to Jonathan in the last election. That honor belongs now to Asaju Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Aremo Olusegun Osoba of the ACN. Jonathan should now have more freedom to do things his own way without these individuals micro-managing him.
I also want to cite the most recent article by the great Reuben Abati of the Guardian Newspapers in which he praised the great Emir of Kano for publicly chastising Vice President Sambo for coming late for more than 3 hours to a public event in Kano and thereby making the powerful Emir and his kitchen Cabinet to be late for Jumat Service because they were waiting to receive him. It was a beautiful and courageous article that drew deserved attention to how nothing is likely to change in Nigeria if Jonathan’s tolerance level for this kind of behavior by his VP remains the rule and not the exception In a way I blame Jonathan for not setting a good example for his VP. The Emir of Kano was exactly right to lecture the Vice President on lateness to official appointments.
I join Reuben Abati in showering praises on Alhaji Ado Bayero, a former Ambassador of Nigeria and the current Emir of Kano for calling the bluff of the complacent Vice President and damning the consequence.
The Emir of Kano and his cousin, the present Governor of our Central Bank Alhaji Sanusi are a breed apart. They are not like your average Nigerian men in power. They are tough like a nail, all of them that I have met during my career in the Federal Service. I am not at all surprised that the Emir had done what he was said to have done. You don’t fool around with the Emir of Kano and any of his cousins like the VP has done
I once served for 3 years from 1979 to 1981 as a member representing Nigeria at the Board of Trustees of CAFRAD (African Training and Research Center for Administration for Development) based in Tangiers, Morocco with one Dr. Kariuki of Kenya and later on Dr. Thomas Kanza of Zaire as Director-general. Another Alhaji Sanusi, a cousin of the Emir of Kano was then the Nigerian Ambassador to Morocco and he was based in Rabat at the time, as I recall. He usually attended the Board meetings with my delegation. I was hell-bent as the chief delegate of Nigeria to ensure that the CAFRAD chairmanship started rotating among member countries just like the OAU. Morocco as a Muslim country had taken it for granted that they could count on Nigeria to support their insistence that the chairmanship be permanently kept by Morocco like it had been for 40 years with no member country complaining.
I went to CAFRAD determined to change that inequity by all means. I was hesitant that Ambassador Sanusi as a Muslim, might not be ready to tell the truth to another Muslim country or offer me all the support I needed.. To my surprise, Ambassador Sanusi not only supported me to the best of his ability, he made it clear to his host Government that the Nigerian delegation was right to sponsor a resolution asking for rotation of the chairmanship of CAFRAD. He let the CAFRAD management know the Nigerian delegation led by myself a Christian from the South, reserved the right to fight for Nigeria the way I thought fit, and that he was solidly behind me. I would never forget that Kano prince. He should have retired by now. He was a lion and I was very proud of him.
That was how Nigeria broke the logjam and CAFRAD started rotating its chairmanship from that year because Nigeria won the tally by a landslide in a secret ballot vote. It was Nigeria’s finest moment and I cherish that achievement till tomorrow. That was how Federal Permanent Secretary Oluyemi Falae of Nigeria ended up becoming the first non-Moroccan Chairman of CAFRAD. The Sanusis of Kano who are all cousins of the current Emir always call a spade a spade regardless of whose horse is gored. Nigerians will recall Alhaji Sanusi of the Central Bank telling the Nigerian Legislature what he alone was bold enough to utter when he told them not too long ago they were spending on themselves more than 25% of the total budget of Nigeria. He was damn right to say that because it was the truth.
No traditional ruler down South, however powerful, would dare display the kind of courage without being victimized one way or the other. I am waiting to see how President Jonathan is going to handle the exchange between his Vice President and the powerful Emir. If the President could not call his VP to order, now the Emir of Kano has done it for him. Music idol Mr. Lagbaja was right when he sang that children who refuse to listen to their parents at home, may have to learn their lesson the hard way from outside. The Vice President would do well to take Mr. Lagbaja’s advice to heart.
The new Nigeria we all want to see under President Jonathan is one that should be strikingly different from the one Nigeria was used to under his predecessors. It remains to be seen, however, if Mr. President would have the spine to live up to that expectation.
I rest my case.