Why There Won’t Be Continuity


Mrs Patience Jonathan said in Benin City last week that they “must” complete their “eight years” in Aso Rock. Madam Jonathan has forgotten that, by 2019, if they are still in Aso Rock, they will be 10 years there, not eight as the constitution says. In 2015 they are going for a third term, not second term anymore since her husband was elected on the same ticket as Yar’Adua in 2007. That was why he just took over without any election when Yar’Adua died. In any case, the constitution did not say that everyone who is president or governor must do eight years. It says after four years the voters can punish non-performance by voting out an incumbent, as will be done for the current ruling party on March 28, 2015, all things being equal.

For so many reasons, this year will mark the end of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration at the federal level. For one, President Jonathan’s incompetence is pushing the agitation for change. The president himself recently told the whole world that 80 per cent of his advisers give him bad advice. Consequent upon this, Nigeria has been grappling with bad governance. That is the reason a friend of mine said, when the election was postponed by six weeks, that since we had survived six years we could as well survive six more weeks. A party that has virtually nothing to show for the $700bn Nigeria earned since 1999 does not deserve to remain in power any longer.

Right from the beginning, Jonathan’s people started the agitation for his 2015 presidential ambition on a very bad premise. They threatened that there would be no Nigeria if Jonathan was not allowed to continue to “rule” beyond 2015. This threat by militants, more than anything, hardened the position of others and made them say OK, they will vote him out, thereby calling their bluff to see what they can do. To compound matters, some attack dogs like Femi Fani-Kayode and Ayo Fayose were hired only to insult the person of Buhari, the main challenger of Jonathan. That simply earned Buhari so much sympathy, making him more popular by the day.

For the people of especially the northeast, what will Jonathan or PDP tell them to make them vote for that party? Some have lost their children forever; others have lost their parents forever; some have lost their wives or husbands forever; yet many have lost their homes, farmlands and means of livelihood. All because, for six years, no one believed they were suffering and the government is only now waking up to its responsibility because of the coming elections, if at all they are allowed to hold. No one can ever convince them to vote for a party or a government that has failed to make them feel safe in their homes, much less provide other basic necessities of life for them or others.

This insurgency is confined to only one section of the country. In that section, Christians were killed while praying in churches; Muslims were killed in mosques while praying, conclusively proving that it is not about religion but something else. In that section, people were killed on the streets; others were killed in marketplaces; even animals were burnt in the cattle markets. School children were kidnapped in their hundreds and nothing has been heard about them since then. I cannot see how anyone, in the name of “endorsement” or “inducement”, will convince these people to vote for continuity of this calamity called PDP.

For the south-west, they have never had it so bad in terms of representation in government since independence. In the federal hierarchy, from No.1 to No. 15, there is no Yoruba. This cuts across all the three arms of government — executive, legislature and judiciary. If they could not be put in elective positions, why can’t any of them be appointed at least by the executive? But in the opposition, one of their illustrious sons is No. 2 and if Buhari’s pedigree is anything to go by Prof. Osinbajo will be an effective one; so how can anyone convince the highly intelligent and very discerning Yoruba to vote for the continuity of their marginalization when they have a stake in the coming change? It is too late to tell them to wait for next time when they have been shown enough contempt in the last six years.

For the south-east, they have seen that their roads are still dilapidated; they hardly visit home for fear of kidnappers; and the unemployment rate is simply alarming, despite supporting PDP since 1999. Since Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa commissioned the Niger Bridge that links Onitsha to Asaba in one of his last acts alive in 1966, no one has thought of expanding it or building a new one for this great economic hub. It was only recently that PDP did a photo show of laying the foundation of a bridge at the twilight of the administration; the easterners were earlier promised that by this year that bridge would be ready. None of this is fooling the people. Consequently, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo, the most populous state in the south-east, is in the opposition All Progressives Congress. Two former governors of Anambra, Mbadinuju and Ngige, as well as many past and present PDP stalwarts like Festus Odimegwu are now in APC and are no more interested in the continuity of this terrible legacy.

How can there be continuity when they are insulting respected elder statesmen like Gen. TY Danjuma? How can they continue when they sack from office one of Nigeria’s most decorated generals, Gen. Martins Luther Agwai? How can they win places like Benue or Plateau when most of their elected senators and political heavyweights are now in APC? Indeed, how can they win when respected statesmen like Gen. Paul Tarfa are now canvasing change? Most respected clergymen are tired of this mess as they see their followers suffering. As such they are praying for change.

Two of the ex-national chairmen of PDP – Chief Ogbeh and Senator Gemade — are in APC now; five of the speakers of House of Representatives from PDP are out of that party and almost all of them are now in APC; the longest-serving vice president in Nigeria’s history, Atiku Abubakar, is in APC; former President Obasanjo has left PDP for good; and many serving and former governors, senators and legislators at national, state and local levels have left the PDP or are fighting it from within. How can there be any continuity since PDP is only a shell of its former self, lacking its real fathers, mothers and even a soul now?

President Jonathan said he owes what he is today to Katsina State because it was the late President Yar’Adua who chose him to be his vice president in 2007. Today, Katsina is at the receiving end of this government. Even in ministerial appointmentS, that state was given an obscure ministry called solid minerals. Most Katsina indigenes who were occupying positions at the federal level have been sacked. Even the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) boss, Alhaji Kabir Mashi, a son of Katsina who has had distinguished career and unsurpassed records in revenue generation since the FIRS was created, was not confirmed for three years. He was sacked yesterday, apparently because he did not give them the money they needed for  the elections.

Continuity for what? Change has come indeed. And it is a pan-Nigeria agitation, indeed a global one, for positive change. The hapless and helpless pawn, Jonathan, must understand the paradox of our situation, which is that change is now required in order to even begin to think of transformation.

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