Looking back through our history, Nigeria has been led by a series of heads of states and presidents. Some like Murtala Muhammed, Muhammadu Buhari the President-elect, and Yakubu Gowon left a legacy of service and wisdom.
Others of course, like Sanni Abacha and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida have been disasters. Majority of Nigerians would agree that President Goodluck Jonathan belongs to the latter group. History is, ultimately, the judge of one’s legacy. Some who were judged great and others who were considered failures, their legacies inform our lives and guide us into the future.
Jonathan governed during one of our nation’s darkest hours. He leaves behind a legacy of corruption, lies, and waste. In many ways he is the wrong person for the times – a man who seems not to understand the gravity of leadership in perilous times.
Taking office in 2011, he said: “My dear compatriots, … Together we will unite our nation and improve the living standards of all our peoples whether in the North or in the South, in the East or in the West. Our decade of development has begun … The day of transformation begins today.” … We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people.”
Almost from the first day in office Jonathan failed to grasp the difference between truth and falsehood. His proclaimed primary objective was to destroy federalism, states’ rights and the unity of our country. Indeed, Jonathan has proven to be the great divider of our people than a uniter.
Jonathan consistently pontificates that he’s fighting corruption. However, corruption scandals involving many of his prominent cabinet members provides a glimpse into the reactionary politics, political division, and social and economic parasitism of his administration. Jonathan’s administration is an epitome of corruption.
Since he assumed office in 2011, corruption has gripped and crippled all sectors: oil industry, pension commission, the police, the military, aviation, civil service, mint and printing company, name it. The monies involved run into millions and billions if not trillions. He promotes corruption by his actions and inaction. He surrounds himself with felons and proven thieves and thugs such as Femi Fani-Kayode, Ayodele Fayose, Doyin Okupe, Kashamu Buruji, Bode George, Iyiola Omisore, and other illustrious criminals. He pardoned his former boss the poster child of corruption, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Our foreign reserve account which was $62 billion in 2008, is down to $38 Billion while the excess crude oil account which in 2009 was $20 billion is down to zero. The domestic gas project aimed at generating power has gulped $12 billion by December 2014 and nothing to show for it. Jonathan remains silent till now on N155 billion oil scandal involving government officials, Shell, Subsidiaries in Nigeria. The money was paid on the order of Jonathan to Malibu Oil and gas, a company owned by Dan Etete, a former oil minister under late General Sani Abacha.
Ten billion Naira was expended on chartered jets by the oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. On top of the $20 Billion missing from NNPC accounts, Alison-Madueke was involved on royalties and signature bonuses and was ordered by PriceWaterHouseCoopers auditing firm to refund $1.48 billion to the public coffers. Stella Oduah former aviation minister, with tax payers’ money purchased N225 million BMW armored cars for her personal use.
Alison-Madueke on behalf of Jonathan bankrolled AIT $10 billion bribe to produce and air negative documentaries on leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – Muhammadu Buhari, Ahmed Tinubu, and Yemi Osinbajo. Under Jonathan, the federal government’s debt has risen by $18.40 billion (N3trillion) in the last four years.
Jonathan paid N7 billion bribe to Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the group to campaign against Buhari. The cost of Jonathan’s campaign for the March 28 elections was a staggering one trillion Naira. In fact, by the first week of March, Jonathan had spent about N1.05 trillion.
In 2013,Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga said Nigeria lost N755 billion monthly to inaccurate measurements of exports. A man who embezzled N7.2 billion Police Pension Fund was only fined N750,000. Lucky Igbinedion’s brother, Michael Igbinedion who stole N25 billion from Edo State coffers was fined only N3 million. The N2.5 trillion fuel subsidy scam still unaccounted for.
Jonathan believes the problem of corruption is over flogged. At the funeral of General Owoye Azazi, Jonathan said corruption was not the cause of Nigeria’s problems. He was reacting to a statement by one of the officiating priests who had argued that corruption was the cause of all Nigeria’s problems. “Most of the things we think are caused by corruption are not,” says Jonathan. “This is because Nigeria has several institutions that fight corruption.” The judiciary was not spared from corruption. Under Jonathan, Nigerian judges are to justice and the rule of law as Hitler is to peace and religious freedom.
During his administration, Jonathan embarked on reckless spending that benefits his wealthy elite of millionaires and billionaires, his cabinet members, political appointees, business associates, pastor friends and spiritual counselors and saw their ranks swelled and their fortunes fattened. The result is a social and economic polarization unprecedented in the history of our nation.
Jonathan’s principal task was to police the yawning class divide, hiring the largest number of do-nothing political parasites, fund redundant agencies with overlapping functions with no objectives, no focus, no result. His inner circle of friends and appointees felt they were entitled to a life of luxury at the expense of the nation. This was part of the toxic atmosphere of corruption, poverty, hopelessness, fear, hatred, class division that hung over Nigeria under Jonathan.
But misuse of public funds is the true treason. For every Naira pilfered from the government an underprivileged child goes hungry. As a result of Jonathan’s self-enrichment drive, pregnant women were denied the right to access medical care from hospitals. The sick, especially the vulnerable ones like senior citizens, children with special needs, and the infirm were denied the urgent medical needs.
Each day, Nigerians are greeted with a shocking distraction from their daily troubles with unbelievable news of corruption. For Jonathan, he has nothing to worry about. There was no reprimand for the perpetrators. Company CEOs, bank executives, ministers, political appointees, caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Jonathan did nothing to stop large caliber corruption charges, even at close range.
A writer once described Jonathan as a “serial liar.” Each opportunity he has to address the problems of the nation, he oozes out a bagful of lies. Samples: Jonathan vows to end Boko Haram menace (AFP April 19, 2012). Jonathan vows ‘Major changes’ for Nigeria (Dailymotion, April 20, 2011). Nigerian President vows to Return nation to Order (Vanguard Apil 21, 201). Nigerian President vows to Strengthen Democratic Rule (Voice of America, May 30, 2011). Jonathan vows to “crush terrorists” (Reuters, Dec. 31, 2011). Jonathan vows not to shield any corrupt person from investigation or prosecution by anti-graft agencies in the country (NewsDiary, May 4, 2012). Corruption: No more sacred cows, Jonathan vows (vanguard July 26, 2011). I’ve fulfilled my promises to Nigerians – Jonathan (Premium Times November 11, 2014).
While majority of Nigerians are restless about where their next meal would come from,when civil servants are not paid for months, when six million jobs promised youths never materialized, when students protested against hiked fees, when civil and human rights organizations denounced the travesty of justice in the land, Jonathan and his crew clung to the mentality of broiler chickens which eat without stopping.
As we remember the waste and the ruins of the Jonathan years, we must remember that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience. The future of our great nation can be different and it should be different. We must move from memory to action.
Farewell to the native son of Otuoke!
Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?
Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.
In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.
In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.
In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.
As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’
Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.
The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.
On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.
In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.
With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.
The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.
Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.
Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.
PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye
We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!
So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.
Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A
Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.
The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?
The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.
He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….
The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.
Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”
It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.
My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.
Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.
Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.
I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.
The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.
“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.
In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.
In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.
Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.
As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.
‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.
And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.
To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.
So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.
But Sanusi was still talking.
Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.
I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.
Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
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