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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Jonathan Presidency Was A Disaster Foretold (1) - Dele Sobowale


“In every community there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power.”Saul Bellow. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 124.

“Dele how can you Nigerians hand over your country to all those crazy people?” Nigerian-American calling from the US.

An old friend called  from the United States last week. He is a naturalized Nigerian American who had not been in Nigeria since he left about twenty years ago. He had been following the revelations concerning the arms deal and withdrawals of millions of dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, allegedly purely for the PDP campaign.

He went on to inform me, as if I don’t know, that even Nixon’s Watergate scandal, which many still regard as the most shameful event involving an American President was a mere child’s play compared to this. Still thundering, he asked, “You mean the President of Nigeria can actually ask somebody to go to the Central Bank and take money out for distribution to his party members and nobody asked questions until now? No wonder your country is underdeveloped. And, is it true that this Jonathan guy has a Ph.D?”

Feeling thoroughly embarrassed, I meekly answered, “Yes, he has a doctorate in Zoology.” Permit me if the expletive he uttered in response to that declaration is unprintable. I felt ashamed of my Fellow Countrymen, especially all those who made the Goodluck Jonathan presidency possible from 2011 to 2015. Only a totally conscienceless and unpatriotic Nigerian can fail to admit that this disaster will for ever haunt this generation of Nigerians. Posterity will always ask if we ourselves were not crazy to have elected such an individual as our President; they will definitely judge all those who worked for his re-election as insane – even if with benefit of hindsight.

As my caller was ranting on, and calling Nigerians a bunch of unflattering names, I eventually got in a word. “My friend, this disaster was foretold, as early as 2009; followed up in 2010 and repeated in 2011 and 2015.” However, before getting into my “I told you so sermon”, let us pause and identify those who produced the catastrophe called Jonathan Presidency, because if history is ever to do justice to this generation of adult Nigerians, it must single out the major culprits of this monumental calamity.

Step forward Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, ex-President of Nigeria, and dictator of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from 1999-2011. Baba, always full of words, but lacking the wisdom to distinguish between what needs to be said or left unsaid, was the architect of Jonathan’s emergence as Vice-President in 2007. The Americans have always regarded the VP position as a “heart beat from the presidency”; not the “spare tyre” which an uncouth Nigerian called it. And, when Yar’Adua’s heart stopped beating in 2010, Jonathan stepped up to the Presidency. A man whose lean credentials could not have fetched him Head of Department in a decent university, who had never been in charge of anything, never unilaterally achieved any objective, became the President of the largest black country on earth. Never had the job and the new helmsman been more mismatched in recent history. It was akin to sending an ant to go lift a truckload of sugar. It takes what it can for itself.

Wisdom would have dictated that the nation would stomach the obviously unprepared fellow for a year and then through a free and fair election choose someone with a great deal of experience and all the leadership qualities Jonathan lacked or had not developed. But, OBJ, then Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the PDP, would not allow commonsense to prevail. Operating with self-assumed superior sagacity, he hardly allowed Yar’Adua’s body to be laid to rest when he started yelling. “Jonathan, you must run for the Presidency; don’t tell me you won’t run.” Well, Jonathan ran; Obasanjo supported him and he won the election in 2011. As the reports on Jonathan, Obasanjo’s 2011 candidate for President, trickle in, objective observers of “Ebora Owu” must ask: “Where is the commonsense in recommending and pushing a disaster on the people?” Wisdom is obviously lacking in the selection; patriotism is suspect. And, let nobody deny Baba Iyabo’s (and where is Iyabo?) role in the whole of a mess in which we find ourselves.

Among those now gloating over the revelations of grand larceny under GEJ are those “progressives” who once belonged to a political party called Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. They certainly don’t want to be reminded about their own ignominious role in Jonathan’s victory in 2011. But, the history of this era and this unfortunate episode will be incomplete and falsified if their contribution to our present predicament is left out. Theirs was a purely mercenary one as will be briefly described. The party in 2011, as most people with short memory would recall, had its own Presidential candidate, one unfortunate stalking horse called Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu’s was once a highly regarded corruption fighter as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who had been badly rough-handled by the PDP government – mainly because most of his victims were PDP governors. So, ACN adopted him as their flag-bearer – despite raised eyebrows by people who thought a swindle was in progress.

The way the merchants of ACN dropped Ribadu, a few days to the 2011 elections can best be described in the words of O. Henry, 1862-1910, “It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.” (VBQ p 239). The party had canvassed for votes for election into various offices and had largely “captured” the South West – until the Presidential Election. Suddenly, supporters started receiving multiple text messages; party workers went from door to door; and, a few days to the election the party faithful were ordered to cast their votes for Jonathan. Poor Ribadu was seating in Yola expecting an avalanche of votes from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti; Edo also. The man must have thought something was wrong with his eyes and his TV set as the results came in from those ACN strongholds. I was recuperating in a hospital in Abuja when it happened and as AIT brought the results, I had to ask a nurse if I was going mad. Jonathan cleared all ACN states except Osun. Later, we learnt from the OWNER of the party that they sold the votes and Nigeria for N17 billion when Ribadu was considered a loser. So, the South West votes in 2011 also helped GEJ to become President. ACN, please step forward to receive your traitors’ medal…

POWER TO TWO PEOPLE

Forget the conscienceless others. I would like to know how Okonjo-Iweala and Reuben Abati feel now about being associated with GEJ. Were they aware all these things were going on or were they ignorant? I pity them. GEJ covered them with “gold”; now he is splashing them with guilt. The money will end at the grave site; the dishonour for ever.

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