Posts tagged GEJ

Yomi Kazeem: Dear Reno Omokri… – The ScoopNG – The ScoopNG


Leave a comment »



Leave a comment »

A Doctor, His Dame, And Their Dog By Sonala Olumhense

A Doctor, His Dame, And Their Dog By Sonala Olumhense

Posted: August 12, 2012 – 05:17

Sonala Olumhense

If you have yet to read the New York Times story of Nigeria’s remarkable basketball team to the London Olympics, it is available online.

Before I comment on it, here is a question: to whom, exactly, is President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria accountable?

His answer last week, as he vigorously tried to dismiss the demand of Boko Haram for him to resign, was predictable: the Nigerian people, he said.

“The President will never resign,” spokesman Reuben Abati said, conferring loud credibility to the demand.  “He has the mandate of Nigerians to serve his father land and nobody should imagine that he will succumb

to blackmail.”
With due respect to the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that was not really an answer to the question.

Actually, Mr. Jonathan did not need to answer the question: in reality, Boko Haram is no more than a ghost barking in the dark.  But Mr. Jonathan’s spokesman went on and on about the source of his power.

The truth is that Mr. Jonathan’s response was not meant for Boko Haram at all: it was aimed at the various interests across the country, some of which voted for him last year, and including the suddenly restive House of Representatives, who have reached the conclusion either that Mr. Jonathan has betrayed them, or that he is incapable of the job of president, or both.

It was to them all that Mr. Jonathan felt he should provide a “strong” statement that he is not going anywhere because he is legitimate.

Perhaps he is not going anywhere, but neither incompetence nor betrayal is justifiable or legitimate.
Legitimacy, in a democracy, does not simply emanate from the electorate; it also means that the elected person is accountable to those who elected him.  The conundrum before us is that even if Mr. Jonathan’s election last April cannot be questioned, his performance, and therefore accountability, is.

To whom is Mr. Jonathan accountable?

There seem to be only two authorities: his wife, who goes by the incongruous title of Dame; and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

As a writer, I have been threatened in the past by Mrs. Jonathan for my articles on her corruption troubles with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  But as I have said, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu—who chaired the commission at the time, twice accused Mrs. Jonathan of money-laundering; who filed court cases against Mrs. Jonathan before he was removed from office—has not provided the official report of the investigation the EFCC undertook which would permit the intelligent conclusion that justice was done when he unilaterally exonerated her upon his return to Nigeria.

In a civilized society, that is how things are done, and that is what provides the credibility to processes and persons that Mr. Ribadu, through Mrs. Jonathan, has now denied himself.

In any event, nobody has told the people who provided Mr. Jonathan with the votes with which he now beats his chest exactly what happened to the funds Mrs. Jonathan was separated from exactly six years ago: Thirteen thousand, five hundred US dollars; and one hundred and four thousand Naira.

Standing on Ribadu’s chest, however, Mrs. Jonathan is now rewriting Nigerian law and practice.  Not only has she has taken up a Permanent Secretaryship in Bayelsa State that she has no intention of serving in practice, she is arguing that the Nigerian constitution must provide officially for a First Lady as it does the chief executive to whom she is married.

Mr. Jonathan has not contradicted her.  He cannot, because he has already made it clear his loyalty is neither to the constitution to which he swore nor to the practical dictates of his office.  It is to his self-interest.

That was why, weeks ago, he said something no truly-elected president would ever say about his office: that he does not “give a damn” about publicly declaring his assets.

It is only that self-interest that could have made the president of a country agree to the embarrassment of having his wife become a civil servant in a State, especially in a job that would require her routine daily attention and supervision of policy implementation and workers.
Mr. Jonathan does not give a damn.
The other authority to which Mr. Jonathan accounts is his party, the PDP.

To be fair to Mr. Jonathan, the PDP had accounted for Nigeria’s collapse before he was put in charge of the government.  In his hands, however, that collapse has been confirmed.  Insecurity is so bad that not only is Mr. Jonathan refusing to visit large chunks of the country, the United States last week sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assure him of its support as long as he is willing to embark on true reform.

True reform?

In Jonathanville, that is a contradiction in terms.  His years in office as Acting President, replacement President and President have been marked, sadly, by the retrogression best summarized by don’t-give-a-damn.

Jonathan abandoned his electoral promises even before he took office on May 29, 2011: He has never referred to them let alone demonstrated any interest in pursuing them; has never implemented any of the reports submitted by panels he set up; has never done anything to show he wants to fight corruption; has never shown consistency to any identifiable public principle.

If anything, the contradictions are mounting: in January, following the anti-subsidy protests, he said he would reduce the size and cost of government.  Regrettably, not only has he failed to keep that pledge, his government has grown larger in size and expense since then, while shrinking in commitment to the public good.

Last month, after his wife went weeping to him about the unwillingness or failure of the presidency’s media machinery to defend her against allegations of illegal and excessive spending, Mr. Jonathan dug up. Doyin Okupe, who last served in a similar capacity for President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, to return to Aso Rock, presumably to protect Mrs. Jonathan.

Mr. Okupe’s appointment came only a couple of weeks after the PDP was crushed in a gubernatorial election in Edo State, an election in which the party’s biggest guns, including Mr. Jonathan, campaigned feverishly in the State.  The party’s candidate won one vote for every five gained by the winner the opposing party’s incumbent, who, voters said, had demonstrated commitment and action.

Mr. Okupe’s return to Aso Rock also came weeks before Nigeria went to the Olympics and returned with its worst performance since 1960.

Which brings me back to the New York Times article on Nigeria’s remarkable basketball team, D’Tigers.  At the London Olympics, the squad lost to the American team by 83 points, a Games record.
They form part of Team Nigeria, which had a dismal performance at the Games, and about which there has been a lot of snickering.

Not from me.  I am a strong supporter of Team Nigeria and D’Tigers.  The problem always has been with our administration, in politics as in sports.

Bolaji Abdullahi, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, has responded to our embarrassment the way every Nigerian government does: pledging early preparation for the next competition.  While some countries are talking about how they did it, we are talking about how it will be done.  It is our story every four years.

In 2015, some countries will be celebrating how they achieved significant Millennium Development Goals, a process Nigeria endorsed in 2000, but has failed to implement.  Nigeria, if it is not in fragments, will be talking about how it can be done.

That is what happens when emotion, not reason, leads national issues, and every four years, at the Olympics and at our elections—to choose but two examples, we stand before the mirror and look at ourselves.

This is the question Nigerians must ask about themselves. Nigeria’s atrocious leadership is now perfected in the Jonathans, and her followership cannot blame them.


Bruised and Beaten, but Nigerians Are Unbowed


Comments (1) »

Dana Air Plane Crash: Iconic Images

Leave a comment »


Goodluck Jonathan at CHOGM 2011

Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria President Alhaji Yar'Adua talks with N...

Late Nigeria President Alhaji Yar’Adua

“There are three times in a man’s life when it’s useless to hold him to anything: when he is madly in love, drunk or running for office.”
Robert Mitchum.

A little over two years ago, President Umaru Musa YarAdua died, providing a natural solution to a messy political and legal logjam that was to haunt the rest of his planned four – year term. It is a sign of the present times and the conditions we live under that the Anniversary was barely noticed. There were certainly a lot more pages with paid adverts congratulating the Governor of Jigawa State for receiving an honourary degree than those which reminded the nation that its President died two years ago. Both his entrance and his exits were tumultuous events, and Umaru YarAdua’s life and death will be marked as significant watersheds in Nigerian history. He did not, strictly speaking, hand over the baton to President Jonathan. You could say he dropped it, and Jonathan had to pick it with considerable difficulty in a race which started with so much promise, finished in a most controversial manner.

Umaru YarAdua was a good but complex man. He had many good intentions, and a bag full of personal and political limitations. He came into the Presidency in 2007 on the back of the most condemned election; from a Governor in a state where he learned that Nigerians politics bred intense bitterness and took no prisoners. His entire campaign for the Presidency of Nigeria was planned, funded and carefully choreographed by others who saw huge opportunities to milk his Presidency. He tagged along, with his own agenda carefully tucked away, hoping that when, not if, he became President, he would make a clean break with history.
He began well, denouncing the election that brought him to power, and committing himself to reform the electoral process. He failed to do this, when it became clear that reform in the manner the Committee under Chief Justice M. L. Uwais proposed, would transform our electoral system beyond the capacity of his party, the PDP to control and manipulate. His commitment to entrench the rule of law and fight corruption remained hollow slogans, as corruption became entrenched in the circle which surrounded him, and the rule of law found expression only in pamphlets. Grand visions involving developments of infrastructure and reforms in the power sector, petroleum and gas and land administration were defeated by massive corruption which had dug in, and an indifferent and lethargic public service. A resolution of the crippling crimes under the name of militancy in the Niger Delta involved potentially dangerous and expensive concessions, and the jury is still out over the long-term value of the Amnesty Programme. A substantially weakened President was persuaded to give a shoot-at-sight order literally on his way out of the country when the Yusufiyya insurgency was threatening to overwhelm the Police in Maiduguri. In the execution of the order, the leader of the insurgency was executed, and the nation is being reminded of that act almost daily with bombs and bullets. An even weaker President was sold the dummy that tinkering with the rules of the public service under a tenure policy will transform the public service. The alarming crash in standards, efficiency and moral courage in the public service is the result the nation is paying for this folly. Competent and experienced hands are being retired at moments when they are most needed, and the shocking revelations and unprecedented levels of stealing around pensions and the subsidy scams are in reality evidence of the failure of the public service to protect the public and public resources from pillage.
A weak and a sick President is a liability to governance, but a weak and sick President who was propped up by interests which had scant regards and respect for the law or the national interest became a major threat. The undignified and untidy efforts made to prolong YarAdua’s Presidency and keep Jonathan away at all cost necessary (and unnecessary) did little justice to the personal ideals of Umaru himself who, for all his failings, actually saw power as a transient element. In sickness and in the manner his death came about, the foundations of a bitter succession and the perception of an parochial resistance against a Jonathan presidency took roots.
From the moment the law was turned on its head by a national resolve to end the drift after it became clear that Yar’Adua couldn’t continue, the Jonathan presidency was marked by an indelible perception that it had to fight every inch of the way against massive northern resistance. The underdog image was given a boost in the contest for the PDP ticket, and the gang-up of northern politicians in the PDP against Jonathan’s candidature created opportunities to tap into massive primordial sentiments and sympathies. Now a northern, Muslim enemy became easily identifiable, and the foundations of much of the character of our present political environment were laid.
President Jonathan’s full watch began on the ashes of four basically wasted years, when the nation moved from a crippled presidency, to one shackled by petty and destructive opportunism and fatal miscalculations. He came with a mentality that is substantially hostage to its recent past, and the riots which followed his announced victory further exposed dangerous faultiness which the political contest that produced his presidency had made more pronounced. Against a perceived far northern resistance, President Jonathan’s people whipped up their own regional passions. Our politics has never been more tribalized, and the centrality of faith in politics and governance never more pronounced.
With a mandate all of his own since 2011, the nation could legitimately ask what all that struggle by President Jonathan to become President was all about? To prove that he had a right to aspire and occupy the position, yes. To prove that South South people can ‘rule’ Nigeria, yes. To prove that the northern establishment could be humbled and humiliated, yes. But what about going beyond the pound of flesh? Is it purely coincidental that Jonathan’s watch has been marked by the most frightening manifestation of threats to our security, and revelations of mind-boggling corruption? Certainly, it is fair to say that he had inherited some of these problems, but Jonathan was part of the Presidency since 2007, and effectively President since 2010. To say his presidency has been crippled by incipient regional hostility, a determined insurgency and unspeakable corruption is akin to saying that thieves have made the night guard’s job difficult. The job of the guard is to keep the thieves away, and not use them as the excuse for perennial theft.
By any standards of judgment, President Jonathan’s watch is a difficult one. But he wanted job, and he got it. From the moment he sat in Yar’Adua’s chair, he called the shots. Now he is being judged by how he responds to the challenges he faces. Will he reign in run-away corruption by prosecuting people who swindled us of trillions in fraudulent subsidy? Can he prosecute the big names behind the pension scam; the collapse of the capital market; the scandalous sales or ‘dashing’ of our assets under the privatization programme? Can he find a way to limit and eliminate the dangers posed by the Boko Haram insurgency? Can he make a tangible difference between now and 2015 in the areas of power supply, unemployment among the youth and reform of the electoral process? The job of being a Nigerian President must be the most difficult in our current circumstance. It’s made more difficult because President Jonathan cannot blame anyone, if during his watch, Nigeria sinks deeper into crises.


Dr. Hakeem

Leave a comment »