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07042018 - Investigate your ministers

Vanguard Newspaper 07 April 2018

22—SATURDAY Vanguard,

22—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018 Yeah, Jonathan voted Buhari! Those who do not know History are forever condemned to repeat it-Will Durant. Tough times for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. We are seeing a Nigerian leader facing the worst form of humiliation since independence. Not even when General Yakubu Gowon was accused of treason in 1976 did this kind of treatment crop up. At least, the general was far away in the United Kingdom under the Queen’s protection. Almost everyone around Jonathan has become a looter, according to the Federal Government. From his wife to his cousin, nephew, friends, kinsmen. Name them. It is interesting. Bloody civilian, there is nothing like espirit de corps in this. Being a one time Customs officer does not qualify him to be treated like military generals. Yet we have seen generals run and ruin this nation. So much money was made from oil between 1973 and 2007, a period of 34 years. And because our untouchables failed to plan, we are bottom leaguers in the comity of nations. Today, Goodluck has become bad luck. All the sins of yester years, all past sins committed by those before him have been forgiven. This Azikiwe must be crucified. It is a matter of time before they take him to Pontius Pilate. But is Dr. Jonathan that bad, nothing good from a man who saved the country from bloodshed? I do not think so. The former President may not be as saintly as some of the disciples in the holy book. At the same time, I think there is a grand plan to destroy his political career and put him on the defensive forever. I am sure Dr. Jonathan will be full of regrets in his quiet moments. Life was beautiful for him. Deputy governor turned governor. Vice President to President, all in 11 years. Indeed, History never alters much in its texture. Politics is not for people like Dr. Jonathan. He got involved, enjoyed it and now the bitter part is here. And we must look at the past to unravel the present. One huge lesson for those who do not understand the power game. It has now emerged that Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, the Oracle of Otta, who paved way for the Jonathan presidency had an unwritten deal with the latter to stay in power for just one term after the 2011 elections. This was not made known to us until things began to fall apart between godfather and godson. Since Jonathan decided to dine with the power brokers, he should have read the handwriting on the wall. The Hausa-Fulani and their Northern cousins are one when it comes to politics. Islam or Christianity does not matter. Our brothers from the North love Today, Goodluck has become bad luck. All the sins of yester years, all past sins committed by those before him have been forgiven power. Obasanjo had taken his turn, thanks to Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalam Abubakar and Yakubu Danjuma. Power was to shift to the North after eight years. When Vice President Atiku Abubakar tried to challenge the plot, he was crushed. A smart Obasanjo, after failing to get a Third term went for a frail Alhaji Umaru Ya’radua as successor. Jonathan emerged as Vice President and following the demise of the president, became the leader of the nation. That, by Northern calculations was not too good. Jonathan went into the 2011 Presidential elections. The core North did not want him, they saw the Ijaw man as going in through the back door. They tried to floor him with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. It did not work. The Army general went into political retirement shedding tears. That was a sign of things to come. His tears meant so much to the North. They waited for Jonathan to do four years and leave the stage. Obasanjo had extracted that from the new Azikiwe before he ascended the throne again, in 2011. Jonathan was carried away. People around him urged him to fight. If it was a boxing bout, maybe. This was Nigerian politics. Jonathan forgot his history lessons. In Nigeria, two good heads are never better than one. In Nigerian politics, black is the same as red. Treachery, deceit, wickedness and madness rule the polity. Jonathan dared the power brokers. He took the godfathers headlong. Jonathan braved it and tried to go for a second term. Boko Haram came. Under Ya’radua they killed in tens, during the Jonathan era, it was death in thousands. All the kings, past, worked against Jonathan. Saboteurs within the PDP led him on. A new party emerged. It had the brain of a Jagaban and the slogan was ‘Sai Baba.’ Jonathan saw only broom, he did not see doom. Atiku articulated. Rotimi Amechi was pumped up, like Michelin tyre, ready to explode. And when the explosion came, Oga Joe was jolted. History 101 would have taught Jonathan not to contest in 2015. If he had done that, Buhari would have remained in eternal retirement. The PDP would have picked a Northern candidate and could also have won the election. However, Jonathan, a zoologist, did not reckon with the power of the godfathers and the North. A united bunch who may not have the PhD of President Jonathan. They have the British induced divisive power of numbers. Strange it sounds, that is the fraud called Nigeria. I am going to invite President Buhari to lunch. He has won my heart and the heart of so many Nigerians for bringing back history, the study of history, in our schools. I have discovered that most young Nigerians under 50 neither know our past nor their future. I do not want to talk about the internet generation. They would have been lost, all are history blind. Now Buhari will open their eyes. I wish we could ban the internet for one session and make history compulsory in our schools. If only Gowon had not reneged on Aburi. Thank God he later studied Political Science. If only Jonathan understood history. I expect him to go pick a degree in Nigerian history. I feel for him. President Buhari should settle this, President to President. During the week, another form of drama played out in our national life. And I title it: ‘List of Treasury Looters of the Federal Republic,’ which was released to the public in two or three parts, technically. The script was drafted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government and delivered by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said it was inspired by a challenge of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Contributing script writer was opposition PDP. Erstwhile aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan on New Media, Reno Omokri, compiled the ‘supporting list’ that added more pep to the whole display. Sadly, the drama was highly captivating to spectators—Nigerians. Considering that the world is now a global village, many other viewers across the globe were also thoroughly entertained. And so it was that soon after the APC government, via the Minister of Information and Communication released the first batch of his list with about six names March 30, 2018, the stage was set for what would dominate national discourse all through the Easter celebration and beyond. The storyline got even juicier when on April 1, 2018, just two days after the first release, when the Information Minister pushed out an updated version, with 23 more names of ‘alleged looters.’ Names on the two lists, he said, were not arbitrary but based on verifiable facts. They were made up of PDP members, and nothing new from what A bet t and release of looter ers’ list the government had been pushing out to the media with hardly any convictions made yet. While some hailed the lists, others kicked against it. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a non-profit organization established in 2004 to promote human rights, transparency, and accountability in governance, described it as clumsy, arbitrary, selective and politicized. SERAP would rather government obeyed the spirit and letter of Justice Hadiza Shagari’s judgment, which ordered that the authorities tell Nigerians names of all suspected looters of the public treasury, past and present. To the PDP, the Federal Government’s looters list is merely part of ploy to divert attention from public discourse on its “numerous scandals, manifest sleazes and overall failures in governance.” And then came Reno Omokri, who brought in more actors, props, costumes, sets, lights and sound, literarily, to the stage. He was in his element, criticising the government for failing to include names of members of the ruling APC accused of, or being tried for corruption. He had 10 of them on his list he said should make up the Federal Government’s looters list. According to him, that should be “The real looters list that Buhari and Lai Mohammed do not want you to know about.” They collectively looted $2bn, he said, and wondered why those on that list “have continued to remain in the APC government where they wield immense powers and influence, even over the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that is meant to prosecute them.” Like the Minister of Information, Omokri said his list was also a ‘teaser’ that could be enlarged, depending on reaction of the Buhari-led government. They collectively looted $2bn, he said, and wondered why those on that list “have continued to remain in the APC government where they wield immense powers and influence In another scene was Chief Femi Fani- Kayode, whose name was included in the Federal Government’s list Number Two released on Sunday, April 1. He was alleged to have looted the sum of N866 million. Typically, the former Media Director for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, described the FG list as nonsensical and utterly shameful, and thus, returns the label of ‘looter’ back to the sender. To him, it is the trite law that ‘only a court of law can declare a man guilty or declare him a thief or a looter and not Buhari and his government.’ In the whole of this, it would appear the role of the court was hijacked by the actors. And while the business of looters’ list releases was going on, innocent lives were being taken by bandits and terrorists across the country. Pregnant women and children were also dying in their numbers due to lack of access to primary healthcare. A lot more other lives were being claimed by our dilapidated roads. Many others were being ravaged by poverty, hunger and diseases. Refugee camps now dot many parts of the country with internally displaced persons living the most wretched life one can ever imagine in their own country. Above all, many more lootings were probably going on at the time the two groups were trading on looters lists, thus depriving the generality of Nigerians basic necessity of life. One expect that a government that cares for the well-being of its citizens would hand over corruption cases to the courts and face other business of delivering dividends to the people. How does release of looters’ lists to the public put food on the table, or pay school fees? But then, I understand that PDP had the audacity to dare the APC to release a list of looters they claimed they don’t have in their midst. And the Federal Government, it seems, has so much time at its disposal to take up the bet of listing ‘alleged looters.’ ‘Who do Nigeria this?’

SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 7, 2018—23 2019: What to make of PDP’s apology By Dirisu Yakubu The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently tendered an unreserved apology to the nation and its people, and promised to make up for the missteps of the past. With the general elections less than a year away, ceteris paribus, uncertainty hovers over the fortune of the party in 2019. Will the electorate kick out the ruling party in preference of the once-dominant political platform in the land? It is not clear if it is the quest to return to power at the centre or a genuine realization of its mistakes that led the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to publicly apologize to Nigerians a fortnight ago. But regardless of the motive for that public show of remorse, the new National Working Committee (NWC) of the party deserves all the commendations that have been coming its way since that show of remorse. National chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus while addressing a gathering of party faithful and eminent Nigerians at a public lecture in Abuja recently had pleaded with Nigerians to give the party another shot at the Presidency, saying the experience it garnered in the 16 years of its stewardship is an asset Nigerians should not trade for anything else. While insisting that the party would no longer tolerate imposition of candidates and impunity in the running of its affairs, Secondus had also cautioned Nigerians not to entertain the thought of returning the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the next general election given its “lack of preparedness for governance.” A panelist and self-confessed sympathizer of President Muhammadu Buhari, Hajia Aisha Yola had shortly after Secondus’ apology, tasked the PDP boss to come clean on the reason for craving the nation’s forgiveness, arguing that until that was done, the message would not strike the right cord in the hearts of the people. Secondus did not say much in response to Yola’s request, other than saying in the past, impunity and a lack of internal democracy characterized the conduct of business in the party; vices, he vowed to deal a fatal blow to, in the interest of the party. As the debate lingers on the necessity or otherwise of the apology, the APC wants its bitter rival to take the next noble step by remitting into government’s coffers, all monies stolen in the period the party was in power; a charge the PDP dismissed with a wave of the hand and vitriolic salvo urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to forget that he was “elected with looted funds.” For Secondus, the stand of his leadership is that never again would lawlessness and imposition colour the affairs of the party, and it was largely this new thinking that informed the apology in the first instance. Was there a need for an apology in the first instance? Would Nigerians embrace the rebranded PDP, given the As the debate lingers on the necessity or otherwise of the apology, the APC wants its bitter rival to take the next noble step by remitting into government’s coffers, all monies stolen in the period the party was in power pledge by the PDP boss that old things have passed away and all things have become new? A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Barrister Mike Ozekhome believes there is a mileage to reap from the humility of a party that is responsible enough to admit its errors. In an exclusive chat with Vanguard on Wednesday, Ozekhome tasked Nigerians to juxtapose the achievements of PDP and those of APC in their first three years and make their decision in 2019. He said: “I think it was the right thing to do (apology to Nigerians). You must first admit guilt before you confess it and then go on to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the result or consequence of admission of guilt. It seems to me more responsible given their apparent achievements which far surpass those of a highly deceitful and propaganda -inclined ruling APC that thrives on lies, make-belief, simulations, mendacious governance. “If the PDP that established visible national institutions and organs such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC, mobile phones and brought prosperity could still apologize for its admitted lapses, it is a sign of maturity and readiness to start on a clean table rather than engage in grandstanding and unhelpful banality. “Nigerians today know that their lives were better three years ago that they are today. They enjoyed security, various liberties and inalienable freedom which today have become scarce commodities. Where corruption was pervasive and democratized under the PDP with its effect luxuriating a beleaguered people, corruption today is highly privatized, more monumental, but closely tailored to satiate the warped appetite of a few in government. “I am not a politician, but it clear that this rudderless, clueless and insensate government has to give way to any pro-people party of whatever genre, PDP or no PDP.” Although, Ozekhome believes PDP will inspire good leadership if given entrusted with power again, former National Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Isa Tijjani thinks differently. According to him, the once dominant party is yet to demonstrate sufficient •Oyegun •Mike Ozhekome capacity to do things anew, three years after losing power at the centre to a hurriedly assembled political party. Tijjani who spoke with our correspondent urged Nigerians to watch it, lest they make another journey to an unknown destination. “We are dealing with power hungry politicians who lack decorum, moderation and the zeal to fight for the right thing. In their imagination, they think doing that will •Secondus make them win people so that they can be brought back to power and the looting continues. You will agree with me that they lack focus and ideology and as such don’t have the correct strategy to mobilize people on their side,” he said. Wondering what the PDP would do differently this time, the renowned unionist questioned the seeming aloofness of the party to what he termed the pains being suffered by some of its members in the hands of the Buhari administration. “How can you have a political party that cannot fight for the rule of law? They have a member who allegedly shared loot for them but could not fight on his behalf even when a court gave him bail. If a court of law can give bail to someone and the government refuses to release him, what type of government is that? It is like the case of El ZakZaky. You are the leading opposition party with members in both the Senate and the House of Representatives but could not fight for the respect of court orders. That means the only thing you are interested in is a return to power,” he argued, even as he faulted the essence of the public apology. “What is the apology all about? Is it we are sorry we stole your money or we are sorry we inflicted bad governance on you? The apology is vague and incomplete just like it is meaningless. Politicians must learn and inculcate the virtues of leadership through standing on the side of the people,” he stressed. The two eminent Nigerians may have spoken the minds of millions of Nigerians, one way or the other but what is paramount today is the imperative of working tirelessly, behind the scene that is, to convince Nigerians that better days lay ahead. Whether it is the APC, PDP or the coalitions threatening to oust the two, Nigerians are in dire need of a country where quality of education, security of lives and property, quality health care delivery, employment opportunities, stable power to mention a few are given utmost priority.