‘It was a lonely year for the president. His dear Dame Patience needed for support after every day of governing Nigeria which is in itself war, spent part of the year in a German hospital for food poisoning while the restless Nigerian journalists, always in search of tragedies, speculated about the worst’
The outgoing year 2012 will probably rank as the most testing period of Jonathan’s presidency. The anniversary of January 1, the day his detractors claimed he declared war on Nigerians that gave him a landslide victory is approaching. And these detractors are many. Those who had warned if we voted Jonathan, he would sell the nation to PDP, those of us who harassed him every week for allowing the PDP that Nigerians never voted for to hijack his government, civil society groups, labour unions, students, unemployed graduates, N18, 000 minimum wage agitators and elder-statesmen whose demonstration in support of poor Nigerians had to be cut short by the police.
To this long list, we can also add university teachers especially those of the University of Lagos that put the president in his place over his attempt to rename their university, one of the few internationally recognized Nigerian brands, Moshood Abiola University (MAU).
Also in our group of President Jonathan bashing are civil society groups, opposition parties led by ACN publicity secretary who would criticize the president when his wife failed to dress to his (publicity secretary) taste. We also have Tunde Bakare, the pastor with a caustic tongue who had been questioned more than once by the secret police for abusing the pulpit. Of course, we also have the president’s number one sworn enemy, General Muhammadu Buhari who daily invokes images of blood and death in the midst of daily flow of blood of innocent Nigerians whose lives were cut short by those who seem to kill for fun.
We can also add to the list, the National Assembly especially the lower house which threatened to impeach the president for shoddy implementation of the 2011 budget. Curiously among those who gave President Jonathan nightmares within the year is ex-President Obasanjo, his godfather. Long after the president had said he was neither Pharaoh or a military General, General Obasanjo insisted Jonathan ought to have toed his line by leveling up a large portion of north eastern part of Nigeria to teach those who harbour troublesome children a hard lesson just as he did to the people of Odi in Delta and elsewhere in Benue State. Obasanjo was not done. He said the president was weak on corruption, thereby confirming what other detractors of President Jonathan have been saying.
It was a lonely year for the president. His dear Dame Patience needed for support after every day of governing Nigeria which is in itself war, spent part of the year in a German hospital for food poisoning while the restless Nigerian journalists, always in search of tragedies, speculated about the worst. But God was and is still on the throne for a president fervently remembered in daily prayers by jet age prosperity prophets. Speculating journalists and others with morbid thoughts were shamed by triumphant return of Dame Patience Jonathan destined to enjoy the fruits of her labour as a newly promoted permanent secretary, in Bayelsa State.
For succour and support, in the absence of his wife, the president was left with his information crew made up of the information minister who had to be cautioned by the National Assembly for his over enthusiasm . We have Dr Reuben Abati, who was doing what he knows how to do best, mesmerizing with beautiful prose about ‘the president Jonathan they don’t know’. Of course, Dr Doyin Okupe was always there for the president. He defended him vociferously on the attempted change of Unilag name to MAU and the CBN governor’s failed attempt to introduce N5, 000 naira bill.
It was also Okupe, the self styled president ‘attack lion’ who was to later call the attention of the detractors to President Jonathan’s daring act of sending the son of his party chairman for probe on account of his alleged involvement in fuel subsidy scam. For a president who according to Okupe still has political ambition, it was an act of courage rare among Nigerian politicians especially the PDP breed.
Now we have been told that the case currently before an Ikeja High Court, has been ‘adjourned till January 30, 2013 to enable Mahmud Tukur, son of the national chairman of the PDP and his co-accused, Abdullahi Alao, the son of Ibadan-based business man, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, Alex Ochonogor, and Eterna Oil and Gas Plc. to settle the N1.8bn subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’. But can the president really dictate to the judiciary? I don’t think so, except it has to do with a Justice Salami who ruled against PDP indicted ex-governors who stole their opponents’ mandates.
But this is a year the president cannot wait to end because of other unresolved issues that have continued to haunt him. The president had been stampeded by PDP buccaneers, to remove what everyone except his ministers and those he himself described as ‘oil cabals’ said was a phantom subsidy on January 1. He had ignored the National Assembly demand for the “publication of the list of the beneficiaries of past fuel subsidy and presentation of facts and figures on the true picture of the subsidy”. The lower house subsequently set up an ad hoc committee to probe the fuel subsidy regime covering three years 2009 -2011. The actual budget expenditure on subsidy for both petrol and kerosene was found to be N261.1b in 2006, N278.8b in 2007 and N346.7b in 2008
We were also told the actual budget expenditure on subsidy for both petrol and kerosene was tolerable when five companies including NNPC were involved. Bare faced stealing only set in after PDP increased the number to 140 marketers. The president has not told us why we still need about 115 marketers if the names of the 25 the government claimed soiled their hands are removed.
Based on estimated daily consumption of petrol by Nigerians at 31.5 million litres while that of Kerosene is nine million as against other incoherent figures fraudulently bandied around by relevant government officers, the House ad hoc committee proposed a budget of N806.766billion for the 2012 fiscal year for payment of subsidy on petrol and Kerosene. The president is yet to tell us why that figure is now going up to N1.2trillion. Is it that average daily consumption of products that is not available has gone up or that our epileptic four refineries have finally packed up.?
The president promised to build three refineries in Bayelsa, Kogi and Lagos. The one in Lagos was to produce 200,000 barrels a day and Kogi 100,000 while the planned Bayelsa Greenfield Refinery to be built in partnership with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, according to the NNPC Group Executive Director, Engineering and Technology, Mr. Billy Agha, would create 7,000 job opportunities. The president needs to tell us why we are not making progress in this regard.
It is only chest-beating economist like Sanusi, the CBN governor who would argue about throwing people out of jobs in the banking sector and the bureaucracy when America is trying to put everybody back to job will guarantee development. If America is subsidizing American car manufacturers to keep workers on their jobs, we are better off losing N1.2 trillion as subsidy to support refineries, energy or even the agricultural sector if such efforts will create jobs for our teaming youths currently embarking on a journey of no return of second slavery to Europe and America. Sanusi and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are only obsessed with economic growth long after America Brazil and other parts of the world have shifted attention to human development.