Like Babangida, like Jonathan

Babangida is my father”, President Jonathan recently told reporters after a courtesy call on the ex-military dictator. He, by that declaration, traded off his estranged godfather, ex-President Obasanjo who he now says “is nothing but a motor park tout” for an evil genius and an acclaimed Maradona of Nigerian politics. The truth of the matter is that Babangida and Jonathan have so many parallels that will shock Nigerians. Babangida attained power through act of subterfuge on a night of many knives.  Jonathan adopted the same strategy betraying the spirit and the letter of PDP constitution and its rotational policy.  Sambo Dasuki, one of Babangida, Abacha and Gusau’s foot-soldiers during their coup against Buhari, became Babangida’s ADC (aide-de-camp). By strange coincidence, Dasuki, is today the National Security Adviser to President Jonathan who is contesting against General Muhammadu Buhari in an election now derailed by what many Nigerians regarded as Dasuki’s spurious security report.

And still on similarities between father and son; Babangida embarked on a ‘transition without end’ immediately after a successful coup and went on to dribble Nigerians for eight years.  Jonathan’s first concern on attaining power in 2011 was to float the idea of a six-year presidency. Now after six years of failed presidency, he wants another four years.  And Just as Babangida had Arthur Nzeribe’s Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), Jonathan’s Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) that would rather have him adopted than face election. And just as Babangida relied on “Nigerian Army of anything is possible’’ now ably represented in PDP to torment Nigeria for eight years, Jonathan is today using a politicized military to increase our nightmare.

Similarly, Babangida institutionalized corruption, but Jonathan, surrounded by indicted party officials and ex-governors who stole in billions and trillions has improved on his ‘father’s legacy.  While Babangida destroyed the economy resulting in the devaluation of naira, he was awarded the Fellowship of Nigeria Economic Society, (the authoritative body of Nigerian scholars on Nigerian economy and social problems) as ‘a visionary in the management of our economy’. Now Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister and former World Bank celebrated officer, has praised the president for his bold economic strides especially with the rebasing that has now established our economy as the biggest in Africa. This is in spite of millions of Nigerian unemployed university graduates roaming the streets and the exchange rate which was $1-85 in 1999 but now $1-N210.

While the above parallels may be lost on Nigerians and the innocent 18 year-olds President Jonathan has tried to cultivate, the assault on Nigerians last Saturday by President Jonathan should be a source of concern. From the diary of events, it is apparent that postponement of the election was a panic measure by a government facing an imminent defeat hoping to buy time for more sinister strategies and desperate measures just as Babangida did back in 1993.

For instance, until last week when the president’s game of subterfuge finally unfolded, he had pretended his relationship with INEC was anchored on ‘delegation by abdication’. He and his party pretended all was well with INEC.  In fact, it was the opposition that was in the forefront of ensuring voters gets their PVCs. It was the opposition that passed a resolution at the Lower House to the effect that the electorate be allowed to use their temporary voters card if INEC failed, and it was the opposition that declared public holidays in the states they controlled to enable voters collect their PVCs .The President remained unruffled. In fact, he in early January still assured Nigerians of his commitment to the election and mandated INEC to ensure all eligible voters receive their PVCs before the election. INEC was working round the clock to achieve that objective when the President’s National Security Adviser  went to Chatham House London, to give what he described as a personal advice – that INEC  postpones the election to enable  all eligible voters collect their PVCs.

The international community that has been treating President Jonathan and his PDP like a bull in a China shop immediately saw through government ploy. They knew it was the hand of Jacob but the voice of Esau. They advised Jonathan against shifting the election date and President Obama went further by sending John Kerry, his secretary of state to prevail on President Jonathan not to tamper with the electoral process.  President Jonathan like Babangida back in 1993 assured President Obama of his commitment to February 14.  But curiously, on February 4, the NSA wrote a letter, not to the President but to INEC chairman telling him the obvious – 14 of the country’s 774 LGAs are unsafe for the conduct of the election. But long before the NSA’s game of deceit, Nigerians as well as stakeholders from the besieged North-east knew that as a fact. On February 5, the president, still hiding behind one finger, invited his security chiefs to brief the Council of State about the security situation in the North-east. The body rightly washed its hand clean asking INEC to go on with its job after due consultation with stakeholders.

Doyin Okupe was at this stage forced to spill the beans. According to him, the security chiefs “cannot guarantee the security of electoral materials, INEC staff and the voting population in areas currently engulfed by the war against insurgency.”  Besides “with the arrival of new effective combatant equipment and machinery, the situation in the affected states will be brought under such reasonable control that will guarantee safety of the electoral process  …at a no distant future”, he concluded avoiding mentioning six weeks. Mike Omeri, the Director-General of National Orientation Agency followed with a press conference. He was in possession of a security report that pointed to the possibility of some women infiltrating queues on the voting day to detonate bombs hidden in their Niqabs. Then came Edwin Clark, Alex Ekwueme, Walter Ofonagoro, Femi Okunrounmu, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and others, all rabid supporters of Jonathan’s re-election under the aegis of Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly, SNPA calling for “the postponement of the February 14 presidential election, the sack and arrest of the Chairman of INEC, Attahiru Jega to allow for the re-constitution, repositioning and reprocessing of INEC to discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election.”

Their grouse: Jega allegedly directed the release of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to Emirs, District Heads and top politicians in the north.

Even if this were true, how can one entrust such roles to people like Chief Edwin Clark under whose watchful eyes, successive governors of the Delta states diverted about 70% of their states allocations for personal use or Dr Alex Ekwueme who saw nothing and heard nothing when some past Anambra State governors expended their state allocations in servicing godfathers or when Ngige was kidnapped in broad day light by aggrieved godfather?

Desperate times are here again; Panic has set in. It is like Babangida’s era all over again with oil bunkerers and militants responsible for the loss of 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day, fuel subsidy thieves responsible for the theft of N1.6 trillion, banking sector fraudsters responsible for the collapse of the sector, and the stock exchange market back in 2009 and shameless elders assaulting our sensibilities on television. And putting pepper in our eyes, President Jonathan says he is acting in good faith.

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