No time to sit on the fence

As February 14, the day of reckoning for President Jonathan and PDP draws nearer after 16 years of bare-faced stealing by indicted PDP stalwarts, periodic rigging of elections and PDP stranglehold over our people through exploitation of their secret fears and human frailties, there is palpable panic and desperation in PDP family. This is why for the sake of millions of our unemployed youths, the memory of over 12,000 victims of Boko Haram’s mindless killings, hundreds of helpless women and children brutally murdered in their sleep in the Middle Belt region by those the government is yet to identify, in solidarity with thousands who have been turned to refugees in their own country, in protest against the theft of about $20 billion according to Lamido Sanusi and the mismanagement of our economy to the tune of N30 trillion according to Chukwuma Soludo, patriotic Nigerians who care about the future of our children cannot afford to sit on the fence.  Nigerians must join hands to end their 16 years nightmare and six years of national disgrace.

President Jonathan who publicly declared he wanted to be a one-term president now wants another term of four years after six years in office. He has been moving around the country selling his achievements which include the introduction of cassava bread, available only in Aso Villa seat of government, local rice at four times the cost of imported one when available, increase in federal roads from 5,000 to 25,000 even when those roads critical to our economy like Apapa Tin can Island Port road, Murtala Muhammed International Airport road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lokoja-Abuja Expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt  Expressway, some of which have remained ‘work in progress 10 years after they were flagged off by ex-President Obasanjo; power generation, even when by the account of the minister of power, just about 20% of Nigerians have access to power and less  than 4500MW is generated  after an injection of over $50 billion into the sector. His administration, he claims, has fought insurgency into a standstill even with 20% of the territory he inherited as president in 2011 is now under the control of Boko Haram. He wants our impressionable children to hail him for his railway transformation, a rail system slower than what we had 60 years ago and a cover up for the derailment of Obasanjo rail modernization scheme for which multi-billion contracts were awarded to Chinese firms on two different occasions with huge mobilisations paid without result.

In 2011, Nigerians were able to make a distinction between PDP that had nothing to sell to Nigerians beyond mindless stealing and confiscation of our national patrimony and the shoeless boy from Otuoke that identified with the plight of most Nigerians. They gave him a landslide victory even without any coherent agenda as to how to address the multi-faceted problems confronting the nation. Today, Nigerians know Jonathan loves no one but himself and his PDP. This is why if he must survive the February 14 hurricane, he must first lay to rest the ghosts of some demons that have haunted his administration in the last six years viz: his character,  Boko Haram,  the elusive Fulani herdsmen and corruption.

In 2011, with little help from ex-President Obasanjo, President Jonathan undermined the PDP constitution.   Obasanjo who aided and abetted the infamous act saw it as a patriotic undertaking to give the minority a chance so as to end the myth that Nigeria belongs only to the dominant ethnic groups, their parties and their political leaders. He has also claimed publicly that that part of the bargain which was sold to northern governors was that Jonathan will serve one term of four years in addition to two years of Yar’Adua. With the clips of his public acknowledgement that his presidency ends in 2015 now in the public domain, he owes Nigerians an explanation for reneging on an agreement. Calling Obasanjo a motor park tout is not a substitute for his moral obligation to Nigerians.

Of course, President Jonathan is also haunted by the ghost of Boko Haram. Only last Thursday, the lot fell on neighboring Chad to help us liberate a Nigerian border town earlier taken over by Boko Haram insurgents. Chad’s victory was considered an embarrassment to mighty Nigeria whose once invisible military has been hobbled by politics and corruption. The following day, Saturday January 31, Samil Chergui of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, announced the agreement of African leaders to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria. This is coming under a Jonathan administration that had the luxury of deploying 12,000 security personnel led by Musliu Obanikoro, then junior minister of defence, and Adesiyan, the police Affairs minister, both of whom had never visited Borno either to motivate our outgunned soldiers or identify with the plight of the parents of the abducted 276 Chibok girls, to intimidate and arrest opposition leaders during Osun State governorship election last year. The besieged north-east controlled by the opposition has little to offer the President in terms of electoral fortune. But all the same, the President has just about 10 days to tell Nigerians what he would do differently to change our fortune on the battle front beyond his soap-box rhetoric of “they did not buy anything, they did not buy attack helicopters” even after presiding over N3.1 trillion defence security budget in four years in addition to a $1 billion foreign loan he took last year.

Nigerians are also waiting for the President’s explanation as to why, with awesome apparatus of coercive power of the state at his disposal, he has not been able to identify those behind brutal murder of women and children in the Middle Belt in the last three years. We all understand conflicts and clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the region predate President Jonathan. These conflicts according to MIYETTI Allah, Muhammad Bello, the Secretary General of an Association of the Herdsmen, have always been about resource use: Pasture and water, which PDP politicians have exploited using religion and ethnicity factors as well as Nigeria’s inability to regulate influx of foreign herdsmen. President Jonathan had six years to make a difference. If there is the political will, he did not need the National Assembly to create massive grazing zones in all the troubled areas in view of the existence of Land Use Act. Unfortunately for the president, his appointment of the immediate past Inspector General of Police who was indicted by a probe into the Jos crisis and the president’s lack of political will to implement the recommendations of the government probe, it is seen by many that the divisive politics of religion and ethnicity in the Middle Belt between the Fulani settlers and their host communities work to the advantage of the president whose only block support outside his South-south and South-east is the troubled Middle Belt for whom the fear of the Fulani and Muslim is the beginning of wisdom.

Surrounded mostly by indicted corrupt men, the president is known to be weak in the war against corruption. While still being haunted by the non successful prosecution of his party leaders accused by EFCC of stealing N1.7 trillion under the fuel subsidy regime, while Nigerian anxiously awaits the publication of the forensic investigation to the disappearance of $20b ($10b by government admission) from the NNPC account, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, a former CBN Governor has now also accused Jonathan administration of mismanaging the economy to the tune of N30 trillion.

As the clock tickles towards the day of reckoning, it does not appear that President Jonathan and PDP are interested in addressing these weighty issues. As  defeats stares those who say the only thing they know how to do is ‘win election’ in the face, desperate PDP family members seem to searching for ways to truncate the electoral process either through sponsored protest to shift the date for the election or create instability by using the judiciary to disqualify the leading opposition presidential candidate. These are indeed desperate times for the PDP. And for those who care for our nation, this is not the time to sit on the fence.

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