PDP’s Ill-advised Abuja Carnival

A trend has long been established. We now know that anytime President Jonathan plans to undertake some of his unproductive foreign trips or embarks on political jamboree similar to his last week coronation as the adopted PDP candidate, at the Abuja Eagle Square, it has often been preceded by a pattern of brutal killing of innocent men, women and children by the sick minds that fraudulently claim to be fighting in the name of God in the besieged north-eastern Nigeria.  The President and PDP’s reckless celebration in Abuja last week was no exception. On the eve of the event, in the words of the President, “Government Science Secondary School in Yobe State was bombed by insurgents, killing our promising young children who were seeking education to build the country and support their parents”. Casualties were put at over 50. Of course, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of PDP and its rented crowd just as our inability to rescue over 200 girls abducted from their secondary school in Chibok six months back did not stop the President’s storm-troopers from organizing misguided carnivals across the country to collect over 17 million signatories of those who want Jonathan to continue his good work come 2015.

The response of government handlers to criticism however has always been to portray the President as a man of steel who must not be seen to succumb to Boko Haram blackmail by abandoning his planned foreign trip, and mobilization of his party faithful across the country. The tragedy however is that because such trips or planned jamborees add little value to the well-being of Nigerians, buffeted by various problems ranging from insecurity of lives and property and poverty arising from corruption by those in government and their fronts, the message people take away is that of an insensitive government interested only in power ignoring the admonition of St Thomas Acquinas (1225-1274) ‘that government is about the people’.

Consequently, if the objective of committing heinous crime against the people by Boko Haram was to portray PDP and the President as inept leaders pursuing anti-people policies, they seem to be succeeding. The insurgents have shown that they are not only effective on the battle-field, but that they are more strategic in their battle over the minds of their supporters as well as those of their victims. As against the government subliminal messages based on lies aimed at portraying Jonathan as the messiah we have been waiting for in spite of worsening insecurity, poverty in the midst of plenty and pervasive corruption and government impunity, Boko Haram’s brutal attack on innocent Nigerians which are often followed with the images of the President dancing in carnivals in Ilorin, Kano or as in Abuja Eagle Square last week, a day after brutal murder of over 50 innocent school boys left a more lasting unfavourable image of government. And in an age of social media, the footage of a dancing president in a PDP carnival, a day after such national tragedy that ought to have been declared a day of national mourning could not have been anything but a display of recklessness.

It is not any more comforting that what went on at the Eagle Square last week was a celebration of injustice. There was no level playing ground. Jonathan candidacy was like everything else in PDP, a product of bargaining and trade-off by PDP governors who wanted automatic ticket for another term or those who wanted to go to the senate after eight years as governors. There was also stories of intimidation and blackmail of the President’s rivals some of whom were alleged to have been threatened with EFCC. It was also all about political subterfuge. While the President was telling Obasanjo who had reminded him of his pact with the northern governors whose turn it was to produce the presidency in 2011, he had not told anybody he was interested in the 2015 contest, his promoters armed with billions of naira were let loose on the land. In this misguided celebration, Christ message  of ‘equality, humility and service’ to rulers who must also be judged with the same moral compass with the ruled ‘ seemed to have been lost on the President and PDP that fraudulent calls itself Christian  party while denigrating the opposition as a party for Muslims.

The question also arises as to why a nation at war needs such a jamboree and laying of red carpet to celebrate a Commander-in-Chief whose soldiers are in disarray with some finding their way to Cameroon. This was only a week after the fall of Mubi to Boko Haram and the attendant killing of over 200 innocent Nigerians. It was bad enough that this was six months after government’s failure to rescue over 200 girls abducted from their dormitories, but more tragic that it was the week parents who were told to expect the release of their loved ones following a cease-fire promoted by the chief of defence staff were rudely told by insurgents who outwitted government that the girls had been married out to insurgents or sold into slavery. And this was the very week the UN reported that Nigeria scored a world record as a country with the highest number of people (estimated at 4,000) killed in one year by insurgents.  The President’s declaration of interest last week ought to have been a period of deep reflection and not an occasion for pomp and pageantry. Sometimes it is difficult not to doubt the sincerity and loyalty of those paid by the taxpayers to protect the President against himself.

At the end, the celebration was all noise and fury, signifying nothing beyond self-glorification. The president reeled out list of his achievements ranging from new power plants, an ‘African Great Green Wall’, rail lines, ‘gas infrastructure’, the National School Agriculture Programme, ‘ Nagropreneurs Programme’ and the ‘YouWin’, the establishment of 14 new universities and the Almajiri schools, the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and the National Enterprise Development Programme, all of which The Guardian in an insightful editorial described as ‘work in   progress’. Also listed as part of Jonathan success was “the rebasing of the Nigerian economy to now read a GDP of N80 trillion and the 26th largest in the world”, forgetting to add we have equally been classified as one of the poorest nations of the world. He also took credit for the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease credit that rightly belongs to Lagos State. The President also claimed “Some of our hospitals now perform open heart surgeries, kidney transplants and other challenging operations…” without identifying those hospitals which definitely do not include any of the government teaching hospitals  where patients buy water including UCH, once rated as one of the best in the whole of Commonwealth.

 On power generation, one would have expected the President to allow Nigerian electricity consumers who depend on cheap Chinese generators to power their houses and small business to pass the vote of confidence on his handling of the energy sector. The reality on ground is that government and its appointed agents generate only about 4500 MW, a marginal improvement on 4200MW, the late Governor Olusegun Agagu claimed was generated under Obasanjo in 2002 in spite of injection of between US$24 and 50 billion. Just as the President was awarding himself marks, his estranged godfather, ex-President Obasanjo was accusing his administration of scuttling the plan that would have taken Nigeria to aprojected 20,000MW by 2015.

The president had hardly finished scoring himself high in the management of the economy when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, often obsessed with economic growth rather than economic development, spoke of austerity measures as panic reaction to an unfavourable variation in the crude oil market finally admitting what informed Nigerians have said for years- a rentier nation importing the labour of other societies will end in economic ruin.

What also got lost amidst last week carnival was the President’s undertaking while accepting his nomination as a candidate in 2011. He said, “It is with great humility that I accept the monumental mandate … This mandate is unique as it makes a decisive statement in the history of our great nation. This statement is that our people have chosen the unity of our country above all other considerations. It is a quantum leap into the great ideals to hold our great nation together”.

Those ideals and its promoters like Obasanjo have been sacrificed in the pursuit of 2015 ambition. The President captured by ethnic irredentist has opted to put his fate in the hands of his South-south and South-east compatriots and praise singers as represented by ‘Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria’ (TAN), a clone of 1993 Arthur Nzeribe’s  ‘Association for Better Nigeria’ (ABN) that wanted Babangida to continue after  eight years of ‘transition without end’;  Daniel Kanu’s 1997 ‘Two million march of Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha’ (YEAA) and  the self-serving sycophants that lured Obasanjo to his third term fiasco.

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