Yeepee, its friday. A cold one at that I must say. I still rue in the misery of the robbery incident of yesterday at owo. Bandits now rob in broad day light. Not less than four people lost their lives including a bank manager. If I could recall, having passed that route few days ago, the number of armed force stationed on the road numbers up to 30 with each of them scrambbling for 100 naira as motorists drive by. Its indeed a pitiable sight. May the soul of the dead rest in peace, Amen.
Away from the tragedy, tommorrow is going to be a brand new day and Nigerians are more than eager to vote in the presidential polls. However today, I have decided to share with you an article written by one of my foremost authors – FOLA OJO. In a way, we share the same sentiments and ideologies.
IN HIS OWN WORDS …
Tomorrow morning, (Saturday, March 28) the sun will rise from
its 94 million-mile abode on Nigerians as they choose a path;
and it will later set in the evening as they chart a course.
Tomorrow, we will find out if sitting President Goodluck
Jonathan will be the ambassador of choice leading us beyond
these trying times, or he will be regarded as just another flaky,
flicker and flutter in history, and one who deserves nothing but
a cold bye-bye from Aso Rock. Tomorrow will not be another
ordinary day in this country; it will be an extraordinary dawn.
Politicians have hounded us for support and votes. Lies were
told, arms twisted, money spent, mean utterances made, people
killed, blood spilled and tension is now at an all-time high. Truly,
this election will not be about Goodluck Jonathan who four
years ago promised us we would all soon be cat-walking in
Eldorado where there is no pain and sorrow. It will not also be
about his arch-challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, of the All
Progressives Congress who is promising us that heaven will
collide with the earth at a cloying intersection and we will all be
happy- forever-after if he becomes president. This election will
be about Nigerians who were created by God and placed in a
land filled with plenteous precious stones. It will be about a
people who have sought for help since Independence from
their leaders but have been besieged by bleeders and dealers
who think they are leaders. This election will be about over 80
per cent of Nigerians who are living but “dead” as a result of
pervasive, rampaging poverty that many have accepted as
normal in our abnormal clime.
Nigeria is rated the sixth largest producer of petroleum in the
world, the eighth largest exporter, the 10th largest in proven
reserves, and one of the highest economic growth rates of
about 7.4 per cent. Between 2009 and 2011, a total of
N22.165tr ($143.5bn) was earned as revenue from the oil and
gas sector alone. In the first seven months of 2013, Nigeria
recorded earnings over $20bn from sale of crude oil. the
National Bureau of Statistics told us that, “On annual basis, the
total exports of Nigeria stood at N17.204 trillion at the end of
2014, representing a rise of N2.959bn or 20.8 per cent over the
level of 2013”. We are a blessed people!
But what do we have to show for it? Almost 100 million people
(61 per cent) still live on less than $1 a day, and 92 per cent on
less than two dollars a day. Nigeria’s debt was $4.53 billion six
months after this President took over leadership, but today the
country’s debt stands at $66.99 billion and is rising. The
inflation rate in Nigeria was recorded at 8.3 per cent in July of
2014, and Nigeria Import-Export ratio stands at 97:3 in favour
of imports. There are more statistics of stagnation and
backwardness to which answers have not come.
A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof.
Chukwuma Soludo, said this recently in a treatise about my
President: “…His greatest challenge is how to save himself from
the stranglehold of his largely provincial palace jesters who tell
him he has done better than God…”
Mr. President seems to be held hostage by an agglutination of
mean businessmen and ghoulish politicians who have
successfully woven and caricatured him into an elephantine
cash-cow and money-spewing machine. Many of them are
audaciously bold duplicitous characters who spin through the
crevices of government after government. They are wheelers,
dealers and egregious Erebus in the piazza of power and they
have turned Aso Rock into an odoriferous and bizarre bazaar-
plaza where bonanzas in different currencies are shovelled out
in bails and bundles. No thanks to them, Nigeria is now in a hot-
bath of economic kamikaze; all things are falling apart. Those
are the people that Soludo was talking about. If Goodluck goes
down losing this election, it will be partly because of these
For Buhari, this election is far from settled in his favour. His
opponent remains an incumbent president who is presiding
over a GDP of about $500bn, active duty personnel in three
armed services, totalling approximately 200,000 troops and
300,000 paramilitary personnel. He still has a lot of love
because of what his backers call incomparable achievements,
mainly in agriculture. Twenty nine state governments have
accessed N33bn under the Commercial Agricultural Credit
Scheme, and about 165,000 jobs were said to have been
created. Those quiet lovers of Jonathan are also those who love
his Growth Enhancement Scheme which provided financing for
299 projects in agro-dealership totalling about N230bn. This
President has done well in the agricultural sector, and you can’t
throw that out of your window of partisanship.
But words spoken behind closed doors in many homes and
businesses are that we can do better than these two people
running. How can Nigeria at this stage of our evolvement be
forced to settle for a weak Jonathan who has no cue or clue, or
a stiff and ageing Buhari who has no charm or pizzazz to lead us
into a glorious and glowing future? Is this land not filled with a
plethora of young, skilful men and women of integrity and
character who can hold their own on the world stage and
command blessings to come for a nation that seems accursed?
Is there no balm in Gilead that we have to settle for one of
these? Who among them has the Midas’ touch to truly
transform and change the climate? Some think none.
Maybe, they are right that Buhari is not particularly a thriller
candidate. If we are voting charisma, charm and pizzazz, it will
not be Buhari. If we are voting soothing, mesmerising speech
machinist, it will not be this General. But what is missing in
charisma he has gained in character. The world knows him to
be a modest man who goes not after filthy lucre; a
knowledgeable man who understands the military terrain in
these days of insecurity, and a man on whose contact list you
will not find gluttony, graft, or maddening amassing of wealth.
He has a history of ruthless military dictatorship; but he wants
us to believe that has been retired when he was forcefully
retired from the Army.
When desire comes in a head-on collision with guts, you have a
cohesive, unstoppable rainbow coalition. When Buhari met with
Bola Tinubu, the lyrics of the song that Nigerians now sing came
to the political labour room and a new master release is about
to be born. Some Nigerians loathe Tinubu, but he is a discoverer
of talents and a potter who moulds men of skills. Tinubu is a
man on assignment, and wise men respect men behind special
assignments. He is a ravishing master-strategist like none other.
Men on assignment must be strategic. Tinubu went into the
rubble of Daura and cleaned up the garments of a man who was
once called an election serial-loser. He built a bullish team
coated with savvy-salvaging spices around him, and marketed
him to the same clientele that had rejected a product three
times. Now, the serial loser is a serious contender for Nigeria’s
presidency; and the serial loser may win tomorrow.
You cannot ignore the mathematics in this election. All of the
Northern parts of Nigeria have about 32 million Permanent
Voter Cards. The South-West has about 9.2 million PVCs. These
two blocks are rooting for Buhari. The President’s region is the
South-South that has 8.5 million; and the South-East 6.6 million.
These are rooting for the President. In Nigerian politics,
sometimes, 16 is greater than 19, and 2+2=2,000. But If Buhari
loses this election, it will be the rudest shock of the new
millennium. But the General seems to have the smell of good
Credit : FOLA OJO, Punch editorial
27th March, 2015