As a Nigerian, I have found myself amazed by the sheer hypocrisy of the Jonathan-led administration with regard to the particular aspect of directly impacting the lives of the citizens through poverty alleviation policies and combating the seemingly implacable scourge of corruption. Nigerians have had to settle to the fate imposed upon them by the sheer inadequacy unapologetically displayed by the administration.
It is no longer shocking to hear of the disappearance of billions of dollars from public funds supposedly held in trust by the government on behalf of the people. Government officials plunder the national treasury without any fear of consequences to advance an ostentatious and obscene lifestyle. Then the elections draw near and, suddenly, the President remembers to conquer corruption in four years using modern technology. Technology is literally non-existent in the last six years of the present administration. It does not matter that the President has spent six years in office and the avant-garde discovery of technology as a very ingenious solution to the menace of corruption is to be placed in the same league as Columbus’ discovery of the Americas in the 14th Century. That is how creative and innovative the President is. He should undoubtedly take the credit for this unprecedented finding.
While the plundering goes on, the President looks the other way. He sees nothing morally wrong in granting State pardon to a convicted felon who was indicted for brazen acts of stealing of public funds and perpetration of other acts of corruption. A Senatorial slot in the Federal Legislature is certainly a worthy reward for the commission of felonious activities. Mr. President (if we are to borrow his unconventional reference to himself in the third person) is comfortable with letting off the hook members of his cabinet who were alleged to have sustainably furthered brazen acts of corruption. Allison-Madueke and Stella Odua’s activities instantly come to mind. To the President, it is crucial to clear his people’s ignorance by unilaterally redefining, without recourse to legal and moral persuasions, what constitutes corruption and stealing and drawing the line of distinction which curiously exists between the two crimes; only in the President’s lexicon, none of the acts is worthy of any penal sanctions. Nigerians are just too ignorant to see it. After all, the fund Nwobodo was said to have stolen was significantly lower to the price of a Peugeot automobile. So, why should he be sent to jail at all? Why, indeed, must any person for that matter be sent to jail for corruption? That is how fertile the President’s mind is.
Nigerians still reel from the shock of the commando-style capture of the over 200 girls from their school in Chibok, and are yet even more jolted by the government’s unconcerned reaction to this tragedy of epic proportions. The subsequent indoctrination of these victims to carry out terrorist activities of their own is some sort of collateral damage which, frankly, does not come on the President’s list of priorities. On an almost daily basis, we deal with the visual and mental throes of the savagely brutalized and slain bodies of our compatriots by reason of the lethal impact of the Boko Haram sect whose activities have claimed tens of thousands of innocent lives. Yet, the President is unmoved by the sufferings of the very people who gave him their mandate by voting for him in the 2011 elections. Terrorism is a global phenomenon and Nigerians must have their fair share of the torture and curse of the plague. The agony becomes easy to bear once the victims remember the terror attacks in Rwanda, Syria, and Iraq. A quick listen to the President’s 2013 interview with CNN’s Amanpour contains the rudiments of this novel theory. That is how calculated the President’s mind works.
Starting from the President, this administration is made up of mostly coarse individuals—coarse not only in manners and method, but in their sensitivities. These are individuals for whom brute avarice was not a last resort but a first, for whom pure self-interest is the product, not of a distressed philosophy, but of undisguised greed. These are people who have no business in national service because, effectively, they have diminished its principled and upstanding credibility by their very existence in government. They possess no real technical and intellectual qualities that can be exploited for governance; any little skill they have has been neutralized by a lack of any real conscience, an abject failure to understand the legitimate yearnings of the people.
So, where do we go from here? First, with the recent political activities in the country particularly by reason of the upcoming February 14Presidential elections, there is ample reason to believe that Nigerians have seen through the shenanigans of this administration. Those not in government are the most hit by the government’s ineptitude and they suffer most from its shabby economic policies that have done little or nothing in transforming their lives. We are in the moment of truth. We are no longer playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Now, we are playing Truth or Consequences, the political reality of voting the right individuals into government and the repercussions of failing to do so.
And then, the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket comes in. The excitement in the polity by the emergence of these two right-minded, ethical, and incorruptible individuals as the sorely needed change-brokers is almost palpable. They have held themselves out as the paradigm of virtuosity and good governance. They have created a distinct and focused political identity different from the ruling party’s. This is a huge political evolution for the country, and the size of the hugeness is very large. The electrifying significance of their candidacy has been caught on by those who believe that it is time for a fresh change, not the kind of unfulfilled change that was promised in 2011, the change that is yet to come after six years of untold economic and moral descent into the abyss of executive ignominy.
General Buhari and Professor Osinbajo, S.A.N., need no further validation. They are men tested and found worthy of the people’s mandate. They are top-drawer men. Buhari brooks no tolerance for indiscipline and acts of sleaze, a quality sorely missing in the present administration. Try as they may to smear his reputation, Buhari is the picture child of military professionalism, comportment, and authority. His running mate, Professor Osinbajo is as smart as a whip, adaptable, levelheaded and the best intellectual marksman amongst his peers. He has demonstrated– whether as a teacher of Law, or as an advocate in the Courts of Law, or as the Attorney-General of the centre of commerce and excellence, or as a humanitarian and philanthropist, or as a Pastor, or as a one-man roving ambassador, or as a peacemaker—that his abilities live up to his reputation. I say this because I have firsthand knowledge of him. Even the most-conspiracy minded skeptics have had to admit that here is a man of brilliant intellectuality and proven competence and integrity, a man with a near insatiable thirst for justice. Have not these traits shown through on the APC’s campaign trail? We have seen a man with passion, eloquence, a sense of urgency: articulating his visions for our country. In spite of his soft-spoken and courteous demeanour, the forceful nature of his leadership is easily recognizable. Buhari and Osinbajo are two individuals who can carry out some deep presidential-level policy reevaluation of Nigeria. They deserve a chance to show us what they can do.
As they are wont to do, the ruling party embarks on a campaign of calumny instead of focusing on the issues that directly affect every citizen. They throw in a lot of sludge hoping that some would stick. To them, the person who can manage the affairs of government is one who can summarily recite his mobile phone number. There is absolutely no dramatic content and human interest slant to their position. Their protestations provide little reassurance to the masses of Nigerians who have suffered long enough under the burdens of a wicked government and who hope only to see a better day. The electorates have now been able to distinguish between low-hanging fruit and poisoned bait because they can now discern the shallow quality of the present administration’s political glossary. For the initially unconvinced, skepticism melted as examples of Buhari’s and Osinbajo’s examples of integrity, competence, and forthrightness multiplied.
We are standing at the shore of history. It is important that we confine the last six years of our experience as a nation to the scrap heap of history. The ruling party’s game is up. It is time to open a new page and start afresh. It is time to stem the tide of ineptitude and make a better life for ourselves and our children and our children’s children. We are accustomed to suffering, but we are not reconciled to it. It is time to end the suffering altogether. Nigerians are a people who need to know that their leaders have physical courage, intestinal as well as intellectual fortitude to chart the sails of governance to the greatest good for all.
Jonathan is out of his depth. He is not on the same page with Nigerians because we are not reading the same book. There is no point pretending otherwise. It is clear for all to see. Societal recriminations have followed almost every government policies of the last six years because those in leadership are devoid of self-insight. It is a government of movement without thought, of action without reflection. It is only when this government is pushed out and replaced by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration that Nigerians can truly experience that lighter-than-fresh air feeling of political and economic freedom which has eluded them for an extended period of time.
Seun Lawal is a lawyer and a member of ActNow, a political action group affiliated to the APC.