APC and the unconscious Coronation of Jonathan, By Funmilola Ajala
Having being enmeshed in the struggle for ‘daily bread’ somewhere in northern Nigeria, I was alas forced to visit Lagos, recently (after a year absence), purely for Owambe reasons. That journey provided a perfect window to satisfy my curiosity in seeing what the present condition of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway is after the hype that heralds the long-awaited federal government rehabilitation on arguably the most active route in the country.
I must admit that even for the staunchest critics of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, it would be nonsensical to completely overlook the visible overnight transformation on the road. I refused to succumb to that habitual voyage-induced slumbering as my eyes were fixed to the ‘American wonder’ on display from Ibadan through Ogere, Mowe, Ibafo enroute Lagos. This is the same road that used to be replete with imposing Bi-Courtney Limited billboards telling drivers to maneuver with care, even when that seems to be the only choice available to them. Isn’t that a laughable irony?
While focusing on the quality of engineering nay architetural work so far put in place by the 2 foreign contractors on site, I overheard some fellow passengers talking of their readiness to pay toll fare for plying the road, if such becomes a necessity for accessing a world class public utility in Nigeria.
Through the course of my one year mandatory service to the nation, in Calabar, few years ago, I was a regular traveller on the Benin-Ore-Shagamu expressway. And for those who frequent that part of the country, if not armed with an armlet, then you must be ready to recite ‘Psalm 23’ or ‘Ayatal Kursiyu’ continuosly while plying the road. Ghastly crashes and armed banditry are nothing but ‘normal’ daily occurrence on Benin-Ore road. Perhaps, the ‘demons’ on the road must have contributed in making sure that efforts to have the road motorable remain a mirage for long. We all recall how a certain Madam Alison Diezani Maduekwe – then as Minister of Transport – reportedly shed tears during an inspection tour of the road in 2008; yet nothing far-reaching happened afterwards despite promises to cast away the spirit of dilapidation from that road.
But I was stunned, pleasantly though, recently when President Jonathan visited Edo state to – amongst other functions – commission a completed section of the federal government road. And to my further consternation, the state firebrand governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was on hand to praise Mr. President for a job well done; an unprecedented move in our experience as a growing democracy if one realizes the divergent political orientation of the two personalities. This fact was apparently not lost on the president who later threw a gibe saying: “…the enemies of this administration have agreed that the PDP government has improved the quality of roads.”
From the foregoing, maybe one can say the verdict on Jonathan’s administration – in terms of infrastructural development and economic growth – is not as damning as being blown in sections of the mass media. It appears some loose ends are finally connecting – just at the nick of time; gradually reshaping the skepticism which the government had enjoyed all along.
Jonathan’s publicists would be swift – as always – to isolate the agric sector as one where the Otuoke-born former teacher is leaving a lasting legacy. The monumental financial impropriety which for long characterized the fertilizer subsidy by successive governments had been stopped by the help of technocrats like Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
One would not also be fair to forget that this present federal authority is currently injecting life into our mouribound Railway transportation system, while the rebasing-propelled somersault of the Nigerian economy onto the topmost echelon of African economies – and 26th the worldover – cannot be jettisoned in objective evaluation of Jonathan’s performance in office over the last 5 years or thereabout.
All said, the reality of duality still places lots of burden on the current administration; and in most instances, the failings of the government appear more profound in the overall contextual analysis and stocktaking. While it is bad that corruption remains endemic in public circle as officials continue to swim in unjustified profligacy, it is even worse to note that handling of corruption related cases involving high-ranking political office landlords are often treated with kid gloves, casting a colossal shadow on the integrity of Jonathan’s leadership; a shadow that might hunt him long after departing Aso-Rock.
And talking about saying ‘bye’ to Aso-Rock, we are getting to a pivotal juncture where Nigerians would have to agree – perhaps reluctantly – that the enchantment about ‘change’ which the morphing of some political parties into the All Progressives Congress (APC), popularized few months ago may – for sometimes to come – remain theorized, judging by recent development. All of a sudden, the question of whether Jonathan will recontest come February has become a mere formality. It is now a matter of when and not if!
There is a certain degree of gusto radiating on President Jonathan’s face, of late. By his standard, the Head of State just delivered what many consider his most memorable speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, last week. Moreover, his government management of the rampaging Ebola epidemic has received global commendations, while Boko Haram seems to be bidding a tractable retreat in the northeast.
Nonetheless, that Jonathan would stay in power beyond May 2015 would still not have looked a realizable prospect despite all his relative achievements, but for the same Nigerians who in their hypocritical clamour for change in the open, still secretly yearn for and gravitate towards Uncle Jona in their confusing subconscious, for guesses obvious to you and I. For how does one aptly chronicle a scenario where a Chief Tom Ikimi who contested for National chairmanship of APC few weeks ago undergo a ‘rebirth’ that made him openly hug Jonathan, Adamu Muazu, Tony Anenih and co soon after.
For those who would retain the courage to be called opposition – and be seen as one, we must genuinely salute their doggedness in the increasingly unbalanced political terrains of ours. To remain steadfast in the face of mounting political intimidation cum financial enticement is one of the most difficult virtues one can find in a typical Nigerian politician. That the ranks of the APC have been inadvertently plummeted with the loss of Nuhu Ribadu, Ibrahim Shekarau, AliModu Sheriff, Ikimi and many others is an understatement, without gainsaying. This, perchance, provides a possible cursor to an electoral contest which may not be more than a foregone conclusion, next year.
But for those who are left behind in the opposition, especially the APC, it is hope they realize the importance of stopping the cankerworm embedded in allowing implosion within their fold. That Oyo state has an APC governor, yet cannot boast of a single Senator at the moment is worrisome; that the deputy governors of Ogun and Borno are constantly being linked to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) calls for concern.
More disturbing is the fact that the leadership of the opposition seems blinded to the fight-to-finish rancour of supremacy between Governor Ibikunle Amosun and ex-Gov Olusegun Osoba in Abeokuta. The continuing monkeyshine between the two is an overt invitation to a whirlwind which will blow no one in the APC any good.
That Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd); former VP Atiku Abubakar; Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwanso and almost everyone else wants to be the presidential standard bearer of the APC might be a prologue to a self-imposed tsunami, if not tactfully managed.
It remains to be seen how the APC and other opposition political parties would brace up in dealing with further political fallouts that will surely result from failure to harmonise conflicting interests among their members; an eventuality which the PDP gingerly awaits to make the most of, in the weeks ahead.
*Ajala is Head, News & Current Affairs Dept., Royalfm 95.1 Ilorin.
*You can follow Ajala on Twitter: @ajalatravel07
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