Jonathan Just Taking A Walk, By Abba Mahmood
Everyone is concerned about the sorry state of Nigeria today. There is no single sector or institution that is good or functioning. Thousands of citizens travel out for medication because the health sector has collapsed. Thousands of students go out to study every year because the education sector has collapsed and Nigerian certificate is becoming worthless. Thousands of lives are lost to bad roads, poorly maintained vehicles, armed robbers who operate on highways and bad drivers who do not obey traffic rules. Thousands graduate into the labour market with no hope of getting employed.
Yes, Jonathan inherited most of these problems but he has done nothing to solve them in over four years now since he has been president. Rather, the problems are getting compounded by the day. To make matters worse, the level of corruption and direct stealing of public funds on his watch is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. Over one third of the police personnel in the country are guarding VIPs who are afraid of even their shadows because they have stolen so much. The security system has collapsed as life is becoming worthless. In the US, high suspects are kept out of American territory in Guantanamo Bay. Here, they are kept very close to the president in the capital Abuja or in military barracks. Is anybody thinking of the risk to the president and to the country in doing this?
Let me quote Frisky Larr who recently wrote a column in Premium Times entitled “Boko Haram, Gov. Nyako and the President”: “What answer has anybody provided to the daylight rampaging menace of terrorists driving in a convoy of no fewer than 20 vehicles in a city that is under emergency rule without being challenged by the military if there is no collusion? Was this cooked up by Murtala Nyako? How can terrorists attack a school and go on a killing spree for four hours without soldiers coming anywhere near? Even one hour is enough time to prompt a robust military response”.
“The kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls from their girls’ hostel (to serve as fighters’ sex slaves) does not happen in just 5 minutes. Where was the necessary military response? Most often, checkpoints are reportedly dismantled before the passage of terrorist fighters and remounted after the commitment of atrocities. In a recent night raid on a military barrack, Boko Haram terrorists were reportedly fighting using night-view goggles with the Nigerian Army left to seek them out with their naked eyes in the poorly lighted compound of the military barracks that sparsely enjoyed power supply. Yet when a governor cried out that the Nigerian Army was more poorly equipped than the Boko Haram fighter, the presidency sought the head of this governor for making a reckless statement.”
Frisky Larr continued: “Would it be the fault of Governor Nyako if the Nigerian military is caught lying, claiming that it had freed most of the kidnapped schoolgirls and arrested most of the kidnappers? Does this not add to the lie that the Boko Haram leader Shekau has been killed only to see him surfacing in videos once again…We now have a military establishment that takes the game of lying to demoralize its enemies way too far much like the president’s assistant on new media “Pastor” Reno Omokri who launched a smear campaign against an innocent man to score political point. Just what presidency does Jonathan think he is running?”
The military has been the most patriotic institution which now looks compromised and so diminished that foreign troops are assisting to defend Nigeria. Since the Defence Headquarters lied about the abducted schoolgirls, no one believes any story from them anymore. People from around the community sighted the girls being moved by their abductors and dutifully told the military but the soldiers insisted the villagers should write! Senators from the area gave account of how the military was given information on the girls but they were unable to act. In any case, a country’s military that can barely defend its barracks and bases from attacks by terrorists can only resort to prayers and hope.
Nothing further exposes the shame of our country than the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa hosted in Abuja. Since the International Conference Centre was built by Babangida in the early 1990s, no other standard conference facility was built by subsequent governments. That is why the illegitimate National Conference had to be done in the conference hall of the National Judicial Institute where sitting arrangements are so uncomfortable and there is only one microphone for almost 500 people!
Within a two-kilometre radius in Sandton, a suburb in South Africa, one could get over 2, 000 international standard, first-class hotel rooms. Here, the rooms were so inadequate for the WEF delegates and the services, only manageable. Again, since Babangida built the Hilton, Sheraton and what later became Sofitel (NICON Luxury) hotels here, there have been no other international standard hotel facilities in Abuja. It is a shame.
Every one of us wants peace and prosperity. What we have now is anarchy and poverty. Everyone wants jobs for the unemployed youth. Everyone wants those killing our people to be arrested and punished. Everyone wants corrupt officials to have their ill-gotten wealth confiscated and appropriately punished. In short, all we want is a good president who can come from any part of Nigeria to lead us well and provide good governance, justice and fairness. There is simply no statecraft and no professionalism in the current system.
Nothing has united Nigerians since the January 2012 petroleum subsidy protests like the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) issued a press release stating among others: “We have constantly warned Nigerians about Goodluck Jonathan and his train of sycophants running the country. Events of the last few weeks have vindicated our position on the inability of this man to lead Nigeria anywhere but downwards.” If Jonathan lacks the support of his Niger Delta region where else is he banking on now? From the US came bipartisan statements from Mrs Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain condemning the Jonathan administration and the way the president is governing. It reminds me of an African proverb: “He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk.” History is on the side of the oppressed.
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