Preface: A Year of the Locusts

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized



It is being treated like the last year. But it is actually the very first.  For a four-year tenure, President Goodluck Jonathan’s first year as an elected leader is witnessing the do-or-die politics of a re-election year – at least by Nigerian standards.  There are many issues that have generally sprung up in the last one year but they all sink into the bottom of a pot:  Succession! But some may disagree.

Need we enumerate?  Firstly, when it was yet early days in the jostle (hustle) for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and it appeared that Jonathan may clinch the ticket (in spite of zoning), some politicians alluded to the possibility of Jonathan inheriting a poisoned polity should he win the presidential election – the environment is already sufficiently poisoned with the atmosphere of insecurity.

Unfortunately, however, whether as good intentioned as he claimed it was, or, perhaps he had another agenda, President Jonathan’s timing of the public presentation of a proposal about a single tenure of five years for office holders in the executive only served to hyper-activate the antenna of politicians who were waiting in the wings to take over from him in 2015.  For them, it was bad enough that zoning was junked momentarily; worse, the beneficiary was beginning to push for tenure elongation.  What to do? Make life unbearable for him.

Should they be blamed?  The jury is still out.  Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, made a prognostication of this long before the PDP primaries and the presidential elections of last year.  He did not say where the problem would emanate from but in his words, “they would not let him rule the country”.  He did not mention who the “they” were, nor who the “they” would be. Read Akinyemi’s interview.

However, putting in context the fierce contest for presidential power last year and interfacing that with the crises that have bedeviled the Nigerian nation in the last one year, a section of the political elites in Nigeria may have unwittingly embarked on an expedition of bridge-burning.

The most critical issue confronting Nigeria today is insecurity.  The wanton destruction of lives and properties occasioned by the activities of insurgents especially in the northern part of the country, while a section of that selfsame the leadership watches, creates the impression that Nigeria as a nation can as well go to hell.

The egregious, yet inexplicable nature of what is happening in the North is that its economy is being wiped out, businesses are being closed down, lives are being needlessly lost, and maximum fear and pain being inflicted on a hapless people. In all of these, some of the leaders’ unwritten demand is 2015 or nothing.

Therefore, Nigeria must burn. Yet considered: Two foreigners have been killed; police stations, Police Headquarters and the United Nations’ House in Abuja were bombed; churches have been bombed, Christians, Muslims and pagans killed; military officers and policemen also killed in the process.  No matter the religious connotation of the insurgency, politics has interfered.  Even if those involved would not accept, that is the truth.  Whereas the indoctrination into the sphere of suicide bombings can be rigourous, painstaking and complex, the poverty in Nigeria makes it easy for those who have nothing to lose not to even bother about losing all in the first place.

Let it not be lost on Nigerians at all, the PDP is not Nigeria and Nigeria is not PDP. But the implications of a shambolic PDP, with its preponderant spread in the firmament, makes it easy for Nigeria to catch cold any time PDP sneezes.  That is why President Jonathan’s party appears to have hauled Nigerians into the one-chance commutter bus with the attendant rape and despoilation that has been witnessed in the last one year.

Meanwhile, the challenges of governance are on their own enormous without any insurgency – the battle to stay in office in the face of litigation against electoral victory, the curse of the godfather, the pull-and-shove of party loyalists, the fierce competition to become a cabinet member, the expectations of the electorate are just a few of the challenges which normally confront newly elected public office holders at the state and federal levels.

Yet, the political elites in both the North and South of Nigeria behave as if a single tenure of four years or twin tenures of eight years would never lapse – ask former President Olusegun Obasanjo.  For those who say President Jonathan has not done anything, they deliberately choose to forget that there is nothing you can possibly do in an atmosphere of insecurity.

Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State understood this quite well and, therefore, invited Obasanjo and Alhaji Maitama Sule to Dutse to address the issues of GOVERNANCE AND SECURITY.

Far from the usual Democracy Day ritual of waxing pontifical via articles, the following pages present the workings of minds that are at once fed up with and desperately in search of a way out of these times.

Akinyemi’s views on how to get out of the poverty trap make good sense; Obasanjo’s piece on governance and security are profound; Maitama Sule’s position on the selfishness of a section of Nigeria’s leaders captures the present mood of do-or-die politics; Rev. Uma Ukpai’s stance that the insurgency may have its usefulness is instructive; Dele Sobowale’s review of the Nigerian economy in the last one year is revealing.

The directive principle of political agitation which seeks  to foist insecurity on the polity loses sight of the potential danger: Should Jonathan be hounded out of office on the terms of the North, those seeking to benefit should imagine the spectre of insurgency that would kick off again from the South /South.  That is where Nigeria’s oil wealth is. The danger?  More locusts, being incubated now, would be unleashed.

C. Vanguard–By Jide Ajani


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