By Gabriel Omoh
The ruling class in Nigeria has never failed to amuse me. Sometimes, they sound genuine. At other times, they just find it difficult to hide their true identity. They are self-centered and self-seeking. Whatever does not benefit them in the main is anti-Nigeria. They portray themselves while in office as lovers of Nigeria more than anyone else.
Making sacrifice is not in their dictionary. They must get the best while in office and out of office at the expense of the ordinary Nigerian. They treat the resource of the country as their farm from which they must get maximum benefit. It is this fundamental flaw in the thinking of the average Nigerian leader that has impoverished the country and the ordinary Nigerian. Every government functionary is an emperor in his domain that everyone working with him must pander to.
When Nelson Mandela died, the entire human race extolled his virtues of forgiveness and ability to bring opponents together to discuss and negotiate. Mandela has thought the world that anger and bitterness cannot foster unity. But as the world celebrates Mandela, Nigerian leaders joined the bandwagon. Funny enough, a group of governors took a full page advertorial to identify with the Mandela idea. What an irony in a country where leaders bask in the euphoria of selfish interest!
The non-passage of the 2014 budget is not about the Nigerian people; it is about these clannish politicians, who are looking for avenues to exploit whatever is available. The members of the National Assembly are looking for their cut from the annual budget preparatory to 2015.
The presidency is seeking more savings in the excess crude account so it can have unhindered access to free money. Whichever way, it is not for the benefit of the common man. The capital budget that would ordinarily bring dividends of democracy to Nigerians has never been fully implemented but these politicians use the people as smokescreen to push their position of greed.
Whenever they are cut off from the source of the looting, they shout as if the roof is about to come down. Call it PDP or APC, they are all the same – self-centered politicians – pretending as if the welfare of the people is what they are after. Is it surprising that seven governors elected under the platform of PDP can easily defect to APC without blinking an eyelid? Everyday, stories of billions rent the air and nothing is done about it.
It did not start today; corruption has been around, past and present governments have not taken the needed steps to deal with the monster so it keeps growing by the day as new leaders emerge from the mentoring of their successors.
It is not a surprise to students of Nigeria’s recent history that Obasanjo came out with a damning letter to the president. Obasanjo in his letter admitted that Jonathan sees him as his mentor. If he did his job of grooming successors well, he would not have foisted Yar’ Adua/Jonathan on Nigerians. If he had dealt with corruption the way it should, the Jonathan administration would not have had any hiding place. Jonathan’s failings are that of Obasanjo.
So he should not play the ostrich in this case. Obasanjo’s cavalier dismissal of President Goodluck Jonathan is not his first time of assailing an occupant of the Presidential Villa.
It was at the peak of the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 elections that General Olusegun Obasanjo told the world that the acclaimed winner of that election, Chief Moshood Abiola, was not the messiah that Nigeria needed.
The comment by the former military head of state was in the perspective of many, a reflection of his perspective of himself as the country’s ultimate saviour.
That perception was a near fact about five years later in 1999 when Obasanjo was again heralded to national leadership almost as a messiah, no thanks to the precipitous adventures of the Sani Abacha dictatorship.
At the mid-point of his second term in office, President Obasanjo’s messianic attitude was again brought to the fore when associates of the president made desperate efforts to extend his tenure with a third term in office that was seriously opposed by even his vice-president at that time, Atiku Abubakar. His vices nonetheless, even his most vicious foes agree that Obasanjo is an unrepentant nationalist dedicated to the best interest of the country.
That nationalistic streak is perhaps one factor that has motivated Obasanjo in his self- assumed crusade against his successors since his first exit as Military Head of State in 1979. President Shehu Shagari who Obasanjo handed over the mantles of office to on October 1, 1979 was to receive the tongue lash of the former Head of State.
When General Muhammadu Buhari took over the affairs of the leadership of the country with a seemingly messianic campaign to rid the country of corruption and other vices that threatened its economic progress, he lashed out at him. He wrote General Babangida the same form of letter he entitled: SAP with a human face. That letter also caused a stir in the Babangida military regime.
This president is sleeping on duty; he has sleep-walked the towns and villages of Nigeria for too long. It is time for him to wake up from sleep and do what presidents like him do.
He should honour his agreement of one term in office and use the remaining one and half years of his term to deal decisively with issues raised on corruption, economy, sectionalisation of the country and most importantly, fix the economy by ensuring he delivers on power. It is not how long one stays in office that matters but what legacy one is leaving behind. Mr. Jonathan should name and shame oil thieves, name and shame past and present corrupt public office holders and be courageous enough to deal with any member of cabinet involved in the NNPC shameful looting of the federation account.