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Election 2011: Shape of things to come (5)

By Dele Sobowale
If I read you right, you said Jonathan has a way out if only he has the courage to make that choice…What is that way out? What is that choice he has to make before he goes far wrong, you owe the president and the nation the duty of stating the way forward. I say this because your views are always accurate! Austin Oti Obilor”.

Dear Austin, let me thank you first of all for your concern for our country. God will bless you for it. As for me you seem to have overstated the case. Only God is always accurate – not me. But, you have raised one important matter which someone else claiming to be close to the President has asked me to disclose to him and he will pass the message to the President. My answer to him was clear and let me repeat it here.

I don’t owe President Jonathan or any other person in public life any duty. I owe God and my country everything. And if ever there is a conflict between the interests of the President and Nigeria’s interest, as I perceive it to be, I will not hesitate to oppose Jonathan as I did every other Head of State before him and damn the consequences. From him I seek nothing: no appointment, no contract.

However, in due respect to his position, if he wants to know, and he asks me, I will tell him what has been revealed to me without adding or subtracting anything. And it will be irrelevant to me whether he likes what he hears or not. What he does with what he will be told is his business – not mine.

Let me also disclose one thing. A few days before the “Men of God”, went to visit and pray for Yar’Adua, someone texted me claiming to be close to the family and wanted to know if I would join the visitors. My answer was blunt. “I will join only if they wanted me to come and say the last prayers for Mr President”. I never heard from him again. The rest is history. Jonathan will receive no discriminatory treatment here. He cannot have me as a patriot and a sycophant at once. As it is, he has all the praise-singers he can use and more are on the way everyday.

Already, insecurity threatens the 2011 elections as much as rigging and the free for all within PDP as well as other political parties. One day after arriving Lagos from Jos, I now find myself in Aba, Eyimba City, where kidnapping for political intimidation has become the fastest growing “industry”. I am on my way to Uyo and already my scouts inform me that Akwa Ibom has overtaken every other state with respect to kidnapping for political advantage.

For once both Governor Akpabio and his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah, agree that kidnapping and political murders constitute a major problem in Akwa Ibom. They disagree on who is responsible. As if all those were not spine-chilling enough, the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Mina Waziri, has voiced concern that the police might not be able to curb violence during the 2011 elections. Alhaji Waziri has my sympathies; he is at least honest. But, I have bad news for him.

The 2011 elections have started and ended in some quarters of Nigeria, e.g, Ogun State and Akwa Ibom where some possible candidates have already gone six feet under; and we are still many months away from the real elections. The closer we get, the more business those selling caskets will have on their hands everywhere in this country. As in 1999, 2003, and 2007 political office holders hell bent on second term are mobilizing “stalwarts” who will become “criminals” in June 2011 and “militants” the year after. Our cycle of breeding officially made criminals has started as usual…..

Poser: how can we ever develop when every four years we go through the orgy of election related violence master-minded by our leaders themselves?


“We do things at the federal level that would be considered dishonest and illegal if done in the private sector”.
Donald T Regan; The New York Times, August 25, 1986.

And what Regan said about the U.S government 24 years ago is thrice as true of the Federal Government of Nigeria, its Ministries and agencies today. But, contrary to pervasive impression, the agency of government most corrupt, dishonest and lawless is the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA. Anyone thinking that Chief Bode George and the people charged with him were the only people embezzling from the NPA is either totally ignorant or mischievous. In addition, the NPA board and management have to be the most incorrigible lawbreakers in Nigeria today.

As far back as 1991, when NPA, under IBB underwent “downsizing”, meaning retrenched thousands of people and rendered them jobless, the forced pensioners have been requesting for an equitable severance package which successive boards and management, including the present one, have denied them. The pensioners were forced to go to court – all the way to the Supreme Court and won the case.

Yet, NPA refused to pay – even when more money than would have been required to pay the pensioners was, and is still, being stolen everyday, yet they refused to pay the pensioners 19 years after the event. Instead, each time the affected workers threaten to picket the NPA headquarters management goes to the Police at Lion’s Building where a complaisant Commander is ready to dispatch “kill and go”, Mobile Police, to punish even more the victims of NPA illegality.

If President Jonathan really believes in the rule of law he should call the NPA Board and Management to order before people driven to despair take the laws into their own hands. And if the EFCC really means what it says about information about corrupt practices, then it should set its sights on NPA.

“You know the problem in Jos is that people refuse to tell the truth. All the time you were in Jos did the Berom attack you, your family, the Ibo, the Urhobo, or any other tribe. The Hausa Jihadists  want to ruin the town because they are not allowed to reign supreme. You are too intelligent to write shallow nonsense!

In the first part of this series, neither the Berom nor the Hausas had been accused of anything. So to what is this message reacting? It reminds me of the incident where someone announced that a goat is missing and one of the listeners got up and shouted “don’t look at me, the only goat in my backyard is black!” This is the worst defence for the Berom.

Fortunately, I have grown up to know fanatics and how irrational they can be whenever a complex matter is up for debate. As President Kennedy said “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents”. No Hausa attacked me either; so what does that prove?…..


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