By Adisa Adeleye
There is no doubt that Nigeria is a lovely and likeable country. Many Nigerians like their country but many patriots love their country ‘where everything goes‘. Certainly, it is not unfair criticism to state that often, Nigerians place undue emphasis on things that matter less.
The business of the day is the act of chasing the small document called the Permanent Voters‘ Card (PVC), an elusive object to some registered voters. I am yet to receive mine after repeated visits to the declared collection points. The PVC is a brain-child of Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of INEC. His ultimate aim is to establish the real voter for a credible election. Another Jega‘s instrument is the ‘Reader‘ which would prove the authencity of the PVC.
If it is the INEC fiat that only the carriers of PVCs would be allowed to vote, it is reasonable to expect that all registered voters are given their cards. The argument of substantial compliance by INEC in the distribution of PVC is specious. It is the responsibility of INEC to ensure that all registered voters are in possession of the PVCs.
Though the arguments raised by the dust of elections postponement are yet to abate, the security issue raised at the last moment seems like a divine intervention to prevent an unforeseen tragedy. It is a pity that at the time our gallant forces are routine the murderous gang, a new offensive by their suicide bombers is being opened in other areas.
It is instructive to observe that the daily pursuit of PVCs for the elections has shifted attention from the fate of the national currency which has been under siege in the last few months. The Central Bank, being overwhelmed by other monetary problems, has been trying to support the Naira. From adjustment of its value from N155/USD to N168/1USD; from N168 to N199 to a dollar, the Naira is weakening every day. The new Central Bank Governor is yet to show ingenuity in saving the Naira. The ominous sign from the Central Bank reads thus: Exchange rate – N199, Monetary Policy Rate – 13 per cent (MPR) Oil Price – $61. By the time elections are held and concluded, the economic reality will look like transition into depression, high debt portfolio, increase in unemployment and widespread poverty, even with PVCs permanently stuck in our pockets. The alternative looks like further adjustments in the value of the Naira which would create money delusion, i.e. more naira will be earned from dollar value to meet the budgetary needs. It would be a case of too much money chasing too few goods and services – prelude to inflation.
Obasanjo and the rest of us
The celebrated Otta-chicken farmer, former military Head of State and twice elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the medias‘ delight at any time – in office, out of office, awake or in deep slumber (if he ever sleeps). Till today, Obasanjo enigmatic posture and his often theatrical displays have continued to baffle and confuse many of his critics.
The seemingly reluctant head of state who took over the government in 1976 brightened the image of the military by handing over power to a democratically elected civilian government in 1979.
In his book, “NOT MY WILL’ (Published in 1989), he notes with complete disdain. Take Zik for instance, he started his career on a very high and admirable plain as the `Zik of Africa` with a broad African outlook, broad African interest and broad African approach. He came down to West Africa and became encapsulated into Nigeria and rose to National prominence and plane before he became frustrated and ethnicised into Eastern Nigeria. He was whittled down from Zik of Africa to Zik of Ibo land. He should not end up with emphasis as the “Owelle of Onitsha”.
“Chief Awolowo started on the ethnic plane because he could not compete with Zik on the national plane. Zik was obviously heads and shoulders above him on the national plane. He was crowned as the leader of the Yorubas and he never rose beyond that, inspite of his industry and administrative ability”.
“Shagari did not court power and he wanted to be nothing more than a senator which was no crime. He was pushed into power by those who wanted to make use of him and he was unfortunately too weak and somewhat ill prepared for the trappings of political power to check the abuses of his power by those who made use of him”.
It may be appropriate if not futile, to attempt to unmask the real characteristics of the man who is generally regarded as an enigma. To this writer, Chief Obasanjo appears a superbly confident man, highly intelligent and crafty. But behind the deceptive mask of listlessness lies the clear mind of a strategic thinker. His lack of charisma in the eyes of his more flamboyant political adversaries has been their undoing. His acerbic tongue appears to be a calculated design to throw opponents off balance before he throws a punch which could result in concorsion and abysmal pain. Chief Obasanjo, as a politician, looks like a serious planner with a mixture of intrigues and tricks. As for the unity of Nigeria, he is and always will be an incurable optimist.
From his accumulated experience and judging by his recent performance on the job, are Nigerians under the spell of a redeemer? Or are we dealing with a mere opportunist at the helm of national affairs? Chief Obasanjo had suggested the answer a long time ago. “:He notes in, `NOT MY WILL` (PG 226) that, `some who see themselves as been charitable say he is very lucky, those not so charitable say he is an opportunists, some friends say, `he works hard and he is good`. “None of them is totally right or correct. I believe that three ingredients must be present for success in any human endeavour, physical preparations, mental preparation including attitudinal and character, opportunity must avail itself and that may be due to luck, fate, destiny or chance. But as an old classmate of mine put it, if you are three or four times consecutively lucky, it is worthy of not if not close study” The bottom line and the point to note is that success invites envy and envy is not easily cured”.
Perhaps chief Obasanjo will now be sitting in his living room, laughing at those commentators who are in the habit of criticizing without hearing his own side of the story.
For instance, did President Jonathan seek his help to persuade the North (PDP supporters in the North) that if given a chance, he would do only one term?