by Ayantunji Benjamin Gbenro
This article is a response to Dele Momodu’s article titled “Before They Mislead President Buhari”. The article like most of the writer’s recent articles is a subtle castigation of Buhari’s administration and support for the corrupt and dirty past that brought us the this position as nation. To appeal to his audience, which presently are populated by the disciples of the old order and ignorant young men and women, the writer employs often half baked truth, intellectual manipulation and sometimes outright lies. These are what I intend to set straight.
Let me start by stating my respect for the person of Egbon Dele Momodu. I may not agree with him always but I respect his personality and brand. Here is a man who dragged himself from the lowest rung of the society to the pinnacle of his career. I must confess that he is good at what he does. His work and talent has opened doors of kings and queens and have taken him to places where mere mortal can only dream. As a Yoruba, I was brought up to respect elders. I hold the person of Dele Momodu in high esteem.
Saying I am supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari will be stating the obvious. Anybody that follows me on any social media and read any of my articles before, during and after the last election will already know this. One thing that may not be known is that I have not always been Buhari’s supporter not because I don’t believe in him but because of other constrains that may have nothing to do with his ability to perform. My father is a politician and my family suffer a direct impact of Buhari’s tsunami in 1983.
I am an ardent reader of Dele Momodu’s pendulum every Saturday. His grasp of national issues is apt. However, his write ups have significantly drifted in the past months. Sometimes he tried so much to be politically correct that you are at lost about his stand. This should not be a surprise, a man of his standing in PR job should not be seen to be directly at loggerhead with potential clients. His most recent article titled “Before They Mislead President Buhari” is typical example of his recent misinformation riddled articles with subtle castigation for the current administration and support for the corrupt class the administration is trying to rid the nation of. In a divided society like ours, coupled with high degree of ignorance among the populace, any lie can fly and hence the high degree of followership. This lies should be demystified not for the sake of the mischievous, who sees anything against Buhari as a cause they must identify with, but for the sake of the ignorant, especially the young one that need to be put in proper perspective.
Lies often repeated begin to assume the semblance of truth. Every right thinking Nigeria should guide against allowing the enemies of progress dictate our narratives at this critical stage of our national development. The fight against corruption of Buhari’s administration is not about the President alone. If anything, it’s more against the President, because, he is setting a very high moral standard on which him and his aides would be judged after living the office. The fight is about the soul of the nation. What is going on is a class war. A war between the haves and the have nots. A war between the privileged and the downtrodden. A war between the forces of evil and good. But the consolation is in the maxim that “The victory of evil over good is temporal”. In this battle, the good will definitely triumph.
The first fallacy in the said article is in the first sentence of the first paragraph where he said “let me say categorically and emphatically that our dear beloved country is dangerously hemorrhaging again and this perfidious drift must be halted urgently before we all end up in perdition”. This statement is far from the truth. How can a nation where the financial leakage of the past is been blocked be said to be hemorrhaging? How can a nation recovering stolen asset be said to be drifting? When a nation that has just recovered back it lost territories to Boko Haram is described as drifting, when a nation that is clearly steering it economy away from a single source of income and diversifying into hitherto neglected areas is described as drifting, it’s either the person making the description does not have the understanding of the unfolding events or chose to be mischievous. If the change mantra is misconstrue, it’s probably due to lack of understanding of what change actually means. Change means doing things differently. I also disagree with the insinuation that the world is worried about Nigeria. If what we read and saw in the international media is anything to go by, world leaders from America to Canada to UK have recently applauded the effort of the present administration. Where the worry as express by the writer beats my imagination.
The writer also went further to say ” Even those who did not vote for him(PMB) accepted him with unusual equanimity”. This is far from the truth. Those that didn’t vote for the President Buhari never accepted him and I doubt if they will ever do. If they did, can the writer give a rationale behind the renew insurgency in the South-South and the agitation for Biafra in Southeast. If anybody accepted each other, the President should be given kudos for this. The President has flagged off the cleaning of Ogoniland, He refused to sign the 2016 appropriation bill because of Calabar-Lagos rail road, Second Niger bridge has been appropriated for, Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Portharcourt road etc. were all appropriated for. How many stand out projects were located in Katsina State were the President comes from? We should stop misinforming our gullible audience to score cheap political points.
Before alluding to what the President has done or not done since assumption of office or taking Nigerians for granted or not, it’s pertinent that we examined his promises during campaign and where we were as a nation at the point of his assumption of office. The President campaign was based on the tripod of security, fight against corruption and job creation/economy. Let’s not forget also that at the point of assumption of office of the present administration Boko Haram was ravaging the country, seventeen local government was effectively under the control of the insurgents. Bombs were going off in various location across Nigeria including Abuja as if explosion was going out of vogue. On the economic front, twenty eight states of the federation were owing between three to eleven months of salary, about 600billion naira owed petrol importers in subsidy payments, the country’s reserve is almost completely depleted and oil price was spiraling downward at an alarming rate. Stealing was not corruption at the point of assumption of the administration and the ‘goats’ were having a fill day with the ‘yams’. This was the summary of the state of the nation when Buhari came in.
The current state of Boko Haram insurgency will make every objective mind to agree that the President is doing something and did not take Nigerians for granted. We now take it as aberration to talk about bomb blast or Boko Haram attacks. This shows the President is actually doing something. New security challenges such as herdsmen attacks, militancy in the Niger Delta and Biafra in the Southeast. The herdsmen case I believe is getting solved looking at the decrease in such attacks in recent times. Also attackers of Nimbo community in Enugu State have been apprehended, the attackers of the Igbo lady in Kano were also promptly apprehended, the killers of the kidnap army Colonel in Kaduna have been apprehended. These are all taken for granted and we completely forget it has not always been like this. These are successes the administration should be praised for rather than castigated. This does not mean there is no room for improvement. On the militancy in the Niger Delta and Biafra agitations, these are more of political problem that are residue of the last election.
The administration has to bailed out about twenty eight States owing salary immediately it assumed office. Though there has been slight improvement in oil price, the militancy in the Niger Delta has seriously brought down national oil production. This coupled with low reserve means the country is short of foreign exchange. To cater for the shortfall, the administration introduced several fiscal policies to ration the available foreign exchange to cater for priority areas. This means there will be more demand for foreign exchange on the parallel market. The increase demand has led to rising in exchange rate at the parallel market. The administration cannot be said to be doing nothing about the economy. The process of recruiting ten thousand Nigerians into the Nigerian police, five hundred thousand volunteer teachers, one hundred thousand entrepreneurs, school feeding for over twenty million children and mobilization of contractors to site for massive infrastructural development have all commenced. If this is not a ways of reflating economy then I don’t know what is.
The administration anti corruption fight is surely progressing well. List of fund recovered and frozen in various account across the globe was recently released, it’s mind boggling. Several individuals are also been prosecuted for corruption across the country. Everything pointed out here shows that the country is no taken for granted as alluded by Dele Momodu but the administration is methodically building a country we can all be proud of.
It also a fallacy to say the President has not been communicating with Nigerians. As of last count the Presidency has five media aides in addition to the minister of information with mandate of communicating with Nigerians both on new and traditional media. The aides have been actively engaging Nigerians on government policies and programs. However, Nigerians sometimes choose what they listen to and what they don’t listen to. Fixation with past has also meant some Nigerians will also not be satisfy except the President comes to face the media on every issue. If the President will have to communicate directly with Nigerians on every issue then probably the aides are not needed. Part of the change mantra is doing things the right way. If the President established a system of communicating with Nigerians, the system should be allowed to take root so that it will go beyond the life of the administration.
The steps taken by the President to unite Nigerians have been highlighted earlier. The issue of unity is not only for the President but prerogative of all Nigerians. Some section of the country are not ready to accept the President as their leader. The President has done a lot to pacify these sections of the country but will they be pacify? That’s a big question. The selection of ministers was criticized because of the fixation with former standard. The President took time to reorganize the civil service which needed a serious reorganization. Even with the reorganization, the civil service still almost scuttled the President budget. What would have happened if the reorganization was not carried out can only be imagined.
What Dele Momodu referred to as war of attrition is simply war against corruption. Corruption is a monster that must be annihilated if we must progress as a nation. I have not heard of any of the accused so far denying the accusation, rather, they’ve all tried to explained why the money was taken. I don’t also know of anybody detained without court order. Dasuki’s case has always been a point of reference but the federal government has always maintained he is a security risk. Even in the USA there is Guantanamo. With the recent call by Niger Delta militants that released of Dasuki is the only condition for cease fire, objective minds can start drawing conclusion. It’s obvious that the writer is uncomfortable with war against corruption hence the need to jump from Shiite case to former President Goodluck Jonathan being humiliated to Biafra demonstrators been killed and all what not. What the writer failed to established in each case is if the law of the land was bridged before the incidents he highlighted. If the law was bridged, the writer should have pointed out an alternative way of solving the problem without recourse to the use of force. The blackmail of the President by subtly referring to him as a military dictator cannot hold waters.
The stand of the writer is when it comes to fight against corruption is understandable considering the fact that his business thrives on promoting affluence. How many of the affluence promoted by the writer is actually acquired in a legitimate way? If the fight against corruption continue as it is presently, many of his client will be affected and that means less business. The writer also advocated the application of “Carrot and stick” in the fight against corruption. Will that not be an incentive for further corruption? If an individual stole public fund and negotiated his/her way by returning a fraction to evade prosecution, where is the deterrent? Every right thinking Nigeria should encourage the government to not only recover looted fund but prosecute the looters to serve as deterrent.
If the writer is suggesting that the blowing up of pipeline is as a result of President Jonathan been investigated or other corruption fight, then, the government should not allow itself to be blackmailed, even if oil production is brought to zero. Afterall, if government does not sell oil everybody including the States and those bombing will also have no money to share. The shortfall in federal government income has already encourage States like Kebbi and Lagos to develop alternative sources of income. Necessity is the mother of invention.
The writer should however advice those blowing pipelines that they cannot take on a serious government. Boko Haram tried it and today they are routed. That’s a group that is ready to die. The Shiite the writer also referred to held Kaduna State, especially Zaria, to ransom for decades but not today. The government is offering an opportunity for negotiation and I advice that it should be taken. The population density in the Niger Delta will lead to high collateral damage if government is given no other option than military action. Those destroying the pipeline should also be advice about the adverse effect on the environment. Oil economy is gradually winding up globally and there may be need to go back to the land for sustenance in the near future.
Every nation has lived through its terrible moments but no nation progress by pretending that the terrible moments never exist as been suggested. Nigeria must internalized our recent past. We must learn from the mistakes made, punish those that took the country for a ride and put in place a system that ensure the mistakes will never be repeated. “We have a President that stands head and shoulders above all else and he clearly leads the way”. We owe the country the duty of supporting the President irrespective of ethnic, religious or party affiliation. All it takes for evil to thrive is for men and women of goodwill to look away while evil is perpetrated. Nigeria is certainly on its way to greatness once more.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija