by Tajudeen Ganikale
In ideal democracy, people vote for a government that has performed significantly well. Citizens do not vote for a candidate because he is a Jew, Muslim or Christian, or he is yoruba man or an ijaw man.
We had a golden chance in this country in 2011 to speak through our votes, to tell our fraudulent leaders that “no, it is no longer business as usual” through our votes but rather, we allowed ethnic/regional and religious sentiment to cloud our judgement and vote for a man who we proclaimed as a God sent.
This man cooked up stories, the story of I “have no shoe when I was young”and Nigerians were moved by this deception. We failed to realize that being a president of a great nation like ours goes beyond not having shoes when you were young. To be the president of a country requires competence and capability at least.
These sentimental factors led Nigerian voters to make an unwise decision and there emerge Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the president of Nigeria in 2011. It is believed from some quarters that the 2011 Presidential Election was rigged in favor of the winner. Trust me, that is not correct. The Nigerian voters trooped out in mass and voted for this man because they believed he is a messiah that has come to take them out of pool of poverty, unemployment, poor power supply, insecurity, corruption and other prevalent social problems in Nigeria which need not be mentioned. His major contender in the 2011 presidential Election, General Muhammed Buhari could not have secured the majority of votes cast and one quarter of votes cast in each of at least two third of all states of the federation including the FCT to be declared the winner as required by Section 134 of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, because the country was divided based on religious and ethnic sentiment, only some states in the north voted for him. Buhari lost woefully in the south west and south south.
The proclaimed messiah spent his first term in office in addendum to the remaining one and half year left upon the death Late Umaru Musa Yaradua. All the promises made via their manifestos during 2011 presidential campaigns are there on the flat page of posters printed. They only read it to Nigerians and we did not see them put lives into it. Nigeria remain in a deplorable state. We are the cause of this! if only we had shun sentiments and opted for another candidate. Other candidates in the 2011 presidential election were Shekarau of ANPP, Nuhu Ribadu of ACN and General Muhammed Buhari of CPC. We could have opted for any of the candidate from these parties and if after four years they appears not to know what they are doing, we throw them out again through our votes.
After almost six years of trial and error administration under Jonathan, here comes another golden opportunity for Nigerians to make an informed choice. To go for a chance of new Nigeria or to remain in the status quo. This same man is asking for our vote again in the forthcoming presidential elections adopting the same method he used in 2011 appealing to sentimental conscience of Nigerians with all forms of tactics. Mr president is going around the churches in the country kneeling and kowtowing. I see a lot of desperation. Out of all the social problems we have in this country, I think five years is enough to pick one and address it, not even to the fullest but to a reasonable level most especially the issue of power because it affects common Nigerian on the street. To me, Mr President is calling Nigerians fools by asking us for another chance. In ideal democracy, people vote for a government that has performed significantly well. Citizens do not vote for a candidate because he is a Jew, Muslim or Christian, or he is yoruba man or an ijaw man.
I cannot comprehend why people will put in a government that does not affect their lives positively via its policies after almost six years in office. What more can such a government have to offer? For me nothing, but a further stealing and mismanagement of our national resource which is not corruption to them. According to them, stealing little amount of money in our public purse is not an act of corruption. When I heard that statement on the national TV (NTA) I was not surprised because I know that we made a grave mistake in 2011. It was not a news to me, this is a President who granted Presidential pardon to a person convicted of corruption related offences, Diepreye Alameiseyeigha, the former Governor of Bayelsa State. He washed him of the crime and made him a new person in the eyes of the law even though the said former Governor is still a wanted suspect in the United Kingdom for money laundering. A President who is serious and making efforts to cleanse corruption out of this country will not exercise that constitutional power in favor of such person. Mr President has by this act thrown this country into murky waters of ridicule in the face of committee of Nations.
Although, during the recently held presidential media chat on Nigeria Television authority (NTA) on 11/02/2015 in Abuja, President Jonathan made an attempt to correct this reckless statement crediting it to the former Chief Justice Of Nigeria Hon justice Dahiru Musdapher. Mr President claimed to have quoted the eminent jurist when he said “ordinary stealing is not corruption”. It seems to me that our president forgets very quickly, he has forgotten he made a like statement during one of his presidential campaigns January 9th 2015 in Enugu when he said “how much did Jim Nwobodo Steal? Money not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari regime sentenced him to jail, is it good?”. This statement needs no further interpretation. Is this the kind of president we want to vote into office again? Only Nigerians can respond to this poser by their votes in the forthcoming presidential elections. Nigerians are waiting for the president to credit this statement to another prominent Nigerian. No informed Nigerian will believe Mr President, the eminent jurist who lived almost all his life in the judicial world with caution couldn’t have uttered such dirty and unreasonable statement. To that end, I hope the learned jurist will have something to say to Nigerians in response to the feces Mr President is trying to pour on him.
Pre-PDP/Jonathan led Federal Government
There is no doubt the only development we had in this country happened during the military era. That was the last time citizens of this country feels the little impact of Governance. Since the coming in of PDP led federal government in 1999, there has been no meaningful developmental project. All we hear on tv stations and read on the pages of newspapers is award of contracts running into several billions of dollars, yet there is so much hardship in the country. I wonder why people will continue to vote for such party. $16billion was spent during Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenor to revamp power sector, nothing was put in place at the end of the day and no electricity. $16 billion gone, wasted and no body was questioned. This money will be in the private bank account of some top Government official. My naija people dey try o! Suffering and smiling fela said it well I guess.
Late president Umaru Musa Yaradua of blessed momery, came into office in 2007 lunched investigation into how the $16 billion was spent. That was the last thing we heard about the money. Oh my God, this joker party has taken Nigerians for a ride for too long. Recently, during the 2015 vice president election debate showed live on NTA, all the contestant were asked “how would your party solved the power issue if elected into office?” Vice President Namadi Sambo of PDP in response said, “the PDP has better approach to solve power problem in Nigeria and the PDP is the government that has developed this country” chai! After PDP has expended several billion of dollars since 1999 this is the position he maintained. I asked myself how did we end up with people like this in Government then I recalled this is Nigeria we don’t vote base on the competency and credibility of a candidate but rather on the principle of he is a Christian or Muslim, he is an ijaw man, hausa man. Oh my God! this is shallow! Even if we did not have Electricity supply before in this country, is over $16 billion spent by the PDP led Federal Government to fix the power problem in Nigeria not enough to take us somewhere? I leave this poser to all the readers of this piece to answer.
Before going further, it is necessary to point out that power sector is not the only sphere of governance the PDP government has failed Nigerians, they have also inhibited our national Development in other areas of governance such as unemployment, insecurity, wide spread poverty and so on.
Golden opportunity for Nigeria and Hope for Good Governance
The 2015 presidential election is around the corner, the two major political parties in the country People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress have presented their candidates and concludes their campaigns. If not for the postponement of the elections by The Nigeria Independent National Electoral Commission (inec)14th of February 2015 would have been the deal day. However, that is not the subject of this discourse I will not dabble into that.
The role of political parties in any democratic setting is very germane. Our choice of candidates at any election is limited by what the political parties presents to us. The people’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress are the only political parties that have the Popular strength to win presidential election in Nigeria. The people’s Democratic Party have presented the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo as their candidates. It is my view that they presented bad choice for Nigeria. These are leaders that have been in Government in the last five years and failed to transformed the lives of Nigerians. It will be a grave mistake if we vote these set of leaders into office again. They have both shown themselves to be uninspiring and unworthy of our votes. I can only hope this is clear to the eyes of every Nigerian voter. If we consider the party these candidates are from, reasonably they do not deserve another chance.
One would have thought because they are educated packed leaders they will move this country forward, but despite the academic qualifications of President Jonathan and Vice President Sambo, their leadership skills have in no way benefited or improve the life of common Nigerian.
Let me sound a note of caveat at this point that I am not saying the candidates presented by All Progressive Congress General Muhammed Buhari and Professor Osinbajo are the best candidates or another messiahs, but in the face of the mess the PDP, Jonathan and Sambo administration have put this country into, they stand to be the best alternative. it is only wise for the Nigerian voters to vote for New set of leaders. Let us try something new. After all, Nigerians still retain the right to speak through their votes again and vote them out of office if they performed below expectations. This should be the wide spread application in all the elections all over the country. By doing this, we are telling our selfish leaders that it is no longer business as usual. Ethic and Religious sentiments should not be our watchword in choosing our leaders.
Every Nigerian voter should asked his or herself this question. why should I vote for President Jonathan? Is it because he is a Christian Or Muslim, or because he is from the south or north or because he is holy and likes to go churches and kneel down before God or because he has solved one among all the problems we have in this country. I can only hope we will speak wisely through our votes this time.
– Tajudeen Ganikale is a Lagos based lawyer and Social Commentator. He tweets from @Abeet4real
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.