Three things worry me in campaigns leading to virtually every Election in Nigeria: Claim to divine call for service; ‘my people want me’ and truly reluctant candidates.
In the elections of 2007 which ushered the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Presidency, no fewer than five aspirants apart from Pastor Chris Okotie hinged their ambition on call from God, ostensibly to help bail out the once respected Giant of Africa from its many woes, especially, the shackles of democratic ineptitude. None of those eventually got elected and should have learnt a lesson or two from their failed attempt to achieve personal needs using divine blackmail.
Another is the annoying refrain from among visibly ambitious politicians, very often heard claiming, ‘my people want me’, a boring deception that is as ineffective as it is insulting.
The third, the true subject of this treatise, like the group just addressed are often brewed under same cover and later unleashed on a gullible citizenry by a small collection of political tin-gods, who, knowing their unlikehood of ever being accepted by Nigerians, search for willing puns that are often as unprepared as they are confused for the most part of their hold unto power. These are the reluctant candidates.
Sadly, being products of such illicit political brew, such candidates often spend most part of their tenure taking orders, calls for favours, directives on who to enlist or who not to enlist into the government of the day, rather than serve Nigeria and Nigerians who were deceived sorry persuaded into electing them.
But considering the myriad of challenges Nigeria faces today: mission to redeem our battered international image; amend squinting portions of the 1990 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Niger Delta question; increasing security challenges; grueling energy concerns; a predominantly monolithic economy, dependent largely on oil and gas; decaying infrastructure; threat of a single party system; an undependable police force; a self-serving political class; lingering ethno-religious intolerance; pressing need for truly fiscal federalism; lack of fiscal disciple; a laughable democratic culture; a less productive education system that is strictly paper-based, no matter how worthless and not on appropriate skills; a systemic isolation of minorities from the commonwealth of the federation and above all else, the paucity of truly, nationalistic leaders, Nigeria can no ill- afford reluctant, unprepared, imposed and above all else less patriotic men and women without the requisite self worth integrity, drive, charisma and leadership. Some may have all these fine qualities and even more but reluctant.
In years leading to the 1979 national elections, a former school teacher and ardent Islamic scholar, Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s biggest ambition was to become a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Those that Nigerians saw as truly prepared for the presidential job included respectable humanist and unrepentant progressive, Mallam Aminu Kano, father of Western political development, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and of course the brilliant nationalist cum technocrat Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
But because Nigeria was at such a stage where only an unpopular but influential few were blessed with the support of many beggers, trees and rams, the argument that majority is not always right made the most meaning. For, among the willing and ready, it was a reluctant Alhaji Shehu Shagari that Nigerians eventually saw as the president, while, infact the unofficial chief executive was an Umaru Dikko, undoubtedly, the arrow-head of the cabal that foisted the school teacher on the nation.
Expectedly, by 1983, when the cabal pushed further that the president sought re-election and was gruelled by news hounds on his achievements, during the first tenure, a reluctant president simply replied, ‘peace and unity’. Not that he was the Head of State after a civil war that threatened the peace and unity of Nigeria but a president at peace time and of a nation already one united by the post-war slogan Go-On-With-One-Nigeria, (GOWON).
But because Shagari merely wanted to be a senator and not president and Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces, he sat by and watched his ‘makers’ hold Nigeria hostage, while, education took a down-turn, infrastructure in horrible state, corruption at appalling speed; civil discontent so high, an economy in shambles and faith in Nigeria at its lowest ebb.
Little wonder, in December 1983, just months after his re-election, when, a troubled army toppled his rogue-administration, Nigerians celebrated the demise of a tenure that exhibited all the attributes of unpreparedness and reluctance.
Again, just out of prison Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, by all standards bore the semblances of another Northern creation without any home support. He himself apparently realized that most part of his first tenure of four year, 1999 to 2003 was a product of reluctance on his part and imposition by others, decided to count his real presidential years from 2003 to 2007. That may also have been, in my assessment, reason for his push for tenure extension.
With that attempt foiled, when it was Obasanjo’s time to choose a successor in 2007, when it really became clear that a third, (in His opinion, the second tenure) bid had collapsed, Obasanjo sought it through yet another unwilling duo of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan. After undergoing a kidney transplant earlier, the most, then Kastina State governor Yar’Adua needed was to serve out his single tenure and face his health concerns, while Jonathan’s main ambition was to get elected as executive governor of Bayelsa State, having assumed acting capacity following the ouster of Chief Diepriye Alamieyesigha, for doing in that state less than 20 per cent of the horrible things Umaru Dikko did in Nigeria and to Nigerians, before his escape from the shores of the country in 1983.
Unfortunately for Obasanjo, the once reluctant candidate found in the young governors new friends and submitted to pressures to clip his maker’s wings by amending the most important parts of the PDP constitution that should have allowed the Ogun High Chief, life chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the ruling party. The rest about Yar’Adua does not require any more repeat.
Now, with just months to the next presidential elections, there are ominous signs that Nigeria may yet settle for another reluctant president, unless all serious minded persons, with the presidency in mind put themselves forward for a more systemic, thorough and holistic appraisal by the citizenry, before arriving at a just end.
Why, for instance cannot Acting President Goodluck Jonathan say for sure if he’d like to run or not? Why cannot other political parties put forward their arrow-heads now and start telling Nigerians what different measures they would take to addressing Nigeria’s mounting pronlems? What is holding back the Atikus’, the Buhari’s the Okoties, the Odili’s and even the Marwa’s from emerging with different messages?
It is true that the Yar’Adua/Jonathan tenure suffered a serious set-back actuated by the president’s protracted ill-health and thus requires of the Acting President enormous time, energy and focus to put things right, otherwise in advanced democracies, the times like we are in, of months, leading to the next election season are usually regarded as lame-dock period when serving presidents think more about reelection or help in their party’s campaign efforts. Although I am tempted to agree that it may be difficult for Jonathan to allow himself to be distracted at this moment by election concerns especially, in view of the wasted months and because of the many responsibilities, he is today relied upon to shoulder, I still don’t believe that all that the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket promised and could not achieve in four years can be achieved in just months.
That being so, and granted the constitutional right he enjoys as a Nigerian, not just a PDP stalwart, methinks Jonathan should break away from the ranks of Nigerian leaders who choose to emerge at the last minutes and blame a long nurtured ambition on pressures from others.
My Agony is that doing so now could also be playing into the hands of a viscious cabal to prey on, using parliamentary instability, polarization of the ruling party, as is being experienced today, and playing the questionable majority card as tools, but early projection is what the Nigerian electorate deserves, because it will enable them properly prepare for what and who they want.
If Jonathan wants to govern Nigeria as substantive president and wishes to contest the next elections, he should tell Nigerians in a timely fashion and so should all others so we don’t end up having yet another reluctant presidential candidate or a middle course, whether relatively unprepared or on not after a vigorous debate. Deciding now, could reduce the numbers of the ambitious lot who can only be checked by big names like Jonathan’s.
Nigeria’s many problems require a little more serious candidates than the familiar reluctant choices. Hate him or love him, that is why I salute Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s shocking re-emergence in the political arena, no matter how unwelcome some may see it and the ghost of June 12 notwithstanding.
One Year Anniversary: Governor Wike Sues For Unity
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.
In a state-wide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office today, Governor Wike noted that the state can overcome the present global economic situation if citizens come together in unity of thought and purpose.
“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.
“This is a time for governance, not politics, and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he stated.
The Governor pointed out that within the last one year, his administration had embarked on urban renewal programme in the State capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.
He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 percent completion.
The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.
Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.
In addition, the governor said, work has commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to him, the long abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.
The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Governor Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.
The State Chief Executive pointed out that funds had been released for comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Kalabari National College, Buguma.
Others include, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area.
On Real Madrid Academy, Governor Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels is progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.
He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunities for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.
The governor regretted that despite the advisories and regulations on social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks, most residents are flouting the directives to the collective peril of all.
“These are all irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
“We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.
“Government may be forced to reinstate lockdown if members of the public continue to flout and disregard the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks,” he said.
Governor Wike however, commiserated with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the pandemic and prayed for the peaceful repose of their innocent souls.
He said that while we pray for the quick success, for the global search, for vaccines, the responsibility still rests on everyone to strictly comply with the established mitigating measures.
A Statewide Broadcast By His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS, To Mark The First Year Of His Second Term In Office …My Dear Good People of Rivers State
Rivers State Set To Inaugurate Cassava Plant …To Employ 4,500 Persons
The Rivers State Cassava Processing Company located at Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area will soon come on stream.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this Thursday after inspecting the plant, pointed out that the company when fully operational would employ 4,500 persons and also boost agriculture in the state.
He stated that the State Government has 70 percent equity share in the project which is in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) of Nigeria.
“We are quite happy that this project which was initiated by the previous administration in 2012 and abandoned has come to the stage of completion.
“When we came on board and saw the usefulness of this project to our economy, we did not hesitate to release funds to complete it.
“As you can see this project which is about 90 percent complete would have been commissioned this month if not for the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted global economy.
“Let me commend the management of this plant for fast-tracking the completion and the novel initiative that will use mobile machines to collect cassava from the farmers at their various clusters.
“This, will no doubt, reduce the challenge of logistics and increase farmer participation, ” the governor stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Company, Ruben Giesen noted that the cassava processing plant when completed would increase income for small holder farmers by providing an enabling environment for them to sell their cassava tubers.
He also disclosed that the plant would produce about 45 thousand metric tons of cassava flour daily while about 12 thousand metric tons of cassava tubers would be needed for collection by its mobile plants from farmers around the state for processing.
Mr. Giesen commended the State Governor for embarking on the project, which he described as the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
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