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Frisky Larr (MA)
Journalist/Interpreter
Author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.
Bochum, Germany
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The Political Missteps of 2011
 
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Last but not the least is the Senate probe on the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE). Revelations were made and many were traditionally termed “spectacular” in the media. Many called for high profile prosecution. In the end, exonerations were made. Fingers were slapped and sales of government properties dating back several years before were reversed. Cheap applauses have been aroused. But the story is not that easy. Is the upper legislative house an executive instance? Does it pass laws for the government to execute? Is the implementation of the probe report final or a recommendation to the executive arm of government to implement? How practical is it to reverse a sale of several years back without considering the state of the enterprises in question vis-à-vis employment, management, expenses incurred by the purported illegal buyer all through the years, etc., etc.? What chances do they stand in a court of law reversing sales that were made two governments before? This is an issue I will address exhaustively in my next article. For now, let me say thumbs down for our Senate for pretending to be undoing injustice in full consciousness of the extreme complexity of the legal murky waters.


Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

On January 01, 2011, we entered a new year amid the uncertainty of the Doctrine of Necessity. It is a phrase that was coined to seal the fate of the unsolicited but desperate fight put up by the now defeated Yar’Adua mafia. They had fought to hold the country to ransom in a ploy to save the Northern dominance of political power against the medical logic of an ailing President. It didn’t matter that the fight was doomed to premature failure and the expiry date was near. Their fate was sealed by the Doctrine of Necessity invoked by the country’s upper legislative house. It was yet in the early days of the year 2010, but the echoes reverberated long into 2011.

 

Indeed, the fight is still raging on today because the cause for which the Yar’Adua mafia fought and lost the battle is still sitting tight in the stomach of the embittered soldiers of fortune seeking political supremacy over other tribes in the land of our birth. It is sitting like a lump of swallowed ball obstinately refusing to pass through any stage of the political digestive system. It was further compounded by the attitude of the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan. An attitude which served to confirm the worst fears of the Northern establishment! They had all hoped that the Presidency of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was a new start in the quest to reassert the political dominance of the northern establishment in Nigeria. The sudden death of the President had not only triggered accusations against his predecessor of knowingly installing a terminally ill President to succeed him, Jonathan made it all worse and despicable for the northern mind to bear. He declared his interest in the Presidency.

This was the note on which the year 2011 kicked off. The establishmentarians were sure that they needed unity and consensus in the north to overcome Jonathan’s power of incumbency. After all, unity and cohesion defeated the third term bid. But all maneuvers failed. Neither a consensus candidate nor the hope of rallying behind a retired General could save the day for the northern ambition. Jonathan won the election. It was a major misstep that sowed the filthiest of animosities between North and South. And it was not without its version of a long history.

The heated political climate had been ushered in by a sense of desperation on the part of northern politicians who surprisingly found leadership in an erstwhile long-term Governor of the Central Bank Mallam Adamu Ciroma. In a shocking defiance of elder-statesmanship however, Ciroma turned out to be less Nigerian than a hardcore Northerner. As head of the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), Ciroma was prompt to vow in an interview with the Voice of America sometime in October 2010 that the North would do everything possible to stop Jonathan’s Presidential ambition. He was strongly convinced that an internal constitutional arrangement within the PDP had made the ascension of a Northerner to the Presidential throne a sacrosanct affair. In a series of negative statements that were widely considered incendiary, he warned of the grievous consequences of a Jonathan Presidency. Jonathan’s ambition is dishonorable because he is pursuing it at the expense of the North, which was entitled to eight years under the zoning agreement for power sharing between the North and the South” he stated. Even after Jonathan ended up being nominated by his party and defeated the Ciroma-favored consensus candidate Abubakar Atiku, Ciroma took his frustration one step further and called for a coalition of opposition parties against his own party the PDP, to produce a Northern President. This was the mother of all political missteps that overshadowed other more radical moves toeing the line of the ultimate leader.

Lawal Kaita, a prominent member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) a northern tribal umbrella association, had this to say in emulation of Adamu Ciroma:

“Anything short of a Northern President is tantamount to stealing our Presidency. Even if he uses incumbency powers to get his nomination on the platform of the PDP, he will be frustrated out.” Another major misstep that failed! Jonathan was not frustrated out. He went ahead and won the election.

Addressing a large crowd of supporters, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, Presidential candidate of the CPC was quoted as saying “You should never leave polling centers until votes are counted and the winner declared and you should lynch anybody that tries to tinker with the votes.” The statement caused quite a stir and the ex-General was bombarded with criticisms from the right, left and center. It was another major misstep.

Most blunt however, was Abubakar Atiku. In a Public speech, he stated in very clear terms that “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable” and he was said to be quoting Frantz Fanon – a citizen of the French Island of Martinique and a writer on the Psychopathology of Colonization.

Jonathan’s adamant pursuit of an ambition in political leadership in a controversial breach of his party’s but absolute compliance with the country’s own constitution and what the seemingly politically insatiable Northern Oligarchs made of it, is what constitutes the undisputable epicenter of all political missteps of the year 2011, which aftershock we are still feeling in Boko Haram today and may determine the future path of Nigeria as a nation. A clear thumbs down for the politically insatiable northern agitation!

Another segment in the processual continuum of this misstep was the unprecedented outburst between two former Generals and rulers of Africa’s most populous nation. Fully unprovoked and for no comprehensible reason, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida chose the occasion of his 70th birthday to unleash venom on his former superior officer Olusegun Obasanjo. Seeking to whitewash his political resume, he transferred all negative political attributes with which Journalists have consistently described him, over to Olusegun Obasanjo. Accordingly, Obasanjo and not he (Babangida) was henceforth to be regarded as the father of monumental corruption. He referred to depleted revenues in his days with very limited income and the wonders he performed with the little resources as opposed to the little Obasanjo performed with abundant resources. It was image laundering at its best in personal interest. Obasanjo responded in his typical non-academic manner and brushed off Babangida as a fool at 70. An unworthy and disgraceful battle of two political gladiators! Beneath it all however lay Babangida’s anger and desire to get even with Obasanjo for frustrating him (in his own view) ‘ungratefully’ out of staging a comeback to the Presidency as the next Northern President after Obasanjo’s Southern Presidency. Egoism so to speak! Its thumbs down for the Evil Genius for causing an unnecessary and disgraceful eyesore!

As a President, Goodluck Jonathan fast became an inauspicious and colorless character with not only a poor quality of verbal articulation but a serious deficiency in providing a sense of leadership direction. Minority voices soon began drawing parallels to the decisiveness and directional clarity of the Obasanjo days. People began missing the no-nonsense stance in asserting a President’s authority. Adding fuel to fire, President Jonathan seemingly gave senior government officers the green light to continue flouting standing government rules on opening hours for government offices. He acknowledged that since no Directors of departments and ministries come to work at the mandatory 08:00 hrs deadline, he could not go to the Ministries with a club in his hand to break their heads in a bid to instill discipline. After all, he was not a military General. No matter how good his policy directions are in other useful sectors like power and overall Economy, the etiquette of a weakling and non-assertive President being dangled from behind the scene by several interest groups holding him on the long invisible strings of a stage puppet is stuck on him. Thumbs down for a very poor image that seems to go far beyond being just an image problem!

As if that was not enough, an unnecessary debate was opened on the removal of fuel subsidy. Unnecessary because the President abandoned without much ado, plans that he initiated in March 2011 to build three new refineries with the help of some Chinese companies. He had sought to end a regime of fuel importation and cripple the might of the subsidy cartel milking the nation dry. Then suddenly and from nowhere, worse still, with no single explanation whatsoever, he abandoned the project and the fight against the cartel. The solution? Milk the common man some more. He sought to remove fuel subsidy without caring any longer about local refining. He didn’t seem to care if the cartel will then grab the missing subsidy money from the pocket of already pauperized consumers. Then he made a public statement that he was ready for a revolution if the people wanted one because of the removal of fuel subsidy. He displayed wanton insensitivity to the clamoring of the masses and the quality of a leader who should never be let loose by minders to give unscripted public speeches. Now he has returned to the drawing board to revisit the issue of the three refineries. Just thumbs down for ‘our dear leader’ (Kim Jong Il)?

The Governor of Edo State Adam Oshiomole did not want to be left out of the political missteps of the year 2011. Without any compelling reason, the Governor came out to confirm what many clever observers had already known several months before. The late President Yar’Adua had sponsored his political battles against the incumbent member of the President’s own party even though he (Oshiomole) belongs to the opposition party. He did not only expose the late President’s anti-party activities, he put himself on the negative spotlight. Knowing the reason of the late President’s actions to be his desire to reduce the influence of Olusegun Obasanjo for the purpose of consolidating northern domination of political power, the timing couldn’t have been worse for Adam Oshiomole. It is the frustration following the loss of northern political power that is currently fueling the spate of Boko Haram bombings threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. Being seen as a beneficiary of this northern conspiracy would surely have cost Oshiomole precious political points in a credible and functional democracy. Thumbs down for the action Governor of Edo State for a politically ‘Unforced Error’!

Last but not the least is the Senate probe on the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE). Revelations were made and many were traditionally termed “spectacular” in the media. Many called for high profile prosecution. In the end, exonerations were made. Fingers were slapped and sales of government properties dating back several years before were reversed. Cheap applauses have been aroused. But the story is not that easy. Is the upper legislative house an executive instance? Does it pass laws for the government to execute? Is the implementation of the probe report final or a recommendation to the executive arm of government to implement? How practical is it to reverse a sale of several years back without considering the state of the enterprises in question vis-à-vis employment, management, expenses incurred by the purported illegal buyer all through the years, etc., etc.? What chances do they stand in a court of law reversing sales that were made two governments before? This is an issue I will address exhaustively in my next article. For now, let me say thumbs down for our Senate for pretending to be undoing injustice in full consciousness of the extreme complexity of the legal murky waters.

Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

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