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Posts tagged ‘Aso Rock’

Billionaire House Helps By Okey Ndibe.

Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

Nigeria’s (misnamed) Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the schedule for the 2015 set of general “elections.” The presidential and National Assembly “elections” will be held on February 14, 2015, followed by state “elections” on February 28, 2015.

I have put elections in quotes to underscore a given: the electoral exercises are bound to be another Nigerian-made mess, a fraud fest, a classic of rigging. Even INEC has signaled this by warning Nigerians not to expect a “perfect” election. That’s a Nigerian shorthand that translates as, “Expect a massively rigged election, as usual.” When a Nigerian (politician or a politician’s apologist) announces, in reaction to accusations of corruption, “Nobody is perfect,” it’s a coded way of saying, “Yes, I (or my oga) stole, but who doesn’t?”

It’s become settled practice: every four years, INEC puts together an obscenely expensive show called “elections.” But the point of the bazaar is to enable the various political parties to exhibit their varying levels of versatility at rigging. Yet, at the end of the show, determined to dress up the event in borrowed garbs, INEC and the “winners” declare that “no election is perfect.” Or, to explain away the more mystifying aspects of the hollow exercise, the “winners” declaim that God, not the electorate, voted for them.

Many wonder whether Nigeria will survive past the 2015 “elections.” It depends on what they mean by survive. Nigeria has subsisted as an increasingly lawless place for decades now. Post 2015, the degree of lawlessness will be compounded. Violence, already the currency of Nigeria, will be writ larger. The endangered species called the Nigerian citizen will be further diminished and crushed. The instruments of the Nigerian state, at the local government, state and national levels, will be hijacked anew by a set of buccaneers. Filled with disdain for so-called citizens, driven by the singular mission of transferring public funds to their private pockets, unable or uninterested to legitimize themselves through the popular consent of citizenry, the hijackers of state power will resort, more and more, to the use of violence.

INEC’s timetable for the next set of a rigging jamboree is not the only source of foreboding in Nigeria. Nigerian politics—which is often reduced to politicking—is amazingly bereft of issues. Yet, it is a country that has a lot of issues.

The organized scam that bears the name Nigeria has not addressed the most basic of questions. With the exception of the few who run the shop, Nigerians can’t claim to possess any rights as citizens. I know: somebody is going to flip through the pages of the Nigerian constitution and read the bla bla bla it says about the rights of citizens. But the words are baloney. The fact is that, all too often, the Nigerian constitution wilts and the law courts shiver when the occupant of Aso Rock sneezes. It doesn’t matter what the constitution says, any sergeant in the Nigerian police can arrest, beat up, and lock up any poor Nigerian who crosses a big oga. The security detail of a any Nigerian state governor can wreck the car of any driver slow to move out of the governor’s way in traffic—and expect not to be called to account.

The recklessness of the police is matched by the timidity and corruption of the Nigerian judiciary. Many of my Nigerian lawyer friends despair of the willingness of too many judges to cheapen their bench by accepting lucre in exchange for judgment. In a country where custodians of the most exalted offices are the boldest, grandest thieves, few are tempted to stick to the right path. To insist on doing the right thing in Nigeria is to risk losing your job, being passed over for promotion, being jeered at by peers, friends and relatives, and being excluded from the list of recipients of national honors.

Nigerian “elections” are such violent affairs because political posts are a sweepstakes. The Nigerian president, governors and local government chairmen rake in billions each year in a scam called security vote. The Nigerian president and governors enjoy immunity from prosecution, even when they commit grave crimes. Nigerian legislators have become legislooters in popular parlance, and for good reason. Elsewhere, political office holders function as servants. In Nigeria, they exchange knowing winks as they announce, in jest, that they are our servants. Americans pay President Barack Obama $400,000 per year for the job he does. Each month, each Nigerian governor pulls in five to seven times Mr. Obama’s annual salary as security votes.

Nigeria’s public officials are like domestic house helps who have been allowed to set their salaries, and have set them at billions of naira. Yet, they are house helps who don’t know their right from their left. Their pay packets may dwarf Mr. Obama’s, but they and their hired hands are first to protest that they must not be held to American or European standards of performance.

It works for Nigerian politicians not to set any store by issues. Ideas-based politics is the graveyard of hollow politicians, the surest way to expose their mediocrity. That explains the recourse to such trite, boutique phrases as “dividends of democracy” and “moving the nation forward.” The Nigerian politician’s worst nightmare is to be challenged to specify what s/he means by “dividends of democracy” or to articulate the particular means as well as philosophic underpinnings of “moving the nation forward.”

It is this absence of discursive rigor in Nigerian politics that has brought the country to yet another absurd moment. The absurdity lies in the way in which a faction of the PDP establishment has joined an opposition coalition, and is now presuming to represent a fundamental alternative to the ruling party. With each passing day, the All Progressives Congress (APC) resembles a re-baptized PDP. In fact, a part of me suspects that the APC is something of the PDP’s Plan B, a part and parcel of the PDP’s threat to run Nigeria for a minimum of sixty years, or until the country collapses and dies.


Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe



Aso Rock Clinic’s VIP Section Gets More Funds Than Two Federal Teaching Hospitals-PREMIUM TIMES.


By Ini Ekott

The federal government will this year pump more cash into constructing an elite wing of the presidential clinic in Abuja where only a few big and mighty will receive attention, a spending that dwarfs the total funds allocated by government for entire developmental projects of two federal university teaching hospitals.

Under the proposed 2014 budget laid to the National Assembly last December, the “Construction of a VIP Wing at the State House Clinic will cost N705 million.”

That amount surpasses the government’s budgeted cost for the building of new wards (buildings), laboratories and all other developmental projects in two university teaching hospitals.

For instance, the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, have been allocated a total of N662 million for capital expenditure this year.

The two medical facilities are only part of a long list of teaching hospitals which have their capital spending this year outdone by the VIP budget, tagged in the budget as SHMC- State House Medical Clinic.

Among 17 tertiary hospitals in the nation compared with the State House clinic, University of Ilorin’s allocation of N310 million will be the least if the National Assembly approves the budget as submitted.

Other similar hospitals receive a little above N310 million, and some up to N550 million.

The only teaching hospitals with capital budgets exceeding the spending for the Aso Rock elite facility are Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, with N727 million; and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with N1.9 billion.

The skewed allocations are only the latest revelation from Nigeria’s scandalous national budget, tainted for years by spending plans that provide more funding for services available to a few powerful public officials, from the president and his ministers to federal lawmakers, while relatively little go to those that should benefit the public.

Analysts have for years criticized the allocations and have struggled to draw government’s attention for serious corrections.

“A country like Nigeria with its negative developmental indices cannot fritter away resources that are best conserved for national development,” said Ikeazor Akaraiwe of The Rule of Law Collective, a Nigerian civic platform which first raised concerns with the presidential medical spending.

In a statement to the media on Monday, the group described the 2014 budget before the National Assembly as the worst ever proposed in the nation’s history, and laid the responsibility on the finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

“It is an affront to the sensibilities of the teeming poor in our country when a budget that smacks of profligacy and utter waste is tabled before the National Assembly to be passed into law in their name,” the group said.

“This budget and the 1,820 pages in which it was written, in all likelihood, will go down in history as one of the worst budgets ever proposed. It represents a complete detachment from reality. It is a shame that this budget proposal was tabled under the watch of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. So much more was expected of her and it is disappointing that she has let this budget proposal proceed under her hand. The ultimate responsibility, though, must lie with President Goodluck Jonathan.”

The group also raised concerns with what it reflected as the lopsided allocation on military spending versus spending on the rehabilitation of ex-militants. Read their full statement here.

On Monday, in a rare admission of that possibility, the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Bright Okogu, acknowledged there were multiple errors in the new budget, but said they were “glitches” caused by the use of the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System, GIFMIS, a new budgeting tool.

He referred to the allocation of millions of naira to non-existent projects like the huge sums allocated to the Mathematical Centre, Sheda, Investment and Securities Tribunal and other agencies for fuelling and maintenance of aircraft, boats and railway equipment.

Those agencies however own no aircraft, boats or even railway equipment.

“What happened was that GIFMIS, being a new system, had some glitches that reflected in some of the provisions. It is not totally strange,” Mr. Okogu said at the presentation of the budget details on Monday, by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala. “Many of you have read about the Obamacare and the challenges they had in actually implementing it. It is a big system, bigger than ours, but with the same features.

The State House Clinic, pointed out by the Rule of Law Collective, is not open to the public. Currently, only staff of the State House are allowed services.

But the planned wing is expected to be used to provide exclusive services to the president and his vice, and senior government leaders visiting the presidential villa.

The N705 million allocated for the VIP wing of the hospital will not be the first, as the same construction had earlier received N300 million in 2012-totaling N1billion for just that unit.

Meanwhile, upgrades, repairs and construction in the entire hospital cost at least N506 million in 2011, N401 million in 2012, and over N300 million in 2013.


OFFICIAL : President Jonathan Announces Bamanga Tukur’s Resignation As PDP Chairman.


Bamanga Tukur
By Saharareporters, New York

President Goodluck Jonathan finally presented the resignation letter of embattled party chieftain, Bamanga Tukur, to the 63rd meeting of the National Executive Committee of the  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the party’s secretariat in Abuja today.

The president took the unusual step of reading Mr. Tukur’s resignation letter to members after pulling it out of an envelope.

He praised Tukur, who was also present at the meeting, and said that he had not committed any crime to warrant his forced resignation promising to give him a bigger assignment.

Saharareporters sources stated that the President hopes to make  Mr. Tukur Nigeria’s ambassador to China in coming days.

Saharareporters had revealed last night that Mr. Tukur’s resignation will be made public today at the NEC meeting after he was barred from a crucial caucus meeting at the Aso Rock Villa yesterday.

A new chairman of the party will emerge next week Monday according to President Jonathan.

Bamanga Tukur’s Tenure As PDP Chair Laid To Rest: Barred From Attending PDP’s Caucus Meeting At The Presidential Villa.


Bamanga Tukur earlier today

PDP leaders arriving for an NWC meeting at the Aso Rock Villa

PDP meeting without Tukur
By SaharaReporters, New York

The drama surrounding the fate of the chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur has come to an end. Saharareporters can confirm that the embattled party chief has not only resigned but is being prevented from attending the National Working Committee meeting of the party currently going on inside the Aso Rock presidential villa in Abuja.

Our source at the meeting said that the announcement of Tukur’s resignation will be made tomorrow after the meeting of the Executive Council meeting.

Only two days ago, Mr. Tukur was daring President Goodluck Jonathan to sack him if he could. He claimed that he was elected by a constituted convention of the party, and only another convention could sack him.

The ruling party under Mr. Tukur has been going through internal strife that led to a massive decamping of party members to the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC.

CAN to President Jonathan, Buckle up or be ready to vacate Aso Rock.



Christian body in the country; under the umbrella of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has warned President Goodluck Jonathan to ‘tighten his seat belt’ in the New Year, or honourably resign and vacate the Aso Villa.Chairman of the South- East chapter of CAN and the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Rt. Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma handed this warning to Jonathan in a New Year message released on Tuesday.The cleric said that President Jonathan must rise to the challenges facing his administration, especially the alleged cases of corruption in the polity, unemployment and epileptic power supply.The cleric avowed that if Jonathan fails to live up to expectation, he should prepare to vacate the Aso Rock in 2015.Bishop Chukwuma who said that doom awaits the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the New Year noted that except the likes of Chief Tony Anenih and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur retire from active politics, the party would continue to face greater calamities.“If those elders I warned before to retire don’t retire, then the party will be in trouble in 2014. At 80, Anenih should retire; Bamangar Tukur should retire.These people should now serve as elders and advisers; if they do that, PDP will get its dignity back, but while you still have these analogue leaders and elders in the party and the polity, forget about PDP in 2015,” he warned.He called on President Jonathan to be focused in the New Year to avoid attracting the wrath of the greater percentage of Nigerians, noting that since the buck stops at his table, all blames of every failure in his government would be completely laid at his doorstep.Chukwuma said, “The letter between Obasanjo and Jonathan is a boomerang of Obasanjo’s selfish act in enthroning a president of his choice for Nigeria.“There are many better leaders out there than Jonathan who would have been elected, but Obasanjo selfishly maneuvered Jonathan into leadership by first putting a sick Yar’Adua in power. Because he couldn’t control him anymore, he started writing letters.“That is why Jonathan must be focused in 2014 in order to prove himself worthy for 2015.“Failure to do that and he gets distracted and doesn’t prove himself, and Nigeria continues with the way it is today with corruption, no light, poverty, unemployment, I beg him, he should just step aside, let us seek for a better leader in 2015.“He has tried in the last six years, and rather than the thing getting him into trouble, and cause him more tension, I think Nigeria is greater than everybody, all of them should give way and give room for new spirit to rule Nigeria from 2015,” he said.Bishop Chukwuma however called on Nigerians to be more faithful to

God by pursuing peace and righteousness.“We should all work dedicatedly for the unity and peace of this nation as we celebrate our country. Any attempt by anybody to fuel violence or confusion will call for the review of our amalgamation,” he added.

Source: Radio Biafra.

OBJ Vs GEJ: Epistolary Discourses And Poisoned Polity By Taju Tijani.

By Taju Tijani

“When an elephant is in trouble, even a frog will kick him” – Hindu proverb.

If we should conduct a post-mortem on Olusegun Obasanjo‘s sub-narrative of his epistolary vocalisation, his patriotic headache, his pendulum swing to the extreme, the echo of his political and moral parables, his imitation of Ciceronian communication devise, his over-dramatisation of Proverbs 27:5, somewhere in the wreckage we will discover the weaknesses of his nationalistic prognosis. Readers are left in no doubt that the stakes for good governance are high on his pulse and that Olusegun Obasanjo’s troubled  soul is being waged on the outcome. Behind his passionate, epistolary mitigation, there is no softening of his spirit of confrontation and rebellious rebuke against a lame duck President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

OBJ’s obsessive compulsive epistolary disorder is anchored on the notion that the manifest destiny of Nigeria rests on his wide shoulders. His reasoning seems to suggest that his beautiful lily – Nigeria – is being dragged into a mud marsh through the extraordinary exertion of distracting forces around Aso Rock and its chief tenant.

Post-Obasanjo’s presidency, the Owu prince has been waging a battle of self-rescue from his vanishing, social and political irrelevance.  His challenge and sternest observation in “Before It Is Too Late” goes deeper than his moralising rhetoric of our collective failure. To bail out Nigeria from the raw sewage of political, economic and social cul-de-sacs, Obasanjo takes a flight of fancy into a controversial Ciceronian epistolary highway to express a volatile radical concept of urgent political rethink. His aim is to set in motion new imperatives that will catalyze political renewal for the good of his beloved Nigeria. I called this approach Obasanjo’s closed canon of good governance.

Three heavyweight epistles are in contention and pouring poising on an over- heated polity. First, Obasanjo’s 18-page authorial stance in “Before It Is Too Late” is punchy, punishing, pushy, penetrating and pompous.  There is no safe-lead. He eases into every line with fistful rage and self-justificatory air.  “I will only state that as far as your responsibility as Chief  Security Officer of the nation is concerned for Nigerians, a lot more needs  to be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them. Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have not been adequately addressed, if addressed at all, kidnapping, piracy, abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and Boko Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its ghost  to rest, the  general security situation cannot be described as comforting.

Knowing the genesis of Boko  Haram and the reasons for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of the  menace of Boko Haram within and outside the Nigerian borders, conventional military actions based on  standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram. ”

Here Obasanjo magnifies his anxiety because of his nervousness about the future of Nigeria. His epistolary effusion highlights the deep fear mauling away at the ranks of our privileged elites and Obasanjo’s messianic mission to neutralise the dangers this pose to the integrity and unity of Nigeria – his personal fiefdom.

Line by line Obasanjo’s December corpus, as crafted in his “Before It Is Too Late”, clinically disinters Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency as to leave no reader in doubt as to the presence of a demigod in Owu who scrutinises who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.  Obasanjo intermittently morphs into a man solely devoted to repairing, protecting and re-modeling  a wounded nation. As a father of the nation, he could not watch as our leaders become ever more corrupt. As a watchman, he could not watch as Jonathan morphs ever lower and drifts further and further from the anchor of political wisdom into a figurehead clown. As a law abiding citizen, he could not watch as criminals in government enjoy more rights than we the mugu majority. He despairs as his beloved country is becoming a pariah in the international community. Because we have killed the truth at the expediency of chop-I-chop, Obasanjo is standing in the gap through his Ciceronian epistle to resurrect truth and deploy it against power.

He is standing up for what is right without fear of criticism. He is ruffling delicate political feathers on our behalf. He is unafraid of evil tidings. To him, Goodluck Jonathan has taken Nigeria into a depthless darkness and an old darkness like him must respond with a vicious, screaming, chastening and  wrathful letter dripping with blood. In conceit, Obasanjo believes that his tigerish missive would herald a marker for an epochal uprising that will redirect the course of our political history. His epistolary intervention has raised the bar of political penalties for the opposition politicians: impunity against PDP turncoats who crossed carpet to APC is in ferment; we are witnesses to the EFCC’s vendetta against Kano state internal politics,  police crackdown against Rivers State House of Assembly and police harassment of mushrooming protesters.

Obasanjo’s divine desire to remotely micro manage Goodluck Jonathan through epistolary exchanges via the public realm becomes instantly gratuitous, hypocritical, morally empty, arrogant, insulting, demeaning, vengeful and inciting. Except we are all poor student at reading body language, Obasanjo has never hidden his weakness for self-exaltation. Iyabo Obasanjo polemicises her dad’s mortal weakness succinctly. “You are one of those petty people who think the progress and success of another takes from you. You try to overshadow everyone around you, before you and after you. You are the prototypical “Mr. Know it all”.  You’ve never said “I don’t know” on any topic, ever. Of course this means you surround yourself with idiots who will agree with you on anything and need you for financial gain and you need them for your insatiable ego. In this your attitude is a reflection of the country. It is not certain which came first, your attitude seeping into the country’s psyche or the country accepting your irresponsible behaviour for so long.”

Hear my ancient argot about OBJ in an article titled, ‘Obasanjo: The Illuminati From Ota’. “Obasanjo is not a mere chicken. He is a cock. And cocks are known to be cocky and crow to announce their presence, prestige or power. Chief Matthew Okikiola Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo embodies presence, prestige and power. With sheer messianic radiance, he governed Nigeria twice. In military khaki and out of khaki. The mandarin elevation we accord our past leaders is still working in Obasanjo. His poppycock desire to rule Nigeria from his animal farm is an excellent example of his political bravura. Obasanjo is a divisive mortal in the luckless universe of Nigeria. His name can heat up a discourse. His name can provoke either affection or repulsion. His name can provoke the image of an emperor, oppressor, dictator, saviour, redeemer or plain megalomania.

To the people of Odi, Rivers State, he is a footloose warlord. Odi sons and daughters are still in bubble of expectation that someday Obasanjo will answer to his genocide charge. To Nsoro, the Akwa Ibomite I met in Ikorodu, Lagos State in one of my travel sorties to Nigeria, Obasanjo is a messiah that we fail woefully to understand. To Gbenga, his son, he is a shameless philanderer. How can a dad go to the futon with his son’s wife? And yet that man still commands our respect?  And yet, that man still has access to the corridors of power in Nigeria. His shame, excesses, moral decay, political irreverence, greed, controlling spirit and provoking wit have all come to represent the symbol of a modern Nigerian who has access to power and wealth.” And in a sharp blast of prophetic insight, I concluded in the aforementioned piece. “In our torn and conflated politics, an illuminati from Ota farm may be something we silently desire. Of course, it may sound like a poppywash. Except you believe in galoshes, President Goodluck Jonathan’s governance has been lacklustre.

There is yet no spark of genius in areas of fighting corruption, job creation, security, Boko Haram’s terrorism and his own medieval profligacy in a nation where majority of Nigerians live on $1 or equivalent of N150.00 per day.  Jonathan needs a tried, tested and steady hand to guide him. He may need Obasanjo’s military bravura on policy formulation. He may need his fearlessness to unshackle his governance from powerful interest groups who have been stalling his transformational agenda. If Obasanjo were to be a car, the guy is a full spec Mercedes Benz – speed, agility, handling, efficiency, prestige, robustness and durability. The joy or sadness of it all is that Obasanjo is aware of his proficiency. His fully loaded stature! He is aware of his own omnipotence. He is aware of the symptomatic self-adulation Nigeria bestows not only on its past leaders but also on public looters. Lastly, Obasanjo is aware of his own totalitarian irrationalism. Whether this desire to rule Nigeria among his chickens and pigs is a lofty or colonial hallucination, we have to concede that Obasanjo’s ghost still walks the corridors of Aso Rock as I write.

Sadly, the pervasive effect of our political immaturity and blindness have perpetually delivered this nation into the hands of occult grand masters, polygamists, philanderers, perverts, schemers, criminals, destabilisers, dictators, looters and self-exalting statesmen, of which Obasanjo is leader of the pack. If Matthew Okikiola Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo were to be a Tony Blair, he would have been sunk far beyond the depth of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean. His air of certitude would have been deflated. But he is a Nigerian where we make demi-gods of the privileged, the powerful and the stupid.”

Secondly, we are confronted by the belligerent Lamido Sanusi Lamido’s $48.9 billion expensive letter which courageously blurred the line of allegiance to hierarchy to demand answers to missing cash. Lamido may have been accused of irrational scapegoating of NNPC,  but the fact remains that his epistolary intervention unearthed a complex accounting viaduct through which billions of dollars are being diverted into private pockets. The brutal reality of Sanusi’s alarm is that $9 billion is still missing and entwined in the labyrinthine accounting system of the oil industry of which Jonathan is the manager.

Then comes the sonnet of the year – Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s letter! His response to Obasanjo’s letter is a typical public refutation of alleged indiscretions in the spirit of presidential right to reply his critics. He is forced to rehearse his own belated negation and that is why he avoids epistolary warfare with his opponent but instead fabricates a set of perspectives that throw him up as the victim of a grand conspiracy. His tone is one of benevolence towards a respected godfather. GEJ rests on the belief that restraint begets restraint.

Whether Obasanjo’s Ciceronian 18-page canon is a timely intervention at a precarious juncture of our democratic journey, or mere schizophrenic hallucination,  Jonathan’s presidency is inevitably on a watch list in an intensive unit. Obasanjo may be a closet patient of obsessive compulsive epistolary disorder, he has nevertheless articulated what is in the minds of millions of badly governed Nigerians whose plight are being woefully ignored.

In legal terms, there is something lawyers call Letter Before Action. OBJ has written his letter. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has also written. Would Goodluck Ebele Jonathan begin to take action and do the needful? Or would he shrink into calamitous retreat of deviant inaction and cowardice?  Would Jonathan goes on affirming his celebrated cultural choice for corruption after two devastating, government-sinking epistles?


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

A Meta Analysis Of Obasanjo’s Letter To President Jonathan By Chris Aniedobe.

Chinewizu believes that Obasanjo’s 18 page diatribe was a carefully contrived ruse to divert critical attention from the National Confab (SNC) which portends grave danger for the 1999 constitution that institutionalized lootcracy in Nigeria. Not so.

The SNC at this point is ill timed and will not amount to much with or without Obj’s 18 page putschist diatribe. Folks like Chinweizu who believe that the SNC is an imperative exercise will be disappointed by the outcome because the current political circumstances are too inauspicious for Jonathan’s SNC to amount to much.  It is unripe. In fact, the fact that it was instituted by Jonathan is all that is needed to call the outcome – waste of money.  A true Sovereign National Conference stems from the bowls of we the people and not the government.  The current SNC however is a healthy exercise and could be useful if the various sovereign nations sign off on the status quo as well as promote greater understanding of the expectations of the various ethnicities within Nigeria.  If the wily Obj is threatened by the SNC, he has enough guile to work for and secure an endorsement of the status quo through Jonathan’s SNC which would even make the status quo more legit and further legitimize the highly discreditable 1999 constitution believed to be drawn by Generals for Generals.

As it is, the Northern elite are not excited by the SNC if it would alter the economic and political relationship of the Regions which had been carefully crafted since 1966 to favor a particular region of the country. With the North’s lukewarm interest in the SNC, the outcome of the current SNC won’t capture the hopes of revolutionary thinkers like Chinweizu for a new Nigeria radically different from the amalgam set up by the Imperial powers.

Chinweizu’s perspective is interesting though and invites a meta analysis of Obj’s letter to throw light on perspectives which Obj himself, I am sure, did not consider. Many people would have dismissed Obj’s letter as the ranting of a spoilt child were it not in fact true that Jonathan is presiding over a lootcracy and does not appear to have any credible plans to stem the bleeding.  The nation is bleeding to death under Jonathan and the nation’s blood is on the streets for all to see – dilapidated infrastructure, economic hardships, grinding poverty, gutted educational system, and stench of corruption that reeks up to the highest heavens. We do not need Obasanjo to tell us. We are living it and he can only imagine it from his mansion and his first class seat in airplanes. The billion Naira estates in Maitama are in marked contrast to the apartheid style shanties in Kuruduma representing the lot of most Nigerians who live on less than three hundred Naira a day.

There is a lot of truth in what Obasanjo said and to deny it would be disingenuous. What took every one aback were the sanctimony, the timing, and the method.  Obj really wanted to incite popular uprising against Jonathan and the locomotive may be gaining steam as the House leadership and Central Bank Officers spill out into the public domain to make a case for Jonathan’s ineptitude and quanta of corruption, which by Nigerian’s sordid standards, is running off the charts.

What is at stake is greater than Jonathan though; it is the destiny of over 160 million people, and I would caution Obj and his ilk to forswear the attitude that regime change is all that is needed.  Nigeria has a deeply flawed system of government, not the least of which is a bloated public sector payroll based on a very expensive Presidential system of government, plurality of governments,  and a pre-bendel attitude to governance.  Getting Jonathan out of Aso rock is no panacea for all the economic woes that are bedeviling the country.  But Jonathan should know that he does not have a whole lot of time and is steadily loosing grip of the nation.  He could easily be swept off Aso Rock by expression of the popular will of the people in a properly conducted election.  It is far better for him to get serious about tackling corruption than to take issue with Obasanjo.  Obasanjo was pretty clear in his pronouncement – that Jonathan was unfit to continue to be President and should do the country a favor and bow out in 2015 or else face severe consequences. One of those unspoken consequences may even include death by assassination.  It won’t be the first time in Nigeria.

If anything, Obasanjo’s putschist remarks may be unwittingly ushering in the sort of political environment in Nigeria that would propitiate the sort of SNC that Chinweizu has in mind. If that is the case, Obasanjo’s current antics should be seen as pro SNC because dark clouds of political storm are growing and gathering in Nigeria and the country has never been more polarized than this since after the civil war. The difficulties that lay ahead could finally force us to re-examine the Nigeria compact and Obj’s antics may force that re-examination outside what some erroneously believe, is a contrived effort to thwart the SNC.

Here is why Obj wrote his letter, pure and simple. He has been at the receiving end of accusations for truncating the North’s turn at the Presidency and certain Northern elite believe that it is morally right for the Presidency to return to the North and they have communicated same to Obasanjo in no uncertain terms, warning him to expect both orchestrated and random acts of violence aimed at forcing the nation’s hands.  Obj simply felt that it was his duty as a statesman to warn Jonathan that he was steering the ship of state to shallow waters. Obj is frustrated that Jonathan’s performance in office did not justify the political risk he took in him and every act of official corruption in Jonathan’s government brings a reminder from a Northern elite that it was all Obj’s fault. The old man is simply tired of hearing it.

But let me take a leap from the gloom and doom to assure Nigerians that our dear country is going nowhere. Those who are selling off their properties in Abuja should relax. As long as the current revenue allocation formula stays the same and North controls a super majority of the oil blocs, the North has zero incentive to go anywhere. The Igbo with all their assets all over the country has zero incentive to go anywhere. If the North is staying and the Igbo is staying, the Yoruba is not going anywhere. The very evil, namely oil, that is keeping Nigeria from developing is what is keeping Nigeria united as long as the North continues to sign off on the allocation formula.

Further, the North has zero motivation for a SNC that would tend to prescribe decentralization and greater political autonomy for the various regions because that would invariably affect their own share of the oil wealth. To Obasanjo, decentralization was the fertile ground that gave birth to Biafra and possible dismemberment of the country. To Southern Nigerians, decentralization would free the South from North’s shrinking hegemony but with the North’s hegemony shrinking by the day, the South sees political parity as well within reach. To the North, it would mean less control of the center and economic hardships including restricted access to the sea. As you can see, the forces that keep Nigeria together are greater than those that are forcing it apart and it would take seismic shifts in political arrangement to break up Nigeria.

If Obj’s diatribe was intended to placate the North’s clamor for regime change by any means necessary, then Obj was sadly mistaken. The Nation may be on a collision course with its own Arab spring, and Obasanjo was under a mistaken belief that his 18 page siren would avert the course whereas in fact he may have made it more likely than not that Nigeria’s Arab spring may be nearing full term. Contrary to what some believe, Nigeria’s Arab spring will not break up the country.

If the North truncates Jonathan’s regime other than through the democratic process, it would ripen Nigeria’s version of Arab spring because the South Southerners will make sure that Nigeria’s oil spills to open seas than see the International Market Place.  Any attempt to truncate Jonathan’s regime other than through the democratic process will definitely backfire and could cause the nation to unravel in ways that Obasanjo would have no control over.  On the other hand, Jonathan’s stay beyond 2015 will be a stiff test for the North’s commitment to one Nigeria.  It is a test which the South believes that the North should take and do well in. Else, if the North wishes to force a national confab with a view to decentralizing the powers of the Central Government, it is a dialog which the South will very much welcome.

As you can see, the destinies of the various regions have become so intertwined that the so called SNC is unlikely to yield a radical departure from the status quo.  Further, Nigeria has become too sophisticated for anyone to believe that Nigeria can be kept together by gun barrels and any soldier who contemplates that as an option is being delusional.  That option is off the table. Obj can huff and puff but that is all he can do. Force Jonathan out and the nation could unravel. Allow Jonathan to stay and sporadic acts of violence will intensify into pockets of civil war throughout the North but between Jonathan’s continued stay in Office and the SNC, the lesser of the two evils for the North is Jonathan’s continued stay in Office unless Jonathan is replaced in a credible election.

If I may take another departure from the gloom and doom, the ship of state is headed into dangerous and choppy waters for the next five years, but we may be about to go through the birth pangs of a new Nigeria depending on the choices Nigeria makes over the disposition of Jonathan’s regime but Nigeria will not break apart. If new Nigeria does not die a still birth, then she would have come to stay in the comity of Nations else the rambling wreck that is the old Nigeria will continue to live its crude existence – one that is 99 percent dependent on oil. For a country that has so much to offer to her citizens, a new Nigeria would be a welcome outcome, but first, Jonathan has to get tough against corruption and stop the bleeding and be serious about building a nation where everyone, big and small, politician and proletariat, is subject to the same laws. He does not have a whole lot of time and minding Obj would be a further waste of the little he has.

In summation, Obj’s letter is a clarion call for GEJ to shape up or shape out. Beyond that, Obj can huff and puff but should understand that Nigeria has outgrown the Generals. Force Jonathan out, the country unravels. Allow Jonathan to stay, the country will continue to totter on the brinks. The best way out is to get Jonathan out through a credible election. But to be able to do that, we have to be a nation of laws which sadly, we have never been. The only issue is whether we could ever become a nation of laws and that calls on each and every Nigerian to examine our conscience and our commitment to our country. Last time I checked, Jonathan did not stop anyone from obeying the laws of the nation.  In that sense, we deserve Jonathan just like we deserve Obasanjo. It is our government and Obasanjo has no greater rights to her destiny than the rest of us.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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