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Abubakar Alkali Sokoto. Email: alkalizai@yahoo.com
Councillors Quarters,
Runjin Sambo.
Sokoto state


 

 

 


2015 AND THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE FOR A NEW NIGERIA
by Abubakar Alkali Sokoto
 
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The electoral contest on 14th February 2015 between Jonathan and Buhari is one between 2 completely different candidates. It is between corruption and integrity, cluelessness and commitment, statusquo and change, poverty and prosperity, one who doesn’t give a damn and the other who gives serious damn about Nigeria,  confusion and maturity, buck-passing and taking responsibility, a man who came to national prominence through hard work and the one who achieved all he has so far through sheer luck, between a 72 year old tall, handsome and young at heart reformer who is genuinely committed to creating a new Nigeria and a 58 year old man of average height and an indescribable face posture who wants to maintain  a corrupt system, continue to sleep in the comfort of Aso rock as millions of Nigerians die daily from Boko haram attacks, spread poverty to all and steer a sinking ship aground with all of us on board.

What better way to start this article than refer to my write-up titled‘open letter to Gen Muhammadu Buhari which I wrote in May 2013and in which i used all the convincing arguments that I could remember to ask Buhari to contest the 2015 elections. Prior to writing that letter, i had come across a couple of letters to Gen Buhari in which the writers asked him not to contest the 2015 elections. To my knowledge and by sheer providence, my letter to Gen Buhari appears to be the only letter in the public domain asking him to contest. It is quite reassuring to all of us lovers of Nigeria and change that today, Gen Buhari is the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

The primary election conducted by the APC where Buhari emerged as the Pesidential candidate of the party has been adjudged as the most credible in the political history of Nigeria. By the singular feat of electing Gen Buhari as its presidential candidate amongst a crowd of multibillionaires including Atiku Abubakar who''s problem is not money but how to spend it, the APC has established one critical doctrine to the survival of democracy in Nigeria. That doctrine is ‘ YOU CAN WIN AN ELECTION IN NIGERIA EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY VOTES. Through the establishment of this doctrine, the APC is gradually but surely pushing out the era of money politics in Nigeria which has been established by the PDP and replacing it with the universal political doctrine which is based on the axiom ‘VOTES SHOULD GO TO THE BEST CANDIDATE WHO WILL SERVE ALL AND NOT TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER. Indeed the APC is already shaping the dynamics of the emerging new Nigeria that we all dream of.If leaders can be elected without having to buy their way through, then a major share of the problem is solved because it means we can elect the right candidates who will work for the people because if candidates win elections based on merit not on money, then there exists a bond between the elected leaders and the people and that bond is their votes. In this case the elected leaders have an obligation to serve the people. On the other hand, if leaders buy their way through and votes are directed to the highest bidders, then there is no bond between the leaders and the people who elected them because the voters have been ‘paid off’ and will literally give a blank cheque to the elected officials to recoup their investments with profits through mass stealing of our commonwealth.

Buhari’s victory at the APC primary elections has rekindled hope amongst Nigerians and even spiked a frenzy amongst the good people of Nigeria on the need to turn the page on the past and work to build a new Nigeria based on our collective aspiration of fair distribution of our commonwealth, economic prosperity and social justice. More than ever before, the GMB victory at the primary election has sparked a societal reawakening and revolution on the need to get the PDP out of circulation in 2015 before Jonathan and the PDP destroy Nigeria. After the announcement that GMB has won the APC ticket to contest the 2015 elections, one can feel change hovering in the air for a better future. We can all literally hear the clarion call to come together as Nigerians and vote the PDP out of power in 2015. That call is loud and clear that after 6 years as President, Goodluck Jonathan has demonstrated that he lacks the ideas and vision to take Nigeria to that destination that we all dream of. Jonathan has no vision or mission to lead Nigeria to a brighter and better future.

THE IMPERATIVE OF CHANGE IN THE 2015 ELECTIONS

The 2015 elections present a last-gasp chance for Nigeria to get it right and vote in the right leaders to reshape the destiny of our great country. 2015 could be described as a golden moment for Nigeria to push out the PDP and set a new era of hope, prosperity and sustainable development.  The next election should mark the turning point for the birth of a new Nigeria where hope will replace despair, where prosperity will replace poverty, where the wide gap between the rich and the poor will be bridged to the minimum, where our enormous commonwealth will be fairly distributed amongst all Nigerians and used for the good of all not just for a select few and where peace will replace the current relentless insurgency that has claimed the lives of several Nigerians under a clueless President Jonathan. Government has literally collapsed in Nigeria since the 25th of August 2014 when a group of insurgents declare that they have annexed a territory from Nigeria. While insecurity overwhelms Nigeria, the PDP government is busy pardoning convicted thieves who have been adjudged to have stolen public funds by law courts of competent jurisdiction. President Jonathan continues to conduct himself as if nothing has happened and as if all is well with our dear country. Jonathan doesn’t seem to bother about an impending implosion of Nigeria if nothing is done to stop Boko haram. When over 50 school children were killed in a gruesome manner in Yobe, Jonathan still went ahead on a campaign rally in Kano. Over 250 girls are still held captive for 246 days since 14 April 2014 and the President admitted he knows where they are held yet the government has not been able to rescue even one of the girls. Up until this moment, the President and his wife are doubtful that any girls were abducted, that it was a stage-managed drama to embarrass the President and snatch power from him. Even when several parents of the abducted Chinok girls have died of heart attack, President Jonathan continues to play politics with the fate of the Chibok girls and all other men, women and girls held captive by Boko haram. Recall the comical first lady Dame Patience Jonathan’s crocodile tears and wild outburst of ‘THERE IS GOD O!  on national television. That should qualify for the most embarrassing TV footage of 2014. If Dame Jonathan’s was abducted by Boko haram, would she have doubted that her daughter was abducted? Would she have stage-managed her drama on TV?

President Jonathan may have been forgotten how he was literally down on his knees begging late President Yar'Adua to tackle the problem of insurgency in the Niger Delta at the height of the violence perpetrated by the Niger Delta militants between 2007-2009. The sincere late President Yar’Adua moved in and resolved the Niger Delta problem. Late Yar'Adua set up a committee to proffer ways out of the crisis and even made Goodluck Jonathan the arrowhead of that committee and gave them all the support that they need and the Niger Delta problem was solved. The same Goodluck Jonathan is now telling Nigerians that Boko haram is a Northern problem so Northerners should go and solve their problem. This is an insult to our collective sensibilities. The fast pace at which Boko haram are moving, it is clear that Nigeria is certainly on its way to collapse if we vote the PDP in 2015 because Jonathan is not interested in fighting Boko haram and will just sit there until Boko haram breaks up Nigeria.Instead of facing its duty of providing security to all Nigerians, the Jonathan administration resorts to blame game and buck-passing because it has nothing to offer. One major atrocity the Jonathan administration committed against Nigeria is the religious division and tension it has deliberately fostered on Nigeria. Nigeria has never been so divided along religious lines than during the last 6 years under Jonathan. The PDP thinks that the best electoral manifesto it can present to Nigerians is to use religion against the APC and label Buhari as a religious fanatic.

For a start, there is nothing wrong with being a good and practising muslim after all it is leaders with the fear of Allah (s.w.t.) that Nigeria needs. The PDP says Buhari is going to Islamise Nigeria. This is absolute balderdash. Buhari cannot Islamise Nigeria and he doesn’t have the islamisation of Nigeria as one of his campaign promises. In fact islamisation of Nigeria is not in the manifestoe of the APC. To the contrary, Buhari will unite all Nigerians irrespective of their tribe, religion or region. The primary constituency of Buhari is Nigeria. This is the reason that Buhari has never portrayed himself as an orthodox Northern or regional leader. Buhari is not even active in the Arewa consultative forum (I doubt if he is even a member). Buhari’s cook of over 40 years is a Christian. Buhari walked straight into a church and picked Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate in the 2011 elections. Last week, the same Buhari also picked Prof Yemi Osinbajo, another prominent pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) his running mate. Recall that Buhari had earlier called Pastor Enoch Adeboyeto ask for his blessings. Prof Osinbajo, a reknowed scholar and a man of impeccable integrity. He is a minister with the (RCCG) under the reknowned Pastor Enoch Adeboye. Nigeria is a secular state and cannot be Islamised by Buhari or anybody for that matter. The PDP has corruptilise Nigeria and is now claiming that the APC is going to Islamise Nigeria. Nigerians know that the claim of islamisation of Nigeria by the PDP is just cheap blackmail and a ruse. This sinister campaign against Buhari will only add value to him and will not stop Nigerians from voting out Jonathan and the PDP and voting in Gen Buhari to do a thorough clean up of Nigeria from PDP misruleas symbolised by insurgency, corruption, poverty, dictatorship, executive recklessness and official gangsterism.

So why is it that Jonathan doesn’t give a damn about fighting Boko haram? Government response to Boko haram has been such a disaster thatour gallant soldiers on the battlefield complain of lack of basic ammunition to fight the insurgents. That with all its resources, Nigeria cannot fight Boko haram looks like a conundrum. Nigeria has almost single handedly resolved crisis and established peace in other African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan etcyet our country is now held hostage by Boko haram because we have a dysfunctional government under Jonathan.It is no longer news that the current wave of insurgency under the Boko haram regime has the potential of breaking this country but what the question remains is ‘how and when will Nigeria break up if the PDP is voted in 2015 and the current wave of insurgency continues. Indeed it has long been established that if Jonathan is voted for a second term, the disintegration of Nigeria has been signed and sealed. But the good people of Nigeria will not allow our country to disintegrate simply because of the ego of Jonathan. Simply because Jonathan must be President even if he has failed in the last six years.Another 4 years for Jonathan could well mean the end of Nigeria. In the 6 years that Jonathan has been President, the largest chunk of Nigeria’s budget has been allocated to fighting Boko haram yet our gallant soldiers complain of lack of weapons.

This year alone, about N1 trillion was voted to fight insurgency yet only N94 billion was used to buy weapons needed to fight Boko haram while over N900 billion escaped as ‘recurrent expenditure.All Nigerians are saying is that TIME IS UP for Jonathan and the PDP. Nigerians are hungry for change from a corrupt.ineffective and inefficient government that has failed under a clueless President.The APC candidate Gen Buhari perfectly fits into the change equation that Nigerians are yearning for. GMB has fought and defeated insurgency as a serving military officer when he chased out the Chadian rebels and Marwa Maitatsine during the insurgency of the early 80s.Even when some of his colleagues advised him to wait for ‘Presidential approval’ from the then President Shagari, Buhari will have none of that because the sovereignty of Nigeria was at stake. Buhari crossed the lake into Chad and didn’t stop until he chased away all insurgents and was sure that no Maitatsine insurgents caused any threats to Nigeria. He did what is expected of him by inspiring his troops to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria and that almost cost him his career because as they say, he didn’t wait for ‘Presidential approval.

GMB has the experience to bring to an end the current insurgency because he has done it before. Make no mistake, a President MuhammaduBuhari will be ready to use whatever it takes to bring an end to the relentless wave of insurgency in Nigeria. Whether it is dialogue with Boko haram that will solve the problem, or full force against the Boko haram or even a mix of the two under a carrot and stick approach, GMB will bring a lasting solution to insurgency in Nigeria. My take on this is that there has to be a genuine dialogue with Boko haram to get to the root of the problem and find a solution. How could you know what Boko haram wants if you don’t sit down and talk to them? The same approach of dialogue was used in the case of the Niger Delta militants and has to be used for Boko haram if we are to clearly understand the full context of the Boko haram issue. Government must sit down with Boko haramand discuss. The Late President YaAdua was sincere in solving the Niger Delta problem while Jonathan was clearly insincere in solving the Boko haram problem. Jonathan’s offer for dialogue with Boko haram is mischievous and insincere and it is clear that was why Boko haram rejected Jonathan’s offer. At the rate Boko haram is going, they will need less than 3 years to reach every part of Nigeria including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Umuahia and of course Otuoke.

Jonathan has politicised the Boko haram problem. Boko haram is simply a spontaneous insurgency the kind you see in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc but Jonathan deliberately refused to understand it that way. At some point, Jonathan said Boko haram was sponsored by the North to destabilise his government. Even when it was glaring that the Northern leaders had nothing to do with sponsoring Boko haram, Jonathan stuck to his mentality that Northern leaders created Boko haram to destabilise him and wrest power from him. But Boko haram started in 2001 while Jonathan became President in 2010. The Northern leaders must have had a crystal ball to know that Jonathan would become President and got ready for him 10 years before he became President. Also Boko haram attacks Cameroon, hence President Paul Biya must also be from the Niger Delta whom Northern Nigeria leaders are also trying to remove from power. In another stride, Jonathan said Boko haram is sponsored by the APC, when asked for proof, Jonathan changed his mind and said Boko haram is sponsored by foreign forces. It is clear that Jonathan is confused and doesn’t have a clue as to what to do with Boko haram. Jonathan passes the buck on any problem to another source, claiming either it is not his duty to solve the problem or he is not the person who started the problem or both so people should not expect him to solve the problem. A President who cannot take responsibility is not fit to hold the office of the President. Recall that when Jonathan was asked what he will do about the ethno religiouscrisis in Jos, his answer was that the Jos crisis didn’t start when Jonathan was President so people should not expect him to solve the problem. The Jonathan administration literally usesbuck-passing as the main instrument of governance which they elevate to a state policy. President Jonathan is so weak that he cannot even investigate people who have been identified as sponsors of Boko haram. To the contrary, Jonathan uses the DSS to clear alleged Boko haram sponsors ModuSheriff and AzubuikeIhejirika just as he used state power to pardon convicted thieves such as DSP Alamieyeseghawho helped themselves to our commonwealth. Several experts are at loss as to how Goodluck Jonathan obtained a PhD and which university offers such PhDs.

Gen Buhari’s courage and commitment to Nigeria in the history of this country is unprecedented. As head of state in 1983, Gen Buhari through share courage established the war against indiscipline (WAI) which was highly successful as a veritable weapon to fight corruption and also for societal reorientation. That singular drive rekindled the mentality to keep a distance with corruption and do the right thing and made citizens sit up to their responsibilities.

NIGERIA SLIDING UNDER CORRUPTION

The recurring decimal and symbol of the Jonathan government has been corruption. This government has promoted corruption more than any other in the history of Nigeria. President Jonathan has publicly said that stealing is NOT corruption. Some reports even had it that Jonathan said there is NO corruption in Nigeria. The Jonathan administration is simply playing the ostrich with corruption. Jonathan is promoting corruption instead of fighting it. Jonathan is not ready to fight corruption just as he is not ready to fight Boko haram. If the President says stealingis not corruption, then what do you expect a deputy director in the government civil service to do when some millions of Naira pass through his table? To my knowledge there has never been a Nigerian President either a civilian or military that officially and willingly pardoned a convicted thief who stole public funds. The Presidential pardon of DSP Alamieyesegha is the height of executive impunity.

If Jonathan has had his way, James Ibori who was convicted of massive stealing by a competent court in the UK and now serving time in a maximum UK prison, would have been a free man and possibly a Presidential adviser or minister under Jonathan. Even when over $10 million was discovered in South Africa in an aircraft owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and in which the reclusive thug and gangster Asari Dokubo was on board, the Jonathan administration simply brushed the issue under the carpet as if nothing has happened. This is a clear case of money laundering involving Ayo Oritsejafor that has further bastadised our already battered image in the eyes of the whole world. High profile Nigerians who have been alleged tohave stolen Nigeria’s money and facing corruption charges are now prominent members of this government and friends of the President who make frequent visits to Aso rock on the invitation of the President. Some alleged high profile corrupt officials were even sponsored for elections by this government and are now state executives and senatorial candidates. Jonathan has also awarded a controversial contract to some so-called Niger Delta militant leaders such as Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, Government Tompolo etc who rake in several millions of dollars on daily basis under the guise of overseeing security in the waterways. You may want to ask ‘what then is the workof the Nigerian Navy? Insurgents such as Asari Dokubo and Government Tompoliwho should be in jail now control Nigeria.

Gen Buhari has been rightly described as incorruptible. If there is anything which doesn’t need debating about, it is Buhari’s integrity. Buhari was Governor North Eastern State (Borno) between 1971-1972, Petroleum Minister (1976), Head of NNPC (1977), Head of state (1983) and chair of the Petroleum Task Fund (PTF) (1995-98) yet till date, no missing Nigeria kobo has been traced to Buhari. Remember that there was no EFCC in those days. Even when several opportunities presented themselves to Gen Buhari to enrich himself with public funds, this man of integrity simply walks away. Buhari’s doctrine which he mentions at will in public functions is that ‘anything that doesn’t belong to him, he doesn’t need it. In 1998 when he was the chief executive of PTF,Buhari was presented with a long list of his entitlements in form of allowance for this, allowance for that. ButBuhari turned down these allowances because according to him, he is already receiving his pension. The PDP had actually attempted to corrupt Gen Buhari several times but they failed. In 2003 after the elections which the PDP claimed to have won, Obasanjo sent a delegation to Buhari asking him to present 5 candidates for ministerial posts and with a caveat that the candidates will be given ‘good ministries’ but Buhari turned down the offer and told the delegation to go tell their boss that he is not into politics to make money.The same attempt was made in 2007 after the sham elections in that year where Obasanjo and Iwu sat down to write the results several months before the elections. The then PDP government asked Buhari to come join them in the so-called government of national unity (GNU). But Buhari declined insisting that the elections were flawed. Buhari’s suit challenging the 2007 elections was highly successful as even the supreme court justices were divided over the conduct of the election and the authenticity of the results. The judgement on that suit was sacrificed on the altar of political exigency because the PDP interfered to stop the verdict which was clearly in favour of Buhari.

THE WORKING/MIDDLE CLASS AS THE ENGINE ROOM OF THE ECONOMY

No Nigerian has any business being poor but the Poverty Development Party (PDP) has systematically inserted poverty in our constitution. Nigeria is too rich and blessed to be poor. For our country to pursue genuine economic development, there is the need to embark on a massive jobs creation through the nonoil sectors of the economy. The agricultural sector in Nigeria has the potential to provide Nigerians with enough, good paying jobs which will lead to the creation of a sustainable economy. The spread of jobs will lead to the creation of a working class ad eventually translate into a middle class. Under the Jonathan administration, there is no middle class because one either belongs to the upper class or the lower class. The current government under Jonathan has absolutely NO PLAN to create jobs. Even the so-called SURE-P programme has virtually been abandoned. The billions of Naira voted to run the programme are yet to be accounted for. Under Jonathan, relative poverty is about 90% while absolute poverty hovers around 86% and still rising. Our great country has enormous resources to bring down the level of poverty to less than 10%. Nigeria is the 6th largest oil producing nation in the world but currently the 3rd poorest. The so-called economic growth as claimed by the finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is politically motivated to hoodwink Nigerians into voting for Jonathan in 2015. The self declared Jonathanian economic growth of 7% under Okonjonomics is simply a ruse and has not reflected in the living conditions of the Nigerian people. To claim that Nigeria’s economy is the fastest growing economy in the whole world is simply the joke of 2014. To the contrary, the Nigerian economy is actually crashing down because for the past 6 years that Jonathan has been President, no new export commodity has been discovered by this government. No new jobs have been created, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.  How could Jonathan claim that the Nigerian economy is growing when the levels of poverty, hunger and deprivation are rising? On one hand, the government said the economy is growing then on the other, the same government says the country is broke and declares an austerity measure telling all Nigerians to tighten our belts and brace up for hard times. Today Nigerians feed from dustbins and many others sleep with empty stomach but the PDP is telling Nigerians that these times are not hard enough and Nigerians have not seen anything yet. Jonathan is definitely not the President that can rekindle our hopes and aspirations to reclaim the Nigerian dream.

Gen Buhari will create a working class and a middle class through massive job creation in the Agricultural sector. GMB will invest massively in agriculture to also boost exports. The Jonathan administration is happy to import what it has. For example, Nigeria has no business importing ice. The Rima valley stretching through Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states can feed the whole of Nigeria with rice and even have excess for exports. But because we don’t have a functioning government, all these potentials remain untapped. All we do is play politics and import what we can produce so that some people will make illegal money.

SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM AS A SOLUTION TO INSECURITY

In his acceptance speech after his landslide victory at the APC primary elections, Gen Buhari stated that the incoming APC government willprovide social safety net for the needy, weak and vulnerable of our land. Nigeria needs a genuine social security system that will guarantee cashhandouts to Nigerians especially the disabled andold age persons. Unemployed youths should be guaranteed a jobseekers allowance until they find a job. Parents on low income should be given child credits to assist them towards raising their children. The objective is that every Nigerian will have an income. If you have a job or a private business person, you earn your income from your work. On the other hand, if you can’t work or don’t have a job, you should be assisted by government with some cash stipends because you also deserve a living. The symbol of the incoming APC government is 'EVERY NIGERIA DESERVES TO LIVE. Social security will check insecurity and offer some hope to our teeming youths prior to getting a job. Social security will curb destitution and prostitution on our streets. It will check the Almajiri scourge and spread economic prosperity to all by closing the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Social security gives some hope and creates a bond between the government and the people. What better way to expend the enormous savings that the government will make in fighting corruption under Buhari than in social security? What better way to direct the so-called excess crude cash than social security?

Did I hear you ask ‘where is the money to do this? Well the simple answer to that question is that if you cut down the size of government, there will be more than enough cash to implement a social security system in Nigeria. For a start, the Jonathan administration operates a fat and over-bloated government. The size of the government is too large for our economy. Nigeria doesn’t live within its means. For example, the size of the national assembly is too big for our economy, we donot need 3 senators per state or 10 reps per state. Nigeria doesn’t need a bicameral legislature rather what we need is an effective unicameral legislature. The executive is also too heavy with almost 150 ministers and the so-called special advisers most of whom have no portfolio. It is not democracy when government spends over N1 billion monthly to maintain a senator while the people he is representing cannot feed properly and are forced to sleep with empty stomach as their ‘senator’ cools off in his mansion in Abuja. This is the reason that under the Jonathan administration, Nigeria operates a budget based on a spending regime of 80% recurrent expenditure and 20% capital expenditure. As Nigeria spends 80% of its income to maintain public office holders and their families who constitute less than 2% of the total population, where then are we going to have the cash to deliver the dividends of democracy to over 170 million Nigerians? All the money goes to government officials with virtually nothing left for the common man. This is unsustainable and needs to change. Nigeria needs a new constitution to give a legal backing to all these fundamental changes.

CONCLUSION

The electoral contest on 14th February 2015 between Jonathan and Buhari is one between 2 completely different candidates. It is between corruption and integrity, cluelessness and commitment, statusquo and change, poverty and prosperity, one who doesn’t give a damn and the other who gives serious damn about Nigeria,  confusion and maturity, buck-passing and taking responsibility, a man who came to national prominence through hard work and the one who achieved all he has so far through sheer luck, between a 72 year old tall, handsome and young at heart reformer who is genuinely committed to creating a new Nigeria and a 58 year old man of average height and an indescribable face posture who wants to maintain  a corrupt system, continue to sleep in the comfort of Aso rock as millions of Nigerians die daily from Boko haram attacks, spread poverty to all and steer a sinking ship aground with all of us on board.

Between Buhari and Jonathan, there can be only ONE winner.

IN 2015, CHANGE IS DEFINITELY COMING TO NIGERIA.

 

 




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