At the launch of President Jonathan’s Re-election Campaign at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, President Jonathan buckled under pressure and became agitated, angry, and emotional and in the process made numerous gaffes and massive volte faces. Jonathan castigated and heaped all the blame on his abysmal performance in office for the past six years on his opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Before now President Jonathan had advocated for a clean and issue-based campaign devoid of character assassination and name calling but at the launch of his campaign President Jonathan overwhelmed with emotion breached his refrain when he launched a blistering and scathing personal attacks on his main challenger, Gen. Buhari.
President Jonathan vowed not to fight corruption by putting people inside crates in an apparent reference to the incident that took place in 1985 when the late Umaru Dikko in Shehu Shagari’s administration that had fled the country after the military toppled the government to exile in Stansted Airport in London was found drugged in a crate claimed as a Diplomatic Baggage in a Nigeria Airways flight bound for Lagos. The plot was foiled by a vigilant young British Custom Officer, Charles David Marrow.
Umaru Dikko, a first graduate in Mathematics in the University of London was a powerful political figure in the civilian government of Shehu Shagari. He was the Campaign Manager of the defunct National Party of Nigeria that won the 1979 Presidential Election. Subsequently he was appointed Minister of Transport and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Importation of Rice. After the government was toppled in a coup on the 31st December, 1983, he was accused of embezzling $ 1 Billion belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Although it was alleged that the Military Regime of General Buhari that was responsible for the attempt to bring Umaru Dikko in a crate to Lagos to face charges on the $1 Billion embezzlement; but evidence that was adduced in a Court trial in London established that the abduction was actually organised by an Israeli former Intelligence Officer, Alexander Barak, in conspiracy with a Nigerian Intelligence Officer, Major Mohammed Yusuf and Israeli Nationals: Felix Abitbol and Dr Lev-Arie Shapiro who were subsequently convicted and jailed by a London Court.
There was no evidence implicating the Federal Government of Nigeria in the kidnapping but it led to a thaw in the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
But what the hell is wrong in putting thieving and corrupt public official in a crate if that would stop the evil of corruption and graft in the country?
It is a notorious fact that in China, stealing and corruption by public officials attracts death penalty.
Corruption is a scourge that has become pandemic, endemic and indeed cancerous and therefore requires drastic measures to stop it.
President Jonathan said that he would not fight corruption and graft by arresting and putting people in jail but through institutional reform. Great! But the pertinent question is how many institutional reforms has President Jonathan made to fight corruption?
If he is unable to orchestrate institutional reforms for nearly six years of his administration; is there any guarantee he would introduce these reforms in the next four years if he is re-elected?
President Jonathan boasted that his institutional reform in Fertilizer Distribution and Procurement has eliminated corruption in the Agricultural Sector. He also said that institutional reform in the Salary Payment System in the Federal Bureaucracy has to a large extent eliminated corruption in that sphere of government. But citing two efforts in six years in the structural reform to stem corruption in a huge and bloated Federal Bureaucracy is like a tip in the ice-berg.
Corruption would not be eradicated only through institutional reforms.
Corruption would be eliminated through a combination of structural/institutional reforms and government showing the political will and muscle to prosecute and bring to account those who indulge in corruption and crime.
Can institutional reform alone curb crimes like terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping and crude oil theft? Certainly throwing of criminals into jail as deterrence is one of the best way of fighting crime.
There is nothing absolutely wrong with arresting, prosecuting and jailing those who indulge in crime. It is one of the hallmarks of the Criminal Justice System.
What political will has President Jonathan shown in six years in office to prosecute erring public officials?
Did not President Jonathan, like is reminiscent of the ostrich, ‘bury his head inside the ground’ when his Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, scammed more than N500 Million from about 500,000 poor job seekers/applicants who were scrabbling for only 3000 job placements in the Nigeria Immigration Service?
What political will did President Jonathan manifest when the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, used N10 Billion of tax payers money to hire luxurious aircrafts to globe trot?
What will did President Jonathan show (apart from sacking the whistleblower, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) in bringing to book those who were responsible for the stealing of a whopping $ 20 Billion that accrued from the sale of crude?
What is wrong in crating a fellow who wickedly stole such a huge amount of money that is capable of addressing some of the infrastructural challenges grappling the country?
The allegation by President Jonathan that Gen. Buhari did not buy a single rifle during his tenure as Head of State has turned out to be a misstatement.
There is hard evidence that Gen. Buhari purchased sophisticated Military Hard Ware including Military Transport Planes and War Ships for the Military.
One of the volte faces, President Good luck Jonathan made was his repudiation of the statement he made in October, 2010, at the Eagle Square, Abuja, made while inspecting a Military Parade to mark the commemoration of the 50 years of the country’s Independence absolving responsibility for the bomb attack on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that led to the death of several people.
But yesterday President Jonathan apparently rattled by the reported endorsement of his opponent in the 14th February 2015 Presidential Election, President Jonathan embarrassingly, curiously, incredibly laid the blame on the bomb attack in the Eagle Square, Abuja, on MEND that he had exonerated five years ago.
President Jonathan went on to blame General Buhari for the poor state of the Military. He alleged that Gen. Buhari who was Military Head of State from the 31st December, 1984, to 26th August, 1985, did not purchase a single rifle for the Military without telling us what he did with the trillions of Naira the Federal Government under his leadership had budgeted for Defence and Security for the past four years in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency!
Does it take rocket science to properly equip, kit, and motivate the Military? It only took General Gowon and a focused and serious Federal Military Government, 3 (three) years to end the 1967 – 1970 Civil War in the Country. General Gowon did not pass the buck. He did not lay the blame on his predecessor Prime Minister, Abubukar Tafawa Balewa. He took the gauntlet and equipped the Military well to bring to an end to the Civil War.
It is grossly irresponsible and indeed an abdication of leadership for the PDP controlled Federal Government to continue to pass the blame for the multifarious problems confronting and grappling the Country on the opposition and former leaders. If former leaders did nothing what has the PDP done for the whole 16 years it has been in absolute control of the Country?
President Jonathan claimed that Gen. Buhari did not appoint women into his government! This is pathetic. There is clear and absolute demarcation and distinction between a Military Regime and a democratically elected Civilian Government. How does President Jonathan expect Gen. Buhari to appoint women who did not take part in the coup that brought that regime into power? A Military Regime is not a tea party. It is conspiratorial government and only those who risked their lives to change the incumbent government are usually appointed!
We need answers now that the PDP is earnestly asking for our votes, again. We do not want to hear stories by attacking of opposition figures. PDP should explain why the country is enveloped in darkness. Why there is such chronic unemployment among the young population; why the infrastructure is crumbling and the economy floundering. We need answers now; we are not interested in flimsy excuses and blame games.
President Jonathan must stop further attacks and castigation of his opponent and tell us why he merits a second chance. Hard facts are what we need at this point!
Written by – OKOI OBONO-OBLA