I have refrained myself from reading Chief Dele Momodu’s weekly articles for some months simply because of his penchant for churning out outright lies or half truth and my allergy to misinformation. I once responded to his article and the furor my response generated made me to resolve out of respect as a well brought up Yoruba to avoid his articles. My reason for doing that is what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
His latest article with the above title first came to my notice via comments that strayed into my TL on twitter but I never bothered to read it. I knew the penchant of our dear Chief to do PR job for the highest bidder without really being convinced about the things he writes. I cannot fault him for this because it is his job, believe me, he is very good at it. My opinion changed however due to calls I received from friends about the said article. I was forced to read it to know what could have so much infuriated a gentleman of honour to that extent. The article is riddled with misinformation as expected and I will try to correct them.
The article went through memory lane to justify his assertion that the Former President Goodluck Jonathan can become President again in 2019. Though I don’t have power of clairvoyance to be able to predict what will happen or not, I can say the premises for the assertion were faulty. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe loss to Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979 cannot be said to be a surprise or be compared to Trump’s triumph, at the recent US election. Shagari was clearly the candidate of the military establishment, which made the two political colossi to be engaged in an apparently unwinnable fight. Aside that, the two political juggernauts hardly have any identifiable political structure beyond their respective regions. The political dexterity of Awolowo and the philosophical mind of Azikiwe all disappear into oblivion in the face of the factors above. Not to sound disrespectful, Dr. Jonathan has neither the political dexterity of Awolowo nor the philosophical mind of Azikiwe. His electoral value even within his region and beyond is questionable. He might also be fighting against the establishment. All this factors will make Chief Momodu’s conclusion almost impossible.
The writer also tried to draw a parallel between the victory of Chief Kashimowo Abiola at SDP’s convention in Jos in 1993 and his subsequence victory at the national poll without recourse to factors that may help the younger ones in understanding the time in reference. First, MKO Abiola was not a political neophyte as the article portrayed. He took on Chief Awolowo in the Southwest in 1983 and his party, NPN, won some states against all odds. Whatever means that was employed, the fact is NPN won some states and MKO was an active player. MKO was also a close friend of General Ibrahim Babangida who invited him to join the Presidential race in 1993. He was one of the richest Nigerians, if not the richest, as at that time. His philanthropic gesture extended to all regions and religions. He was arguably the most visible and popular civilian of that time. All these combined to make his emergence not a surprise as portrayed. Dr. Goodluck doesn’t possess these qualities and that makes the comparison a daydream.
The emergence of Trump in the US can also not be said to be a surprise to some of us though we silently wished it never happened. To those that are close to me or follow my ideas, I said before the election in the US that there is a silent majority that saw Obama’s Presidency as an aberration. These silent majorities are intrinsically racist, bigoted and wanted a closed nation. These sentiments were what Trump appealed to and it worked for him. What are the national sentiments that Jonathan will appeal to? There is hunger in the land no doubt but Nigerians are not as stupid as assumed. When the chips are down, blame will be apportioned appropriately. Nigerians will remember the bazaar that preceded Buhari. The wastage of national resources. The fact that at inception of Buhari’s administration he had to bailout twenty eight states across the federation that couldn’t pay salary despite coming out of a period of record oil sales in price and volume. We will remember the infrastructural deficit despite record earnings from oil. We will remember the killing field that was Nigeria before Buhari. We will remember that there was a time that stealing was not corruption. We will remember there was a time that the measure of our national prosperity was the number of private jets that landed in Kenya when our President went for a State visit while majority at home languished in abject poverty. We will remember there was a time we were laughing stock in the comity of nations. We will remember so many things. The fact that we demand more from Buhari does not mean we forgot where we were.
The writer also made it to look as if this administration has been fighting Jonathan. This is far from the truth. President Goodluck Jonathan has visited Aso Rock on several occasions since he left office and it has never been reported that the meetings ended in fisticuffs with Buhari or that he was not accorded the respect due to him. Just as the visit of Trump to Obama never resulted in a brawl. Are we applauding that because it is Obama and turning blind eye to happenings in Nigeria because it is Buhari. President Buhari is an honourable man. He is trying hard to keep whatever agreement reached before handing over; else, I cannot fathom why neither President Jonathan nor his wife has been brought in for questioning despite odiferous revelations of financial recklessness against them. Many of Buhari’s supporters are not happy about this but we still accuse him of going after Jonathan. President Obama recently said he will go against the tradition of former Presidents not publicly going against incumbents if Trump decided to carry out his campaign rhetoric, but we are blind to that. Like Obama, Buhari’s loyalty should be to the nation and not an individual. If a crime is committed against the state it is his responsibility to ensure such criminals are brought to justice.
The writer also alluded to the economy inherited by Buhari’s administration. Which economy are we talking about? Are we talking of the economy that was borrowing over 400 billion naira to pay salaries despite record oil sale in price and volume? The economy where millions of barrels of oil was stolen daily without solution? Economy where large chunk of our arable land was taken over by insurgents? Which economy did Buhari inherit? Let’s not pretend about it Buhari inherited a carcass. It is actually a miracle that the carcass is stuttering. He was supposed to be an undertaker.
The funniest of all alluded to by the writer was the placard carrying crowd in Sokoto urging Jonathan to come back as a sign of rising popularity. How much does it take to rent a crowd anywhere in Nigeria? How much will it cost the likes of Bafarawa from the over four billion naira for spiritual consultation to put up such a show? Anyway, let’s pretend we don’t know.
To conclude, I will like to advise three sets of people. First, I want to advise PDP to please give its party presidential ticket to former President Jonathan come 2019. It will save the party the hassles of primary election and give him ample time to campaign. Secondly, to President Goodluck Jonathan, please don’t allow bootlickers to hoodwink you into an exercise in futility. Remember the billions of dollars they pushed you to spend in 2015 that went into their private pockets. Now that you no longer have access to national treasury, they will strip you naked and you will be left to rot away. You will be sixty by next year (Happy 59th Birthday in arrears); please don’t allow the hawks to deceive you. Finally, I want to advise President Muhammadu Buhari, you’ve done much, but more is still expected. Do all you can to get us out of recession. Kudos for the two hundred thousand youths employed under N-power but it’s just a drop in the ocean. We need massive infrastructural development. There are three sets of people criticizing you, those whose access to national till has been blocked, and those whose parents, leaders or financiers have lost access to our common patrimony and those genuinely interested in the progress of this country. Please listen for the sake of the third group and posterity.
Ayantunji Benjamin Gbenro (PhD) can be reached via Twitter handle @bengbenro