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The Obsession with 2015

10 May 2012

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The Verdict according to Olusegun Adeniyi. Email, olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

Attending Mamman Ali’s burial (in Fika, Yobe State) was very instructive. As we drove to the town, we were confronted by big banners, billboards and posters of the deceased governor all loudly pronouncing him the right choice for the 2011 gubernatorial elections! This was January 2009, less than two years into his first term in office. When we got back to the villa, the president (the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua) asked whether we had noticed the banners, shaking his head before he went into a philosophical exhortation on the vanity of human wishes…

With the foregoing excerpted from my book on the Yar’Adua years, I find it difficult to understand why some people still fail to learn that nobody can legislate for the future. At a time the current office holders have not even spent the first of their four-year mandates, almost every politician who has a media space has had to tell us something or the other about who should run for elections in 2015 and who should not. Meanwhile none of them is talking about performance, or delivering good governance. It was therefore fitting that President Goodluck Jonathan would intervene at the weekend but in doing so, he betrayed himself as being part of the problem rather than the solution. Instead of staying above the fray, he took sides and a statement that ordinarily should put an end to the madness only added fuel to the fire.

According to presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, “the pointless, diversionary and very distractive hue and cry about the President’s alleged ambition to seek a second term in office is becoming increasingly disturbing by the day with headlines such as ‘Jonathan’s  2015 Ambition Can Break Up Nigeria’ and ‘Jonathan’s 2015 Ambition Fuelling Insecurity,’ now regular fare in our newspapers and on the internet.” That first paragraph says everything about the mindset of people at the villa. Effectively, what the president is saying is that it is only those who do not want him to run in 2015 that are overheating the polity. Yet a simple google will also reveal provocative headlines credited to some prominent presidential handlers aside the “endorsements” from some South-south groups and “threats” that are now a daily mantra for some former Niger Delta militant leaders over a 2015 aspiration that we are now being told is far from the president’s mind.

Even though it is within the president’s Constitutional rights to seek a second term, some of his kinsmen are already talking as if he was given a mandate for eight years and not four. Even before he spent one month in office, some of these people who create the impression that they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the villa, had started to make incendiary remarks about 2015. I never read it anywhere that they were ever called to order. So in case the president does not know, his “2015 campaign managers” are also as culpable in the overheating of the polity that has today overexposed our plural society to all manner of danger.

Lest I be misconstrued, I want to reiterate my earlier position that it is within the president’s right to seek re-election in 2015. For me, what is important is that Nigerians will still have to vote in the election where the president would then be judged strictly on the record of his performance in office. But there is a bigger issue here and that is the kernel of the president’s intervention at the weekend: we cannot continue to subject our country to this sort of perpetual transition that is not about the welfare of the people.

Today, it would seem as if we have made politics an end in itself and that is the only way to explain why ideas, ideals and programmes never feature in the language of the power mongers. What we here instead is where someone comes from or what language he speaks. I am for equity in either appointive or elective offices so I have no problem with zoning, but I worry when it becomes the only issue in town as it is today and for which there are three different proponents. The first are politicians from the North who believe it is their turn, not because of any “born to rule” campaign of calumny that is now a common fare against my part of the country (as a Kwaran I am also a Northerner!); but rather because there was/is a zoning policy within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which the nation has tacitly endorsed. That, in any case, was the ladder with which Jonathan climbed to the presidency.

 The second group belongs to those who want their Ijaw (or South-south) kinsman-president to stay in office for as long as he possibly can. This is also a legitimate aspiration, except that it does not occur to these do-gooders that Jonathan would have to seek and get the mandate of Nigerians in 2015 if he wants to continue as president. It is folly for them to assume that once he proclaims tomorrow that he will seek re-election, the deal is already done. They are making a very great mistake. Except the president improves on his performance in the next three years and is deemed to have done enough to justify a second term by 2015, he may not win.

 There is, however, a third category of Nigerians who believe that notwithstanding the necessity for equity and fairness in a plural society which zoning represents, the essential ingredient that can, and will, ultimately glue Nigeria together and make us realise our potentials is not where the president comes from but rather his/her capacity/willingness to address our multifarious challenges. It is to this group that I belong. The fate of our country is bigger than this primordial sentiment being played up by the political elite to feather self interest. That is why it is important for all elected officials at all levels to leave the politics of 2015 for now and begin to work in the interest of the suffering masses.

Death of a Comrade

When prominent Nigerians attend a book launch or a fund raising event, they make huge pledges which they don’t expect to fulfil and most often, they don’t. So when three months after the public presentation of my book on the Yar’Adua years I heard no word from those who took away hundreds of copies with promises, I sent out a text message to remind them of their obligation. One of the people who got that SMS is the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He promptly replied my text message, saying he had directed an aide of his to follow up with me on the issue. Then I got a call from a Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde who described himself as the Principal Private Secretary to the Governor. He apologised for the delay in payment and said he had raised the necessary papers concerning the pledge and would follow up for me. He called a few days later to assure me that the process was almost completed and exactly three weeks after we first spoke, he called again. He said my cheque was ready and that if I sent my account details, he would ensure it was paid in. I did and the money was indeed paid.

I was impressed by the professional manner Oshiomhole’s aide related with me even when we never met before and that he would pay the money without requiring my physical presence in Benin said a lot about his person. But in narrating the story to a few people, I got to learn more about the character of Oyerinde whom many actually knew from his student union days and later as the Lagos State Chairman of Campaign for Democracy (CD) before ending up at the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) secretariat. It was therefore a rude shock for me when around 6am last Friday, a text message came in from my friend, Louis Odion, the Edo State Information Commissioner, saying Oyerinde had been assassinated. Even when I never met the man, I feel a sense of loss, especially now that I am learning more from other people about his intellect and integrity.

But we must all be worried by the type of politics we play in our country today where there is no longer sanctity for human lives. Whichever way one looks at this cold blooded murder, there is no way we can divorce it from politics for two simple reasons. One, it is very clear that whoever killed Oyerinde had a disagreement with him on certain matters and must have concluded that the best way to resolve such disagreement was to take his life. Two, the July gubernatorial election in Edo has so poisoned the atmosphere in the state that what we witness on a daily basis now is bestiality. That sort of situation always provide fertile grounds for the assassins because when politicians are as desperate as they seem to be in Edo today, they are always very dangerous. In the last two weeks, the internet has been awash with photographs of prominent politicians (in the two leading political parties) in the state, either in naked posture or engaging in some sexual activities. The obscene photographs look contrived but even if they were real, how does somebody’s bedroom affairs impact on the livelihood of the people of Edo State? How does that become a campaign manifesto? How does circulating pornography advance the cause of our democracy?

The real moral of it all, however, is that politicians who are desperate enough to assassinate the character of others just to settle scores would physically eliminate their opponents if they believed they would get away with it. And in our country, they always get away with it. Notwithstanding the presidential directive for the police to find the killers which has become no more than a cliché, I place no hope in the ability of the authorities to resolve this murder since they have not resolved any in the past. But I do hope and pray it would be the last. I also hope all the stakeholders in the politics of Edo State will give peace a chance as we move towards the July gubernatorial elections. I send my deepest condolences to the family of Mr Oyerinde and the governor and people of Edo State on the death of this Nigerian patriot.

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  • I will continually wonder where Segun Adeniyi is always driving at when Jonathan is his topic of discussion. Someone should remind him that he night be the least intriguing journalist in all the National Dailies in this country. Reuben Abati simply said the President has not indicated any interest in the 2015 presidential election. What is ambiguous about that? Segun wants to read multiple reasons to a simple statement. If the president says I am not running in that election like he has said before, has that solved all the politically generated problems plaguing this country? Segun, you will make a good praise singer but never a good journalist. Your criticism has always been shallow and obviously biased.

    From: Eze Igwe

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Well said. However we are still in a society where allocative democracy is the only basis for equity for our diverse union. To say it is primordial is utter denial. Government is still the only business in Nigeria. We need peace and whatever it takes to have it, we must do. Beyond that I thought you will mention the fact that this president said he will do only one term; ie serve out Yaradua 2 terms. Isn't there honour even among thieves?

    From: Simon

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • ....sir, i dare now ask the question - if the Federal govt as being a representation of PDP has not been able to solve the riddle behind any of the too-many-to-count assasinations in this country since 1999 till date(and the circumstances around at least 70% of those assasinated indicated a kind of being in disagreement with established PDP govt or authority directly/indirectly), would it be out of sense to have labelled the PDP and all it stands for in this country as People's Destructive Party? Pls, i expect better insight of explanation/education fro anyone, as i stand to be corrected.

    From: Isaac A.

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • I think the Nigerian public have got more than enough to occupy them that they are not even paying attention to all the hue and cry about who and where 2015 presidential ticket should go to. They are still busy contending with.... the damning reality that the security agencies are overwhelmed by the Boko Haram challenge and has left the matter to God, despite the billions that goes into our security budget every year... that the educational system even with the 'teacher-aided' cheating at examinations, can still not ensure that pupils have enough 'Credits' at WASSCE O/Level or NECO (because most of the teachers too are half-baked) and has also failed to erase the disrepute associated with our universities admission process;... the judicial system where the Appeal Court's leadership situation is still unclear and the public now wonder how reliable can such a system be when it comes to protecting the rights of members of the public particularly the indegent; the National Assembly that the public is still struggling to comprehend as to why they cannot get to know that they are not part of the executive arm; the oil subsidy probe that keep saying the 'head' is not guilty of the acts of the body's limbs' and the capital market mess probe that is being personalised and has turned out to be nothing but a 'war of the princesses' without any thought being spared for investors who's money was converted for personal gratification by shameless kleptomaniacs who cannot differentiate between investors funds and 'our money'; Nigerians are so busy with how their leaders have make living in their country the most beautiful way to waste their life that 2015 is light years away from their vision. One once said that we are a wasted generation, I am beginning to understanded that what he actually meant is that we are a wasted nation!!!

    From: Abu-Atik Muhammed

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • Segun, do you have any personal or official problem with the President Goodluck Jonathan? if your answer is no, why do you always tribalise, and make of him a local champion, by reading ethnic meaning to every statement the President make, Niger Deltans and his Ijaw's kinsmen. there should be some respect for elders and constituted authorities, in discharging our professional duties.

    From: joigbogho@yaoo.co.uk

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • And you did not think that the recklessness of the statements without evidence of the governor is contributing to the problems in Edo state? for somebody who has written extensively on leadership, i find it funny how the Nigerian media had not taken Oshiomole to task on his utterances and ineffective leadership.A conspiracy thoerist is not fit for leadership.Oshiomole is given a pass because in the country of the blind the one eyed man is king. Just based on spending and award of contracts alone, he should be investigated and if found above board then and only then will he deserve a second term. for the media to be taken seriously, they should look into these matters objectively by doing what most media do all over the world.

    From: jodus

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • 1999 to 2012 of PDP's rulership has been lacklustre save for the activities of the likes of Ezekwesili, Rufai, Soludo, OKonjo-Iweala, Dora, Soludo, Ifueko, Oronsaye, Ribadu, etc
    However, we need a new breed of leaders now, technocrat-politicians who have the energy and intellect to strategise and execute.
    I recommend an El-Rufai/Fashola Presidential ticket for 2015. Well meaning Nigerians, especially young professionals between 25 and 50 shld rally behind this cause and get Buhari/Tinubu to endorse.
    To be sure, I am Igbo and Christian. I dont care where the President comes from. I care for what he/she does. Are Bayelsa or South/South people better today than other Nigerians today bc Jonathan is President? Nigerians, please wear your thinking caps.

    From: Chidiebere

    Posted: 2 years ago

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  • You are not a Northerner. Please stop deceiving yourself!

    From: bello momodu

    Posted: 2 years ago

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