Sunday, 19 April 2015

Matters Arising From The Presidential Election, Tasks Before General Buhari's Administration



Against all odds, the 2015 Presidential election initially billed for February 14 but rescheduled to March 28, has come and gone. General Muhammadu Buhari, the APC candidate secured a total of 15,424,921 million votes (53.95%) to defeat incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan who garnered 12,853,162 votes (44.96%). Wall Street Journal says, "Buhari’s upset of incumbent President is arguably the most consequential political event in Africa in the last decade”. Congratulations to General Buhari, kudos to President Jonathan for graciously accepting defeat. Nigerians are the true winners of the 2015 presidential election.
Where Are The ‘Prophets’?

The outcome of this election is a testament that there are prophets and there are Prophets. Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka in his New Year message, patently told President Jonathan that his tenure was spent. He stood his ground even in the face of intimidation and persecution. The same cannot be said of Guru Maharaji and his ilk’s who assured President Jonathan of victory. Quickly bring to mind that in 2013, Association of Witches and Wizards in Nigeria said, ‘’If Buhari contests 100 times, he cannot rule this country again’’. The so-called National Association of Nigerian Witches and Wizards a.k.a Inner Coven Society Worldwide went as far as declaring President Goodluck Jonathan winner of the 2015 presidential elections, prior to Nigerians going to the poll to cast their votes. Hear them: ‘’the umbrella body of all the witches and wizards in the country, according to their President-General, Dr. Omo Ebosele, has already decided who will win come 2015 and there will be no force that can ever change that’’. The Spiritual lesson here: ONLY God have the final say, not a pastor, prophet/prophetess nor a seer. Repose your confidence and trust SOLELY in God.

Lessons Learnt From The Election:
It is evident that a streak of goodluck can catapult one to an enviable position but it takes much more than being lucky to be effective. As a leader or prospective leader, master the art of timing. If your time has not come, wait for it, if your time is gone, forget it. Endeavor to leave when the ovation is loudest. David Mark will transmute from been the President of the Senate to a regular senator of an opposition party; obviously a humbling experience. If there’s an afterlife, Ayo Fayose will detest arrogance and be an epitome of humility. Lesson here: politicians have no permanent friends/enemies but permanent interests. As a young man, don't ruin your life, your future by doing the 'dirty jobs', thuggery for politicians otherwise you become a fool when they make up. Orubebe’s outburst during the collation of votes teaches us that a good number of men can handle success but cannot handle disappointment. Politics is and will no longer be business as usual in Nigeria. Jump from one church or mosque to the other; share your rice, dollars etc. to voters, they will collect them and vote for their preferred candidate. The lesson of the 2015 election to politicians is: perform or be shown the way out. Recall the United States and Britain issued a rare joint statement when the presidential election results were trickling in, warning of dire consequences if the process was manipulated at the point of collation. Was President Jonathan threatened with the "Gbagbo treatment" before he buckled? Looking forward to reading President Jonathan's memoir, especially his honest account of events, intrigues leading up to the general election and him accepting defeat.

Thanks to the Card Reader and other measures, votes are beginning to count in Nigeria; multiple voting is eliminated and massive rigging curtailed. Now, incumbency is not a guarantee for reelection. Voters are looking beyond religious and tribal sentiments. Imagine Babangida Aliyu, sitting governor of Niger State, been roundly defeated by a Christian - David Umar in a supposedly Muslim environment. Gabriel Suswan, a governor who owed civil servants several month’s salary had his Senatorial ambition thwarted by the electorate. Good riddance!

To all folks out there desperate for short-cuts, General Buhari’s victory reinforces the AUDACITY of HOPE; that tenacity, resilience and integrity pays. Buhari realized his dream after losing in three previous contests. When you try and fail, learn lessons, move on and keep pushing.

As they say, failure is an orphan while success has surplus relatives. Many of President Jonathan’s hangers-on are speedily ‘porting’ to where the action is. Mr. President or the PDP reportedly summoned a meeting after the election and attendance was scanty. If the flurry of defections currently trending in Nigeria persists, sooner than later the difference if any, between the APC and the PDP will be akin to the difference between six and half a dozen.

Ignore Social Medium Opinion Poll At Your Peril:
Aftermath of this election, politicians will learn not to underestimate the power of social media. Prior to the 2015 elections, Buhari consistently maintained a lead over President Jonathan in opinion polls but President Jonathan’s handlers said elections are not won on twitter, the internet.  If history is a good teacher, Nigerian elections in the future will witness less mudslinging, character assassinations but dwell more on serious issues. Millions of Nigerians are hungry, frustrated, confused, unemployed, Boko Haram kills Nigerians randomly and even carved out a Caliphate under President Jonathan’s nose, rather than dwell on President Jonathan’s achievement and future plans, his spin-doctor busied themselves ‘yabbing’ and inadvertently popularizing, campaigning for Buhari with their paid documentaries on AIT etc. President Jonathan's handling of the Boko Haram crises, abduction of the Chibok schools girls’ saga is illustrates his Achilles’ heels. Many of us who offered constructive criticism without minding whose ox is gored were derided for endorsing General Buhari before the election. My article: "Dear President Jonathan, Please Gracefully Absorb Your Merited 'F' Grade on Security, Economy etc." drew a lot of criticism and insult on my person. Driven purely by sentiments, many folks from the South called me names for endorsing a northerner (GMB) rather than a southerner (GEJ). I am not cut out to support a candidate simply because he is one of ours or bears an Igbo appellation. Make no mistake about it; nobody is saying General Buhari is the best this country can parade. Notwithstanding other contestants, the presidential election was essentially between Buhari and Jonathan hence the lackluster performance of Jonathan boosted Buhari’s chances.


To Public Servants: Be Dispassionate, Non-partisan:
Refrain from patent partisanship or been a certified stooge to whoever appointed you. Be dispassionate in discharging your duties. Brigadier General Momoh who was entangled in the infamous Ekiti election rigging scandal, the current Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba who interpreted the Constitution to Nigerians, blusteringly insisting Aminu Tambuwal ceased to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and the ilk’s of AIG Joseph Mbu will be clearing their tables by now. As President Obama once remarked, ‘Africa needs strong institutions not strong men’. Let’s strengthen our institutions.

Matters Arising From The 2015 Elections:
Henceforth adequate measures must be put in place to forestall the manner of irregularities, rigging in Rivers State etc. where result sheets were supposedly filled elsewhere in connivance with allegedly compromised INEC officials. What is the essence of the Card Reader if a corrupt INEC official is at a liberty to allocate votes to the highest bidder? It will help if our electoral law mandates INEC to subsequently show voters, result sheets meant for elections to ascertain the result sheets have not been filled elsewhere. INEC must also guard against the phenomenon of underage registration/voting which was said to be rampart in the northern part of the country. Nigerians must be allowed to vote from any part of the country during subsequent elections irrespective of where they registered. A lot of people were disfranchised because they moved or traveled out of their domain before the elections. Nigerians in the diaspora must be allowed to vote too. Voting must not take the whole day. As is the case in other climes, let’s have a system where folks can walk into a Polling Unit, do their accreditation and voting simultaneously and go about their business. There should also be provision for journalists, security operatives, electoral officers and others that may be on essential duties on election days to cast their votes in advance. Adequate logistics arrangement for movement of election materials and staff must be put in place especially for very remote areas.


Ndigbo, O Gini Na Eme? (What is Happening?)
Power is not given but inter-alia taken through building strategic alliances, positioning yourself, thinking and planning ahead. Sentiments alone don’t win elections. Forty nine years after Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi’s interregnum, no Igbo have been at the helm of affairs of this country! Ndigbo, enough of playing second-fiddle! Get your acts together and get over the Nigeria-Biafra civil war complex, hangover. Where are the self-acclaimed, sagacious Igbo political strategists? APGA is in disarray, Ohanaeze was outplayed because of the personal aggrandizement of so-called Igbo leaders. MASSOB (Movement For The Actualization of The Sovereign State of Biafra) bastardized itself and lost the iota of regard it has left by orchestrating a travesty, protest against Prof. Jega prior to the presidential election. You are clamoring for Biafra, what business have you got with INEC? Remember the political process starts with voter registration through to voting. The 1.9 million votes Buhari garnered from Kano alone eclipses votes from 3-4 South East States combined. Don't say Ogbasaghim (e no concern me) because it will surely concern, affect you. Ndigbo, even when they deny us power, they cannot take away the indefatigable spirit in us. Our people were given just 20 pounds after the civil war irrespective of how much they had in the bank accounts prior to the civil war but they survived. It is trite even in the London School of Economics that politics is superior to economics. It takes just one economic policy for a politician to ruin your multimillion dollar business.

So much for the mantra of ‘One Nigeria’, in a much publicized uncouth speech unbecoming of a royal father, the Oba of Lagos - Rilwan Akiolu openly threatened Ndigbo resident in Lagos that they will drown, die in the Lagos lagoon if they don’t vote for his anointed candidate – Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) and relevant government agencies must demonstrate that they are not mere paper-tigers; that nobody is above the laws of Nigeria.

Now That CHANGE Is Here:
Now that the much yearned CHANGE is here, what do we do with it? We must not be carried away by the euphoria of the moment. Governance in Nigeria must transcend celebrating pedestrian issues - rebasing (statistical extrapolation) of an economy done from the comfort of an office, building flyovers, building schools without qualified teachers, paying workers’ salaries. These are not achievements in advanced climes. General Buhari and the incoming ‘governing party’ must hit the ground running and not spend the next four years buck-passing and finger-pointing PDP's legacy for nonperformance. The 2015 election polarized Nigerians, pitched churches, family members against one another. A pregnant woman reportedly killed her husband at Ejigbo, Lagos because her husband supported Jonathan. This is not the time for settling scores; General Buhari must put in place, measures aimed at healing a fragmented nation. Nigeria needs a vibrant and effective opposition; the PDP must not metamorphose to PULL HIM DOWN PARTY (PHD-P). They should go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes.

Urgent Tasks Before Buhari’s Administration:
Being a former Head of State, General Buhari substantially appreciates the myriad challenges bedeviling Nigeria. Please let the best brains, people with imagination and vision are appointed into leadership positions. For instance, crude oil prices may further plummet if and when sanctions on Iran are lifted anytime soon. The Buhari administration must begin to divest Nigeria's reliance on crude oil. We need a Nigeria where every Nigerian will be as Nigerian as every other Nigerian irrespective of his tribe, where s/he domiciles. Given the ginormous resources channeled into seeking reelection, the brinkmanship associated with it, for the sake of justice, ‘rotating’ the presidency between at least the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria on a 6 year single tenure will cut it for us.

#BabaNowThatYouAreThere, please let JUSTICE and EQUITY be your watchword. Launch an unwavering, unrelenting war against CORRUPTION, TERRORISM/INSURGENCY (other manifestations of insecurity) and UNEMPLYMENT. No sacred cows, and no granting of Presidential pardon to certified, convicted treasury looters! Stop wanton leakages and squander mania. You don't a need a dozen Presidential jets in your pool; your British counterpart has no SINGLE ‘presidential’ jet attached to his office. He flies British Airways, first class. If you want Nigerians to embrace austerity, your cabinet and the incoming National Assembly must also reciprocate by pruning their outrageous allowances. Provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. Tackle electricity. Sort out petroleum oil block allocation/subsidy mess, build more refineries. Allow free press and speech. Restructure Nigeria and devolve more powers to the federating units. Rather than depend on incompetent ex-militants, strengthen the Navy, Police, NSCDC etc. to protect petroleum pipelines, installations and to rein in the unprecedented broad daylight stealing of 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The controversial disappearance and reappearance of your academic certificate after you won the Presidential election has brought the Nigerian Military to disrepute. This must be probed and punishment apportioned to masterminds of this shameful act. Restore professionalism, pride, sanity to the military, completely overhaul the military echelon and rigorously audit Nigeria’s Defence inventory, spending. Dear Mr. President-elect, may I humbly refer you to a masterpiece by Sonala Olumhense:  "Let Us Probe Nigeria’s Defence Spending". Professionalism, discipline is undermined when trained military personnel and police officers become errand boys or bouncers for politicians and their concubines. Rein in this anomaly and let our security personnel concentrate on their primary assignments. Promptly and publicly declaring your assets will boost your anti-corruption, transparency mantra. It is called leadership by example. Please rein in the unaccounted for roughly N6 billion annual “Security Vote” largesse to each State governor. While you are at it, please don’t mortgage the posterity of Nigeria to some Western interests, powers under whatever guise. A tall order indeed but doable if the political will is there.

God bless Nigeria.

Written By:

© Don Okereke
(Security Analyst/Consultant, Writer/Blogger, Change Agent, Ex-serviceman)
Email: donnuait(a)yahoo.com
Twitter: @DonOkereke

April, 2015