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1/20/2018

CAN PDP NOW BE A COVETED BRIDE?

CAN PDP NOW BE A COVETED BRIDE?
Having ruled the country for 16 unbroken years, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was confidently sure that it had
captured the soul of Nigeria. One of its former national chairmen, Mr Vincent Ogbulafor, had boasted that the party would rule Nigeria for another 50 years. It got stopped on May 2015, when another party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) displaced it. Until the shocking defeat of the PDP, the party had rather taken Nigerians for granted, believing that whatever they do, Nigerians will be on their side, answer their call,  and like  zombies, go whichever direction pointed to them.
In 2015, Nigerians revolted at the polls. There was an alternative. A prospective alternative.  A man whom Nigerians had rejected three previous times, appeared on the political plain. He was rebranded a Change agent. Not a fanatic. Not a bigot. Not a dictator. Not a corrupt leader. Not a raider, but a leader. Not anything that has held Nigeria down.  The echo of APC…Change(!) reverberated across the land. And the PDP knew its days were numbered.
And suddenly, then-Maj Gen Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) gained an unusual public appeal. His campaign managers dressed him up as the nation’s messiah: one who will right the wrongs of ages past. One who will restore the image and confidence of Nigeria within and outside the Nigerian shores. Yes, Buhari resonated with wild acclamation of acceptance. Many were terribly tired of the filth and rot called the PDP. The few political overlords of the party (PDP) had turned to national mandarins whom nobody could question. They did as they wished, and the country was simply sinking. An experienced no-nonsense captain was needed to save the ship of state from a shattering shipwreck.
Buhari was seen and accepted as the man with such scarce discipline and capacity. One who has no skeleton in his cupboard. One who was ascetic and people-centred. One who had no wealth to flaunt or with which to manipulate voters. One who beholds to no one. One who would call a spade a spade. One in whom there is no guile. Buhari, a tall and lanky Fulani man, even appeared taller and firmer with the noble virtues associated with him.
Despite the few campaigns of certain persons warning that Buhari was capable of Islamising Nigeria, and running the Christian communities aground, many Nigerians (Christians inclusive) turned out and voted freely and enthusiastically for Buhari and threw out the weakling called President Goodluck Jonathan and his boisterous crowd.
Enthused by his victory, the nation went wild with joy. Many of his avid supporters, the original Buharists, chose to celebrate his victory by punishing themselves with trekking unthinkable distances, like from Yola to Abuja, or from Lagos to Abuja, for days and weeks unend. They gladly bore the trouble of trekking to celebrate their hero, the expected deliverer of the famished folks.
Some others in their unbridled wild ululation of joy either clutched on feebly to fast-driving vehicles or motorcycles etc. Many crashed and died. It was all taken as the blood sacrifices required for a national rebirth. A birth that will be transformational. The one that will turn our deserts to oases and our mountains to plateaus. It is an understatement to say the expectations were high. Very high. Between February 2015 when he won the election and May 29, when he was sworn in, Nigerians were literally and hastily counting down to days of a new dawn, to days of a near heavenly experience, days when they will bid eternal farewell to days of hades and hardship, what with the mouth-watering campaign promises that tantalized many Nigerian voters. The miasma of the PDP mess was monumental. The lingo then was ABJ—Anyone But Jonathan!
And when the government eventually came in, more mess was discovered. Till today, the messy revelations have not ended.

But contrary to the great expectations from the APC-led government, Nigerians have been literally served dry corn with  kernel shells as meals. It seems Nigerians practically jumped from frying pan to fire. Life became hard, short, nasty and brutish, so much that many wished and yearned for the years of the PDP locust. Bring Back Corruption, many cried!
But those who led the vanguard for the change sustained the hope that in no time the lamentations will give way to jubilation. While that hope lasted, Nigeria slipped into recession and the experience simply worsened. Thankfully, in about a year, we staggered out of it even as its knocking effect remained with us.
With the recession, the economy got on its knees: companies and businesses were shutting down, jobs were lost, inflation rose, purchasing power dropped. Even many state governments stopped paying their workers. And the groaning grew louder and louder, as some surrendered to suicide.
Yet on the political front, the APC was simply nibbling. Corruption cases among the henchmen of the government were treated with levity or so it seemed. The scandals that eventually pulled down the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation,

Mr Babachir Lawal and the one that caused Abdulrasheed Maina to scurry out of the country(?) are just a few examples of those unevenness of the anti-corruption fight. Why, for instance, are Babachir Lawal and the sacked DG of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke not being prosecuted for the crimes they committed? The latter was merely quizzed four days after his sack and that was it. Nothing else has been heard. If they committed crime enough to be sacked, they ought to face prosecution. Why are they spared?
The fierceness of the anti-corruption battle is/was not even. Worse still, the huge sums recovered from the rogues of yesteryear remain unknown. Not many will be surprised if the recovered loot has been pilfered or re-looted altogether. Nobody can be sure.
The other sore issue is in the appointments Mr President has made. Yes, Mr President is from the northern part of the country and could behold a little more to his region, yet he remains the father of the nation, but what we have seen is a heavier-than-usual skew of appointments in favour of the northern part of the country, thus making nonsense of not only a sense of fairness but even the demands of federal character. Perhaps where this is manifestly obvious is in the security apparatchik of the country. How can it be explained that the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Director General of Department of State Security (DSS) Inspector General of Police, Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser,  and now the Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are all from the same section of the country. And somebody mischievously asked the other day, “when these people go for the nation’s security council meeting, what language will they be speaking?”
Where is the demand of fair spread as recommended by federal character?
Mr President could not even pretend to be listening to the hue and cry in the polity by appointing a southerner as the DG of the NIA which was last occupied by a southerner. It still had to go to the north. Last year, the 15 Board appointments into the Board of the NNPC had 10 northerners (which has no oil), three South-south persons and two South-west persons. None to the South-east, none to the Middle Belt. In no little way, this manner of appointments belies his famous declaration at inauguration that he is for nobody and he is for everybody. He cannot continue to pay no attention to such sensitive national issues with all its complex plurality and expect a clap offering from Nigerians.
Perhaps, the last straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back is the vexatious issue of the Fulani herdsmen who have been on a killing spree across the Nigerian landscape. Yes, the recklessness of the herdsmen predates the Buhari administration, but they have waxed stronger and become lionized by the worrisome silence, if not acquiescence, of the presidency, over their bloody atrocities in every corner of the country. Like the last days of former President Jonathan, the issue of national security has become very worrisome. The malaise of kidnapping,   armed robbery, open banditry, cattle rustling, and herders’ attack on innocent farmers have simply got to an intolerable peak. It is a potent threat to agriculture, if farmers can no longer go to their farms for fear of being killed by the ravaging killer herdsmen.
Right now, everybody is screaming and pouring invectives on the presidency. But it looks like the Aso Villa is waxed round with 2018 version of the latest sound-proof tarpaulin. The recent killing of about 80 persons in Benue State had triggered a national outcry from all groups and associations—religious and otherwise, except from the Presidency itself and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, whose members are believed to be perpetrating the orgy of violence across the land. The wanton kidnappings and killings by these herders in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Adamawa, Enugu, Delta, Zamfara etc., are more than enough to not only warrant a national broadcast by Mr President, denouncing the dastardly acts, but also in declaring the Miyetti Allah group a terrorist group. Not many known terrorist organisations in the world have killed as many as these herdsmen have killed in Nigeria.
It was bad enough that the presidency has been nearly indifferent to the spate of the killings or making rather tepid statements, yet it was awfully worse that when Mr President eventually decided to speak, it was to appeal to the grieving Gov Samuel Ortom  and other Benue elders whom he invited to the State House, to accommodate their fellow Nigerians (herdsmen). Gosh, it was like dancing Azonto on the graves of the just-buried persons. How can anyone ask for the accommodation of mindless killers few days after the mass burial of the latest victims?

In all things, Nigerians seem to be sighing and stretching their necks to see if Buhari is the man they have been waiting for or whether they should wait and hope for another. They have practically lifted the jerry can of palm oil and the jerry can of water. They can tell which is heavier.

My two kobo counsel to Mr President and his APC, as 2019 draws nearer, is that he should not make Nigerians infatuate after the erstwhile derided and despicable PDP, like a refurbished bride. Already, a Third Force is on the horizon. It is only wise to chip in the biblical counsel that “ Let he who thinketh he stands, take heed, lest he falls”.

Gosh, Lagos is Getting Dirtier
Some ironies are tolerable while some are not. In the last two weeks, I have heard about a Cleaner Lagos campaign, being run by the Lagos State government. But since the days of then-Col Olagusonye Oyinlola, as Military Administrator of Lagos State, I have not seen Lagos as dirty as it recently is. During the week, I practically drove round Lagos, in sheer coincidence of various appointments.  One cannot but notice the heaps and heaps of uncleared refuse many of which are stacked on the roadside,  with some on the median of  dual-carriage ways. The markets are simply an eyesore. It is as if the waste collectors are yet on Christmas holiday.
It is the height of irony that a city that claims to be the Centre of Excellence will be this decorated with putrescent garbage all around it. This is the same city that wants to be classed as a Megacity. This is the same city that wants to attract global tourists. How antithetical!

Lagos seemed to have enjoyed some lasting relief from mounds of filth from the days of Mr Tunji Bello as then Commissioner for the Environment. Those days seem gone forever. Thankfully, Mr Bello is still in the present administration as Secretary to the State Government. He should please offer the new kids on the bloc the winning strategy to make Lagos truly cleaner. With the ban of kole-kole boys (even though they are still in active service), unless the refuse-clearing mechanism by LASEMA and LAWMA is well worked out and faithfully adhered to, Lagos will be risking the outbreak of an epidemic, if the present situation continues.



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