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ANALYSIS: The Game Changing Tactics; The Promises And The Presidential Debate

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

Expectedly, the one week Presidential electioneering campaigns by the two major candidates – General Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have drawn diverse comments from Nigerians, home and abroad. The reactions to the exercise which in the last one week has majorly been taken round the Southern part of the country had provoked and summarily centered on the contents; manners of delivery and lately some (surprise) moves by certain candidate.

For those who pay attention and consider issues with the seriousness they deserve, they cannot but agree that President Jonathan’s (chosen) manner of the ongoing campaign is not necessarily aimed at addressing issues, better still, far from being issues based. Instead, Mr. President Campaign speeches have been replies to avalanche of criticism against him, his administration and party – the PDP. The President has to a large extent changed the focus of his election crusade – from the generally expected direction. He has concentrated more on what he, his supporters and party consider as achievements; caught in the “sudden” change of positions on some trending, serious national issues and shifting of blame on the same.

As for those who might need the explanations, the President of a country is a public figure; he is like a golden fish which has no hiding place; he is supposed to be a light, a role model to the rest of the country – show good examples in all fronts for others to follow. These are the reasons why attention can never be shifted from President Jonathan, his actions and remarks, not even for a second. And whatever he does or says has serious bearing on the country, either on a long or short term.

In his presentations so far, President Jonathan (with dexterity) has repeated he would not put anyone into jail on account of corruption, rather the social evil would be wrestled with technology, in fact said he anticipated when Nigeria would be free of prisons; he had blamed the previous administrations (including the one he was the Vice President) for not doing well, in equipping the Military institution; he specifically accused his main opponent, Gen. Buhari for failing to buy, as Head of State, not a single riffle.

President Jonathan shocked Nigerians last week Thursday in Lagos when he made a U – turn on the ravaging insecurity challenges in the country when he challenged, that the crisis was a creation of the previous administrations, so (his) should not be held accountable, and this is despite admitting in the same address that his generation had failed and acceptance of ‘failure’ at another campaign ground, that (he) lacked the wherewithal to “take the country to the moon”.

The Nigerian number one man in his calculation to score political points declared at another campaign that, he would not reduce women to “baby production” alone, rather would give them further opportunity to express themselves and excel, by giving them opportunity to serve in his government, hence pledge to sustain office of the first ladies and existence of officers and political appointees wives’ bodies.

Again, I do not know how many of President Jonathan’s listeners gave a second thought to his rather belated but political revelation on the 2010 Independence day bomb attack orchestrated by the MEND leader, Henry Okah. Mr. President told Nigerians that he had no cause to be bothered when a body whose leader attempted to assassinate him dumped him and announced his support for the opposition candidate.

Some questions here; why this revelation now? Nigerians would recall it was the same President that first denied vehemently and absolved MEND from the complicity of the fatal Independence Day terrorist attack, until investigations discovered and revealed otherwise. May I ask here too that if the repentant Niger Delta militant leader, Alhaji Asari Dokubo – a strong supporter and ally of Mr. President (now) before the February elections for instance withdraws his support and declares for the opposition; what happens to allegations of arms against dealings him which Mr. President had since tactically shielded? Is the revelation on Okah’s failed assassination attempt, suggesting that the truth about Dokubo’s alleged arms importation could only be told if he falls apart with Mr President?

And in what could be regarded as a calculative move, President Jonathan finally made it to the home of Boko Haram – meeting with the Military chiefs and wounded army as a way of showing solidarity. Whether the President’s unscheduled visit to Maiduguri was “belated” or “better late than never” as being debated presently, the two sides are key and merit further consideration. That is President Jonathan for you – very good at launching needless and very avoidable controversies, via his actions and utterances.

I have heard two statements which many may not pay much attention to, (but very instructive) after President Jonathan campaign addresses in Lagos and Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. The first was that he (Mr. President) was a taciturn, yet has been forced to talk and has spoken wonderfully well. And from the same fellow, came after Abeokuta’s campaingn speech that no one could compete successfully with him (President Jonathan). Those statements (especially the second) to me were not only thrilling, but as well appalling and very probing too.

Mentioning the Abeokuta born – broadcaster’s name is of no relevance, rather, the contents and implications of his own personal opinions on the issue in focus. Is the gentleman telling Nigerians that no capable opponent, who could face the President who had personally and repeatedly admitted mistakes and errors of his government; a President who has just suddenly (in his imagination and calculation) realized his style of war against corruption is ICT, yet with many cases of the same, hanging on his administration; a President who has just rejected responsibility for failing to tackle the insurgency challenges, in fact a President who have confessed he lacked the potentials to lead the country to the an enviable level?

With respect to his visit to Maiduguri, in less than a month to the Presidential election, some have reasoned if the abducted Chibok girls were eventually released now, this could be a strong political point for him and become a “game changer” – tool for him. Truly? Game changer after how many months? Won’t Nigerians ask why not applying the same joker; the same strategy he might have deployed to achieve such feat earlier to regain freedom for the girls?

But please, may I add, if President Jonathan is attempting to change the game with his specially worn campaign messages; its direction and some strategic moves, he should be told that he has a very tasking assignment in his hands as there will be need for him to reach Chibok and spend some time to and identify with the distressed families; he will also need to pay visit to the families of over 50 students of the Federal Government college, Buni Yadi, Yobe state, who were slaughtered in cold blood in February last year; of course, he would need a visit to the families of over 50 secondary school students, Potiskum also Yobe State whose lives were caught short mid-November last year by a disguised suicide bomber on their school premises, while the morning assembly was ongoing.

And while on those visits, in his game changing tactics, Mr. President should not only explain the reason (s) for his belated trips, but should surmount the courage to justify why despite Buni Yadi and Potiskum very agonizing events, he and his party went ahead with the PDP rally in Kaduna? as well as formal declaration of his Presidential ambition in Abuja respectively?

As for the opposition APC, beside the known pedigree (free of corruption, honesty, discipline) of its Presidential candidate, the take of some, is that what the retired General has been saying (whether they were strictly issues – based or not were) mere “I will” – promises. As a result, the probing minds have viewed that beyond the promises, it is important Nigerians are told how some of his promised policies will be properly implemented.

This takes the discussion to the coming Presidential debate. Expectedly again, the focus here is Gen. Buhari and President Jonathan. My call here goes to the veteran broadcaster and former Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Taiwo Alimi and his team to kindly do justice to the much awaited debate. For Gen. Buhari, he should be asked to articulate how his party and government intend to create jobs for teeming unemployed Nigerians; he should be drilled on how power will be made to be regular and stable; even despite being reputed as an – anti corruption Military General and one whose military regime administration battled the evil with no reservation, he must be asked how will he achieve it again, most especially as he aspires to occupy an elective position and will be surrounded by the core politicians as well as technocrats if elected into office?

Chief Alimi must also not spare the General the questions bothering on allegation of poor budgeting on equipping the Military during his almost two years era ( the material just released by his campaign Organization notwithstanding), as well as his order, canceling the multi billion dollars Lagos metro line project, started by the State first Executive Governor, Lateef Kayode Jakande as accused by Mr. President and his party members respectively.

For the incumbent President Jonathan, the Presidential debate team should please be fair enough to the audience and Nigerians as a whole by not hesitating to ask him so many mind boggling questions. Issues bothering on corruption – $20 billion missing oil fund (what has become of its overdue audit report?); the Stella Odua car purchase scandal; the immigration recruitment scam; the John Yakubu Police and others pension scandal; the $9.3 and $5.7 Million foiled South Africa arms deals. Aremo Alimi should please task the President to tutor Nigerians aptly, on how he will deploy ICT to wage the war against corruption and why has he just come to terms with that method, now that parties are moving around the country to canvass for votes?

Regardless of passing the buck, President Jonathan should be made to answer questions, relating to how his government has failed to face insurgents and allowed them to thrive to the present unbearable and deadly level? And less I forget, the aspiring sitting President must be asked why he or his government issued license to the Niger Delta war lords – Tompolo and Dokubo via their private companies to import arms into the country? He must be asked the question relating to accusation against his administration on “depleting” Nigeria external reserves. Also, this President should be asked about his alleged indulgence of the PDP prominent stalwart in the South Western Nigeria, despite being accused by the US government of drug trafficking, yet strategically position him and his party gave him ticket to contest the Senatorial position in February? Nigerians may recall that President Jonathan advocated for intelligence agency screening of political aspirants as one of the measures to check violence – ridden elections in the country, just on Wednesday.

The two candidates should and must be thoroughly pressed to answer salient questions so as to rate and measure their understanding of issues – how such can work for the country and her citizenry in general; identify who is playing to the gallery and the one speaking from the depth of his heart, in fact, for them to review their positions and finally decide where to thump print on Saturday, February 14, 2015 when file out to vote the new President of the country.

This is a fact as it has been witnessed across the globe, especially where the civil government works, even in Nigeria to some extent. Recall Chief Alimi stated Wednesday this week in his preview remarks of the Presidential debate at the workshop on non – violence for the Presidential candidates in Abuja that over 80 per cent of electorates voted due to 2011 Presidential debate while similar number also change their choice of candidate owing to the same exercise.

Finally, it is important to state that both Gen. Buhari and President Jonathan had so far presented what they felt good for them, their supporters and their parties, but not necessarily for over 170 million Nigerians. So, the only vital instrument to make them say what the common/average Nigerians as well as the intellectual need to hear and make up their mind is the debate. Therefore, the exercise is very necessary, irrespective of the individuals’ opinion with respect to whether someone has done well or not; or one is corrupt and the other is not. Chief Alimi is a successful broadcast professional, a down – to – earth, very committed and a disciplinarian. It is therefore hoped that all of these qualities will come to bear when he and his team stage yet another ‘all-important’ 2015 Nigerian Presidential Debate and Discourse. Nigerians look up to you.

RE: LASAA, LASG, Watch Out And Act Now

(Please read this sub piece as posted Friday, November 28, 2014)

The Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) is a Lagos State government parastatal with responsibility of managing the outdoor advertising and the related in the metropolis. One of its obligations is to ensure a clean looking State. The agency for instance, is backed by an Edict which bans pasting of posters and handbills in the open spaces across the State. Since the law has been put in place, LASAA officials have been proactive in its enforcement – by moving around to remove pastings in the Lagos city.

However, what is baffling now is that the posters of some of the aspirants of the State ruling party – the APC have littered most part of the State. I have seen so far the posters of the incumbent Deputy Governor, Mrs Adejoke Orelope – Adefulire; Senator Ganiyu Solomon; Akin Ambode; Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat, Hon. Solomon Olamilekan (Yayi); Hon. Abayomi Ogunnusi and so many others ‘greenhorns’ in the party and one of the oppositions – the AD. Good to mention here that the outdoor campaign of the Speaker of the State House Of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji is being promoted only through flex banner display, which I believe is allowed by with permission from LASSAA. I am only relating what I see for now in the urban areas. (Have no knowledge of what happens in the rural local councils of the State).

Now, if the APC government makes a law in the State and the high ranking political officers holders display brazen breach of the same law, what message is such party is sending and passing to others? This is a question for LASAA and the Lagos State government. Please the State authorities should act now, before the situation gets out of hand. However, if nothing is done to correct the illegality, no one should raise voice against anybody, when the flagrant abuse of the law assumes in full scale.

My Conclusion

If despite the alarm earlier raised and failure of neither the State government nor its agency – LASAA to nip the issue in the bud, (ahead of full blown) electioneering campaigns, there is actually and virtually nothing to fight over. It is even annoying to see the candidates of the (state) ruling party, the APC infringing on the same law in which their government and its agency struggle to protect.

Therefore, the Chief Executive of LASAA should forget about his threat that his officers would go ahead and do what the constitution permits them to do. Again, I say here that is the law, but this time, your people (members of the ruling party) have failed, by disobeying their government and your agency, so fighting now will only heat up the polity and people will easily read political meanings to your belated action. Of course, you can’t blame them, because the moral aspect has been totally lost on your party members, including the Governorship candidate on the same issue – poster deployment.

Finally, Mr Noah, please do not expose your field officers unnecessary risk and avoidable police brutality, rather, you should close eyes for now and begin to talk about how the necessary steps will be taken ahead, in the future election years. But for the present, fight till only when God knows, you and your agency will continue to land at the receiving end. It is as simple as that, provided you are a lover of truth.

E-mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: tajudeen balogun



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