News Analysis: N100m Donations For N22m Presidential FormFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, October 31st, 2014
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau, Lagos
One common feature of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is a repeated attempt to convince all that he is an unassuming character. Similarly, his body languages are calculated to give an impression that he is an attentive and “upright” (highly spiritually inclined) leader.
Around 2010 – during build up to the 2011 general elections, Mr. President stormed the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Mowe community, in Ogun state, South Western Nigeria, to participate in the Church’s annual end of the year prayers assemblage. The President at the RCCG did what was not really expected by so many – kneeling before the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye for prayers. (Note please, prayers and blessings are not the issue here, rather it was the form they took).
Before his visit, it is on record that RCCG and other famous places of worship are thronged by the Nigerian politicians, irrespective of differences of those domains to their religious faith – to join in worship, but largely to woe members of the large congregation for vote during elections. The (unprecedented) then and question in President Jonathan’s manner of receiving blessings from the revered cleric, was why the public display? After all, so many in his shoes from different parts of the country have visited the same sanctuary one time or the other without such public showing.
Agreed public figures are like the ‘Golden Fish’ – has no hidden place. The President belongs to this cadre. So, if no one shares with me, I strongly believe the Vice President, Namadi Sambo for instance, should be able to make similar visit or go on a pilgrimage – Hajj (lesser or major) besides the mere media reporting of such spiritual trip, should be able to observe all his rites without necessarily being exposed to the public.
In between last year and this, President Jonathan has traveled to Jerusalem for pilgrimage with footages of virtually all segments of his worships and rites on the tubes and prints. In fact, the 2013 pilgrimage trip was even more conflicting as he was joined by a long list of entourage – within and outside the government circle. This actually confused not few, with respect to the real agenda of the journey – whether it was strictly for spiritual purpose or business, recall the President had some business sessions; one, aviation related, which was signed on behalf of Nigeria, by the former flamboyant and controversial Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah.
Another known associated sentiment with President Jonathan is tribe. There is no doubt that the incumbent, given the level in which the two – religion and tribe were harped in his campaign for 2011 elections, earned him sympathy and subsequently votes from certain sections of the country. The two factors as well as his ‘imposing’ humility posture as we speak have not abated.
On Wednesday, (October 29, 2014) this week, Mr. President’s Media and Publicity aide, Dr Reuben Abati, posted on his official website the list of 38 different donours, who had contributed over N98 Million contributions for the President to purchase N22 Million Expression of Interest and Nomination Form! If I may quickly ask here; the sum posted was generated from when to when sir?
Still, there is an amusing dimension to the donation and it is the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) which purportedly contributed N22 Million and the National Association of Market Women, which made available N500, 000. Fine. The issues: TAN from information available to the public is an NGO, so where would and since when an organization with such status has been keeping such whopping sum? If that is served, who is or are the founder (s) of TAN and who are the members, perhaps their financial net worth could be marched with such bogus contribution.
Again, the half a Million naira contribution credited to the national body of market women association looks more of a make-up rather than real. And less I forget, the list also included Messrs Kennedy Ikenna Odoeme – N5, 000 and Ezemagu Sunday. Nnamdi – N10, 000. The two were the least donations of the 38 donours. The list is actually revealing and makes an interesting peruse.
The donation’s catalogue went the same way President Jonathan’s avoidable strong spiritual inclination public display. It therefore gives concern that as much as the President calculates the ever probing Nigerian public could share his sentiments and plugged into his styles, runs into trouble waters of bashing, resentments and condemnation. The latest donation topic is another example out of others.
Really, Mr. President did not need such approaches he had adopted to create impression that he is humble and indeed loved by many and common Nigerians. Consider this; the opposition APC’s Expression of Interest and Nomination Form despite being costly than the PDP’s, with the difference of over N5 Million has been obtained by two of its Presidential hopefuls at least for now. Possibly, more aspirants of the party are still going for theirs.
Besides General Muhammadu Buhari who complained about hike in the form’s price, he had yet and since purchased it (although through borrowing so disclosed). Also, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has obtained his, with the source (s) exclusively known to him and his political allies. Does it signify these men have stronger financial base than Mr. President? In any case, if only a body like TAN and others (according to the donation list) could have mustered N22 Million, an amount sufficient to purchase the form, then he (President Jonathan) definitely needed not to attempt playing to the gallery as he appears doing. After all, the records of those who supported and bankrolled his last (2011) Presidential campaign are still in keep. Will return to that shortly.
As the intention of President Jonathan is definite on the contribution agenda (which is not really new anyway), he and his party must plunge themselves back to the reality on ground presently. The realities are that: given the growing awareness and alerts of the country’s voting public, it is almost impossible that Nigerians would want to vote a political office seeker or holder (seeking re- election) with the antecedent of non – performance; indefinite past records; lack of trust and disconnection with the populace.
This is the big task before President Jonathan and which his campaign organization and strategists should critically and objectively look into as well as assess their boss scorecard. The donations and all other gimmicks are most unlikely to change the people’s mindset and final resolve.
Over to the election campaign donations and funds; this is a global norm and practice. Incumbent United States (US) President Barrack Obama so far ran the most expensive American Presidential campaign in 2009. It is on record that donations to his campaign fund cut across the borders – the ages, gender, nationals, business, social and professional circles among many others. Obama campaign contribution’s scope was more elaborate, real and largely was unquestionable.
In 2011 general elections, there was no other Presidential candidate in Nigeria, who could boast of equal very costly election campaign with that of President Jonathan. I doubt if not the first in the history of Nigerian democracy. Since it is very certain that the incoming campaign will follow similar suit, I repeat, President Jonathan should not have gone the way he started, just because with or without the largely ‘arranged’ contributions, big, good, cool money will still be sent to his campaign coffer – from the ‘highs and bigs’.
However, if the agenda is to confirm general acceptability, I dare say the list is not yet complete as the professional bodies, workers union, Nigerian transporters, the artisans and the Nigerian students were not captured. These people/bodies are the other key cross sections of our society; hence their widow’s mite in the contribution is needed to entrench the spread argument.
But beyond these donations (real or otherwise), Mr. President is still enmeshed in many controversy which directly contravene the modesty, ‘fairness to all’ and upright postures he always drives to create. The Number one citizen is repeatedly accused of impunity; political bitterness and intolerance as well as some alleged and suspended sleazy financial dealings.
On record are the accusations of his administration using the public institutions to harass the oppositions, the last two governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun as examples. The alleged missing $20 million from the nation’s oil empire – NNPC (debate) has since been suspended, buried and forgotten. And the recent $9.3 and $5.7 Million alleged but foiled arms deals by the present administration in South Africa are gradually going in the similar direction. What about the aborted remotely controlled impeachment saga of the Nasarawa state Governor, Umaru Tanko Al – Makura after the instigated sack of his Adamawa state’s counterpart, Muritala Nyako?
Then the latest development – withdrawal of the House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal’s security details on account of cross carpeting to the opposition party. If tongues did not wag and heaven did not fall when defections into the ruling party are made, why the troubles and controversies in the latest case? Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state recently abandoned the party – LP which offered him platform to earn victory; then returned to his old fold – PDP, without any acrimony. In fact, he was hailed by the party top hierarchy for a good decision he has taken.
So, why the different treatment now to Tambuwal, the number four man in the land for that matter? Where is the justice and fairness in this? These are serious issues before President Jonathan to contend with as he struggles to impress the Nigerian public that he is the father of the nation, modest to the core, so expects the people to cooperate and reciprocate in similar gesture.
The National Chairman of the ruling party, Adamu Mu’azau should also watch the latest trend and juxtapose it with his recent announcement of olive branch advance to the opposition party leadership. Recall, I cautioned a fortnight ago in my piece titled: “ Adamu Mu’azu: Let The Charity Begin From Home” that if he meant very well, his party should organize its house and review its relationship with other parties and their members, especially with a view to making them more civil and democratic.
Nigerians are very very intelligent people – they are watching and really understand the unfolding build ups to the forthcoming general elections. Therefore, any politician who thinks he could be smarter or fiddles around, in an attempt to cajole or misguide them is not helping matter and his course too. The current political office holders in the country have had ample time to justify their election into offices and so it is now time to assess and grade – for the public to judge.
In as much as I do not subscribe to neutrality in voting participation, at the same time, the fact must be articulated that a good per percentage of the Nigerian voting public will be a hard nut to crack, relating to employing the obvious and abused sentiments. Some of the voters will not be impressed by any candidate attempting to be holier I don’t know, may be than the Pope; by donations/contributions or not, or deploying tribal sentiment.
Finally, as established earlier, what will count majorly in the coming elections are the antecedent, performance records, the people’s trust and confidence as well as link to/with them. Therefore, any candidate with these virtues would understandably benefit from the public goodwill – earn their votes, when it is time for elections, all things being equal.
Chris Giwa And Associates, Leave NFF Alone Please!
In a Monday (October 27, 2014) News Analysis titled: “Dark Horses Dancing Naked At the Nation’s Football House”, I have predicted that the ‘sack’ ruling of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick and reinstatement of the factional head, Chris Giwa was rather dramatic and would not last. My position was actually from the hindsight that on this matter, the result is like the proverbial saying that when you fling a knife hundred and thousands of times, its landing mode will remain constant.
I have also held that Giwa and his camp were merely trying the impossibility. And so the result came yesterday (Thursday) – a week after Justice Ambrose Alagoa of a Federal High Court in Jos, the Plateau state capital, overruled and reversed his Thursday, October 20, 2014 judgment. The quashing of the earlier ruling was at the instance of the plaintiff, who appealed for an outright strike out of the suit. The complainant’s prayers were reportedly hinged on the national interest. Indeed national, but why was he not influenced so before now, but after an unpopular court verdict, imminent FIFA sanctions on Nigeria and probably mounted pressure?
Giwa had failed to exit the stage when the ovation was the loudest so, boo to him for causing the country another one week of a needless hassles and fruitless flexing of muscles. Never again, try not the unusual – the major lesson Giwa might have probably learnt from his latest bitter and failed attempt as well as experience.
Now that this distraction is about to be completely off the NFF radial, Giwa should and his faction be called to order to give the recognized glass house leadership the peace it really deserves to lead very well. As a Football club proprietor – a serious business for that matter, I expect Giwa to be a very pre-occupied fellow.
However, if he is not, may be his ‘godfathers’, wherever they are or may be, should please engage him productively, if running his club is no more tasking and enough after all.
Finally, heeding this plead is important, as distraction from him and his camp in the glass house is over bearing and disturbing not only to the NFF executives, but the Sports loving public and the country in general. So, the Hon Sports Minister, please engage Giwa now and let he and his associates stay clear of the NFF affairs for now and wait for their God destined time!
Proposed Okada Ban: Not A Good Option
The National Council on Transport after its annual conference last week in Enugu State, proposed ban on the use of motorbike otherwise called Okada and Achaba in the Southern and Northern parts of the country respectively as a commercial means of transportation. The proposal is said to have been endorsed by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar.
The Federal Ministry of Transport last Saturday, in a press statement explained the ban was one of the “measures proposed towards adequate provision of safety and secure transportation in Nigeria”.
The Federal Government should please say no to this proposal. Instead, what should be done is modifying the scope of Okada and Achaba operations. Specifically, riding of motorbikes on the expressway, highways and major roads is what should be outlaw. This measure has been put in place in one of the South Western states and the public judgment and hospital statistics have indicated and confirmed that it is a worthwhile measure, as the road accident involving this transportation fleet and the corresponding human casualty have significantly dropped.
Commercial motorbike is a good support to the various economic empowerment initiatives by the government, therefore banning it, will be an invitation, to many social vices through which, some of the social maladies have been subsided, to some level, in the recent years in the country.
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