ANALYSIS: The Painful, Sad Memories President Jonathan Is Leaving BehindFeatured, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, May 15th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
I imagine the wide and frenzied euphoria; the audacious body languages; the illegal cover up of many sordid deals which are inevitably unfolding; the limitless deceits by the government and top officials (especially political appointees); the irrational and rambling debates and justification by members of the PDP and supporters of the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan as well as his administration if he had emerged and declared the winner of the recent Presidential Election in Nigeria.
Equally, I picture more empty promises and pledges by the ruling party and outgoing administration to make available, more dividends of democracy to the people in savoring its victory; the arrogance and daring mien of all the characters within the ruling party, especially the desperate and reckless (including the leaders) if the incumbent President was returned. Imagine the persistent justification of blunders committed by certain members of the ruling party, during the electioneering campaigns, despite the clear loss. Given these anomalies, I doubt, if some politicians who were at the other side of divide would not have been intimidated and frustrated out of this country, if the sitting President and his party had won the Saturday, March 28, Presidential poll.
Now that the result of the election failed to go their (Mr. President and the PDP) ways, it is very shocking to see the government machineries, appear grounded and failed to function as they ought to; leaving the general masses to suffer the inefficiency, mistrust as well as negligence on the party of political office holders and their cohorts, who had engaged themselves some months back, solely to work and satisfy personal political ambition at the expense of the entire country.
For instance, around late February this year, (over a month when electioneering campaign started) the lingering fuel scarcity gradually knocked at some States of the Federation without prompt and definite official explanations. The nasty experience persisted till the first and second elections (March 28 and April 11) held. Recall, a week (Friday, April 3, 2015) to the Governorship and State’s Assembly polls, I commented on the worrisome development and harrowing experience Nigerians were going through in my sub piece, titled: “President Jonathan, When Will This Fuel Scarcity End?” It was posted under the major Analysis for the day, with the headline: “Kudos To The Heroes Of Nigerian 2015 Presidential Election”. The analysis was published about a month after the explanation by the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the scarcity and Presidential order to the relevant government bodies to finally resolve the crisis.
Almost three months after, instead of solutions, what Nigerians are witnessing now are: opening of more can of worms; arguments; indictment and counter from the Government officials and petroleum marketers. Upon all of these, the premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise referred to as petrol is up till now, not readily available at most filling stations across the country. As we speak, the scarcity is yet to improve in any remarkable way. Presently, the least price one can get in most gas stations in Lagos for instance is N100 per litre. In most cases, a litre of petrol is sold as high as N150. This is beside the urchins’ toll fee before driving into the fuel stations and huge extra charges on stock dispensed inside the container.
Unfortunately, given the conflicting positions of the oil marketers and the government officials, with respect to the money owed, it is very obvious the present situation will not cease, but extend till May 29, handover date and probably beyond. Specifically, about two weeks ago, the marketers disclosed that they have been paid only N154 Billion as against N156 Billion the Federal Government claimed. In addition, the oil marketers threatened to stop importing and lifting of fuel if the balance of N200 Billion owed them was not paid after the lapse of two weeks – this weekend or next week!
Interestingly, the missing $20 billion oil money again has its disturbing dimension in the lingering scarcity saga. Despite its shocking reversal, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) confirmed in its forensic audit report, huge sum, that were involved in so many questionable transactions of NNPC – relating to importation, distribution and marketing of fuel.
With this, whatever is the reason for President Jonathan’s recent directive on the release in (May), the audit report his Government has kept for eight months might now be clear to the public. From the tone of the report, it is clear that the oil empire has not been open in its dealings; therefore, if the messy transactions were investigated and confirmed by the incoming government, some of the marketers might not be paid after all, majorly on lack of merit. The intriguing fact is now said to be the bane why the marketers are insisting they must be paid by the present Government, their outstanding to zero naira ahead of transition to the incoming administration.
Now the question: Is President Jonathan conscious of the illegality going on in the oil and gas sector, especially as related to PMS importation? Would all these awful details have been exposed to the general public had the outgoing President won in his re-election contest? Is it not possible this government had, (as usual) (if the PDP had won) denied the unfolding irregularities; having realized it has another term to spend in office, and then cover up? Why must a responsible government allow situation to reach this critical level before taking serious action? One simple fact is that, the PDP Presidential campaign organization members; the party stalwarts; supporters’ utterances, actions, reactions as well as offensive focus of their campaigns, suggested they pretended and never believed that President Jonathan has lost so much acceptability, therefore could not win the poll, provided, if free, fair and credible. In effect, the party and its members were jolted, hence the need for them to adjust and change the game plan, to serve as a smoke-screen.
It is disheartening that this scarcity is being added to the list of burdens to be inherited by the incoming administration. Sequel to this, I don’t envy, the incoming General Buhari’s Government, as it will be confronted with so many avoidable socio-economic challenges, if there were high level of discipline in the present government circle. The Government must be very cautious and focus to succeed.
The sad memory President Jonathan is leaving with Nigerians is not restricted to fuel scarcity. After declaration of the Presidential election result late March, the power sector totally became shadow of itself. During the last electioneering campaign, the outgoing Vice President Namadi Sambo, repeatedly laid claim to Jonathan’s administration inheriting less than 2000 MW, but has since been increased to over 2000 MW. This is despite the estimated $31.45 billion expended on electricity generation, by the ruling PDP in almost 16 years in power!
Today, the situation about electricity supply has degenerated from bad to worse as what is now generated is less than 2000 MW (estimated now at 1800 MW). Even before the latest warning of the total power outage, over 60 per cent of 170 million Nigerians has been living under less than two hours power supply a day! And the most embarrassing and regrettable aspect is that despite almost zero supply, Nigerians are still charged exorbitantly – to pay for service not enjoyed! This is abnormal; it is a naked corruption and highly illegal!
Consequently, cases are rife these days, about residents and communities refusing and resisting electricity distribution officials from dropping utility bills. The message people are sending now is ‘we have been robbed enough, therefore, no more to rip-off!’ Are people really to be blamed for their revolt? I believe the answer to this is not debatable.
Again, many Nigerian working class are presently in a grieve mood, not as if they were bereaved or lost valuable belonging. Rather, it is about the lost joy of an average worker who at the end of a month, smiles home with the rewards of his sweat. Today, many Federal Public servants are being owed (about a month or two month salaries). Situation at the State level is so bad that many career public servants and political appointees are being owed about three or six month of their salaries as well as allowances. And as we speak, a loan of over N400 Billion is to be sought by the Federal Government to offset some of the pending recurrent expenditure.
Why these alarming signals as President Jonathan rounds off from the office? Will the situation be this bad if the outgoing President emerged the winner of the last Presidential poll? Were there fore-warnings on these hard times and more as President recently warned? If this Government was committed and sincere, why did it chose to be political in her response, when a serving Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, raised an alarm sometime last year, over the sorry state of Nigerian economy; that the country was broke? With the present situation in the country, should anyone still be in doubt that the alleged $20 Billion oil money is indeed missing and is there any correlation between the stifle economic mood of the country and the alarm blew last year, by Lamido Sanusi’s successor, (as CBN Governor), Professor Chukwuma Soludo over the alleged N30 trillion of Nigerian money either stolen, missing or misappropriated?
Despite the sorry state of the economy and unraveled high profile alleged corruption cases against his administration, President Jonathan last Sunday, in his characteristics manner of attempting to arouse sentiment and public sympathy, went on sermonizing; saying he was ready for “persecution”, after leaving office, for some of the hard decisions he took, while in the office. He preached the same to his Ministers and aides. This statement, to me, is numb; pretentious and spiteful. Of course, the President achieved his set goals as tongues immediately wagged and mixed reactions trailed his outburst on air; on and offline.
Now to the issue; if getting to the root (investigations, prosecution and appropriate sanctions to the convicted) of the financial recklessness and indiscipline associated with his administration is what President Jonathan regarded and considered “persecution”, Nigerians were the helpless victims of his government gaffes, I believe so many of them careless about his definition, therefore cannot wait for such to happen. In fact, their position is that, it would be a boost and big plus for Buhari’s and the incoming ruling APC if such historic feat is achieved. More interestingly, Nigerians are glad that Gen. Buhari and his party do not share the view that “stealing is not corruption”.
President Jonathan, Nigerians do not care about your ‘deliberate’ perception on persecution. Their opinion is that $20 Billion is too much of money to be declared missing and allowed to be swept under the carpet. Nigerians are tired of your sentiments, virtually on every issue. In fact, if the government in waiting decides to re-open the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) March 2014 employment scandal in which scores died under your Minister for Internal Affairs, Abba Moro and your watch, as well as other gross misconducts traceable to your government, so be it! Nigerians are fed up about suffering and smiling; leaving with distrust of a government that lavished dollars, devalued naira in desperate move to win elections, yet, same President is claiming to be innocent and attempting to absolve himself of Billion dollars alleged financial scandals!
Finally, as the country and Nigerians wriggle in the pains and strive to survive the biting effects of the sad, agonized legacies of the outgoing administration, President Jonathan should please henceforth, learn to make a comforting; soothing public statements, if he cares at all. He must realize that if the sentiments he is reputed for, did not work for him and his party during last general elections, it cannot and will never work, now that the polls were over and about to vacate his present seat. Instead, I advise him and his team to concentrate more on handover and begin to prepare their facts and figures as well as rehearse their responses if and whenever they are summoned for questioning.
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