It is Time!
Nigeria’s Presidential election set for next month promises to be all things to all voters and onlookers alike. One sure thing, however, is that it would be hard-fought, both by the candidates and party loyalists. Incumbency confers tremendous benefits to Mr. Jonathan, but barring shameless rigging, he deserves to lose the contest. Reasons for being sacked by the electorate abound: he was never a popular president but nonetheless stumbled into the presidency by default, and got elected for his first term in office principally through the political monopoly of his People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and in his watch the insurgency of the militant group, Boko Haram, intensified with horrendous consequences on the innocents. But the sobering fact is that this group also controls a defined territory within the territorial competence of Nigeria; this is not only outlandish, it is treasonous.
President Jonathan’s hope to retain his job is largely based on the unquestioning support from his party’s core base, and rent-seeking behavior from parasitic functionaries that populate federal, state and local governments. Charges of misappropriation of petroleum funds by his administration have not been resolved, but this is a minor nuisance to his followers who expect nothing less from a thoroughly corrupt administration that has witnessed a cascade of serious allegations of corrupt practices made against a host of its ministers and deputies. But while corruption deepened its roots, the military remains ill-equipped and marginalized; so is the police force and scores of civil servants who have gone for months without pay. In the likely event they get paid their salaries, their purchasing power would be worth much less due to the devaluation of the national currency, an act that can only be attributed to bureaucratic inefficiency, and mismanagement of the Sovereign Fund which nobody has bothered to give a full account of its contents. If the Sovereign Fund was well-managed, there would have been no need to borrow so much from international institutions that invariably insist on devaluation of domestic currencies; nor would the need to restrict imports by devaluation arise.
The inability to protect the country is good enough reason to give Goodluck Jonathan the pink slip, but there are plenty others that would task the patience of the most dedicated reader if enumerated. The administration’s inability to properly explain away charges of human rights violations by the US and European countries has made it impossible for them to lend Nigeria substantial military support in the war against terrorism; this has, as a consequence, pushed the Jonathan administration into China’s realm of influence where disbursement of aid and assistance are unencumbered by such distractions. Along with disaffected supporters who voted him into office in the last election, many senior party officials and loyalists have deserted him and his ruling party to join the opposition group.
Muhammadu Buhari is not exactly without blemishes. His rule as a dictator some thirty years ago was not exemplary, nor remarkable. Human rights also suffered under his administration in his ‘war against indiscipline’ in the country. But in spite of these minuses, he presents the better opportunity to end the nightmarish terror campaign President Jonathan has so far been unable to contain. Better yet, he has the capacity to begin a healing process in a country fractured on religious and tribal grounds. While his administrative skills as a civilian head of state is yet to be tested, electing him gives the country a necessary genuine opening for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence; the expectation that his election would engender exchanges of love songs between splinter ethnic groups long mired in distrust and hatred would be premature. He is after all mortal. For all these and more, he deserves the opportunity to lead the country in the next four years.