Efe Wanogho: Fresh Air Nigeria!

Efe Wanogho: Fresh Air Nigeria!

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When President Jonathan sought to become a democratically elected President in 2011, and some Nigerians wrote him off, insisting that he had nohing to offer, having held office as Acting President, and later, President, with full executive powers, following the death of President Yar’Adua; his most vocal supporters argued that he needed his own mandate to serve the nation a fitting dosage of his transformation medication. This group of people posited that Jonathan’s pedigree can best be known when he assumes office on his own mandate, freely given to him by the electorate after an election. And so, team Jonathan mounted a campaign based on the twin mantras of transformation and fresh air.

They insisted that Jonathan was a clean break from the past, as he was, in the opinion of his supporters, not one from the midst of the ubiquitous and plenteous assembly of yesterday’s men – apologies to Reuben Abati – who cling onto power until they cease to be. Some, particularly from the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones, saw the ascendance of Jonathan to the country’s Presidency, as an indication of the presence of the Divine in his life. It was argued, that even if Goodluck Jonathan was not evidently ahead of the pack of contenders for the Presidency, in terms of aptitude, antecedents, and competency; many were going to cast their votes for him to prove a point to those with a supposed born-to-rule mentality from the North, that the Presidency was not an exclusive preserve of theirs. Thus, proceding from that bigoted premise, many a seemingly enlightened individual; drummed up support for the man whose meteoric rise in the political life of Nigeria is largely attributed to divinity; notwithstanding whether he had done sufficient justice to previously held positions for the furtherance of the common good.

After about 29 months into the freely and consciously secured term of the transformation and fresh air President, not a few Nigerians are wondering how they got themselves into a rudderless boat in the perilous waves of the sea. They wonder why a President that should be concerned with exorcising the spirit of corruption from our corporate body polity would hasten to lavishly and thoughtlessly grant a Presidential Pardon to his predecessor in Bayelsa State, and why as the head of the executive arm, and by extension, the chief enforcer of rules, Mr. Jonathan, would prove unable to see to the successful conclusion of prosecution of persons suspected to have fraudulently derailed the fuel subsidy scheme of the government, and criminally enriched themselves therefrom. They wonder why individuals with questionable credibility would be among the closest associates of the President.

Hapless Nigerians who, against all entreaties to reason, decided to cast their votes for President Jonathan, have since transformed themselves from being in a perpetual state of wonder, to one of surrender and resignation to the subsisting scheme of things in which, mediocrity is the order of the day. Under the watch of Goodluck Jonathan, terrorism has – as he indicated – come to stay. Kidnapping for ransoms and armed robbery are at an all time high. The carnage on our roads, waterways, and from the airspace, are harsh reminders that Nigerians are living in subhuman circumstances. If anything, some cosmetic beautification of the airports, that is taking forever to conclude, is all there to see. The roads remain progressively impassable. The tertiary institutions have been closed owing to unresolved labour rifts between the government and the lecturers. The health sector is still very much comatose. There remains to be seen, any impactful actions by the government to increase access to qualitative healthcare delivery.

Under the watch of President Jonathan, a serving Minister attributes plane crash to acts of God, describing them as inevitable, even when it is obvious that human errors are chiefly to blame; and the President does not think it proper to relieve her of her duties. Of course, how could he? Did he not state that perhaps it was our turn for terrorism? When the dust from the Minister’s gaffe is yet to settle down, in the wake of another avoidable bloodshed from our airspace; Goodluck Jonathan’s Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, is again in the news for unsavoury reasons. Following the revelation by some media houses that she caused the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to extravagantly aquire two bulletproof vehicles for her use, at far more than the actual cost for such vehicles; she is reported to have admitted to authorizing the purchase,citing security concerns. The question is: would such a conduct be condoned in any country that purports to take governance seriously? If the political leadership doesn’t feel compelled to lead the charge against corruption, who would? How could our government condemn the masses to live in austerity, while the ruling class revel in criminal opulence?

The truth is that every Nigerian can smell the air that pervades the entire sociopolitical sphere of the country. It is up to each one to come to terms with the reality that is on the ground. We have to determine whether we would continue to put up with such extravagance and financial recklessness by those who are entrusted with the stewardship of our collective patrimony, while there is abject poverty in the land, accompanied by a crime culture that thrives in the face of leaders who are obviously unperturbed by the conspicuous decay that is affecting whatever is left of our public life; and when our educational institutions are suffering from decades of neglect and instituted mediocrity. We must decide for ourselves whether we would continue to be passive onlookers while a privileged few hold us in perpetual subjugation to their erratic whims and caprices.

We ought to ask ourselves whether what we have in Nigeria as the circumstances for human existence is the best we can get. Are the people saddled with leadership positions in the public sector, the best we can get? Do we have to resign ourselves to fate, praying pointlessly for some elusive messiah of the mould of a biblical Moses or a Ghanaian Rawlings; or are we ready to take our destiny in our own hands by ensuring that only the best of us are allowed to lead the rest of us? Have the scales of ethnoreligious considerations in supporting candidates for office, fallen off our eyes? Have we seen the folly in outsourcing our responsibility of vigilance and active engagement to God?

The task of rebuilding Nigeria is a responsibility for all Nigerians, but we cannot discountenance the impact a dogged, visionary, and incorruptible leadership, would have on the fortunes of a people. The prime task before Nigerians now is to seek out the most worthy among us for various positions of authority and be ready to pay the supreme sacrifice in ensuring that only the truly worthy; only those who are ready to toil for the collective good and subsume their individual interests in the national interest, wield the levers of power. Voting for ones kinsman simply because he shares the same ethnic origins with one, and not because he is the most suited for the job, is an indication of a crudeness akin to living in darkness.

As a parting shot, when you want to fix a broken down vehicle, do you search for your “brothers and sisters” or do you search for the most capable hands irrespective of their ethnicity or religious biases?

I am @efewanogho, on Twitter.

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