“As a party, we consider … unacceptable the precipitous governance of the nation in the last two years. More galling is the priorities of Mr. President which, unfortunately, are at variance with the political and economic health of the nation. It seems that the president, for a self-centred reason of his re- election desire, is at the epicentre of most of the dire security challenges assailing our dear nation.”
– From the back page of ThisDay of June 7, 2013.
It is to the above sentiments that I refer in the title of this piece as a CPC broadside. For they were credited to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and, as I have indicated above, published (as the daily staple called “MISSILE”) on the back page of a recent issue of ThisDay, under the title of “CPC to Jonathan.” The CPC, incidentally, is one of our opposition parties.
Of course, I am not one of those employed to defend President Goodluck Jonathan or his government. And I do not covet that role, which I believe is currently being filled by capable hands. I am also not a politician, except to the extent that, as a “political animal,” a la Aristotle, I may be viewed as a politician, since it is rare to be human and completely detached from politics.
Here, I oppose the sentiments simply as a concerned citizen who, despite having read many works on real politik, still believes that truth and honour, compared with their opposites, are superior means of securing political gains. I regret to say, without meaning to be disrespectful, that I see neither truth nor honour in the CPC broadside, especially with its assertion that “the priorities of Mr. President … are at variance with the political and economic health of the nation.” And to that, insinuating the president into the “epicentre of most of the dire security challenges assailing our dear nation”! And did I miss its subtle, unsuccessful attempt to equate stridency with validity?
Nothing, I dare say, justifies throwing up such false, politically motivated diatribe in the face of intelligent beings as I consider Nigerians to be, though I am not sure that those who spewed it would agree with me, or they might not have expected us to swallow it without a protest such as I make here.
Now, shortly after he assumed office, President Jonathan launched the roadmap to power sector reform on August 26, 2010. Since then, his administration has shown uncommon doggedness, against many frustrating odds, in its quest to realise the goals of the reform, summarised thus in the “Roadmap for Power Sector Reform,” a priority-setting document of his administration: “Our commitment is to bring an end to our nation’s stunted growth and usher in the fresh air of prosperity by pursuing a new era of sector-wide reform which is driven by improved service delivery to every class of customers in the Nigerian electricity sector.” Put otherwise, his government’s commitment is to unleash our nation’s economic and developmental potential by improving the availability and delivery of electricity to our citizens.
Can an opposition party be right in accusing a serving president and government with such a clearly stated “commitment” of having priorities that are “at variance with the political and economic health of the nation?” Can it make the accusation without running the risk of being suspected of lacking knowledge of what the priorities of a government should be in a country like ours, where the lack of electricity can be blamed for most of the socio-economic problems? And speaking more specifically about the “economic health” of our nation,” if the above “commitment” of President Jonathan and his government are “at variance” with it, then what could possibly be in tune with it?
I would answer the first two of the above questions in the negative and wait for the CPC to provide an answer to the third, as I do not know the answer. For I believe that nothing can be more in tune with the economic health of our nation currently than the commitment of the Jonathan administration to implement the power sector reform successfully, to the end of freeing our nation and its people from the grip of darkness and the attendant socio-economic backwardness.
And for the suggestion that “… the president, for a self-centred reason of his re-election desire, is at the epicentre of most of the dire security challenges assailing our dear nation,” it strikes me as a failed effort to revise our contemporary history, even as it continues to evolve before our eyes. For it smacks of blaming the president or his “re-election desire” for the Boko Haram insurgency – undoubtedly the node and direst of “the security challenges assailing our dear nation.” And so it would follow, if CPC’s strange accusation were true, that the president actually acted against his personal and political interests by declaring a state of emergency recently in three states in order to stem the insurgency. What can be farther from the truth? Nothing, I think.
Surely, “the security challenges assailing our dear nation” erupted long before the president might have started nursing any “re-election desire,” before he became president. So it is illogical, chronologically speaking, to blame the “desire” for the challenges.
And what is CPC’s proof that the president’s re-election desire is “self-centred?” One reads from such a rootless but revealing description the likelihood that the dysfunction that has been foisted on our system in recent years, through unjustifiable violent acts, were programmed to make the president think it would be a worthy sacrifice in the interest of our nation not to seek re-election; in all, an act of “moral” blackmail. What is more curious, to me, is that those apparently seeking to achieve their own political goals by such foul means do not seem to see their behaviour as “self-centred”.
Nor does it occur to them that average Nigerians can reject the bitter potion of untruths they pass off, through such diatribe, as genuine political criticism, apparently believing that we are so desperate for change that we are prepared to swallow anything that pretends to offer an improvement to the status quo. Are we? I think no.
Oke, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja
Send reactions to: