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THE recent Dana Air plane disaster in Nigeria with the loss of over 153 lives is too many for human life to be wasted through negligence. Human life is too precious to be toiled around with.

Historically, we assumed that the Federal Government could have learned some lessons from the December 2005 Sosoliso Airlines plane that crashed in Port Harcourt, with more than 100 deaths. The October 2005 Bellview Airlines plane crashed near the village of Lisa , Ogun state, which killed 117 people. May 2002, the Plane operated by EAS Airlines crashed in Kano , killing 148 people - half of them on the ground. November 1996, 142 people died when Boeing 727 owned by Nigeria 's ADC airline plunged into lagoon 55 miles from Lagos . In September 1992, 158 people were killed when military transport plane went down near Lagos . Now (June 2012) Dana Airlines plane crashed in Iju, near Lagos , with over 153 deaths.

THERE have been a lot of scepticism about  the Federal Government’s  reactions to the oil subsidy looters, the House of Representatives Report, the actions of the Attorney General and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that has been doing some “shoddy” jobs in bringing justice on its cases.
For instance, it is ironic for the government to spend four percent of its GDP on petroleum subsidies, in the face of the abject poverty in the country.

THIS week, precisely on May 29, Nigeria would mark yet another Democracy Day.  Every May 29 has been declared Democracy Day in Nigeria. For a nation long stuck in the stock of military dictatorship, observing a Democracy Day is a perfect reminder of its inglorious history during which swashbuckling tyrants ruled the roost. This is the context in which we welcome the Democracy Day as a national landmark.


Over the past 13 years of unbroken constitutional rule, Nigeria has marked several Democracy Days but this year's event is peculiar in several ways. It is the first Democracy Day the nation is marking under a president who came into office on the wings of the least contentious election. The 2011 presidential election which ushered President Goodluck Jonathan to office is locally and internationally acknowledged as 'free and fair' compared to previous elections. It was an election in which both the rich and poor, young and old including the hitherto apolitical came out en masse to freely give their mandate to a president who had the most popular appeal among the battery of presidential candidates in the election. That election, in substance and significance, marked a tipping point in the nation's electoral annals. Simply put, the people's vote counted and the best candidate won.

That candidate is Goodluck Jonathan, a doctorate degree holder in zoology and the very first Nigerian president to have attained such scholarly height. He came into office with a bloated sack of promises and the people had an equally ballooned bag of great expectations. Unfortunately, however, promises have not matched expectations and the net result is the pervasive anger and disappointment that stalk the land. Jonathan promised to improve power, fight corruption, rebuild the decayed infrastructure, rejig education, healthcare, create jobs and arrest the shuttering of companies operating in the manufacturing sector.

The president promised so much during the electioneering period but today by benefit of hindsight it is obvious that President Jonathan is in grave deficit of his own part of the social contract which he entered into on that bright and beautiful day a great majority of Nigerians thronged the polling centres to freely give him an overwhelming mandate. Instead of general improvement, the president seems to be undoing what his predecessors had done in office.

On the issue of corruption which is at the core of the nation's continual drift to perdition, Jonathan has not been poignant in speech or pungent in action to suggest his willingness to tame the bogey. One of his predecessors in office, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in spite of himself, showed more spunk in executing his anti-corruption promises. He convicted former governors, chieftains of his own party, former Inspector General of Police, private sector top executives and many more. Under Obasanjo, even though corruption thrived, he still acted in a manner that inspired some measure of public confidence in his much mouthed crusade against corruption. It is to Obasanjo's credit that the two anti-graft agencies operational in the country today, the EFCC and ICPC, were formed. The same cannot be said of President Jonathan who neither mouths anti-corruption with conviction nor acts it with certitude. In the last 12 months, corruption has flourished both in the public and private sectors with vengeful fury.

Whereas Jonathan promised improved power, what he has significantly improved is the tariff for the power without a corresponding improvement in power delivery. The appointment of Professor Barth Nnaji as minister of power was hailed as a masterstroke but even this has done little to improve the electricity supply situation. Today, under Jonathan's presidency, people pay more for same or even less service in electricity.

Such high tariff adds to the frustrations on the land. To make matters worse, barely seven months into his regime, the president chose the scared moment of the New Year day to increase the pump price of petrol thus inflicting more pains on Nigerians. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, prices of kerosene, petrol and diesel took a flight to the skies far beyond the reach of both the poor and the rich. Not even the revelation of the existence of a money-guzzling and corrupt cabal in the petroleum industry has stirred the president to action. The hesitant presidential directive to the EFCC to prosecute those indicted in the oil subsidy bazaar is a face-saving knee-jerk response from a president perceived largely to have acquiesced to the feast of corruption under his nose.

The president has not delivered in infrastructure either. Nigerian roads are bad and unsafe at any speed. As if on cue from the centre, the state governments, save one or two, have grossly performed below par given their monthly grants from the federation account and increasing internally generated revenue profiles.
To crown the cycle of national dismay, the country is witnessing the worst state of insecurity in its history. Except during the civil war, at no time has the people felt more insecure than they are now. The Boko Haram scourge, brazen armed robbery and general crime wave have coalesced to give Nigeria the image of a nation under siege. Nigeria is in dire need of a makeover both in terms of infrastructural development and security. The auguries are scary and if nothing is done now, the consequences could be cataclysmically dire.

Yet, it is obvious that Nigerians still love their president. It is on this note that we urge Mr. President to use the occasion of this year's Democracy Day to soberly and somberly reflect on the Nigerian situation. There is still room for him to come good. He has three good years to redeem himself. Within this period, we expect the president to be courageous and decisive on matters of corruption and security. He must be pragmatic in the area of power delivery. Nigerians have seen so much of verbal promises, now is the time for them to begin to see real action.

Received opinion among Nigerians is that Jonathan is yet to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. If the last 12 months were to be used to score the president, the verdict is unvarnished failure. This is not the type of scorecard Mr. President would like to leave behind. He must redeem himself and his party. Clearly, he cannot be everywhere but the buck stops on his table. If it means sacking his cabinet, rejigging the nation's security apparatchik or changing his leadership strategy so be it. The people want result. Public confidence in government is waning fast, public angst is running wild; patient of the people is being stretched beyond limit; jobs are not created and those privileged to have one are losing it. This is why this year's Democracy Day does not call for banners and buntings. It does not call for showy displays at parade grounds or long sermons in the guise of lectures. It calls for serious introspection by those in power especially the president and the governors. They should collectively and individually ask themselves the question: have we improved the people's wellbeing better than we met it?

Some Nigerians have been calling for mass action against the culture of misgovernance prevalent now. While we acknowledge the genuineness of their concern, we urge them to show restraint and give Mr. President and his team more time to get their bearing right. We see this as a nobler path than the ruinous path of protests that have often resulted in death and destruction of property.
Meantime, President Jonathan should wake up. Now is the time to walk the talk.

 

GENERAL Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), who has unsuccessfully contested thrice for the Nigerian Presidency, has put on his military garb, attacking and inciting the fragile country, made fragile by him and others of his ilk, by declaring, like a war-monger, that blood would flow in 2015 if what happened in the 2011 elections was repeated. The picture is now clear-cut that the source of the violent aftermath of the 2011 general elections, especially in the North, was the loss of the presidential election by a man, Gen. Buhari, who could never have won that election any way.


Buhari got it all twisted when he made insinuations to "bloodbath" in 2015 at such a time when the orgy of violence (in most parts of northern Nigeria) coming in the wake of the election of President Goodluck Jonathan in April 2011 continues to stare Nigerians straight in the face. With the widespread belief that Boko Haram is a sponsored terrorist organization with a mandate to destabilize the government of President Goodluck Jonathan and make Nigeria ungovernable, Buhari could have gone beyond being a clannish and regional leader, who speaks for only a part of the country, and remained an elder statesman, if he ever was.
It is demeaning for an elder statesman, who was once a Head of State, to make such an inflammable statement directly inciting his supporters that "If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, 'the dog and the baboon' would all be soaked in blood", the language of a guttersnipe!  Intentionally or unwittingly implicating the North in what appears to be a regional conspiracy, he further declared that, 'Since the leaders now don't listen to anybody but do whatever they wish, there is nothing the North can do.'

Different political parties have different methods of rigging elections all over the world. Unfortunately, the rigging of elections was part of Nigeria's hangover from Independence even though the practice would seem to have gone underground for a while, being not as blatant as it used to be.
Buhari goofed by his utterances as he sounded as though it is non-human blood that would “flow” come 2015!

As a former military Head of State, Buhari ought to have realized the sensitivity of security issues, and should have controlled his anger and the conflicts within him regarding the current administration without making any public pronouncement that would ignite the nerves of already charged Nigerians. Unfortunately, Buhari's handlers are not doing him any favour. It is unfortunate for Buhari, a former Numero uno citizen of this country to have reduced himself to such a level. Where is his statesmanship? He has a problem of identifying with democracy.

What Buhari needs to do, to counter any plan to rig 2015 elections, is to go into alliance with other political parties to strategize on winning the elections. These rantings will not help dislodge thespian PDP that has retained the central government for a while. PDP has the resources to keep on winning the elections for some decades to come if there is no strong opposition party to challenge and convince the electorate that the opposing party could be trusted.

Buhari has to get out from his regional leadership and carry his party all over the country. In 2011 he limited his campaign to the northern zones, without campaign offices in the south. He did not campaign in the South-South, South East and South West apart from a nodding visit to Ibadan in Oyo State. To win any election in Nigeria, a party has to show its strong presence in all the thirty six States.

Regardless of what is happening in the corruption-laden public service, the President would be blamed for every challenge in the country. Nigerians should appreciate and recognize the efforts being made by the government on oil subsidy which is the bane of corruption in Nigeria. Each administration has its different approaches to resolving some challenges facing it in a democratic dispensation.

Ironically, Buhari never condemned the post-2011 election violence in the North, violence that erupted soon after election results were announced, resulting in the gruesome death of some NYSC members, legitimately serving their motherland in the North. Buhari has refused to make a statement about Boko Haram insurgents. Should issues be resolved through violence? If Nigerians failed to elect Buhari, does he want to impose himself on the country through blood shedding?

It would be interesting to know where Buhari's children are this hour, when their father's violence-inducing statements are brewing violence for Nigeria. What about members of his immediate family?

Unfortunately, he is inciting the children of other Nigerians to shed the blood of innocent Nigerians.  The man Buhari should grow up and stop behaving as if he had the monopoly of knowledge and violence.

 

A welcome revelation from the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi, that the People's Democratic Party, PDP, is Nigeria's number one security risk, should be taken seriously by Nigerians. The PDP's call for his removal is unfortunate. That the PDP, the ruling party, poses security challenges to the nation, should be of serious concern to Nigerians, particularly when such information came directly from the mouth of the National Security Adviser who is awash with strategic intelligence reports.

Is it illogical to dismiss such a high profile public declaration on such a sensitive issue because of the ethnicity or the courage of the informant? The predictions for hard times in Nigeria from the PDP administration are creeping in with hunger, anger, loss of jobs, insecurity, terrorism, anarchy as frightening pieces of evidence.

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