By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Looking back through our history, Nigeria has been led by a series of heads of states and presidents. Some like Murtala Muhammed, Muhammadu Buhari the President-elect, and Yakubu Gowon left a legacy of service and wisdom.
Others of course, like Sanni Abacha and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida have been disasters. Majority of Nigerians would agree that President Goodluck Jonathan belongs to the latter group. History is, ultimately, the judge of one’s legacy. Some who were judged great and others who were considered failures, their legacies inform our lives and guide us into the future.
Jonathan governed during one of our nation’s darkest hours. He leaves behind a legacy of corruption, lies, and waste. In many ways he is the wrong person for the times – a man who seems not to understand the gravity of leadership in perilous times.
Taking office in 2011, he said: “My dear compatriots, Together we will unite our nation and improve the living standards of all our peoples whether in the North or in the South, in the East or in the West. Our decade of development has begun … The day of transformation begins today.” … We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people.”
Almost from the first day in office Jonathan failed to grasp the difference between truth and falsehood. His proclaimed primary objective was to destroy federalism, states’ rights and the unity of our country. Indeed, Jonathan has proven to be the great divider of our people than a uniter.
Jonathan consistently pontificates that he’s fighting corruption. However, corruption scandals involving many of his prominent cabinet members provides a glimpse into the reactionary politics, political division, and social and economic parasitism of his administration. Jonathan’s administration is an epitome of corruption.
Since he assumed office in 2011, corruption has gripped and crippled all sectors: oil industry, pension commission, the police, the military, aviation, civil service, mint and printing company, name it. The monies involved run into millions and billions if not trillions. He promotes corruption by his actions and inaction. He surrounds himself with felons and proven thieves and thugs such as Femi Fani-Kayode, Ayodele Fayose, Doyin Okupe, Kashamu Buruji, Bode George, Iyiola Omisore, and other illustrious criminals. He pardoned his former boss the poster child of corruption, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Our foreign reserve account which was $62 billion in 2008, is down to $38 Billion while the excess crude oil account which in 2009 was $20 billion is down to zero. The domestic gas project aimed at generating power has gulped $12 billion by December 2014 and nothing to show for it. Jonathan remains silent till now on N155 billion oil scandal involving government officials, Shell, Subsidiaries in Nigeria. The money was paid on the order of Jonathan to Malibu Oil and gas, a company owned by Dan Etete, a former oil minister under late General Sani Abacha.
Ten billion Naira was expended on chartered jets by the oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. On top of the $20 Billion missing from NNPC accounts, Alison-Madueke was involved on royalties and signature bonuses and was ordered by PriceWaterHouseCoopers auditing firm to refund $1.48 billion to the public coffers. Stella Oduah former aviation minister, with tax payers’ money purchased N225 million BMW armored cars for her personal use.
Alison-Madueke on behalf of Jonathan bankrolled AIT $10 billion bribe to produce and air negative documentaries on leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – Muhammadu Buhari, Ahmed Tinubu, and Yemi Osinbajo. Under Jonathan, the federal government’s debt has risen by $18.40 billion (N3trillion) in the last four years.
Jonathan paid N7 billion bribe to Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the group to campaign against Buhari. The cost of Jonathan’s campaign for the March 28 elections was a staggering one trillion Naira. In fact, by the first week of March, Jonathan had spent about N1.05 trillion.
In 2013,Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga said Nigeria lost N755 billion monthly to inaccurate measurements of exports. A man who embezzled N7.2 billion Police Pension Fund was only fined N750,000. Lucky Igbinedion’s brother, Michael Igbinedion who stole N25 billion from Edo State coffers was fined only N3 million. The N2.5 trillion fuel subsidy scam still unaccounted for.
Jonathan believes the problem of corruption is over flogged. At the funeral of General Owoye Azazi, Jonathan said corruption was not the cause of Nigeria’s problems. He was reacting to a statement by one of the officiating priests who had argued that corruption was the cause of all Nigeria’s problems. “Most of the things we think are caused by corruption are not,” says Jonathan. “This is because Nigeria has several institutions that fight corruption.” The judiciary was not spared from corruption. Under Jonathan, Nigerian judges are to justice and the rule of law as Hitler is to peace and religious freedom.
During his administration, Jonathan embarked on reckless spending that benefits his wealthy elite of millionaires and billionaires, his cabinet members, political appointees, business associates, pastor friends and spiritual counselors and saw their ranks swelled and their fortunes fattened. The result is a social and economic polarization unprecedented in the history of our nation.
Jonathan’s principal task was to police the yawning class divide, hiring the largest number of do-nothing political parasites, fund redundant agencies with overlapping functions with no objectives, no focus, no result. His inner circle of friends and appointees felt they were entitled to a life of luxury at the expense of the nation. This was part of the toxic atmosphere of corruption, poverty, hopelessness, fear, hatred, class division that hung over Nigeria under Jonathan.
But misuse of public funds is the true treason. For every Naira pilfered from the government an underprivileged child goes hungry. As a result of Jonathan’s self-enrichment drive, pregnant women were denied the right to access medical care from hospitals. The sick, especially the vulnerable ones like senior citizens, children with special needs, and the infirm were denied the urgent medical needs.
Each day, Nigerians are greeted with a shocking distraction from their daily troubles with unbelievable news of corruption. For Jonathan, he has nothing to worry about. There was no reprimand for the perpetrators. Company CEOs, bank executives, ministers, political appointees, caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Jonathan did nothing to stop large caliber corruption charges, even at close range.
A writer once described Jonathan as a “serial liar.” Each opportunity he has to address the problems of the nation, he oozes out a bagful of lies. Samples: Jonathan vows to end Boko Haram menace (AFP April 19, 2012). Jonathan vows ‘Major changes’ for Nigeria (Dailymotion, April 20, 2011). Nigerian President vows to Return nation to Order (Vanguard Apil 21, 201). Nigerian President vows to Strengthen Democratic Rule (Voice of America, May 30, 2011). Jonathan vows to “crush terrorists” (Reuters, Dec. 31, 2011). Jonathan vows not to shield any corrupt person from investigation or prosecution by anti-graft agencies in the country (NewsDiary, May 4, 2012). Corruption: No more sacred cows, Jonathan vows (vanguard July 26, 2011). I’ve fulfilled my promises to Nigerians – Jonathan (Premium Times November 11, 2014).
While majority of Nigerians are restless about where their next meal would come from,when civil servants are not paid for months, when six million jobs promised youths never materialized, when students protested against hiked fees, when civil and human rights organizations denounced the travesty of justice in the land, Jonathan and his crew clung to the mentality of broiler chickens which eat without stopping.
As we remember the waste and the ruins of the Jonathan years, we must remember that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience. The future of our great nation can be different and it should be different. We must move from memory to action.
Farewell to the native son of Otuoke!