“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
Hate it or love it but there is no movement currently more earth shaking in Nigeria than the #IstandWithBuhari group, where 9 million Nigerians will gather to affirm their support for President Muhammadu Buhari on March 31st 2016. It has become an unconscious song on the lips of Nigerians, so much that everyone is waiting for the day they will storm Abuja. It has become more iconic that the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is becoming a learner.
I have my doubts about the sincerity of the campaign and was among the first Nigerian to criticize it. My reluctance to go full media blown by writing an article against them and syndicate it to Nigeria and foreign media partner is due to the involvement of IG Wala. I know IG Wala, we have met and spoken a lot, even during his House of Assembly campaign, BBOG and anti corruption rally that was led by Solomon Dalung, before he became a Minister. One thing was certain that while he was contesting under the PDP banner, he was telling me to support Buhari for presidency against his party man, Goodluck Jonathan. This was the singular reason I refused to question his involvement on why he contested under PDP and now suddenly supporting Buhari. He has been a long time supporter of Buhari.
For three years, I stood against Jonathan, campaigning for Buhari. In 2007, I wept inside when he lost to Jonathan and just prayed the court could remove Jonathan. In all of this, his emergence finally has not stopped me from criticizing him. How can a group be STANDING WITH BUHARI when I’m buying fuel at N130-150? How can a group that claims to be supporting Buhari be led by Chinedu Okpalam, who was a pioneer of #BringBackJonathan and Goodluck Initiative for Transformation (GIFT 2015). We all hold on to that as the evil of the #IstandWithBuhari.
But I had to take the extra step; confirm why Chinedu was involved in such a noble project, yet projected by ‘corrupt’ forces who squandered our commonwealth with Jonathan. And then I found out I found out that Chinedu left GEJ in 2014 before the general election, when his voice was not listened to in the party. I found his own words saying …”Did I ever meet Goodluck Jonathan in person throughout his Presidency? No. Did the Presidency sponsor my activities as i went about expending resources in trying to sensitize Nigerians to vote for him then? No. Did any of his ministers, agencies of government, friends of the President or even the NSA give me a penny or contract either to help launder money or as appreciation for political patronage? No. Did I solicit for such patronage? No. Why? Because i belong to that old school that says “put your money where your mouth is,” for in so doing no one can dictate to you what to do or not do”
“So why then did I risk it all for such a cause, knowing that the general perception is that no such campaign can be championed by an honest Nigerian unless he/she is hungry & sycophantic enough to ask no questions as long as money is put forward as the blinding motivating factor? By November 2014, I was no longer comfortable with the information filtering out on how huge monies were moved from person to person in government circles. Before then, my biggest enemy was the party PDP because I refused to align my organisation as an appendage to the party’s campaigns, and consistently made it clear that the organisation was non-partisan and that I am not a card carrying member of any political party. I made efforts to reach the directors of the Presidential Campaign Organisation then to have some of my worries answered, but they all seemed as lost as I was. I also tried to reach functionaries in the government then for clarifications on my fears, to which my requests met brick walls. I concluded then that Nigeria was being sold off to the highest bidder without our knowledge, and I believed that even if Goodluck Jonathan won the elections, there were facts to suggest this same people around him fingered in various illicit transactions would continue in office with him, as it seemed he was incapable of acting to change things. By December 2014, I started a process of moving my support with that of 1.9million Nigerians who had signed up to my campaign, to supporting the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari”
If this be the case, to begin to tailor our mind that it is not a scam afterall, but a group of persons who believe that the only way they can encourage the President is to publicly stand by him. We should begin to re-orient our minds that the project is not a sycophantic one, but that which has its origin way back from GEJ era and sincerely fused together to support the incumbent, without asking for favors. But again, we do care about how they get their funding to mount giant billboards across the states and FCT. We do care about how they get money to print T-Shirts and branded products just to promote the campaign. But won’t we be asking senseless questions that we already know the answers? The initiators and members are working class Nigerians, including Chinedu who is an Engineer. It will be myopic to think that such a person who floated GIFT without getting a dime from Jonathan will not put his resources into this. It will be a waste of criticism to think that for a group of persons who have shown will to see this come to pass will not get favor from well and even non well meaning Nigerians. For a brand such as this, many people will jump to stand by them and the result is what we are seeing today.
No one can blame the critics for kicking against the group, considering how we have been scammed in the past by my belle activists, who used it to climb to power and fatten their bank accounts. Our minds daily recall scam groups like ‘youths earnestly ask for Abacha’, Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), including the Anti Corruption group founded by Dino Melaye and died as soon as he climbed to the Senate Chambers with it, where he now displays corrupt tendencies as his official badge. But we can excuse this one as different species from the corrupt ones. We can exonerate them and give them a clean bill of health for removing Chinedu as the National Coordinator on moral grounds and replacing him with Mustapha Ramalan. That alone is a pass mark for the credibility test.
Without sounding as a tribal warmonger, why is the criticism of this group coming mainly from the Yoruba bloggers and social media lords? Is there any hidden thing they know that we don’t know? Could it be that there is a division among the media boys and activists groups in the defunct CPC and ACN political parties, with the CPC groups now championing the Buhari’s administration whereas it was the ACN group that ‘branded’ the Buhari’s product to the presidential villa (so they believe)? Something is not just right, but like every nation do, its national must stand by their president, whether championed by a group or not, and on this #IstandWithBuhari.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver is Editor In Chief of Secret Reporters News, Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Rights Activist can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or [email protected] Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86.