By Mustapha Abdulrahman
Words they say are cheap and nothing is as sweet as beating up the weeping boy as all, including weaklings suddenly gain strength and bury their own weaknesses in the collective attack. Unfortunately, it bellies current failures and provide a ready platform for discuss even when we know the lie in it.
No situation affords the above assertion better expression than what has become the order of the day in casting former President Goodluck Jonathan in bad light; selling him as a total failure even in the face of realities. We know that the heart does not lie but the tongue is deceitful; so one wonders why even respected men choose to live the lie because that is the vogue.
Examples to prove the point are legion and glaring for which one would have been tempted to gloss over them except for the fact that Nigerians have started acting too early as if we are suffering from collective amnesia on the issue of Jonathan’s performance given the circumstances.
Most painful is the fact that we have soon forgotten the accolades that attended the reformation of our international gateways and the advertorials that graced newspapers showering praises on how things had changed. The question that rushes to ones lips is “Are we being fair to Jonathan by painting him with the tar of general lack of performance? Can we stand the pricking of our conscience over the issue of realities of crediting one man with the success of another just to scurry favour?
There were certain things that had left our memories which the Jonathan administration restored to our collective psyche and never in the annals of the country’s history was freedom of expression given such a handle as under his regime. He paid dearly for it with the abuses which it appears people have been fixated on long after he gracefully left the stage.
It is incontrovertible that in every sense of it, his transformation agenda really transformed the country in all sectors though the rot in the system which had endured over the years seemed to taint his efforts; but if truth be told, he left giant marks which his traducers have been working assiduously to rubbish without success and in the process; celebrate their own ignorance and lack of direction.
Rather than fall into the common mistake of attacking ideas and people, it is more honourable and respectable to take some issues and address them to prove that Nigerians will be lucky to have President Muhammadu Buhari leave marks on the political and developmental space like Jonathan did. Without even starting, cries are all Nigerians are getting from the present regime which unknown to them, is preparing grounds for the explanation of its would be failures.
Jonathan approached governance with a developmental mind with the best intentions for the country. He placed national interest above self, a reason he chose a different path by conceding victory no matter how it was won just for the country to be at peace. A retrospective look will reveal how his opponents in no distant past took their losses at the polls and the hundreds of Nigerian lives, property and animosities that went into it. That alone places him head above all Nigerian politicians and bellied his considerations for the country. Simply put, he transformed the Nigerian psyche, giving us an opportunity to think straight once more.
Another funny thing that has become the order of the day for example is the praises being showered on President Buhari over the improvement of power supply across the country. Yes, power generation and distribution have generally improved but it was not a feat that was achieved overnight because it is not like putting on your generator at home and getting light immediately. Power involves intricate processes that include building of infrastructure, the turbines, gas supply, the generation, wheeling, transmission and distribution before Nigerians get the power in their homes. The question is what has the present administration done from May till now to have put those things in place? It is simply the result of what Jonathan did that Buhari is getting the praises for. It is like a hunter who shot a game that in the thrashing of death goes somewhere else to die and picked by a nursing mother and everyone starts to sing her praise for killing a big game. Jonathan updated the transmission backbone of the country which was unable to carry above 3000 megawatts; built substations, massively brought in transformers and completed generating stations across the country that radically increased the generation capacity of the country.
At a point, notwithstanding that gas is not like crude oil that thieves could puncture the pipelines to steal, yet each time power peaked within his tenure, saboteurs would cut the gas supply and power will drop. What has the present regime done to stop that other than those who were doing it have simply stopped because power has changed hands? Anything that is seen in improvement of power in the coming years remains a credit to Jonathan; even Buhari knows that.
Another funny assertion is that refineries in the country coming back on stream three months after the new regime took over were the handiwork of Buhari. The simple question to ask is how long does Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of a refinery take? What for example is the average time and process of replacing the Catalytic Cracking Unit (CCU) of a refinery like happened with the Port Harcourt refinery? Answers to these questions would show that it takes an average of 18 months for TAM and even longer to procure and install CCU since it is not an on-the-shelf part; yet gullible Nigerians are plied with sweet stories of what is not. The fact again is that Jonathan’s regime turned around the refineries and any result coming in that sector goes to only one person, Jonathan.
Prior to the coming of the Jonathan administration, road travel had but died across the country. How many kilometers of motorable roads did we have before then? Travelers between Lagos and Benin, Edo State slept more on the road than the days they made the journey in a day. The Ore axis if it had mouth, would have testified to how many travelers it swallowed through accidents, not to talk of those it hosted in traffic snarls while armed robbers had field days. Yet those who ply the route now can attest to the difference. Soon too, maybe, those would be credited to the vaunted “change”. Roads across the northern parts of the country are even better now as more works were done there. Some bridges conceived in the 70s and left in the drawing board breathed the air of realisation under Jonathan while the South East which has the worst roads also got some relief. There is no part of the country that did not feel the road rehabilitation and construction. We await Buhari to surpass those records.
Airports across the country could be said to have had the best of it as modernisation spread evenly for the first time since our independence under Stella Oduah as Minister. Even today, no one can without covering his face in shame; say Jonathan did not reform our airports from Lagos to Kano, Sokoto to Kaduna, Calabar to Owerri, Benin to Abuja and Enugu airport which started enjoying international flights. Jonathan had a fair mind so much that developments other heads of State had vowed would be executed over their dead bodies are now functional when they are still alive.
Rail transportation which is supposed to take pressure off our roads died long time ago. Also, the political and military class used it as the worst conduit pipe to drain resources for years without anything to show for it. Infact, rather than shop for tar list to nail Jonathan with, one thought that the present regime would probe the rail contracts prior to the time Jonathan revived it. Today, Lagos to Kaduna, Kano route is back on stream, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri is also back on stream among many long hauls. The speed rail between Kaduna and Abuja is nearing completion while modern coaches and heads have been brought into the country, yet people are behaving as if they are not seeing.
Can one remember the amount the country lost to food importation even with the land mass that it is blessed with? Have we forgotten that fertilizer importation, allocation and distribution created emergency billionaires while the real farmers that needed them never had access to that necessary farm input? Can we remember how rice farmers craved for patronage and milling machines without getting positive response from the required quarters? Do we not know now that we are inching towards self-sufficiency in rice productions? How many people know that Nigeria is the highest cassava producer in the world? So many milestones the mind could not fathom in the past were achieved in agriculture under Jonathan. We thank God that Buhari is a farmer; we shall see how far he would consolidate on what Jonathan did.
One thing that needs be said is that even though the achievements are like work in progress, the effect of those projects are going to be positively felt decades from now and therefore beyond Buhari’s tenure, so posterity should be kind enough to credit Jonathan with his good works.
Coming to the issue of statesmanship, he still stands head above everyone which has lionised Jonathan in the African continent and beyond. How many sitting heads of state ever conceded defeat at a poll they superintended? What would have happened if he decided to contest the results with all the proof of underage voting and the lopsided distribution of permanent voters cards? Have we forgotten the assertion of the “baboon and the monkey to be soaked in blood” should a particular candidate lose the elections? He is not in the category of desperate politician who wants to be in power by all means. We can remember not in the distant past, the sharing of the treasury to elongate constitutional given days in power by some who today are masquerading as political saints, yet Jonathan sacrificed the office for peace.
He had the army, police and other security apparatchik at his control to have foisted himself in power or even put up credible challenge to the election results but refrained from doing so because of the thousands that would have died from the aftermath. Putting the nation first, he saved lives.
From the foregoing, should we attack a man because he refused to pull punches? Should his peaceful disposition be taken for weakness and therefore pummeled with the notion that he lacks power to go into an offensive or defend himself? Caution should be exercised when aiming a sledge hammer on the skulls of the innocent.
Every Nigerian has been a victim of the fraud in government; while some looted the treasury within very short periods of time and are answering statesmen today, others try to hide theirs in bantes and aso oke, casting the impression of piety and modesty but we know that their worth when they assumed power is not what it is today after selling our common patrimony to themselves and cronies in the name of privatization and yet they bask in the euphoria of being protected from probes.
Probe is good but why not being fair to all and probe every regime, at least within the era of democratic rule? It appears the probe is just another name for going after Jonathan who pre-scientifically had warned his ministers to brace up for persecution. Apply the golden rule and probe all instead of picking and choosing
In the event the suspicions of reasonable minds that Jonathan is the target hold true, know that the seed of discord has been sown unless the plot is to tar a certain section of the country in order to exclude them from power in the future. Humiliating Jonathan is humiliating the office of the President and the consequences can be dire after all, there had been probes without consequences in the past.