By Reno Omokri
I was preparing my regular end of year/beginning of the New Year analysis on Nigeria when the airwaves where almost physically assaulted by the unexpected and unexplainable call by the Buhari Campaign Organization of the All Progressive Congress, APC, to the military to mutiny!
After regaining my composure after the shock I got on reading the news, I asked myself why anybody would make such a call especially at this time when Nigeria is facing an insurgency by terrorists who want to force their interpretation of Islam and their way of life on the rest of us?
Hadn’t the maker of that statement learnt anything from the way and manner all of Pakistan united behind the government and the military after the terrorist attack at the Army Public School in Peshawar?
When terrorists strike in Nigeria, the opposition blames the government and undermines the military by politicizing the incident and even worse they sow seeds of discord by spreading the vilest and most outlandish conspiracy theories which end up making it difficult for the armed forces to build relationships of trust between them and the local communities at the frontlines of the insurgency.
The Nigerian opposition appears to have put their own spin on John Lyly’s immortal words and now believe that ‘all is fair in hatred and politics’.
But let us look at the response of the people of Pakistan to the Peshawar attack in which 145 innocent children died.
Before the attack, the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party had organized the largest ever public protest march in Pakistani history against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Almost as soon as Party leader Imran Khan announced plans for his party’s protest march his fellow opposition party leader, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri’s political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) also announced his own party’s protest march against the government.
The subsequent protest march became so big that it was nick named the ‘Tsunami March’ in the Pakistani press and was constantly growing and threatened the governing Pakistan Muslim League party’s hold on power as other protest marches erupted simultaneously in various cities across Pakistan.
However, as soon as news filtered in of the terror attacks at the Peshawar school, Imran Khan, the leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, voluntarily and without pressure from the government, called of the ongoing protest saying “due to the situation in the country right now, we have decided to end our protests, decision had been made in light of the terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar”. When asked why he took the action, Khan said “the country needed national unity”.
This is leadership!
You do not have to hold an Executive government position before you can show leadership. You start where you are and Khan has shored up his leadership potentials in Pakistan by this act than he ever would have been able to do with his ‘Tsunami March’!
Why can’t our opposition learn from this selfless act?
Nigeria has been in the throes of the Boko Haram insurgency and the only way we can defeat this scourge is if we unite as a nation irrespective of political, religious and regional differences the way we did with Ebola.
We can’t be fighting a war on terror and then the opposition is encouraging the military to mutiny.
I thought long and hard on the call by Rotimi Amaechi, the Buhari Organization’s campaign Director General and my conclusion is that we could all do with a bit of history and Ecclesiastical lessons here.
I am a student of religion and both the Holy Bible and the Quran urge readers to obey the Golden Rule. “Do to others what you would have them do to you”-Matthew 7:12.
One of the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad SAW says “ِAheb li akheek ma tuhibu li nafsik” which translates to “wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself”.
Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) who himself led a mutiny against a democratically elected government in December 1983 (almost 31 years to the exact day when his campaign team made the shocking call to mutiny), has on many occasions lamented the mutiny of his own officers against him in the palace coup of 1985.
Going by this historical antecedent it is somewhat befuddling that the respected former military Head of State is today sanctioning mutiny amongst our soldiers.
Nigerians believed General Buhari when he said that the fall of the defunct Soviet Union had cured him of his anti democratic streak, however, this latest statement by his campaign organization calls into question his conversion and suggests that there is more than a latent anti democratic leaning deep within him and it would be good for Nigeria’s democracy for the General to distance himself from that call in order not to be seen as sending out a subliminal anti democratic message especially in view of the comment made by his party in January 23rd 2014 through its then Deputy National Secretary who said “the next election is likely to be violent and many people are likely going to die (in the process). And the only alternative left to get power is to take it by force; this is the reality on ground”.
When that statement was made I could not understand it but recent events appear to be giving clarity to that initial statement as a revealer of the intent of the maker.
The mutiny call is only the second. The first statement that helped put that initial statement into perspective for me was the threat by the APC to the effect that they would form a parallel government if the 2015 elections are rigged.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Under President Goodluck Jonathan, elections have held in Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Niger states. Have any of those elections been rigged?
Without exception they have all been free, fair, transparent and above all violent free. There were no incidence of ballot box snatching and stuffing. Both local and international election observers praised the process. So on what basis did the APC make its threat?
How do you threaten to reject an election that has not yet held on the basis of past conduct that has been exemplary and praiseworthy?
I was thinking that the campaign for the 2015 elections would be issue driven and be about records, ideas and plans and it is not too late in the day to salvage the narrative and bring it back to issue based ideas.
Fortunately for Nigerians, both President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari have their records of service so why don’t we start the narrative from there?
I tried to do this on Social Media and was accosted with the argument that Buhari spent only 20 months in office and as such it would be unfair to compare his tenure with the President’s first term.
Fair enough, except that the President in his first 20 months built nine new Federal Universities in Nasarawa, Taraba, Jigawa, Kogi, Katsina, Gombe, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Bayelsa. The President also built multiple Almajiri schools all over the nation within that time frame.
The opposition should tell us their candidate’s record in the education sector within that same time frame rather than make statements that undermine national institutions that should remain apolitical.
It sometimes amuses me when I read about certain opposition Governors calling President Jonathan a failure. I can just picture the people of Rivers state laughing at any governor calling President Jonathan a failure as they enjoy the revived rail services of the Port Harcourt-Enugu train for only N650!
When the opposition spend all their time hurling accusations and bombastic statements at the President have they ever sat down to ask themselves why he does not respond in kind?
The reason is because the President is too busy running an issue driven campaign by commissioning a school here and a bridge there, a hospital here and an airport there.
President Jonathan is too heavily invested in the development of Nigeria that he has no time left to criticize others.
Nothing highlights the failure of the opposition to run an issue based campaign as their attack on the President after his visit to former President Ibrahim Babangida on Saturday the 27th of December 2014.
Their operatives took to Social Media to condemn the President for going in the visit. They lost their humanity and forgot to empathize with President Babangida who had just returned from the hospital after a health scare.
They came up with all forms of unsubstantiated allegations against the former President as a reason why President Jonathan should not have gone to visit him. They questioned President Babangida for saying “the President means well for this country, and is working well for this country and anybody who means well for this country should support President Jonathan”.
But they forgot how their leaders in the APC went to visit the same President Babangida on November 14, 2013 and praised him with all kinds of superlatives in the hope that he would endorse their party.
But when he failed to do that and endorsed the President instead they turned on him.
Have you noticed that this is a pattern of behavior with them?
When they need you or if you are with them you are an angel and the next best thing after slice bread. But when you make your preference for the PDP and President Jonathan known they do a switcheroo and label you with all kinds of negative appellations.
So, going back to my analysis of Nigeria in 2014, I think what we have seen in this year is a false appropriation of the term ‘progressive’ by people who are anything but.
For instance, a progressive is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.
Now, the APC in calling themselves progressives are simply implementing sleek political mind games.
Look very closely at modern day Nigeria and ask yourself who is behind the social reforms or new, liberal ideas that have seen Nigeria in 2014 emerge as the largest economy in Africa, increase the life expectancy of her citizens by 10% (from 47 to 52 years) and increased rail traffic by 420% (from 1 million per annum pre Jonathan to 4.2 million today)?
President Jonathan appointed over 10 women as ministers in his government. Buhari appointed not a single woman as minister in his own government.
Who is the driving force behind the Interstate High-speed Rail Project which is the only Nigerian project listed in the World’s top 100 infrastructure projects by KPMG?
Who is behind the 150 new Almajiri model schools that never existed before 2011 and has successfully removed huge numbers of Almajiri scholars from the streets to an environment that is conducive for both Islamic and Western education?
Who was behind the convocation of the first successful National Conference in Nigeria’s history?
Who signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law (a law that has not been domesticated in the so called progressive states)?
Who introduced a new National Automobile Policy which has seen Nissan, Kia, and Hyundai open up factories in Nigeria?
Who is behind the policy of introducing e-wallets for 14 million farmers (2 million of which are women) so that fertilizer, seeds and information could be passed to them without a middle man, an action which led to increased yield and a reduction in Nigeria’s food import bill by $4 billion per annum?
When you really come down to the facts you soon discover that progressiveness is not something that you say as much as it is something that you do!
And my advice for Nigerians for 2015 is this. In 2015, do not focus on what people say, focus on what they do!
Reno Omokri is Special Assistant on New Media to President Jonathan.