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January 21, 2015

Unfit to be President?

Healthy?

Gen Buhari is unfit to be President on the grounds of old age and possible frail-health that will generally increase from now onward. The General understood this as, supposedly, this was why he said the 2011 election would be his last attempt the the Presidency. Nigeria is a very intense country. The President needs to be one who is intensely involved as well, possibly a micro-manager of his immediate staff at least. Otherwise even his cook will make a living illegally right from under your nose. The President needs to be hands on and aware of the action and intents of the people closest to him and be prepared to sift through them for the best staff. Ill-health, not being in the country often (as happened in the case of President Yar’adua who was away mostly on medical trips abroad) will quickly lead to the President’s “kitchen cabinet” running the country. Forget the Vice President. In Nigeria, the Vice President is often the handbag of the President, to be used at will and discarded. Nigeria has had a lot of Presidents who are not corrupt but their administration was totally incompetent and corrupt. Example, President Shagari. It is well reported that Gen Buhari was not corrupt as the former PTF czar but it is also well known that, according to President Obasanjo “there was something fishy” there. Mostly it is known that not all the employees of PTF especially those closest to Gen Buhari can be acquitted of misconduct and corruption as was the General. President Obasanjo also told us the General Buhari felt that he was not able to “see everything” since billions of naira were involved in his administration at the PTF. If he could NOT see everything at the PTF and corruption went on, how could he see everything now at his old frail age?

Who would be in Gen Buhari’s Cabinet?

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Running a good administration is also a matter of having a great team. If APC wins the election the country will not be ruled only by Gen Buhari alone or by Gen Buhari and an independently chosen team. The presidents team will be formed and decided upon by the party and by many of the old chips of the PDP. Take a look at some of the people who would constitute Gen Buhari’s cabinet or at least those who will nominate individuals into that cabinet. Just hold your breath: Bola Tinubu (already credited for nominating the Vice Presidential Candidate, Prof Osinbajo), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Rabiu Kwanwaso, Malam El Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi etc. These are some of the individuals that will influence the choice of Gen Buhari’s cabinet. Some of them, notably, Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku will most likely get portfolios in a Gen. Buhari government and will go on to become very influential in any case. The question is, are these the people who will fight corruption? Frankly, all of the leaders who moved from PDP to APC did not do so because of policy differences or because they think some things, other than the election or appointment which they lost in, should have been done differently. So the change we will get in APC is a change of name in reality. As a matter of fact, if APC wins the election the power struggle that will follow internally may lead to APC bleeding back to PDP and with substantially reduced numbers in NASS, the PDP will effectively give the Gen Buhari government a difficult time running the country.

The Role of Government

It is clear that President Jonathan is a firm believer in due process and in establishing institutional framework and allowing everyone to do their jobs. This can be clearly seen in the administrations relations with INEC, NASS, EFCC etc. Most of the institutions were allowed under this administration to run without undue interference from the Presidency. This is a major plus for the administration and this is a major reason that @southelevation endorses President Jonathan for another term of office. The EFCC boss, Mr Lamorde has not been fired because he was going to prosecute anyone. No one can point a finger and say that EFCC was about to prosecute anyone and the President stopped him. Same goes for Prof Jega at INEC. In fact the President is the only serving President to ever publicly take up the goal of urging INEC to run a free and fair election. No one will say that if INEC fails that it was because of President Jonathan. For the first time, during an election circle and in the last 4years the government cannot be accused of political witch hunt. To be fair to this administration. The President has not been meddling in or persisted in “illegal” prosecutions or persecutions. In the words of the President, there is no political prisoner in Nigeria today. The press has been free to criticise the President and even call him names without consequence whatsoever. This is a good thing. Contrast that with the kind of leadership experience that Gen Buhari has. In the Generals perspective, fellow Nigerians are undisciplined, corrupt, and possibly infidels who should be commandeered and whipped into line at every stop. Guess what?, you cannot do that anymore. Democracy is tough, expensive and unpredictable. You will have to make deals, compromise, allow one or two mosquitoes into your net; for sake of national security, give amnesty to murderers just to stop them from killing more people and pay subsidies to some rich importer so the citizens can have petrol to buy and so he can sell petrol at N87 per litre and guess what he still sells petrol at more than R97 per litre. As the President you have leverage and can use it to establish institutions that can be self sustaining and that can increasingly assist you to plug the holes in the national treasury; in petrol pricing at the open market, in commodities prices and in government procurement. All of these is what the present administration of the President Jonathan is busy with. Progress is slow but sure and sustainable. The alternative is to refuse to compromise, refuse to borrow, become meddlesome and stand the risk of jailing innocent people and inhibiting free enterprise and driving the country into deep austerity.

There is evidence to suggest that both Gen Buhari and his Vice, Prof Osinbajo, are believers in having government do every thing in the economy. In other words they believe in big government, as the Americans will call it. Prof. Osinbajo is on record to have said that Gen Buhari and his administration will buy the produce from farmers so that their is no more waste of farm produce. Reports show that about 80% of tomatoes produced in the country go to waste because their is no value chain to take over from the farmers. So the Prof is advocating that government should step in as a big brother and buy off the produce. That should be all alright except that in Nigeria the problem is always the Government. May be Gen Buhari should do the buying directly otherwise the system will very easily be abused. Government money is often seen as no ones money and is there for the taking whereas what President Jonathan’s administration has done was to establish lending capacities for private sector to move in and build capacity for the value chain. The lending is currently run independently by the oversight of the independent Central Bank.This is a fundamental difference between the two Presidential candidates. One, namely, Gen Buhari will take the country back 20years in agriculture whereas President Jonathan’s administration is forward looking to new approaches for solving the country’s agricultural problem. And records show that his methods are working. Why throw it away at this time?

Certificate saga

The Gen Buhari’s certificate saga is gradually becoming a major distraction for the APC. Especially as the Gen has failed to categorically dismiss the allegation. Of course the PDP will not challenge the issue at this time. The meaningful strategy would be to have this as a plan B. If-we-loose-the-election-we-will-go-to-court strategy. We will probably have a President with substantial credibility questions or one imposed by the courts.

And all the Pettiness

The level at which election 2015 is being argued and debated is a reflection of the illiteracy of the major voting blocks in the country. Sentiments are the vital attention getters and popularity boosters but the facts and figures and programs of action that should be the issues and the positions of the parties on key economic and social indicators that would positively influence the lives, wellbeing and economic prosperity of the nation and its citizens are being subtly relegated to second place. I would like to hear Gen. Buhari state what he will do to tackle corruption; give instances how that has worked and what effect his methods will have on the nation. How has President Jonathan’s administration tackled corruption presently, were has he succeeded, failed or is lacking, what changes is his administration going to make if elected. On job creation, what are the facts: unemployment rates before and after. Was it a success or failure, even if marginally? Can the President’s policies or lack of it be responsible for the perceived improvement or failure? Same questions can be asked in all facets of national life. In agriculture, industrial growth, infrastructure and revenue. But it is really a shame that many people are not asking policy questions. Hopefully the Presidential Debates will help throw up some of the real issues and help the voters differentiate between the candidates.

Progress is being made

I say that progress is being made whoever wins the elections. Because for once in our national history we have an opposition equal and opposite to the ruling party. Whoever wins we should now look towards deepening the policy and ideological divides between the two major parties so that each of them will keep the other on it’s toes and provide vital alternative positions and prepositions for national discussions and actions. Right now the defection of the party leaders is diluting that option but we suspect it would never remain that way for long. Soon “hard-setting” will start taking place and individuals will be hardened against certain positions as a party. Fellow Nigerians should choose more of the people whose “knees has not wobbled” as a means of pushing the politicians towards firm principles.

follow us on twitter @southelevation

January 7, 2015

SE: We endorse President Goodluck Jonathan & Namadi Sambo

This publication has a believe that President Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo on the PDP ticket is the the best team between the two big parties that should be best suited to lead the country. We do not aim, at this point, to argue the case but the performance of this administration in very key areas informs that what Nigeria needs at this stage is CONTINUITY and not necessarily CHANGE as the APC is campaigning on.

Buhari does not represent CHANGE

A former Major-General in the Nigeria Army that has ruled the country following a coup. the first coup after Nigeria survived the difficulties starting from 1966 and inauguration of a civil democratic elected administration of President Shagari. Gen. Buhari, a leader that participated in some of the most destructive administrations to ever rule the country when he dined with General Abacha and became his appointee, thus he was totally silent even as the whole country was in revolt during the pro-democracy protests. A leader who can be regarded as a contemporary of the Generals and the old guards that had ruled the country and languished it since 1966 cannot be the face of change.

Anti-corruption

Anti-corruption is one of the pillars on which the APC and Buhari are running on. But frankly they will be unable to effectively fight corruption in a productive way. The underlying reasons for corruption in the country are poverty, lack of equal opportunity, civil service traditions and political profit taking. The military enforced methods that Buhari/Ideagbon employed to tackle corruption in their administration is no longer available and Buhari is yet untested in tackling corruption in a democratic and civil setting. Also Buhari would still have to contend with many within the APC who could be even more influential than him if he wins the elections and whose anti-corruption credentials are totally suspect. Anyone who thinks that corruption will be a thing of the past or will even be scratched on the surface should Buhari and his team win the election is being incredibly naive.

APC vs. APC-PDP

Most of the more credible individuals within the APC are political figures who lost out within the PDP and simply jumped ship to try their luck elsewhere. And in fact the face of change for the APC should have been Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. He would have been CHANGE for the APC to campaign on. A fresh politician and credible, non-polarising and a tested hand. But what really happened was typical of the old Nigeria political order. Why did he withdraw his presidential ambition? I would surely like to have an interview with him on that. His withdrawal is a tell tale sign that APC really did not want change. Leadership is what makes the difference between the APC and PDP. Whereas the PDP has one in Jonathan/Sambo the APC lacks one in Buhari/Osinbajo-Tinubu. Why is the APC so hooked on Gen Buhari? A highly plausible reason is this: Gen. Buhari will not give up his ambition for anyone. So the APC is afraid to divide their votes and so they plan to go with Buhari instead of anyone no matter how credible. Especially as they saw that Buhari has a rank and file name recognition in the North having been in circulation for nearly four decades. His performance as CPC leader almost gives him the option that if he is not given the Presidential ticket he will immediately pull out of APC. Without the CPC element APC is dead on arrival. Tinubu knows this too well. His experiment with Ribadu in the last election must be fresh in his mind. Without Buhari on the ticket and without Buhari’s CPC, APC is not even going to be a challenge.

Jonathan/Sambo: The new generation

Jonathan/Sambo represent a new generation of politicians away from the generation of 1966/Gowon/Buhari/IBB/Abacha generation. You could see that in the way they run their campaigns. One generation thinks “If I loose, we will make the country ungovernable or form a parallel government”; the other says “No Nigerian life is worth being shed for politics”. President Jonathan is the only President in Nigeria history that even at the peril of loosing an election keeps harping on and promising that the election under his watch must be free and fair and has actually demonstrated it by appointing widely regarded and credible people in positions of authority for conduct of elections, namely Prof. Jega and his INEC team.

Jonathan/Sambo: Continuity

The Jonathan/Sambo team has initiated a number of programmes that should be allowed to be completed either by them or by anyone elected next. The agricultural program, the railway, the foreign policy with respect to value of ordinary Nigerians citizens living abroad, Power sector reforms, reduction in corruption etc.These are ground-breaking initiatives. The administrations commitment to free and fair election and for inclusive national dialogue on vital issues etc. is unprecedented in Nigeria for an incumbent.

Our Endorsement

We endorse the Jonathan/Sambo team to lead the country for the next four years. The last term for a President should be his most productive for the simple reason that at this time he has very little propensity to do things with caution so as not to upset key donors or interests. So it should be good that the President gets the mandate to do the things he has started and finish them without fear or favour. We see that he is in the right direction for the Country.

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