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In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. James Madison -1787
In recent times, there have been a deluge of ferocious attacks on some opposition figures in various news media. Such attacks, though stinging and constant, provide avenues for discerning minds to quickly see that the various op-eds have been low on facts and substance. Yet they keep rolling them out incessantly and without fail.
We have had “democracy” now for over 15 years but what has been clear is that nothing has really changed in the polity. If anything, the quality of life of the masses have steadily been on a decline. Previous federal governments led by the PDP had done little in ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians, but they had at least not taken us for fools; unlike the present government led by Goodluck Jonathan. As I type this, I have been running my household on powered electric generator for over 3 days and that has been the lot of most Nigerians.
The government of Jonathan is doing all it can to enrich a few while increasing the sufferings of the majority. It was a lot easier for the federal government to do nothing, knowing that there were no credible or serious alternative political platform(s) like we have today. Sadly, while we ought to celebrate the entrance of a viable alternative party, the APC, into the polity, what we are a witnessing is a series of state and unbridled attacks on the new party.
From a deluge of sponsored articles, to official verbiage in form of press releases, to innuendos… all in a bid to discredit the APC, the PDP has come all guns blazing. The most dangerous aspect of it is when security agencies join in the charade.
Few days ago, the deputy director of communications of the DSS, Marilyn Ogar joined in this shameless politicization of security issues and demonization of the opposition by claiming that the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was a franchise… blablabla. That is the same style the PDP uses in their unending smear campaigns, making bland and generic accusations without any facts or substance. If the SSS has any proof or shred of evidence, why not provide it instead of Ogar’s “we know” campaign of calumny?
Don’t forget that this same Marilyn Ogar denied any knowledge of the DSS abduction of citizen Onimisi Ciaxon for 10 days. But the same woman, on the 11th day, announced his release from detention after much pressure and peaceful nationwide demonstrations. With her penchant for lies and politicizing serious national issues, Mrs. Ogar ought to have been relieved of her duties, but sadly we are in an era where the government supports impunity as long as it serves its purpose.
James Madison on June 25. 1824 wrote to Lee Henry and I quote: “A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives”.
Nigerians must arm themselves with knowledge and do so immediately or we will forever grope in the sea of adulatory mediocrity. It is time to ask ourselves, why is the PDP and the federal government afraid? The PDP claimed it will be in power for 60years, but in over 15years of its hold on power, we have remained in pitch darkness, our debt (both domestic and international) profile is soaring, we are the only OPEC country who wholly imports refined fuel for domestic consumption, our educational institutions are in tatters. Our healthcare delivery system is nothing to write home about.
After fifteen years of heading the federal government, The PDP has not added one joule to our refining capacity, but has rather enriched a few cronies and created overnight billionaires whom they empowered by granting them licenses to import refined fuel.
Under President Jonathan, governance has taken a backseat, over 200 girls were kidnapped and most of the innocent girls are still missing after 90days in captivity. Rather than the government doing its best to carry the family and loved ones along, it has become hostile, tagging anyone who questions their sloppy handling of the issue, the “opposition”.
While that is bad enough, the Polytechnics in Nigeria have been on lock-down for close to a year, with no hope in sight. But the FG doesn’t give a damn, the children of those in power are studying abroad, even ex-militants have a better deal than the “ordinary” Nigerian students. Don’t forget that the universities were also shut down for almost a year as well.
Doctors are on strike, but president Jonathan and his co-travelers in the PDP are not bothered, since their families and friends can hop on planes to treat catarrh in Germany and other such places. Even when the doctors aren’t on strike, our “big men” in government are too distinguished to visit our local hospitals, shameless as they are. They never bother to ponder what will happen if those countries they visit for medical pilgrimages decide to run their countries the way the PDP has been running Nigeria.
Political parties aren’t about saints and angels, therefore I won’t want to regard the APC as an angel and PDP as the demon equivalent, rather I see the coming of the APC as a good thing because it should ordinarily make the PDP sit up knowing that it is no longer business as usual. Elections are supposed to be like beauty pageants, you can only select from among the participants. But what I see is a situation where the PDP doesn’t want to have any opposition or brook any.
The PDP had in the past run Nigeria as a fiefdom. They granted registration statuses to over fifty weak parties all in a bid to weaken the opposition. No wonder they could boast that they will remain in power for 60years, without any plan to make life better for Nigerians.
Security, education, poverty etc have all worsened under the PDP. Since the advent of the current president, Nigeria has become a joke, where governance is no longer a subject of importance. Rather than sit and do its job, they see enemies lurking behind every shadow.
You can’t be running a non performing and an utterly inept government and expect active citizens and the opposition to act as cheerleaders. What this government seeks is to sully everyone and everybody. We have recently been witnessing a raft of articles to malign opposition leaders, and where that is not deemed adequate, Mr. Jonathan has been on a pardoning spree, withdrawing corruption cases–even corruption cases as serious and dire as the Abachas–all in a bid to garner political support.
But the APC should remain undaunted, failing which Nigeria is in danger of reenacting another Zimbabwe; a situation we can ill afford.
Refusal to cheer and celebrate nonperformance and mediocrity in government is not unpatriotic.
And for those vilifying active Nigerians and actively asking citizens to shut up and fall in line because in their myopic view, Jonathan has done well, may God run your lives exactly the way Jonathan has been running Nigeria. Can I hear a big AMEN.
Ayobami Oyalowo can be reached via @Ayourb on twitter
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