Renowned lawyer and activist,Ā Festus Keyamo SAN, has taken aā¦
By Dr Emenena Bright
In the free world thatĀ we live in, everyone has a right to his opinion. Festus keyamo expressed that right when he accepted to serve as the spokesman for the re-election campaign of the president. He acknowledged that most people will be surprised at his acceptance of the feat. And that is because most people think this government had not only failed but also has actually taken us back at least 50years. So, the SAN began by disagreeing that his principal has failed and furthering his argument by expatiating on his performance.
As a citizen, I also have a right to express my opinion in response to his rhetoric. Let me begin by stating that the poor performance of this administration is so loud that it smells. Everything we gained as a people in the lifetime of modern Nigeria as a nation, we have lost in three years. In past administrations, the people didnāt live in Eldorado, but they had hope.Ā We are in desperate times requiring desperate measures. Everything is threatened including the union. The bonds that bind us together are at their weakest. Festus keyamo did accept this scenario, hence, he has to explain. In his bid to justify his thoughts, he began by talking about the fight against corruption and monies recovered.Ā IĀ wish to recommend for the SANās reading an opinion piece that was published in the guardian some time ago titled āBuhari: A Timeline of Scandalsā.Ā I wish to recommend it for the SAN to read. Could it be this same administration he is talking about? We have had a corruption scandal every week. Sometimes, one doesnāt get exhausted before it is overtaken by another. It is in itself an injustice and tantamount to corruption when corruption is biasly fought. The satire the animal farm where some animals are more equal than the others is a perfect illustration of what Nigeria has been reduced to.
Maintaining our union is the most basic constitutional function of our elected leaders and in that regard, this administration has woefully underperformed. ItsĀ actions and inactions have continuously be a source of threat to our union.
Yet, the SAN sees it differently. Unfortunately, every virtue of the President potentiated by him was outrightly false. The importance of this rebuttal cannot be overemphasised for even as attentive as some of us are and as closely as we have observed the events unfolding, such emphatic though false argument of the SAN, tends to confuse us. He praised the present administration for protecting the down trodden and I am forced to ask how much protection have those killed and daily still being killed in Benue, Zamfara and Taraba gotten?Ā He went further to talk about how the president prevents looting and brings to book those who stole. The list of those working free or even rewarded with other appointment having been accused of corruption is endless, starting from Babachir to some others in the Presidentās inner circle.
The president is still the only one with integrity and firmness required to rejig our psyches and get us out of the corruption conundrum, he claims. This branding, well fallen for in the last election, I have always disavowed. As we know, the Abachaās administration is internationally recognised as most corrupt administration in the history of Nigeria. So much so that the loot from that administration after almost 20 years is today still being returned. Now, let me remind us that the incumbent served in that administration and has continued to insist that Abacha never stole. The PresidentĀ as an appointee of that administration, never resigned his position as would have been expected of a patriot with integrity. In addition to that, it is also in public domain that there were also allegations of missing funds just as it was for other administration that this government has continuously accused of corruption.Ā Having consistently bashed his predecessors for travelling abroad for medical care during campaigns,Ā three years since heās been in charge, the president has been to the UK for medical treatment for five times. Where is the integrity?Ā All the austere and modest nature of the president being brandish is easily punctured by the level of affluence enjoyed by his immediate family members.
On his take on the economy, I am again baffled by what he has to say. He compared the situation to a car being driven by a driver and was heading to be wrecked. And then someone is asked to take over the driving of the car. He likened the president to the new driver who took over the car and rather than continue to drive on and allow the car to crash, he parks the car and fixed it first before continuing the ride. Great anecdote, however, this was not the case. The thing is, using the same anecdote as the SAN, the President actually went on to crash the car. We all may agree that the car (economy) may not have been in a perfect condition, but it was actually the President who crashed the car. I shall mention the state of the economy before this administration took over. But first let me respond to the SANās quest of āwhoever thinks the president crashed the economy must suggest what he would have had him doā?. The President had tremendous goodwill on coming to power. Unfortunately, it did coincide with a period when oil prices were at their lowest. He can be forgiven for he had no control over international oil prices. However the president is the only one to blame for the fall in production.
Rather than unite us as a people, the president drove a wedge into the people of the oil rich region who had been courted by previous administrations and has seen oil production rose in their time. Having threatened to declare them economic terrorist the bombs wonāt stop. He created a double barrel effect of falling oil prices on one hand and fallen production on the other. Again, having wanted to rule Nigeria for 12 years and with the avalanche of quality people the country can boast of, one would have expected that the president on coming into power would have his cabinet in place and hit the ground running quickly, it took him 6 months to appoint his cabinet and for 6 months the economy was on auto cruise to the ground.
Now on the economy represented by the bad car in the anecdote, firstly, we must remember that it wasnāt the last administration that rated the economy, the Nigeria economy despite the war on Boko Haram, was internationally adjudged as the largest and fastest growing in Africa. The SAN wants us to believe that this was a facade or a charade, but the question he will be asked is how did this facade tapper down to positively affect the lives of the citizens? The people had hope and faith in a better future. Today they are in despair.
He has challenged anyone with discerning opinion to show his candidate and that is exactly what I am going to do. But I will begin by analysing our todayās problem as a people for obviously we donāt leave in the same Nigeria with the SAN.
Having rode on the back of fighting corruption to power, corruption has consistently be perpetuated right under the nose of Mr President, aside the fact that our story is now a practical illustration of the satirical animal farm where some animals are more equal than the others. The metre for measuring corruption for the Presidentās party men is quite different from the one for others. The Presidentās party is now the biblical blood of Jesus that washes away our sins. No matter the level of allegation of corruption you are facing, once you join his party, all the EFCC witnesses disappear. This has gone to show that one man even despite āperceivedā integrity cannot fight systemic corruption. There has to be a strategy and a system that emphasises value change and strengthened systems. The one who recognises this by his consistent respect for the rule of law and his contribution to strengthening institutions is my candidate. He is the one who consistently has stated the obvious, that our present form has remained a bane and needs to be changed. Like your candidate sir, he is not a saint but as you rightly posited, there are no saints anywhere. Again, it is no surprising that the SAN was silent on the issue that is most pertinent today, our union and the forces that are a worsening threat to it. As the killings in parts of the country continue and more people began to doubt their place in the union, all still hopeful of the survival of the union must sort a candidate with no fanatical association with any group, tribe, region or religion. To keep Nigeria one, United and progressive is top of our priority as a nation. Apparently the SAN agrees that his principal failed in that regard. A candidate who sees Nigeria as his constituency despite belonging to a primary constituency, a candidate who truly belongs to nobody and belongs to everyone. A candidate who despite having the above qualities still has the penchant for putting together a great team that can positively turn around a bastardise economy. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar like your Principal is human and may not be without flaws, but unlike your principal, he has capacity to build bridges and heal wounds. Ability to fairly engage aggrieved groups is a virtue of his, well required at this time when the country is so fractured. The next Presidentās greatest task is the task of making sure we continue to have a country. There has to be a country before we can fight even corruption.
Like the SAN rightly put it, this is no time to sit on the fence, I call on all well-meaning patriotic Nigerians who truly believe in one United Progressive Nigeria where fairness, peace and justice shall reign to join in the movement to get Nigeria to work in our time by electing His Excellency Atiku Abubakar as the next President not because he is necessarily the smartest amongst over 180 million people, but because he has rare qualities of building bridges which is a prerequisite for getting us out of the real conundrum of bigotry and identity politics that eventually will put us on the path that leads to all round growth and development. Let all hands be on deck to truly get Nigeria one and working again. Having carefully analysed our present situation and the manās antecedents, we have a chance that we cannot afford to miss.
Dr Emenena Bright, is the National Spokesman of the TUNG (The United Nigeria Group)