My rejoinder to Simon Kolawole’s ‘My Grouse with President Jonathan’

I only just finished reading Simon Kolawole’s article on the backpage of ThisDay – and I have been moved to do a rejoinder to same immediately after dropping the publication under the following subtitles:

The elections season

Yes, of course, 2015 is around the corner – elections in big nations are like that – they carry a lot of heat – so was it with the 2012 elections in the US in which both Presidential candidates received/spent at least $2.5Bn [N410Bn] within a space of about 12 months on same and so would it be in 2016 there as well even as we can all see how that is already heating up – there is nothing new about ‘the boisterous weather in the polity leading to general elections’ – and President Goodluck Jonathan can’t be blamed for that. I mean even state elections like Ondo, Edo, Ekiti and Osun generated so much noise within this entire nation talk more of the next General and Presidential elections coming up in 2015 – in fact, it is my take that we should all be worried if that is not the case because it would have meant the people were demonstrating apathy towards the political process.

 

How else can you measure the interest of Nigerians in the next elections but by noticing that INEC has stated that they currently have 70 million voters in their registers compared to the 36 million people that voted in the last Presidential elections – this is another thing President Goodluck Jonathan must be commended for – allowing and encouraging a fair political climate that wants all of our people to participate in rewriting the history of this nation.

Jonathan’s Persona

But of course, even those that are yet to meet this President in person can tell from his response to issues within this polity that he is, in the words of Kolawole, “humble, broadminded, calculative, well-meaning and sincere” – and that same description is what you’ll maintain of the man when you read of his story as a lecturer, civil servant, Deputy Governor, Governor and then Vice President – even the most bitter people who are against the man [many who for reasons even they can’t explain] would not argue against such a rare persona that you have of a man that can easily choose to be the very opposite of that, at least from what we know of some before him and others currently leading the opposition movement in Nigeria.

Developments accomplished by Jonathan’s administration

It is nice to note that Simon Kolawole now agrees that this government has done so much in Agriculture, Railway, Local content policy in the Oil sector, the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Airport refurbishments, eradication of polio and and guinea worm; the setting up of Almajiri and girl-specific schools; the creation of more universities; the commencement of work on the second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the development of the Benin-Ore road; the progress being made with the power sector reforms and the new wave of more peaceful and credible Elections that we are now experiencing within this polity.

What however needs to enquired of him is “what was his comments, statements, positions when these policies were initially being birthed and criticized in negative-light? Can he possibly recall how he also possibly wrote similar commentaries at those times about these policies and projects?” Isn’t it then proof-positive that so many people within this polity have joined this convenient bandwagon of beer-parlour-blind-criticism against this President without paying attention to what he is doing outside the so-called carry-over effect of PDP being in office for 12 years prior to Jonathan’s full ascension to the Presidency? So here is my question to Kolawole and others – is it impossible for white pap to come out of a black pot?

Corruption

Here we go again with this corruption song – every other Nigerian is corrupt but the very Nigerian is making the accusation at any point in time – this has become the most convenient way by which every supposedly-good Nigerian must measure how we have made no progress as a nation – all of a sudden the same people that blamed “Obasanjo’s government for using Ribadu to fight against his enemies rather than really fight against corruption now say that Goodluck is not fighting corruption and that Obasanjo did better in that regard” even as we have all been here as people like Kolawole have practically kept mum about Nyako’s looting of N82bn from poor Adamawa states’ treasury – could that be so because he is a member of the opposition? Isn’t that also tantamount to the similar accusations made by him against Obasanjo in the past – that of picking selective fights against corruption?

Boko Haram

I would have wanted Kolawole to state specifically what he would have done better than Jonathan in the course of the last 3-4 years on the subject matter – would he have declared a total war on a section of the country he leads as President from the first day practically sowing the seeds for the Second Nigerian Civil War in the process? Or invited US/NATO to take over the region to help him eradicate this sect irrespective of the collateral damages that might be suffered in the process? Or perhaps bring in the Israeli Mossad to use drones against these killers right on Nigerian soil not minding how many innocent lives are lost in the process? Or perhaps Kolawole would have arrested leading members of the opposition and locked them up on trumped-up charges of sponsoring terrorism in the process getting the international community to see Nigeria as a pariah state as they did under Abacha’s reign of terror? Or better still, would he have personally enrolled in the Armed Forces to lead a personal attack on the sect?

Where has Kolawole been all these while as the security agencies have been making incremental successes against his sect? What has been his own reactions to the way it seems the opposition has been steadily gaining political capital against Jonathan’s administration due to the actions of this sect practically giving these killers the moral capital to carry out even more havoc against the Nigerian state and people in the process? Where is his dedicated article to address that?

Jonathan’s supporters

I noticed a veiled insult against those that Kolawole described as Jonathan’s supporters [folks now more affectionately known as Jonathanians] – first, he makes the attempt to suggest that such people make his earlier description of the President being “a gentleman” to be a lie – that such people give people the man the wrong image and that such people would be ready to defend anything the man does irrespective of how supposedly bad such actions might look – and this is a position I have come across severally within this polity in the last 2 years – which makes me wonder “is it now a sin for Nigerian citizens to openly declare their support for a particular politician and in the process defend the policies and actions of that politician?”

Habaa? Kolawole HAS NEVER HIDDEN his soft-spot and admiration for Gen. Buhari – this he has done over the course of the last 15 years; and over 4 attempts made by this man to become President – and none of us has ever called him ‘blind’ or ‘sycophantic’ for doing this – why must it now become a taboo for some of us to support a younger 55 year old Goodluck, who is obviously a more vibrant patriot; and who has not contributed in the past, like the 70 year old General has done, to the woes of Nigeria?

Why must supposedly-neutral bystanders like Simon Kolawole and many others like him begrudge others for expressing their own political preferences within this polity to the point of making it sound like that those that support this President are all liars, government contractors, thieves; who are all looting the nation’s treasury! [I am not suggesting that Kolawole wrote thus]

Well, some of us refuse to stand for that – we have equal rights to express our own opinions and political choices within this polity without being afraid of what others feel about our own choices – and I look forward to engaging Simon Kolawole, who by the way, I must commend for his Cable NGR blogging efforts, along these lines in the nearby future.

Favour B. Afolabi, based in Lagos is Principal Consultant at Online Republic Media.

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