[I sent this Rejoinder to Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters; but he refused to publish it – despite Sonala’s advice in an email that he should go ahead to do so, I have therefore decided to do same myself – the original article can be found at http://saharareporters.com/2014/11/15/easy-pdp-defeat-sonala-olumhense
It is imperative that I set the right background here – in my usual non-hypocritical and direct modus operandi when it comes to discussing issues within the Nigeria polity, I see Sonala Olumhense, Pius Adesanmi, Okey Ndibe, and Kayode Ogundamisi as the Four Musketeers of PDP-bashing; simply put, these guys are not neutrals!
These superbly-respected gentlemen have over the years come to form the very nucleus around which public commentating on the Nigerian subject from within our social media circles – and then beyond it have been shaped – they are the average political blogger and writer’s icon – the ones they want to aspire to be – and they are the very anointed ones that you dare not touch.
Trust me, I write from experience on this – I once did two back-to-back rejoinders in Sahara Reporters and Premium Times to articles by Pius some months ago – this was after he and some of his friends launched the #KickOutSiddonLook agenda [remember that?] – I challenged him within those articles; and then live on Sahara.tv to stop posing as a neutral but to come out plainly that he endorses the opposition – the responses I got from his crowd was beyond shocking – the sort of counter punches thrown at me by them almost made me feel like I had insulted Che Guevara in Latin America! And that is the very place I would continue from with Sonala here – hoping that this time, I would get a bit more fame than I inadvertently purchased for myself the last time around.
Sonala misleads the average person on the streets in Nigeria – and of course completely attempts to distort history when he paints the picture that PDP has ran all the 774 local government areas in the country in the last 15 years – and should take full responsibility for any lack of development in any nook and cranny of Nigeria and that PDP has only managed to produce wealthy legislators since 1999 – well, that is simply being intellectually dishonest – there has never been a time within this polity that the PDP produced all the legislators representing every part of this nation at the federal and state levels neither are PDP legislators the only ones that go home with fat pays – one would have actually expected that APC legislators since the advent of the party to have surrendered such jumbo pays to set the new example we should be following as a nation – alas, they have been collecting the same fat pay for more than 18 months!
In fact, my research has shown me that what governors and representatives from other parties have done over the years is to largely loot the treasuries of their respective domains knowing that folks like Sonala would pay lesser attention to their own stealing to always cry foul when those from PDP are accused of corruption.
The ANPP, AD, AC, APGA, LP, PPA, ACN, CPC, APC, etc have at different times within this same country produced representatives for all the LGAs – who have at different times also underperformed in developing their respective locales – participated in the fat pay bazaar; and have been accused at varying times of corruption on those jobs even as the Speaker of the Lagos house of representatives has just recently been scandalously freed of corruption charges to the tune of N500m in the same way Muritala Nyako, the now-declared-wanted ex-governor of Adamawa state has since disappeared into thin air with the poor states’ N82bn – without the APC volunteering to produce him a sign of good gesture of also leading by example! These two people represent only a fraction of what politicians in the APC, the leading opposition party in the nation, and by extension other parties before now aside from those in the PDP are capable of doing when it comes to plundering the resources of their states thereby robbing those areas of the much needed development it needs – this is even leaving out the other matter of the states collecting close to 50% of the annual income the nation goes on to expend – how then can any honest person posit that “PDP is responsible for any lack of development in Nigeria in the last 15 years?”
No other state typifies this better than Lagos – the same place I have lived for the last 15 years – which folks like the four musketeers would have described to you as “the New York of Africa” – you can only fall for that if you don’t visit the place on a Monday to witness the disorganization called Lagos; and don’t look at the facts behind the figures as well – while setting a record of a an astounding public debt profile of $3.6bn; and an annual budget of about N450bn on the average per year in the last couple of years, it is far from a state that actually uses the resources it has to effectively to develop it – then it gets worse, Lagos is often seen as the mini-Nigeria – the same place that most of those that follow Sonala & Co reside or travel back to when they come from outside Nigeria – there is always the tendency to live in Lagos for a few weeks or a year or 15 years – experience the chaos it is; witness the poor state of infrastructure it suffers and begin to think “this is how all of Nigeria is” – yet all you need to know that is not the case is to visit Abuja or Enugu and Cross River and of course Akwa Ibom – that is exactly why the recent launch of the ultramodern stadium by Godswill Akpabio shocked the average Nigerian at home and abroad – for they had for long been sold the rhetoric that “the entire Nigeria looks like the jungle called Lagos!” Well, now you know – “Nigeria is not Lagos just like Africa is not one country!”
Like Akpabio, there are other PDP governors; and in fact, others before them who are using and have used the resources available to their respective states to improve the lot of their people – without also having to regularly deliver a section of that wealth to certain godfathers that live in residences similar to Bourdillon!
And this same rot in Lagos has been largely exported to the other APC-controlled states – huge public indebtedness, failing infrastructure; workers always being owed; contracts always been issued to the same companies with ties to the masters of the party from Lagos – how they can anyone tell us that “the whole of Nigeria is under-developed because of PDP?”
Then let’s talk about the numbers – Sonala made references to “80%; and then 70% of the votes” – he theorizes that is the turnout he expects to vote out the PDP in 2015; well, I have news for him – the 2015 elections is not a referendum on the PDP rather it is a referendum on the cabal that has ran this nation for the better part of the last 40 years that insists that “ONLY they must control and determine what happens in Nigeria; who must run it; and how it must be ran!”
That is a much bigger issue than the PDP; or even the APC, it is an issue about the very survival of the nation state – Nigeria – the narrative that suggests that if a certain section of Nigeria does not get back to Aso Rock in 2015, the nation would scatter!
That is the very agenda that the APC is now sponsoring – by deciding from the onset that it must field only a Muslim from Northern Nigeria against the incumbent that is a Christian from Southern Nigeria who they believe stole their slot when the president before this one unfortunately died on the job – so effectively, Nigerians, rather than caring about a PDP v APC election, would be going to the polls in 2015 to decide if they choose to continue to sign up to that five-decades-long agenda or if they can break free from it by setting a newer agenda for the future of this country – that truly anyone from any part of this country irrespective of tribe or religion can aspire to any position in the land at any time that he or she is constitutionally allowed to do so.
Then I wonder why Sonala keeps mentioning the figures presented by a now well-proven defective character witness called Sanusi; the same Sanusi that just went to prostrate the other day in Aso Rock to have his travelling passport released to him – isn’t it amazing that Sonala would keep quoting the same numbers from this same person that has now obviously recanted?
Then there is the reserves he states Obiageli Ezekwesili claims that the Obasanjo’s government left behind – wonders shall never end – does it not amount to further misleading the public when such a former member of government pretends as though she was not aware of how falling oil incomes during the peak of the Niger Delta crisis and the pressure from the governors at the time led by the now APC chieftain Bukola Saraki in his position as the then Chairman of the Governors’ Forum caused the Yar’Adua government and the one after it to look the way of the Excess Crude Account [ECA] in assuaging the financial pressure on these states – or why doesn’t Sonala ask Oby if she has proof of how some of those funds were privately converted to benefit individuals within Jonathan’s government?
In closing, as always – Sonala plays the dummy – he writes “What is exciting about 2015 is that many of the parties outside power can exploit the PDP’s scorched-earth incompetence, lootocracy and abysmal arrogance over the years. The challenge is to go where the PDP does not, and will not go: directly to the voters whom they have betrayed.”
This, he smartly put out as a supposedly innocent bystander to suggest that he is not aware that indeed, the only party seriously competing the 2015 elections against PDP is APC! He writes as though even those citizens currently living under the control of the APC are also not currently silently revolting against the party as well – as was evident in the Ekiti elections; and as was proven by the closeness of the results in Osun; and as is now evident with the growing dissatisfaction of the populace in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Imo and other states the party currently oversees.
But, perhaps the most important thing that Sonala intentionally left out of his propagandist article is that Nigerians are completely disappointed in the APC, I along with the other citizens of this nation prayed for a competent and strong opposition to the PDP so as to strengthen this democracy but what did we get – a party hurriedly put together by some desperate-for-power politicians three-quarter made up of the same members of the PDP they claim has wrecked Nigeria; a party that only thrives on distorting the real issues within the polity practically operating as though it plans to overthrow the democratically elected government with propaganda before it is able to actually run in a national election against the party.
APC’s defeat in 2015 is actually very easy – the party itself is bent on defeating itself – in only 10 weeks, APC would have to contend with an internal civil war that would pitch Buhari v Atiku v Tambuwal v Kwankwaso – a contest that would naturally split the party into tatters; then it would move to phase 2 of the wahala as it picks a VP candidate that would be fought along the lines of Fashola v Amaechi v Osibajo v another-unknown-entity; by the time it is done with all of these, it would have almost no time to reach out to Nigerians across the length and breadth of this nation to try correcting the already defective reputation it has built for itself with the Nigerian people.
Favour B. Afolabi, based in Lagos is founder of Online Republic Media – firstname.lastname@example.org and @favourafolabi