As Jonathan Doles Out Billions To Capture Lagos

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On Sunday, March 20, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan sneaked into Lagos once again for missions that are not connected to improving the parlous state of affairs of the country under his shaky watch. His mission rather was to distribute money to PDP members in his desperate bid to capture Lagos for his party. One would have expected that when a president visits a state, the governor is alerted and it is his duty to welcome the visiting president but Jonathan’s visit is not to attend to state matters. That one can wait, as it has been waiting since he stumbled his way to power.

In such visits that has become a routine for him in recent times he did not need to meet the governor. He rather lusts for the company of party rough necks among whom are ex convicts and treasury raiders, idlers and clowns to whom he doles money in a bid to realise an unachievable ambition that has defied his party since the last twelve years. We gathered he came with plenty of money, your money, our money to dole out to idle candidates that know deep in their hearts, that they will not win any election in Nigeria but because that is the blood that runs in the sinews of the PDP, he must share out money for elusive political wet dream. We hear he comes this time around, with nothing less than N10 billion and 70 per cent of this free largesse is to be doled out to the PDP governorship candidate, maybe to start up something in his dead campaign.

Coming at a time, Prof. Pat Utomi alerted the nation that Jonathan presidency spends N100 million of state money every day for PDP’s arid campaigns and coming at a day it was reported that a bus of 18 Nigerian passengers skidded off the road and plunged into the river on the perpetually horrible Benin-Ore Road, it is not surprising that nothing has been working in Nigeria since the past twelve years of bizarre PDP governance when what is known as governance is an endless sharing spree involving public money for vain political adventures.
Let us recall that this is not the first time we are travelling on this kind of road. In fact, we are where we are today because of this kind of bizarre desperation. In 2007, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, in a desperate heat to ‘capture’ Lagos by all means, came to Lagos with loads of money and threw this question to his minions, “Who among you know Bola Tinubu very well enough to dislodge him and rubbish him out of Lagos politics?” The aspirants began to talk, each giving a thousand and one reasons why he or she should be the one. At the end of the day, the lot fell on Senator Musliu Obanikoro. Obasanjo asked him how much he needed for such mission and Obanikoro demanded for N3 billion. The money was promptly released to him. He made few noises here and there and pocketed the money, realising the heavy odds stacked against him. He knew quite well the futility of fighting a lost battle against the Asiwaju and being a smart guy, he pocketed his largesse of the national cake and his supporters were left clutching on straws.

This writer was privy to a meeting where PDP supporters gathered to weigh the options after the contest was won and lost and I saw some PDP supporters weeping profusely about their betrayal, alleging they were made to work on empty stomachs while their candidate and some few leaders smiled to the bank. That nobody told them the truth.   The promise to rig the PDP to power in Lagos at all costs, fell flat on the face. When Chief Alaba Williams charged at the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, asking what went wrong and what happened to the promise given to them as regards delivering Lagos to the PDP, the REC simply told him that he was not ready to die, as his children were still young. He told them that it will amount to committing suicide by going against the wishes of almost 20 million Lagosians. He told them that rigging the election in Lagos to favour PDP may kickstart a revolution that will put an end to the political entity called Nigeria. The rest is now history.

Today, four years after, history is about to repeat itself in Lagos, with President Goodluck Jonathan going the way of Obasanjo in 2007 hook, line and sinker. Why this is so cannot be farfetched because Nigerians have known this president to be a stooge of Obasanjo, who sits in his Ota Farm and directs our president on what to do. It is not surprising that Jonathan is gobbling Obasanjo’s do or die politics and in Lagos, he is about to repeat the mistake on Lagos in 2002. President Jonathan, who did not have shoes or books while schooling, as his minders have found so alluring saying, is opening the national treasure cove to a little known and least qualified Ade Dosunmu and more than N10 billion of our national wealth is being laundered for this futile mission. This was a Dosunmu who ran NIMASA on rented generator at the cost of N150,000 per day while he was the CEO of that massive parastatal, seen as a cash cow for PDP members these past twelve years. To date, no one can actually say what Dosunmu did with the budget of NIMASA, which runs into hundreds of millions of dollars annually and no one can explain why Dosunmu failed to clear our coastal waters of the debris of wrecked ships for three years yet he is angling to govern a complex state like Lagos, which presents greater challenges than the Federal Government.

This is the man President Jonathan is throwing billions of naira to purportedly support to uproot a highly performing incumbent governor, with no party structures and no dedicated supporters. But honestly, I don’t blame Jonathan given his sparse understanding of power, his twisted knowledge of politics and his abysmal appreciation of governance. But he needs to be tutored that you cannot get something from nothing. Bereft of ideas, values, focus and vision, a useless party and its owner-managers cannot continue to insult our collective intelligence, wasting our national resources and taking impunity to a frightening and disturbing level. This country has earned more money from 1999 to date than what we earned from 1960 till 1999 yet we cannot fix a simple road like the Benin-Ore Road. One cannot see anything on the ground that is worth a miniature fraction of the huge earning we have had since 1999 yet our so-called leaders find it so attractive to share out money with annoying prurience in the name of elections. What one sees in Nigeria is a carcass of abandoned projects, horrible and un-mendable roads, no water, no light, no employment, heightened insecurity, acute poverty, failed education sector and every other vestiges of a failed state.

What the nation is accustomed to is a monthly ritual of sharing money between those who have cornered power at all levels of government to the ratio of 52 per cent to the Federal Government, while the state and local government levels and other special interests get 42 per cent of the nation’s wealth. While the Federal Government, especially since 1999 has abdicated every of its responsibilities and spends the hefty chunk on things one cannot ascertain and on such vain political expenditures as Jonathan is now doing in Lagos, the states are left to bear the brunt of what the Federal Government should do like fixing roads in Lagos, with the paltry share they get. This is the reason Jonathan and the PDP governments before him have grown deaf on carrying out even simple responsibilities they owe Lagosians, like fixing the perpetually bad federal roads in Lagos, the president and his henchmen find it attractive to marshal a heavy chunk of federal resources for such flights of fancy as capturing Lagos. It is surprising that Jonathan is even going against wise counsel of his partymen like the Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu who recently advised his party against wasting their efforts on Lagos given the sterling performance of Governor Fashola.

Prominent Nigerians from all walks of life have been advising the PDP to steer clear of Lagos because it is a no go area given Fashola’s star performance but Jonathan would rather listen to jobbers and scoundrels that see Nigerian resources as free meal for party hirelings and that is why he is practically living in Lagos, trying to resurrect a dead party with billions of resources that would have been used to fix Benin-Ore Road. As I write this, there are no decent politicians left in Lagos PDP, as we have witnessed the mass movement from that notorious party from all parts of the country. From what any person can see, PDP is practically dead in Lagos and has been run out of business by the ACN, its sterling campaigns and the stellar performance of Governor Fashola. It could be understandable though if PDP exists in Lagos only on the impressionable minds of Jonathan and his dying South West PDP jobbers who are on their very last breath.

An advice I can offer Jonathan is that he should concentrate on his green zones and leave out such blaring red zones as Lagos. His dream cannot fly in Lagos and no amount of money would change this reality. It is belief, values, ideas, vision, goals and objectives that can win Lagos for any party and the PDP simply doesn’t have these. In 2003, PDP got yellow card in Lagos. In 2007, it went away with another woeful yellow card. In 2011, it will get a straight red card and worse still, it is getting such dire results from all over the country so Lagos is the last area it can dream of capturing in 2011.

Governor Fashola is without contestation, the best performing governor in Nigeria today and Jonathan knows this. Fashola has shown leadership in Nigeria and Jonathan knows this. Fashola has clearly set benchmark for achievement for those in power in Nigeria and he has shown the way to a new Nigeria and Goodluck Jonathan knows this. Governor Fashola is the best brand in Nigeria today and I am sure Jonathan knows this. If he knows all these facts, it should also be clear to him that investing money to capture Lagos is a fruitless venture that has eluded his godfather, Obasanjo. It is a colossal waste that will lead to nothing.

•Joe Igbokwe, Publicity Secretary, Lagos ACN writes from Lagos.