THE next presidential election in Nigeria is in 2015, more than two full years away but already the seat of government in Abuja is flooded with campaign posters of incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, in a pitch for four more years. The presidency has washed its hands off the posters but said it would not order their removal. Very correct response, as that would amount to abridgment of the right of the campaigners.
If it is to be believed, the presidency has no hand in the appearance of the posters. But some Nigerians, now believed to be from the president's region in the south-south, want for more years for their man even if by self-admission the administration has performed below par. This much the president said in his New Year message to Nigerians in which he tried to explain why his administration is 'slow' on performance. But the presidency will not order the removal of campaign posters for an election that is more than two years in the future. In Ekiti State, a serving federal legislator, Opeyemi Bamidele, has equally disowned posters announcing his plans for governorship of the state. In Kano State, an important chieftain and former chairman of the PDP in Tarauni local government area, Sale Kura, has been arrested for the murder of two state legislators, Abba Garko of the PDP and Isah Kademi of the ANPP. Kura had just prayed with Garko and was present when the killers he had set on him for just N100, 000 came calling. Garko died, possibly, because of his planned exit from the PDP while Kademi was described as the most powerful member of the rival ANPP in Kano State. This paints a picture of how desperate the Nigerian politician is for power- usually without responsibility.
While politicians have been known to wrongfoot their rivals' agenda by executing plans, such as initiating premature campaigns and pasting posters unknown to them in their names, it ought to be a thing of marvel that some people would even think of campaigning for more years for persons who are yet to justify, to say nothing of using up, their present mandate as is the case of President Jonathan.
When one considers how long it takes an average Nigerian politician to get down to work after coming into office even when their victory is not being contested at tribunals- when one considers the wasted time spent on attending congratulatory dinners and parties and such other distractions, we ought to be scandalised that less than two years into office any politician would have begun campaign for the next election. When things are viewed from this angle, it becomes clear that a Nigerian politician comes into office after an election, rigged or otherwise, only to prepare for the next election that would keep them in office. Which then leaves one to wonder what time these politicians have to spend on fulfilling their oath of office or electoral mandate to serve the people.
I have said before that the class of people who find their way into public office, elective or otherwise, are the major problem facing us all. They are the very ones driving the country down the road of failure by their criminally irresponsible and thieving ways. They are elected or rigged their way into office but thereafter give account to nobody. The point I'm making can be better appreciated when we look at what some of our politicians have done in recent times, say, among the governors. Of the country's 36 state governors at least three are presently not doing what they got their mandates for on medical or health ground.
What is the consequence of this dereliction of duty for the entire Nigerian state or economy? Danbaba Suntai of Taraba has been away in Germany since October last year after he crashed the expensive toy, an aircraft he allegedly bought from a federal legislator at one billion Naira (wonder where the money came from) in spite of previous advice not to fly himself. Well, after the man found himself in hospital before he was flown out, he received hordes of visitors, so-called sympathisers including the president, out to greet him.
The question is, was this man employed to fly aircraft? Yes, he ignored the advice of his minders including the pilot of the plane who declined to board the aircraft with the governor. As the so-called chief security officer of his state but who attaches more importance to his pet hobby of flying than his own safety or that of his aides, is Mr. Suntai's conduct not impeachable in the circumstance? While he was immediately flown out for medical attention, it took the outcry of Nigerians and threat of litigation from Femi Falana before his aides who became mere statistics in the whole tragedy would be flown out too for treatment.
Suntai ought to have recognised, oughtn't he, that his life is not just his to do as he pleases with any more; that there are things he cannot do, shouldn't do; places he cannot visit both as a matter of public morality and his own safety by virtue of his office. He is no longer a private citizen, free to do as he pleases. This he ought to have been told by his minders and where he fails to listen to their advice, as he appears to have done here, that should constitute an infraction that should have constitutional consequences.
Has he not breached his oath of office by deliberately/obdurately endangering his own life and by so doing the life and livelihood of millions of citizens of that state whose future or daily activities have been suspended or held in the balance on account of the absence of the governor who must sign important documents or authorise certain actions? Oh yes, there is a deputy governor but knowing how things are done in Nigeria, it is a foolish deputy who rushes to act when the governor is away. Let those ignorant of this fact ask then Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, Goodluck Jonathan, for how long he stayed far from the governor's seat even when it was clear that his principal wouldn't be back! The same scenario played out when it was time for him to assume the position of President after President Umar Yar'Adua was no longer in the position to continue in office.
Given this, a deputy governor will be wary of what he does lest he be accused of wanting to take the position of his boss. There would be people watching every one of his actions for possible mistakes that could be held against him if and when his principal returns. This is the avoidable predicament into which Danbaba Suntai has plunged the state he was elected to govern.