As the 2015 presidential race draws closer, several observers and elder statesmen have length their voice to the debate as to which candidate has what it takes to govern Nigeria properly.
Joining the discussion is the President of the Ijaw Media Forum, Asu Becks who has thrown his weigh behind incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as he believes that he has done enough to deserve a re-election.
Speaking to Vanguard, 61-year old Becks, who is the Publisher of Maritime Journal, Shipping World said the only knock on the admi9nistration of President Jonathan is the insurgent attack in the North East, berating the opposition for capitalising on the minor setback to ridicule the good work of Mr. President.
Read excerpts below:
On the polls
All Nigerians, including President Goodluck Jonathan yearn for change. All patriotic Nigerians, including Jonathan, yearn for a better Nigeria. In fact, I can say without contradiction that no Nigerian, living or dead, yearns for a better Nigeria than Jonathan. Or is that not what is on the lips of majority of Nigerians?
But while change remains the only permanent thing in life, we must be wary of those fake apostles of change. Some of these modern day apostles of change could actually be agents of the devil whose only mission is to rubbish our modest achievements as a people and as a nation. If restoring the rail tracks, bringing agriculture to the front burner, the unbundling of the Power Holding CN, returning our airports to their glorious past are not change, then I wonder what change connotes in a 72 year old’s rusty mind.
As a man from the oil and gas rich Niger Delta region, my take is that change must be total. Change means all federating units in Nigeria must contribute to the centre. At the monthly federal allocations meetings, every state must bring its contributions to the centre. You cannot keep back your resources and feed fat on the resources of the other states or regions.
Change to me means that a particular region cannot tell us they are “born to rule” and as such must always produce the CG of Customs, the MD of NPA, the GMD of NNPC, the FCT Minister, the Chief Justice of the Federation. In other words, the change should and must be all encompassing and total. We can no longer continue with an era of “baboon dey work, monkey dey chop”. No one region should be treated as second class citizens. That is the change Nigerians yearn for, not this futile attempt at reviving a rickety car parked for 32 years that should be consigned to the junkyard.
On Jonathan’s presidency
For any discerning mind, the circumstances which brought in Jonathan as President are enough indication that it was the Lord’s doing. It was never about good luck as many Nigerians have erroneously ascribed to this Presidency.
What God gave to us when the late President Yar’Adua passed away in 2010 was what our Creator in His own wisdom decided we needed as a people. Yes, it may not have been the choice of all of us, as was evident in the power play when it became evident that the chances of Yar’Adua returning to his desk at the Villa were very becoming slimmer by the day. It was not a situation any one of us prayed for, but, at the end of the day, the inevitable happened.
Given the circumstance under which he came into office, Jonathan has had a relatively open administration.
He realized early in the life of his administration that it was the goodwill of all Nigerians, including some members of opposition parties that saw him through during those trying times and not good luck.
Ironically, the northern oligarchy, as represented by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has been the most critical of his administration. Expectedly, the South West, which dumped their candidate for Jonathan in 2011, has been bitter that there practically is nothing to show in terms of political appointments under the present dispensation to compensate for their support for him. And this may have fuelled the animosity between Jonathan and Senator Bola Tinubu.
Jonathan has not done badly in terms of his score card since he took office about six years ago.
Transformation in the power, sports, aviation, agriculture, education, oil and gas sectors, among others, are there for all to see. But it appears the distraction caused by the Boko Haram insurgency, especially the abduction of the Chibok girls, have taken the shine away from his modest achievements. The opposition have, for all intents and purposes, capitalized on the few lapses in the insurgency war to paint the ruling PDP as a party that can no longer guarantee the security of Nigerians. But most Nigerians are far from being fooled by this campaign given the fact over 70 percent of the top notchers of the APC are decampees from the PDP.
On the fight against corruption which, is one area Mr. President has not demonstrated enough political will, it is the thinking of most Nigerians that too many corrupt public office holders are being given cover. Nigerians want to see an assertive President Jonathan who would not be afraid to bark and bite, and would step on every big toe that has not played by the rules.
I would expect Mr. President to, if the need be, use some of these corrupt officials as the proverbial sacrificial lamb. If he does so, even within days to the election, his rating would rise astronomically and this means more votes at the polls.
But one thing Nigerians cannot take away from President Jonathan is his simplicity. Jonathan is God-fearing, humble, compassionate and does not want to run the affairs of Nigeria like an emperor. He has allowed all arms of government operate independently.
Buhari, in my opinion, is anything but the change the over 170million Nigerians yearn for.
At 72, this frail looking retired army general cannot withstand the rigours of the office as President. As an army general and former Head of State, he is used to dishing out orders. As President, he would have democratic institutions such as both chambers of the National Assembly and the judiciary to contend with. He does not have the patience of a Jonathan who is not used to arm twisting any arm of government to do his bidding.
What experience is GMB bringing to the table? What has he been engaged in since he left office as Head of State almost 32 years ago? Was he an employer of labour? What managerial experience is he bringing to bear? Is his disputed school certificate enough qualification to prepare him for the challenges? Or are we going to rely on his dictatorial credentials as what qualifies him for this plum job? Is there a possibility that his party men were deceived into believing that he was fit and proper for the job?
On June 12, IBB, Abacha and Buhari
Many Nigerians have not forgiven GMB for his tyrannic reign after he aborted the Shagari administration in December 1983. If the IBB and Abacha regimes were off-shoots of Buhari’ s military regimes, then it is certain that GMB should take full responsibility for interrupting our democracy, which but for that criminal act would be coasting towards an uninterrupted 40 years, as well as the hundreds of lives lost to the June 12 crisis.
On US and the fight against Boko Haram
When the September 9/11 incident happened, the whole world, including Nigeria, rallied around the US. But what do we get in return since the Boko Haram intensified their activities in the North East in the last couple of years? No one country in the world has been able to fight terrorism single handedly, but ironically, that is what the US wants us to do.
These days, it has become very difficult to differentiate between the official comments of the US State Department and APC’s Lai Mohammed on what the Jonathan administration is doing or not doing about Boko Haram. Even the multi-national forces that promised all manners of support and assistance after the Chibok girls abduction have since gone underground.
These days, it is common place to hear US officials complain about Nigeria’s ill-equipped, poorly motivated and poorly trained solders as being no match for the better trained and motivated Boko Haram fighters. How laughable could this be. Is this not the same Nigerian Army whose solders acquired their trainings in the best military academies in the world, including the US?
Is this not the same Nigeria military that has been involved in major peace keeping operations around the globe in the last five decades? Is this not the same military who the US and its allies have had a lot of defence cooperations with on several occasions? It is very unfortunate that the US would abandon Nigeria, a country that is very strategic in America-Africa relations, at this very critical period.
But I am happy the Jonathan administration is set to call the bluff of the US and other western nations, and seems set to open new frontiers of cooperation in the eastern bloc such as China. But one lesson to learn from the US reluctance to support Nigeria in the fight against insurgency is the fact that the world has become a global village and countries such as the US cannot claim to know it all. With or without them, the Jonathan administration is surely winning the battle against insurgency, even though the expectation of Nigerians is that the President ought to have done more.