Rivers governor warns of anarchy if 2015 polls are not transparent.
The Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, on Thursday came down heavily on the Goodluck Jonathan administration, alleging that it has institutionalised corruption in Nigeria.
Mr. Amaechi also warned that there would be anarchy if the 2015 general elections were not free, fair and credible because Nigerians had made up their mind to embrace change.
In a lecture he delivered at the 2nd Peoples Media Limited Conference in Abuja, the governor lamented that rather than fighting corruption, the Jonathan administration punished those who do.
The lecture titled, The Metaphor of Change and the Politics of 2015, was delivered on behalf of Mr. Amaechi by the Rivers State Information Commissioner, Ibim Semenitari, who said the governor was attending the National Summit of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which also held in Abuja.
The governor, who assessed the various regimes in the country from that of Tafawa Balewa in the First Republic to the current one, said corruption was not a repository of the military alone, stating that the politicians were also experts at it.
He singled out the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for institutionalising the fight against corruption for the first time in the history of Nigeria through the creation of a state agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Corruption, EFCC.
The governor, however, said the degree of progress that was made might be open for debate especially as it was alleged that Mr. Obasanjo used the same agency to go after his political opponents.
“The progress made in fighting corruption began to erode under President (Umaru) Yar’Adua. His short-lived regime cannot be assessed in this wise. Currently in the present regime of President Goodluck Jonathan corruption appears to have been institutionalised.” Mr. Amaechi said. “A whopping sum of $20 billion (N3.2 trillion) is alleged to be missing. The stories of both fuel and kerosene subsidy are nothing to behold; it reeks of corruption and rottenness. The aviation bullet-proof saga remains unresolved. The Shell-Malabu story is a macabre dance. The response of the regime to corruption is to imprison those exposing corruption.”
The governor stated that the suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, was unconstitutional.
“Constitution means nothing to the current government,” he said. “What we see is the re-emergence of civilian dictatorship.”
Mr. Amaechi noted that statistics emanating from both the World Bank and National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, indicated that unemployment rate was now 23 per cent in Nigeria, adding that it was far lower before the enthronement of the government of Mr. Jonathan.
He added, “Unemployment rate averaged at 14.6 per cent, reaching an all-time high of 23.9 per cent in 2011. It had an all-time high record low of 5.3 per cent in 2006. Nigerians live in want, hunger and penury. Unemployment and poverty may differ in regions to varying degrees, but it knows no faith or religion, knows no tribe or nation. It brews violence and has led to the annihilation of families in the North East and South-south of Nigeria. Death on the streets of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Kano, and Bauchi are no longer lessons for discussions; they are a daily occurrence.”
He noted that the current violence in the country had overwhelmed the government.
“Kidnapping is an everyday affair in the Niger Delta. It becomes strange, any day it does not occur. Political assassination is also on the rise. Violence is the order of the day,” the governor pointed out.
Mr. Amaechi said under the Jonathan administration, Nigeria had become famous for out of school children, saying, “We top the list with a figure of 8.6 million -10 million out of school children. Education is not affordable and accessible. Education infrastructures are deteriorating or non-existent. Beyond the education infrastructure are the softer issues, insufficient, poorly trained and ill-motivated teachers, a static curriculum, a lack of monitoring and quality control to ensure that education is not only available but is fit for purpose, competitive and qualitative. The result is that our children leave school, half baked at best and uneducated at worst.”
He recounted that the Jonathan administration had spoken variously about its commitment to infrastructure development on a broader scale. He added that though the administration’s efforts in resuscitating the railways and its sale of the power infrastructure were commendable initiatives that should be followed through, complaints by the different buyers of the generation and distribution companies pointed to debilitating challenges in the roll out that might affect the government’s power delivery promises.
He pointed out that in the roads and maritime sector, much remained to be done while water and sanitation should have received better attention especially with donor agencies anxious to support investments in that sector.
Mr. Amaechi said it was evident that the failure by government to provide the appropriate environment for the people to thrive, and a failure to guarantee the people’s right could lead to a breakdown of society.
He stressed that democracy required more than just the right to vote and that democratic country had to guarantee basic human rights to every person.
“Although these rights are enshrined in the country’s Constitution, it is crucial that the rights are ensured and protected by government as well as the citizens themselves,” he said.
The governor stated that good governance was the responsibility of every democratic government working in the interest of the public, as was the smooth handing over of batons from one administration to another.
According to him, Nigeria was at the threshold of history with yet again another election, stressing that the electorate was already demanding a better deal.
He said, “The Electorate is already demanding a better deal. The poll commissioned by the All Progressive Congress being unveiled today has shown that more than half of those polled insist that they are dissatisfied with the status quo and want change. The message is clear: the people want to be allowed a chance to freely make up their mind about who should lead them.”
He however said in political circles, the drums of war and voices of intolerance was a source of worry because of the determination of the Federal Government controlled People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections in 2015.
“In political circles the drums of war and voices of intolerance gives cause for worry about the determination of the Federal Government controlled People’s Democratic Party to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections in 2015. It is crucial that the elite and those of us in government understand that disallowing free elections would not just be an albatross but could be an invitation to anarchy,” he said.
In the second lecture, the Vice Chancellor of the Veritas University, Mike Kwanashe, noted that as the 2015 general elections approached, Nigerians were increasingly becoming apprehensive of what the state of the nation would be after the polls.
He said since the return to democratic rule in 1999, each change of government had had its own share of problems and that there were serious indications that the country could face some of its worst crisis since independence.
“The level of social disharmony in the country today resulting from the maneuvering within political parties and between political parties at both the federal and state level has created the grounds for greater apprehension towards the 2015 elections,” Mr. Kwanashe, a professor said.
The vice chancellor said the danger was that continued weakening of the Nigeria state could by 2015 result in a weakened economy since social and political crises had great influence on any economy.
Mr. Kwanashie said Nigeria’s political elites had conspired to extrapolate the outcome of economic growth resulting in the increased marginalisation of a large segment of the Nigeria population and increasing level of absolute poverty in the land and that there were no signs of reversing the trend in 2015.