By Joe Igbokwe
Acutely worried by the huge defeat awaiting the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if the 2015 presidential election was conducted on February 14, the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan administration used its power of incumbency to change the election date by 6 weeks in the hopes of using the extension to re-jig its awfully faltering campaign. Consequently, President Jonathan decided to personally handle key aspects of the presidential campaign directly and to directly dole out bribe money to prominent individuals and organisations in dollars, instead of the national currency which is the naira.
This is why the president has in the last two weeks been spending considerable periods in the Southwest and South-south where he has met traditional rulers, traders associations and ethnic organisations and lavished fortunes on them. In Delta State, the president gave the Isoko development Union led by Maj Gen Paul Omu (retd) $200,000 but gave the Igbo-speaking part of the state called Anioma or Delta North a mere $100,000, which most analysts regard as another manifestation of his taking the entire people for granted.
Meanwhile, the president’s scheduled visit to the Southeast has been aborted by the three PDP governors in the geopolitical zones for different reasons. For instance, Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi is so disenchanted with the PDP national leadership and The Presidency over the failure of his preferred candidate in the state gubernatorial vote, Professor Christian Onyebuchukwu, the immediate past Minister of Health, that he is for all practical purposes out of the party. His son, Elechi Elechi, is vying for a senatorial seat on the platform of Labour Party.
In Abia State, Governor Theodore Orji, who is chairman of the Conference of Southeast Governors, does not want the president to visit because Dr Jonathan would have liked to inspect the 1,074 Megawatts National Integrated Power Plant and the 141MW Geometric Power integrated power project, both located in Aba. Governor Orji does not want the president and his large entourage to see the mess which Aba, once the technological and commercial pride of the Southeast, has become on his watch.
In Enugu State, Governor Chime is still very angry with the PDP and The Presidency for not allowing him to replace Deputy Ike Ekweramadu, who is from his state.
Everywhere the president has visited in recent weeks it has been a story of a rain of foreign currencies. The whole nation is deeply worried at President Jonathan’s fetish belief in the power of bribe money. If only a fraction of the humongous amounts he has been unleashing everywhere he goes had been invested in fixing roads, power and education, for example, he would not have been campaigning as frenetically without success as he is doing now.
Both President Jonathan and the PDP national leadership have refused to imbibe the time tested belief that propaganda can never replace excellent work. Also deeply worrisome is the president’s penchant for massive bribery in foreign currencies. The choice of foreign currencies simply amounts to an unmistakable vote of no confidence in our national currency. No pleader in our nation’s history has displayed so much contempt for our national prestige, which the naira represents, as President Jonathan. This contempt is coming at a time the Central Bank of Nigeria has begun a spirited campaign to remind Nigerians and businesses in the country that the tendency of some of them to quote the prices of their goods and services in dollars and other foreign currencies is illegal and goes a long way to undermine confidence in our national economy at large.
Worse, the strange presidential practice, which has entailed sustained raid of the Central Bank and bureau de change across the nation in search of foreign currencies at all costs, is coming at a time the naira has been losing value to the dollar, resulting in a dramatically high price level called inflation.
Nigerians are living in strange times. These are times which have seen our president directly dispensing huge bribe funds in the open to all manner of people and associations. These are times which have seen our president openly undermining our national currency. These are times which have seen our president directly contributing to hyper inflation. These are times which have seen our president openly violating the laws against bribery and corruption.
These are times which have seen our president unabashedly polluting our social and political values. All this is because of the desperation to remain in office by all means possible for fear that the incoming General Muhammadu Buhari presidency will try all those who have engaged in unconscionable pillaging of our common resources.
The whole nation is surprised that both Dr. Jonathan and the PDP leadership are acting like political simpletons. How could they be so naïve to think that bribing Nigerians in hard currencies will automatically translate to votes after six years of looting and failure of national security and the national economy?
The truth is that Nigerians who have been trooping to meet Jonathan and his delegation to collect their own share of the national cake will not vote for the PDP. In Lagos, for instance, many of them contacted All Progressives Congress (APC) officials before leaving to grab their own foreign currencies from President Jonathan, and when they returned they promptly reported to us how much each of them received and in the process made a jest of the naivety of the PDP members.
No one should be surprised at PDP’s naiveté. A party which parades the likes of Ayo Fayose, Iyiola Omisore, Femi Fani-Kayode, Musiliu Obankoro, Bode George, Chris Uba and others can only be an accident waiting to happen. Nigerians are yearning for change.
•Igbokwe is the Lagos APC publicity secretary.
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