Nigeria is in dire straits and Nigerians, especially the poor masses, are in big trouble. Our situation is worse than all the economic definitions of recession put together because we do not yet have a single purposeful hope-inspiring strategy on how to get out of the doldrums.
Curiously, with the way the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has carried on so far, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that it has the economic blueprint to bring about a positive change, except something major happens. Yes, something alarming in the political sphere that will send shivers down the spines and which could become a historical reference point for ages.
This is where the September 28, 2016 governorship election in Edo State comes in. This is a major election that will be conducted after the APC-led Federal Government carelessly piloted and crash-landed Nigeria into recession . With the hunger and pains in the land, the people of Edo State will be justified to use their votes to punish the APC in the State. This is the debt we owe Nigerians and which we must pay on September 28 by voting out APC.
President Muhammadu Buhari was widely reported, especially in the social media, to have said that “a vote for Obaseki is a vote for me”, and this has not been denied by the APC. Consequently, no matter how well-intended that statement was, it will be a deep pain for Nigerians and, indeed, a monumental disaster, if the people of Edo State should, by any means, allow themselves to be manipulated or sweet talked into retaining the APC in power.
To do that will tantamount to voting to reward a party and government that have brought the nation and her people into economic recession. This is really a crucial period for many Nigerians, who are reeling under the crushing weight of bad governance, to make a bold statement by unleashing the anger of recession on the APC; and the onus has fallen, first, on the good people of Edo State to do so. They have to do it for the rest of the country to have some sort of psychological relief and create fears in the political circles that the power to make and unmake leaders in a democracy is with the people through the ballot box.
The world may never be able to appreciate the degree of our economic woes if we fail to send the right signals to the ruling APC by making them to lose this forthcoming Edo election in a scandalous manner. Yes, scandalous such that the President and his Government will be able to quickly connect dots. Even our creator, the Almighty God, will also be watching patiently to see if some persons will claim ignorance, and go out on the Election Day to cast their votes for the APC and later mischievously come to a secret place of prayers to ask for His blessings and succour from the pains of this one-chance change. We must all face the reality that God cannot be mocked. Our vote is our conscience and with it, we can speak truth to leadership and government.
There is also an information doing the round that, just as the President was allegedly tricked into visiting Edo State to campaign for the APC under the guise of sustaining the party’s tiny presence in the South-South, another business mogul is also being cajoled to flood Edo with rice to buy votes under some dubious terms that will mortgage the future of the State. But to the ever-conscious people of the Heartbeat of the Nation, no amount of rice from this warped arrangement can last a season, or even good enough to sustain a third-term bid by proxy. These whips are enough punishment for trusting someone with leadership; we must do everything to avoid being chastised with scorpions in Edo State.
It was obvious that the APC committed a political hara-kiri by bringing to Edo State, a President whose popularity has seriously dimmed in the last 10 months, due largely to hunger in the land and some socio-political misadventures. It is good to know: how many persons from Edo State have been considered fit for strategic appointments in the government of President Buhari? What major project has the APC led-Federal Government considered continuing (as ongoing) or initiated as part of its campaign promises in the state? The popular saying that a weekend that will be sweet and memorable is certainly known from the preceding Thursday is sufficient in this situation. Can the APC give what it does not have? No amount of promises can automatically translate into reality with propaganda as the APC is caught doing every time.
You will recall that because of the fear of massive defeat, a security report was manufactured from the blues by the Police and Department of State Services (DSS) to postpone the gubernatorial election. In a jiffy, they evaporated Boko Haram from the forest of Sambisa on the fringes of Borno State and condensed them in the South-South State of Edo. And just like that, they created a dangerous scenario that could now be used and exploited to undermine the security architecture of future elections in the country. It is not unlikely that they are going to moot a similar idea in Ondo State when the fear of a landslide defeat stares them in the face. As a matter of urgency, the people of Ondo State should brace up for a likely security report of using Niger Delta Avengers’ invasion to cause unfounded apprehension. These days, anything can be manufactured in Nigeria to please the APC.
It is, however, curious to note that the Edo State government, which recently took a swipe at the United States Consulate for placing a travel ban on her citizens who wish to visit the State, has impishly refused to counter the security report on Boko Haram’s invasion of Edo State by the DSS/Police. Let me reproduce what the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said in a statement he issued to defend the position of the state government. In addition, it will also be interesting to know if the Comrade Governor will be redirecting his Information Commissioner to retract his statement against the US consular and issue an unreserved apology. Who lied?
The statement reads in part: “Barely a week ago, the Edo State governor received a delegation of the United States Consulate led by the Consul-General, John Bray and Michael Harvey, Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, on July 26, in Benin City when the delegation visited the Azura Power Plant to ascertain the progress of this $1billion investment in the power sector. The delegation did not only have a hitch-free, two days fact finding visit to the power plant, they (also) had opportunity to interact with other stakeholders particularly those who are contesting the September 10, Edo State gubernatorial election. The delegation returned to Lagos without any security threat. Placing a travel ban on their citizens who are willing to visit and or do business in Edo State following our huge investment in economic infrastructure and security architecture, is a misrepresentation of the state of affairs in Edo State. The governor’s investment in the security sub-sector has created the enabling environment across the state that now attracts investors to the state.”
One may even be tempted to ask: who brought Boko Haram to Edo State after the rally of the APC that attracted its party faithful from across the country including from Borno State and the Northeast? This angle will be sufficiently interrogated on another day. The focus here currently is how the good people of Edo can help Nigeria to put the pains of recession into a proper political perspective by getting the President to wake up and act decisively. We will be taken for granted by the APC propagandists if it wins the Edo election (God forbid). And if we are to thoroughly evaluate the revelation of Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano on the ongoing backend massive dollar round-trippings, the recession favours some members in the APC around the corridors of power who are making a kill from their bedroom through phone calls.
According to Sanusi, who was copiously quoted by Daily Trust Newspaper: “We (APC government and cronies) have created our own billionaires since 2015 from foreign exchange subsidy (round-tripping). The poor paid the price of the devalued currency and the rich schemed up the profits and it went on for one year and we talked and talked and talked. People that were profiting from this were the ones telling the government that if you devalue people would suffer; meanwhile, they all got the dollar at N197 and price their goods at N300.” This is the tragedy of Nigeria today. The people of Edo State should lead us in the massive campaign to make the APC pay for this deliberate act of insensitivity and sabotage.
Just as Nigerians were scammed with beautiful promises that have nearly ended as a mirage, the APC is also doing the same by promising another phantom 200, 000 jobs in Edo State. This is very simple: what Oshiomhole did not do, it will be foolhardy to expect Obaseki to do. The world will sympathise with Edo people if we criticize Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for acting wrongly at any point as our governor but certainly no one will dignify us with a concern if it is Obaseki. They would simply wave us off and say “You saw this gulf ahead before you leaped into it.” We should not jump into a pit of regret.
We must stop the APC in their tracks in Edo before we become a conquered territory and subsequently taken for granted. This is what we can do for our nation, for the Buhari-led government to take us serious and act with a sense of urgency to take our nation out of recession.
.Mr Ainofenokhai contributed this piece from Benin City.