The April 2011 polls is arguably the most critical elections in the history of post-civil war Nigeria. The attendant underpinnings revolve around the unity of the nation as one entity and the desire of the collective peoples of Nigeria to continue to be listed favourable in the universal comity of democratic federations.
The modus operandi for the elections have already been defined and decided by a combination of legislative propaganda and manipulation on the one hand and indeed the administrative tinkering and dogged implementation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the other.
But one major issue which seemingly remains dangerously out of the control of the establishment is the manner of violence which potentially threatens to jeopardise and derail the will of the majority of Nigerians from enjoying a free and fair poll.
The clear and present fear of this violence, especially here in Delta State, has been given greater currency by the real and imagined suspicions, actions and utterances of political party candidates over the impartiality of the electoral umpire INEC and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in ensuring a level playing field for the elections.
A taste of things to come was witnessed in the January 6, 2011 elections in the state, where political party stalwarts, who were on the verge of losing in their constituencies reportedly resorted to violence with the shameful objective of compelling the electoral umpire to nullify the process in such areas.
The PDP Primaries in the state also reportedly witnessed calculated acts of deliberate violence amongst the supporters of contending aspirants, as incumbents attempted to undo their opposition and in the end, the will of the people was subverted in most cases.
The resultant alternative has seen such disgruntled and disappointed candidates pitching their tents with opposition political parties with the full knowledge and understanding of the violence which led to the denial of their initial bid and the perfecting of their own instruments of violence to meet and match their opponents in the coming polls.
This same scenario of violence has equally played itself out in the various campaigns of opposition candidates, whose supporters have reportedly resorted to disrupting the rallies and processions of opponents with calculated violence, sometimes even employing the use of guns to prove their ownership of specific territories.
The fact that politicians have seriously armed a section of their supporters to ensure that they get favourable results at all cost has now led to the disturbing impression that it is the candidate with the largest arsenal in the armory that will win the elections in particular areas.
This situation has not been helped by the fact that many candidates are now very suspicious of INEC and despite the constitutional constraints which the electoral body is contending with, some its operatives may also be liable to be compromised and this has led to threatening language dripping of real violence against such operatives.
The only way to ensure a violence free election or minimize and even prevent anarchy and mayhem during the polls, is for all the stake holders to realize that elections is not a do or die affair or a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rich. Politicians, Security agencies, INEC and indeed the entire citizenry must accept the fact that nobody has a monopoly of violence and if we all decide to achieve our victories through violence then, there may not even be a state, constituency or Local government area for you to govern or represent at the end of the day.
Delta State is surely bigger than one individual or one political party and it is only a wicked candidate who will kill, main, destroy properties and employ other kinds of violence against the people as a tool to achieve the victory which he requires to serve the same people.
There is no doubt that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)in Delta state is the leading party in the state today. The way and manner the party swept the January 6, 2011 re-run election is an indication of the reach and might of the PDP in the state.However, the recent Primaries conducted by the PDP across the state has left very huge question marks about the sincerity and commitment of the party to enhance our democratic status by establishing and promoting the tenets of internal democracy withing its operations.From the Ward congresses, through the delegates selection process to the party primaries for all the elective positions, the PDP displayed a worrisome absence of proper internal democracy in the entire process.Montesquieu, the great French political thinker and social commentator has already given us a universally accepted definition of democracy which is government of the people for the people and by the people and Maurice Duverger, the renowned French jurist and sociologist suggested in his now famous Duverger’s law, that Political parties are the lifeline of modern politics and serve as a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system which creates a proportional representation system and energizes the electoral conditions necessary to foster democratic development.In other words, a political party represents the aspirations and desires of a people in a system of representation and social contract, in which the people are freely allowed to choose who they wish to represent them and thus ensure the achievements of their desires in a political system. What this translates into therefore is that the political party must first ensure that it has established internal democracy within its operations before it can now seek to presents itself as a veritable conduit to propose persons who wish to represent the people in an elective capacity. What happened in the PDP, Delta state primaries can hardly be regarded as an exhibition of internal democracy in the party. The plethora of protests, the hues and cries of irregularities, the damning allegations of oppressive substitutions and the authoritarian display of autocratic leadership, with the intent to subvert the obvious desires of the people in certain constituencies, can not be regarded, by any stretch of the imagination, as shining examples of internal democracy, within the party in the state.The truism that to whom much is given, much is also expected rings true with the PDP in Delta state and the ultimate conflict which this apparent mis-interpretation of internal democracy has excavated reconciles itself with the twin concept of social responsibility as a political party and opportunistic service in the interest of a coterie of self seeking leaders, constituting themselves into a cabal that operates with the finitude of Ozymandias.This is surely not good for our democracy and the sooner the PDP in Delta state begins to accept the fact that democratic power truly belongs to the people and not a cabal, the better we will be as a state as our democracy continues to chug along into the new millennium.
The news that the Acting Delta State Governor, Prince Sam Obi has requested for and received approval for a N20b (Twenty Billion Naira) loan from the Delta State House of Assembly, has raised some important issues amongst Deltans.
According to the report, the acting Governor, Prince Sam Obi, had in a letter dated December 7, 2010, to the State Assembly, personally signed by him said, “I wish to hereby request the approval of the House to borrow the sum of N20b only to enable the state government meet some of its very pressing contractual obligations for which the state government had taken benefit.
“The loan facility, shall be sourced from reputable financial institutions in Nigeria and shall attract not more than 13 percent interest rate per annum subject to mutually agreeable adjustments in line with CBN monetary policy rates and two percent upfront fees. It shall be repaid within a 24 months period with revenue from the state’s monthly Federal Statutory Allocations, FAAC, with a three months moratorium on the principal sum”. The letter said.
The approval was granted with no objection after the letter was read on the floor of the House and this indeed marked the first and perhaps only major financial activity the Acting Governor may undertake within his short term.
It is important to put this matter in some kind of perspective. Loans are usually expected to be used to service projects and key critical initiatives of an administration’s desire to provide better facilities in welfare and infrastructure for its citizens. To that extent therefore, the explanation that the N20b facility requested is to be deployed to service some pressing contractual obligations which the state has taken benefit for them, according to the letter, is quite in order.
Again, the fact remains that Rt. Hon. Sam Obi is only operating in an interim capacity and thus may not be eligible both morally and administratively to raise a supplementary budget with which to service operational and sundry activitities of his government. So the more expedient and immediate alternative will be to seek for a loan, which he has done.
There is no doubt that Ag. Governor Obi took over the reigns of authority at a sensitive period in the political and social existence of Delta State. Activities in the state had almost been non existence as there was a terrible absence of judicious and equitable sectoral cashflow which is the sustenance of any economy. Infact, the bleak season was set to continue with the analysis of former Governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan that the global financial indices were not favorable and as such Deltans should not expect any change in their fortunes as they approach the yuletide.
It was therefore somewhat surprising to hear the Ag. Governor say that the N20b loan is to honour contractual agreements for which the state has already taken credit. What contracts? Deltans are bound to ask, and what benefits too, if such have not obviously reflected on the lives and welfare of the majority of the people?
The second disturbing issue is that the loan repayment schedule has been spread over a 24 month period, which automatically means that any new administration after Ag. Gov Obi’s tenure will be inheriting a N20billion Naira debt in addition to the 13% interest or whatever interest rates exist over the period, as the letter clearly states. What this means is that since government is a continum, a huge debt will be owed by Deltans to whatever finacial institutions the loan is sourced from by 2011. This is surely an echo of a former administration in the state not too long ago.
However, the N20b loan may also have been a brave move on the part of the Ag. Governor Obi administration to boldly address the plight of Deltans and tackle the cashflow problem frontally by initiating some new contracts and paying for them immediately as a way of ensuring some financial liquidity in the system in this yuletide season. If this is the case, then kudos for the Ag. Governor for the simple reason that he has the interest of the people at heart, a thing which many thought Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan lacked in his three years as governor.
Deltans are thus hoping that this N20b loan will impact positively on their lives especially in this yuletide season and lay to rest the very loud voices of suspicion and anger with which some Deltans have been responding to the decision to take the N20b loan. There is no doubt that Delta State has been owing many people and interests across the public and private sectors in the last three years. Deltans can only pray now that the Ag. Governor will do a judicious appropriation of the money and not the selective distributuion which had been so associated with the Uduaghan administration. After all, as some have noted, the money belongs to all Deltans
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was in Asaba, the Delta state capital recently to honour an invitation from the Sylvester Monye Foundation and deliver a lecture titled,“The Economy in Perspective: Consolidating the Gains of the Banking Sector Reforms”, as keynote speaker of the occasion.
In the said lecture, the brilliant Mallam took the banks, the stock exchange and the entire financial sector to the cleaners, with such expletives as “Casinos”, “gambling houses” and other such snide references.
There was no doubt that the brilliance of Mallam Sanusi was clear for everyone to see and he even got several generous rounds of applause for his very candid and sometimes caustic comments on the squandermania which has bedeviled the Nigerian society and leaders at both the political and economic constituencies.
One very trite and un-apologetically indicting comment about Delta state, delivered in a rather off-the-cuff manner, was well received by the eager audience and even the belated attempts by the CBN Czar to re-situate that statement of financial impropriety in the proper administrative context of a past leadership in the state, did little to dampen the damage which the indictment had inflicted on the present Delta state administration, in the eyes of an already excited congregation.
It was therefore with great surprise that a few days later, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took out paid advertorial in several leading national newspapers to refute the reports credited to the CBN Governor, claiming that Nigerian banks are gambling houses, at that Sylvester Monye sponsored lecture.
In a statement signed by Mr. Mohammed M. Abdullahi, Head Corporate Affairs of the CBN, the apex bank said emphatically that the Governor did not in anyway make such comments, insisting that from all intents and purposes, the news report was deliberately misrepresented for sensationalism by the media.
He said that what the CBN Governor had done at that lecture was simply to provided further clarification on why the CBN had to intervene in 2009 in the banking sector.
According to the statement, “In throwing more light on how the rescued banks eroded their capital base and jeopardized depositors’ funds, he likened what transpired at that period to gambling by those, who as professionals, ought to know that their actions would impact negatively on the financial system.”
The advertorial further quoted the CBN Governor as saying that the management of some of the rescued banks during the period did not entirely raise fresh capital, but deployed depositors’ fund through collusion with some stock brokers in buying their respective shares in the stock market and manipulating the prices, thereby creating a bubble which would eventually burst with dire consequences – a situation he alluded to as similar to what operates at the Casinos.
At the end of the very tedious explanation, Mallam Abdullahi, as to be expected, called on the media to de-emphasize sensationalism in their reportage of such sensitive issues that might send wrong signals to the market with negative repercussions on the economy.
Two things stand out clearly in the attempt by the management of the CBN to put a spin on what Mallam Sanusi said or did not say. The first is that when big institutions like the CBN embark on a damage control initiative over a media report like they did with the CBN Governor’s comment then you know that something has definitely gone wrong somewhere. Secondly, it is almost impossible to really pin Malalm Sanusi down on the reported comments, especially the one that concerned Delta state, because the paper was delivered with a Power Point mode, which meant that all comments not contained in the original text can not be substantiated and only sensation seeking reporters, if the CBN disclaimer is to be believed, will reproduce them for propaganda effect.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanisi committed a classical faux pas with his comments during the Sylvester Monye Foundation lecture and those who know the Mallam well will confirm that, this is actually his forte and that he may actually have be guffawing behind his comical bow-tie when he read the refutal from CBN.
Mallam Sanusi’s faux pas, though not welcomed by many, especially in Delta state, was surely a revealing aside for the audience in Asaba and the rest of the world that read the reports the next day. Perhaps for the benefit of the rest of us, it may be necessary for such faux pas to be thrown into our existence if only to ease some of the drudgery which we have to live through on daily basis and most importantly give the ordinary man a small chance to get one back at the big guys once in a while