African Outlook Online

Farouk Martins Aresa

The Legacy Of President Ebele Jonathan

The Legacy Of President Ebele Jonathan

By Farouk Martins Aresa

Sooner or later, the children of Niger Delta in general and those of Ijaw in particular are going to ask for the legacy of Ijaw President that most Nigerians clamored for as reflected in 2011 votes North and South across the Niger.

The easy undisputed answer, is that the President created more millionaires than any other President in Nigerian history. Who these millionaires are is a different question but the lives of those in environmentally polluted swamps remain unchanged.See Here!


The children that lived and played by the rules, went to schools and graduated from universities are left by the wayside while thugs, vagabonds and militia that can hardly read and write have been turned into political allies and billionaires. Their cohorts that grew up with them beg for money, wondering where they went wrong! Indeed militia are so rich they do not know what to do with the money other than buy arms and ships to patrol and police themselves on the high seas.


We must be fair to Jonathan, as we may have expected too much from him. He delivered railway and listed many to come. But what can he do in the next 4 years that could not have been done in six? The allocation to Niger Delta remained the same as when he came in, Niger Delta is not yet a country, we do not know how much international oil companies are pumping out, or made, beyond what they declared by creative bookkeeping as auditors still remain their close allies.


Nigerians are tired of promises, uncompleted constructions and gas powered connections since OBJ. He may not be as productive as we want as President and governor but others made their reigns eventful within a few months. Governor Sam Mbakwe will always be remembered for what he accomplished with the little money he had after the war in reconstruction. Gov. Lateef Jakande remains the best Lagos State ever had in housing, education and Buhari stalled subway.


We hate Obasanjo so much; we forget that within few months, he retired all the militicians in the Armed Forces, changed all the Service Chiefs and replaced them with minorities from the North-central and South-south. For the first time after the war he appointed talented Igbo to sensitive positions and gave us “Ribadu the First”. Not “Ribadu the 2nd,” - the one that was emasculated by Tinubu!


The debate then was whether OBJ was using Ribadu to hunt his enemies or Ribadu was using OBJ to hunt OBJ’s corrupt friends. There was a certain fear of corruption that is missing today. What we have lately is anticipation of fear if Buhari wins. This new fear of corruption is not without foundation because we knew how draconian Buhari's last reign was. People said he was not respectful and even partial to Northern royal families.


However, the Buhari/Idiagbon Operation WAI had no mercy, it had causalities. No Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa man dared approach Idiagbon for favors. When Nigerians get to a point where they hope and pray that democracy will tame Buhari the way Obasanjo was tamed because of the almighty Impeachment, you know Nigerians have had enough of corruption. Even a few that have benefited from corruption prefer jail under Buhari than this aberration we call freedom.


It is not that President Jonathan has no guts; he has only showed it when personally threatened. He rose up against Emir Sanusi as Governor of Central Bank, helped Henry Okar to jail in South Africa, showed no mercy to Gov. Amaechi and called Obasanjo a motor park tout. He remained steadfast to his cabinet, defied calls to fire his corrupt favorites and pardoned Alamieyeseigha. This resolute streak is displayed only when personalities involved may have shielded him from reality.


President Jonathan figured that by making those around him millionaires and billionaires, the crumbs will trickle down to the masses especially those from Niger Delta. He has spent six years with very little to show to his own ethnic base on what he has accomplished for the common man in the fishing villages; apart from so the called “leaders”. Unfortunately, most of the cash won as compensation from Odi massacre went to lawyers and town leaders as usual.


In sincerity, some of us actually think it is their money and they can spend and invest it anyway and anywhere they want as long as it is in trust for the children of Niger Delta. Only fools will think there is some money or investment waiting for young men and women in the Niger Delta in some other country in Africa, Europe and America. Everyone was stealing what he or she could loot - only for his or her own children and maybe extended families.


While oil income is being looted and wasted, the predictions about oil prices come true. The party has to end sometime. Unfortunately, the people living in those villages, towns and cities will be left in a more devastating environment before oil became a big deal. They are the ones that have to deal with it when the money stops coming or when the rest of the world decides on alternative source of energy. By that time, the billionaires that own everything would be out of reach.


The whole country will also lose and pay dearly for decades of mismanagement before Ebele came to power. Free money from others’ backyard has been taken for granted. Rather than cut our coats according to our backyards, local and national salaries, projects and contracts are inflated to unreasonable and unsustainable oil income from one source.


Oshiomole as Labor leader and Mimiko as Labor Governor will not be forgiven by history for not making Labor Party what Tinubu made ACN/APC. If Buhari is elected, it is not because they love him so much, it is because they are tired of business as usual and see Buhari as the only change.


Regardless of political parties, Nigerians should vote out state governments that offer more of the same. As the election draws near, some of the beneficiaries of Ebele’s legacy are deserting. They have to, so that their loot can be kept well hidden outside Nigeria. Even though their investments and businesses are as close to Nigeria as Benin Republic, Togo and South Africa but still in real terms, they are far away from home.