Jonathan’s ministers’ self-assessment is in bad taste
When a lizard falls from a wall and no one around seems to appreciate what it has done, the lizard nods in self-appreciation of the feat it has performed. That was what struck me when, last Sunday, the Minister of National Planning in the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, issued a statement asking President Muhammadu Buhari to give his principal his “due respect”. Suleiman said he was speaking for himself and other ministers who served in that discredited administration.
Little wonder the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the former ministers as “members of the country’s latest trade union formation, the Association of Ex-Jonathan Ministers”. Shehu ought to have qualified the pack as ‘association of sad or disgruntled ex-Jonathan’s ministers, to make it complete, because that is what they are. And we should understand where they are coming from and what it is that has made them sad or disgruntled, or both.
According to Suleiman, the efforts of the Buhari government have been to portray all members of the Jonathan administration “as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by the media,” which he said had created “a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.”
Suleiman speaks further: “We, the ministers who served under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, have watched with increasing alarm and concern the concerted effort by the Buhari administration and members of the APC to condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members. While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill-intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith”.
He added, for effect: “We are proud to have served Nigeria and we boldly affirm that we did so diligently and to the best of our abilities. The improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security and in social services and other sectors did not occur overnight. They are products of solid foundations laid by the same Jonathan administration.”
We congratulate Dr Suleiman and Co. for these wonderful achievements. But it would appear they conveniently forgot in the course of their assessment of their better-forgotten administration that President Jonathan spent more than five years in power as president, having inherited about a year of his predecessor’s tenure when the latter died, whereas the usual tenure is four years at a go, unless a president is reelected. So, if the former president spent five years preparing the grounds for what Dr Suleiman and his fellow ex-ministers want us to see as stellar performance that the Buhari administration is getting the glory for, and if I may add, undeservedly, when would he (former president) have begun to actualise same? Definitely, something is not adding up here; that one government could have started all these wonderful things without being able to bring any into fruition.
We should give it to Dr Suleiman though, that he was charitable to admit that there have been “improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security and in social services and other sectors”. The other leg of the story that he failed to add is that these have been possible because of the public perception of President Buhari as a no-nonsense president. At least one of those heading the power sector confessed that much in a media chat, that, for them as with many others, zero tolerance for corruption is the beginning of wisdom now.
The truth is that President Buhari might not have added a single megawatt of electricity to what he met on ground; this fear is what has made many people to sit right. The same applies to the refineries that had witnessed several turn-around in the past without any benefit; some of them are now working. Again, Buhari might not have done anything to add to what he inherited on May 29, the fear of jail is doing the magic. Perhaps it is only in the area of national security, particularly the terror war, that the Buhari government might have added some arms and ammunition to what they met on ground, the war is better prosecuted now not necessarily because of what the former president did but more because of the support the country has been able to get from the outside world which now sees the country as being in the hands of a better manager; and one they can conveniently do business with.
While one concedes the right to the ministers to give themselves distinction during their tenure, and even see their principal’s government as the best thing to happen to Nigeria, the ministers should know that it is only facts that are sacred; comments are free. The fact that the former president conceded defeat even before the conclusion of the announcement of the results officially showed that he was aware that Nigerians had spoken and had said a loud “no’ to his reelection bid. Maybe Dr Suleiman was away from the country when Nigerians gave their verdict. Because if he had been around, he would not have been romanticizing their failed and corrupt government they way he did in the letter to the president.
Without doubt, some of the former ministers might have done fairly well, but overall, the team was a monumental disaster. Indeed, the perception out there is that good men could hardly have lasted in that regime, especially with the unceremonious exit of the Minister of Power then, Prof Barth Nnaji. In other words, one must be comfy with the ungodly things being done in the Jonathan years to stay long in that government.
Perhaps Dr Suleiman’s letter might have made sense to some people if he had spoken for himself alone, but he messed it all up by trying to tell us the opposite of what we know about their government. If that government was not corrupt, or those who served in it are yet to admit this much, then we can see where the former president himself got the idea of making a distinction between stealing and corruption. He and most of his ministers were all gone; far gone. Apart from the fact that their so-called best was not good enough, their government would have a pride of place when we talk about corruption in this country and even beyond.
I never said so, says Itse Sagay
Mr Adegboyega, I never said at any time that the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) was finding it difficult to get judges of integrity. It is a newspaper (not THE NATION) source that is supposed to have said so. So, the very premise of your presentation is wrong. – Prof Sagay.’