THERE once was a King Belshazzar who inherited the reins of governance in the great Babylonian Empire. History tells us that he was constantly involved in reveling in the wealth inherited from his predecessors who built the Kingdom to a status that it was regarded as the greatest kingdom of its time.
The Bible book of Daniel in Chapter 5 records a series of events that led to the demise of this wasteful King and the ultimate fall of the Babylonian Empire which had held sway in the global political and military landscape of its day. We were told that in one of the grand parties held for the nobles of King Be the tumultuous gathering was confronted with a spectacle that was hitherto unheralded when a hand, seemingly from nowhere wrote menacingly on the wall the words ‘mene mene tekel upharsin’.
This event, has become what we have all come to know as the ‘handwriting on the wall’ and from the interpretation given by the sage Daniel, it meant ‘God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end; you have been weighed on scales and found wanting; your kingdom is divided and given over to the Medes and Persians’. It is poignant to note that on the very night, the Babylonian kingdom fell to the Medes and Persians and Kings Be and all his cronies and co-revelers were consigned to the nether parts of history.
The fall of Babylon was an epoch making event as students of World history will tell, for the Kingdom was vast and employed a system of governance that saw it dominate world affairs for centuries. At the height of its power, it excelled in military might, advanced technology, agriculture and had one of the most advanced systems of legal authority seen in its day.
This was the Kingdom of the great King Nebuchadnezzar who built the hanging gardens of Babylon, held today as one of the wonders of the ancient world. But alas! The kingdom came crashing down due to the debauchery and weakness of successive leadership who lacked the character, forthrightness, focus and discipline of its forebears. King Be personified the decadence in the quality of leadership that the kingdom was foisted with and it was a reflection of his lack of dexterity that the gates of Babylon were left wide open by drunken sentinels paving the way for the heavily fortified City to fall to the invading armies of the Medes and Persian.
The story of Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon presents a similar analogy to what is currently unfolding in the political landscape in the nation today as very strong correlations can be drawn from the events which took place over five centuries before our common era with what is currently being unfolded today.
The chronology of events that gave birth to the nations 4th Republic is very well known to many of us who were privileged to have attained the age of reason at the time. Many my age were privileged to be witnesses to those series of events despite the fact that we played little part. As a young man just entering into his teenage years, I was witness to the excitement and expectation that ‘Hope 93’ brought to the nation, especially more so as we were told by our parents then that the country has been a victim of mismanagement and misdirected leadership. We were brought to wish for the good old days when there were hardly any power failure, we were told of the good old days when so much could be purchased with so little of our currency which held much value then, we were told of the good old days when life was neither nasty, brutish nor harsh, we longed to relive those good old days as told to us by our parents and the Presidential campaigns of 1993 gave us a glimpse of such a hope, until its annulment which dashed such hopes to pieces.
The annulment of that election by the Maradonic tendencies of an Ibrahim Babangida, an election that was adjudged by all reasonable and rational thinking Nigerians as well as the international community to be the freest, fairest and most credible election ever held in the history of Nigeria, despite the fact that the winning candidacy was a Muslim-Muslim ticket, took the nation down the mire of chaos, anarchy and despondency that it had to take another six years and the blood and sweat of pro democracy activists and other well meaning Nigerians to get the nation back on the trajectory of civilian rule.
Welcome 1999 and the culmination to the transition programme yielded its first fruits when on May 29, Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Much as Nigerians were filled with a renewed zeal to embark on another Republican journey, it was ironical that the individual that was to benefit from the dusts of pro-democratic activism and nationalistic fervor that had led to the triumph of the will of the people over the reign of tyranny and oppression was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a political organization that had evolved from the Group of 18, which later transformed to the Group of 34 and which subsequently metamorphosed into the PDP.
The rise of the PDP whom many observers felt were a conglomeration of old political juggernauts and its victory in the polls over the opposition Alliance for Democracy (AD), which had the heavyweights of the pro-democracy struggle in its fold and the All Peoples Party (APP) did not actually come as a shock as it was obvious that the opposition did not have the clout, the reach and the financial muscle to outdo an organization that had members who had at various times been at the centre of political power since the history of the nations politics.
This seeming edge which the PDP had over its rivals placed it in good stead to successfully wrest the votes of the electorate and the victory in 1999 signaled the rise of the PDP in the annals of Nigerian politics.
While the Government of Olusegun Obasanjo made attempts to steer the ship of State back in the right direction, first and foremost by re-integrating the nation into the mainstream of the international community and subsequently establishing it as an economic powerhouse, it made little inroads in the art of quality governance and transparency in Government’s ability to check corruption and corrupt practices. It was during his watch that a sitting Governor was brazenly hounded out of office and a plethora of other impunities were let loose on the land. Statements such as ‘do or die’ and ‘No vacancy’ became common lexicons during his tenure and the notion that the PDP would rule for another 60 years began to be conjectured at the time:
By 2007, after two terms in office and a failed tenure elongation bid, the Party had lost some goodwill and credibility; however, it remained the only Party with the national spread to win elections, especially at the Presidential level. With the strong personality of Olusegun Obasanjo leading the Party in the general elections, the Party went on to successfully retain power in the general elections when in accordance with the unwritten code of the Party, power was rotated to the North who provided the Presidential candidate in the person Umaru Musa Yar-Adua; the Party also went ahead to maintain its majority in both chambers of the Legislature. The tenure of Shehu Umaru Yar-Adua was shortlived as he passed on in office, leaving his Vice President, in the person of Goodluck Jonathan to assume the reins of power, despite the unsuccessful attempts of anti-democratic forces to foist illegitimacy on the nation by perpetuating a fraud on the nation.
However, the demise of Shehu Umaru Yar-Adua marked the turning point in the cohesiveness of the PDP. Despite the fact that the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan won a landslide victory in the 2011 elections, mostly out of sentiments, the spirit of discord had already been sown in the midst of the PDP where many Party hardliners felt it would have been proper had one from Northern origin secured the Party ticket. While the Party moved on after this episode with the belief that Goodluck Jonathan would honour a new agreement which committed him to just one term in the Presidency, the mood in the Party was again ruptured when President Jonathan insisted on contesting the Presidential ticket on the platform of the PDP, much against to chagrin of Party faithfuls who were privy to the agreement reached in 2011.
The manner in which the loyalists of the President schemed him into being the sole candidate of the Political Party defied all known forms of democratic conduct and gave credence to the fact that the Democratic in the PDP had been bought and paid for.
The six years plus of the Jonathan administration has been one that has been riddled with series of policy inconsistencies and somersaults, political indecisiveness and professional mediocrity at the highest levels of State. In these past six years, the President and his men (and women) have succeeded in re-engineering the PDP they inherited from their predecessors in office from one of gradual decomposition to one of putrefying decay. In every facet, sector and section of the nation’s socio-political and economic life, there is a feeling of despondency in the land. The high hopes experienced in 1999 have given way to apprehension about the continued healthy co-existence and sustainability of the nation.
The Party once held as the champion of democratic principles have suddenly become the bastion of corrupt, inept, dishonest, desperate, atavistic, primordial and primitive individuals and personalities who either have been coerced into the bandwagon of political sycophancy or who have allowed themselves to be voluntarily inducted into the emergent school of self serving paternalistic politics as a means of partaking in the development of the stomach infrastructure that has been so perfected by the subsisting powers that be.
The PDP under the present generation of leaders have been demystified, and the hand writing on the wall does not require a Daniel to interpret that its days are numbered and its fall is imminent, mene
Like Belshazzar before him, President Jonathan is presiding over a Political Party that has derelicted from its goals and founding objectives. There is no where that this has been more obvious than the run up to the 2015 general elections. The Presidential campaign of the Party has been based on calumny and the attempt to rubbish the personality of its closest contender, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress (APC), whipping up base sentiments and unsubstantiated allegations to smear his image. While the campaign machinery, led by an expert at articulating incoherence, is engrossed with the attempt to rub tar on the personality of its rival, little does it know that it is actually fanning the embers of disenchantment in the hearts and minds of the enlightened voting population. While the Party is shying away from issues that are of concern to the electorate, it is actually providing the impetus for the enlightened voting population to give an ear to the points and issues being raised by the opposition, who, I might add, are taking advantage of the lame attempts by the PDP at marshalling out a campaign by articulating the achievements of the opposition States as a premonition of what to expect if voted into power at the Federal level. This, at least, presents a deviation from the ruling party who are childishly throwing tantrums and tattle-tales while incurring disgust from rational, responsible and right thinking Nigerians as a result.
The PDP has misfired in the sense that it has led itself to believe that the voting populace remains the ignorant, dumb and senseless population that has been so wont to be bamboozled by the vain promises and empty jesting of politicking of years of yore. The average voter is enlightened, sophisticated and yearning for the personality that will satisfy their desire for a better standard of living and improved livelihoods and they are gladly willing to show this with their Permanent Voter Cards as their weapons of choice come election days.
However, in all facets of the nation’s profile, there has been depreciation and especially more so in the last 6 years where the nation has been relegated back to the pariah status it occupied among the international committee of nations prior to the advent of civil rule in 1999. More so, the specter of corruption looms large in the affairs of the country and its institutionalization has attained legendary status.
Never has corruption been so condoned, encouraged and rewarded in the history of the country. While acolytes of the Party might want to point to the improvement in the Transparency Internationals Index on Corruption, they fail to state that the incidence and occurrence of corruption has actually increased in numerical occurrence despite the positive accent up the ladder in the index. The implication is that more countries have become more corrupt than Nigeria, and not that Nigeria has become less corrupt.
Many pointers to the fact of the prevalence of corruption and corrupt practices abound, the Pension scam, the Oduahgate and Maduekegate, the dollars in the plane episode, the missing $20 billion, tales of missing billions at various levels of the polity involving Party men and women, scandalous State pardons for individuals previously convicted of corrupt practices, this is in a society where pardons have not been granted to individuals who were jailed wrongly; established cases of corrupt practices that are yet to be prosecuted either under a Court of competent jurisdiction or any of the official anti-corruption agencies who have been reduced to prosecuting cases of little or no significance to the nations profile in the fight against corruption. Where convictions are gotten, the sanction falls far short of being commensurate with the action and thus becomes laughable in its very pronouncement, belying the lack of seriousness which the authorities regard such anti-social activities. The Government and the Party have actually turned a blind eye to wanton corrupt practices, classifying them as ‘family affairs’ and ‘mere stealing’, while whistle blowers are hounded out of office.
The international community has documented the level of corruption under the present administration, the following are just a few of the reports: “Mr Jonathan… leads a corrupt government that has little credibility” (New York Times); “Jonathan’s government incompetent, callous and very corrupt” (The Economist); “Nigeria under Jonathan, squandered oil wealth, and breeds corruption” (Hilary Clinton, former United States Secretary of State); “Massive, Widespread and Pervasive corruption affecting all levels of government under President Jonathan” (US State Department). The summation of it all, official corruption has been given official cover and protection under the umbrella of the PDP, tekel
In the areas of Health and Education, the PDP Government has been dismal in its ratings. The educational system which was previously viewed as being in a precarious position has suffered further under the PDP which has the unenviable record of presiding over an educational system where over 75% of candidates on the average have failed the West African Examinations Council test for the three years between
2012-2014. In 2012 80% of candidates who sat for the West African Examinations Council failed Maths and English. The record was no better in 2013 as 75% failed the test of academic competence after six years of Secondary education. In 2014, it was reported that over 70% failed this same examination.
At the current rate, there is a premonition of gloom hanging over the future of the nation. If our young people lack the capacity to pass exams, it implies that the teachers lack the capacity to teach, and when the teachers cannot impart knowledge on the future of the nation, such a future cannot be said to be bright. While the nation grapples with this educational crisis, there is an attempt by the ruling Party to create the veneer that all is well by making mention of the number of Higher Institutions that has been established. But observers are quick to ask the question what use are the Higher Institutions when the people that are to be taught therein lack the capacity to comprehend properly. Much more so, what is the use of building Institutions that lack the required infrastructure to make learning qualitative and worthwhile?
If we remember quite correctly, it was under the watch of a Government under the ruling Party that personnel of the nations Universities and Polytechnics went on strike for months on end over the failure of Government to live up to the agreements that was entered into by it. Against one of its pillars at providing qualitative and accessible education to all, the PDP has wholly failed in this regard, tekel.
The Health Sector is one aspect of the nation’s public life that has suffered the worst over the last six years. The nation has never had it so bad in terms of quality health care
delivery, whether at the primary, level or at the tertiary level. This has led to a situation where maternal mortality and infant mortality continue to spiral at an alarming rate. In a year where the Millennium Development Goals were supposed to have contributed to the halving of the prevalence rates of these two identified crisis situations, the authorities at the helm of affairs have continued to pay lip service to the actualization of these laudable goals, and the implementation and execution of health policies that would lead to a better and more secure life for Nigerians, preferring rather to take advantage of the achievements made by State Governments to score cheap political points as was experienced during the Ebola scare when the efforts of the Lagos and Rivers State Governments saved the nation from an imminent Ebola outbreak nationwide. Although the PDP Government claims to have spent billions in this sector, the nation’s hospitals and health facilities have become death sentences as death rate continue to be on the rise just as disease continue to ravage the hapless population.
While the nation grapples with an obviously challenging health crisis, the political elite and theircronies are quick to junket around the world seeking healthcare that their populace are deprived of, tekel!
On the nation’s economy, the story of the PDP per the last six years has been one of mismanagement and arrant disregard to the principles of efficiency and frugality. For a nation that is regarded as the largest economy in Africa, the domestic economic situation is a sorry state by all standards. With poverty levels escalating at nearly 70% and a depreciating value of the local currency in the foreign exchange market, the indices used in gauging a vibrant economy are at best dismal. The recent crash in oil prices has exposed the nation’s crude-dependent fiscal management and the nation’s benchmark stock index has dropped 27% this year in dollar terms, which makes it the world’s worst performer after Ukraine, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This is in the midst of the most gargantuan fraud ever perpetrated in the nation’s oil industry where over a quarter of entire production is lost to bunkerers and vandals with the authorities criminally seeming to turn the other way. The Petroleum Industry Bill has been incubating in National Assembly throughout the lifetime of this administration, and all these while, investments in the oil and gas industry of Africa’s biggest crude producer has been placed on hold; and there is absolutely nothing to show in the area of meaningful impact in the lives of the populace for the past six years where the nation had never had it so good with regard to oil boom, on the contrary, we were forced to swallow the bitter pill of subsidy removal that seem to have benefitted anyone but those it was meant to benefit.
The sorry state of the nation’s economy was highlighted even more by a Mr. Soludo, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who made a startling revelations that
monies as much as 1430 trillion has been stolen from the country’s treasury during Jonathan’s tenure. This is aside the whopping $20 billion alarm raised by the penultimate CBN Governor and sitting Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi; a member of the PDP and former President of the Federal Republic, Olusegun Obasanjo also noted that the foreign reserve he built up in his eight years has been completely depleted. The rate at which poverty is growing in the country is such that if nothing fundamental and sincere is done, she would soon assume the unenviable position of the country with the highest number of poor people in the world. This is under a scenario where public infrastructures continue to experience decay and life expectancy is at such a low that the international magazine, The Economist had recently reported that Nigerians die eight years younger than their counterparts in Ghana. Tekell
The power situation in the nation has continued to suffer under the PDP, and the hope of ‘power for all’, promised by the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency has fizzled out just like the non-existent ideas that he feigned to have had upon assumption to his first term in office. More so, the level of fraud taking place in the sector is gargantuan and this seem to be encouraged by the regulatory authorities who rather than compel the DISCOS and GENCOS to provide power to Nigerians collude with them to exact draconian tariffs on the hapless consumers. Just recently, the CBN allegedly granted whopping sums of monies to these companies. While consumers are reeling from the effects of lack of electricity to power their homes and businesses, the PDP Government is guilty of granting huge sums of taxpayers monies as bail out to the exploiters of the Nigerian people, and the nation continue to reel in darkness and gross inefficiency.
One of the most embarrassing realities of the PDP Government is the habit of churning out lies from official quarters, deliberately deceiving the Nigerian people as to what they have purportedly done that cannot be observed physically. Aside the bare faced lies with regard to the revamping of the railway network, the sector continue to be bedeviled by gross inefficiency, with panel beaten coaches and carbon emitting locomotive engines being forced on Nigerians in an era where high speed, fuel efficient railway systems are the order of the day. Unemployment which has reached unprecedented proportions continue to be a failed propaganda tool for the ruling Party who claim to have provided phantom jobs for a negligible proportion of the teeming youthful population. On the contrary, hundreds of thousands apply for limited spaces that will end up being filled by the cronies and loyalists of the ruling Party, relegating quality and merit to the background. In the meantime, job seekers are exploited by the authorities demanding one form of application fees or the other, while many end up dying ij the process of seeking for jobs that are non-existent.
On a daily basis, the sensibilities of Nigerians continue to be assaulted by the misinformation disseminating machinery of the Presidency, in an attempt at hoodwinking Nigerians and distracting them from the mis-governance being perpetrated by a ruling Party that has lost all sense of credibility and trust. While many under the official payroll of Government have made it a pastime of presenting falsehoods as reality, others are content at just sitting in the comfort zone that Abuja provides for them and are busy misconstruing facts and figures that that are very well known to the average proletariat on the streets.
President Goodluck Jonathan and the current PDP have made it a favourite pastime of theirs to promote the differences among various peoples that make up the nation, flagrantly negating the avowed values of the Nigerian nation which is encapsulated in the statement ‘Unity in diversity’. The body language of the Party has made us to remember all the time that Nigeria is a conglomeration of different people, tribes, ethnic groups, religion etc. Rather than being the father of the nation that the office of the Presidency is supposed to represent, he has portrayed himself and his Party as one dominated by sectional and divisive principles of cohabitation. This has been so elaborately portrayed by the manner and language of the Presidential campaigns. Rather than promote all the glorified works that the PDP Government claims to have carried out nationwide, which if were actually real would not require the Party to campaign much about, the Party is busy throwing mud, racking up falsehoods, character assassinating, blackmailing and battering the character of its perceived closest challenger.
It will be incomplete to sound the fall of the PDP in the annals of the political landscape of Nigeria without mentioning the scourge of insecurity that it had foisted on the national psyche. From the progression from official cultism to large scale militancy, from organized violence to full blown insurgence, the story of the PDP led centre has been replete with violence and extreme social-political deviance. After having sowed the winds of violence the nation is now reaping the whirlwind of unbridled insecurity in dimensions of hitherto unheralded and proportions previous perceived as incomprehensible. However, bewildering is the fact that rather than take the bull by the horns and tackle the menace of national insecurity head on, being the sole legitimate monopoly of force, the PDP led Government chose to toy with the fundamental issues, choosing rather to play politics and drama with serious issues fundamental to the peaceful co-existence of the nation and in so doing toy with the lives of innocent and hapless citizens existing as everyday people in the polity.
The menace of the Boko haram and the unrelenting brigandage in most parts of the North however has blown the wind that has exposed the private areas of the chickens who have decided to come home to roost in their multitudes. The fate of hundreds who have suffered abduction, the many thousands who paid the supreme price in their unnecessary and avoidable deaths and the millions of internally displaced peoples in their own country leaves much to be desired. For a Government who hitherto was insensitive to the plight of its own peoples, it took the abduction of the young ladies from Chibok to juggle them to reality, this even after melodramatic moments of denial ranging from the dancing spree of the Presidency during a political rally less than 24 hours after the incident in Chibok, even when the fate of the girls were unknown; to the televised stage managed drama the first lady regaled us with that was as humorous as it was insensitive to the seriousness the issues presented.
The PDP has succeeded in relegating Nigeria to a far corner of global relevance and for a nation which used to be at the vanguard of Africa’s foreign policy nay the entire black race, our present foreign policy thrust is lost in the cluelessness of the present Government. The PDP has ran the country aground and it is the time for it to let loose its strangulating chords on the nation as the nation cannot be left to go down with the PDP.
The Presidency has personalized the Party and the Party is not the same as it was those sixteen years ago that it assumed the reins of governance in fanfare and hope. The Presidency has become s reflection of the Party sans its original ideology, principles and objectives, thus it is no wonder that even an Olusegun Obasanjo, a founding member and a two term President under the banner of the same Party led the choir in singing the ‘nunc dimitis’ of the Party by abandoning ship just a few weeks to the final death knell of the Party at the Presidential polls.
Returning back to our story of Babylon, it is worthy to note that King Be promised wealth and riches untold to anyone that could read the handwriting on the wall, albeit to no avail. Similarly, the PDP and its Presidential men are breaking banks, doling out ridiculous sums of monies to ensure that it wins the Presidential elections, but like Be wise men, none can deliver the Party for its fall has been declared. It has been rejected by Nigeria arid Nigerians, the Party and all its men and women have been weighed in the scales and found wanting.
The PDP is a fallen kingdom, like Be Babylon; it is a sinking ship and if its current occupants cannot read the handwriting on the wall, then they would all go down with her, Upharsin!
Writes from Benin City.