Thursday, May 5, 2011

West African survey: what Nigerians in Diaspora think of 2011 elections

‘God made Jonathan President, he should treat all Nigerians equally’

Secumus seramus clarutus, which roughly translated; means that tears do not make us blind or we can still see, while crying; is one of the countless adages spawned by the ancient Romans. As the Yoruba version goes; T’aban su’kun aan ri’ran.

After traversing several West African countries gathering the views of numerous Nigerians about the election of President Goodluck Jonathan; the summary of our harvest is reminiscent of the above muse: caution tempers the euphoria sparked by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s electoral triumph.

In deed, as one respondent put it: “President Jonathan has four years of hard work ahead”. This man could hardly be more right; for, Nigeria needs radical transformation after almost 40 years of stagnation with regard to development and nation-building.

Ideato North, Imo State-born Chief Ukachukwu Ozokwere Ezenwata is Chief of Igbo Community in Togo. Chief Ezenwata was officially elected Igbo Chief, Togo; in 2000. Speaking with mauricearchibongtravels inside his office in the Togolese capital, Lome; on his impression of the recently concluded general elections in Nigeria; Chief Ezenwata said: “The last presidential election in Nigeria is the first time since June 12, 1993; when we had a very good, peaceful and transparent election in our country. In fact, this recent election brought us joy as Nigerians”.

This chief observed that until the 2011 polls in Nigeria, everybody across ECOWAS held up Ghana as a model: “But, after the latest ballots in our country, a lot of people; not only in West Africa but across the world; now respect Nigeria, too. At some point, it was thought that we would have to call on former colonial master, Britain, to come and conduct election for us; but, we have shown the world that we can do it ourselves. We are really happy as Nigerians, and we have cause to be”.

As we had pointed out in an earlier piece, there are examples across the world, where the election of a leader elicits much joy; but, after the euphoria; that ruler eventually loses popularity over failure to arrest the suffering of his people. What was Chief Ezenwata’s take on this: what should President Jonathan do, in order not to disappoint his nation?

“Our president should not deceive the people: he should stick to his electoral promises. He should invest more on infrastructure, education and health. These three sectors are the most important because they touch the lives of ordinary Nigerians on daily basis”.

Does the government of Togo, where Chief Ezenwata has been resident for 35 years consider the three sectors he just listed as priority? Hear him: “As a matter of fact, no government should joke with these things. Take electricity for instance; we don’t have power failure in Togo. In this country, it is abnormal to have power failure; sadly, power failure seems to be the norm in Nigeria. I hope with our new president, things will fall into shape in Nigeria”.

After our chat with Chief Ezenwata, we had travelled to Kpalime Town, which lies some two hours north of Lome to engage Alhaji Idrissou Gbadamosi, President of Nigerian Community in Togo since 2000 on similar grounds.

Speaking with us in flawless Yoruba, even though he has been resident in Togo for 30 years; this is what Ejigbo, Osun State-born Alhaji Gbadamosi had to say regarding the latest general election in Nigeria: “We are very happy with the result: the outcome was expected because all of us wanted Goodluck Jonathan as President of Nigeria. We thank God that He answered our prayer for Jonathan to be elected president”.

On what President Jonathan should do, to get Nigeria back on its feet; this is what the President of Nigerian community, Togo had to say: “We do not suffer from blackouts in Togo; so, I want him to solve Nigeria’s electricity problem urgently, and once and for all. It is shameful that Nigerians, with all our oil and gas, should suffer epileptic power supply. In fact, this is a measure of the kind of governance Nigerians have been having over the years. But, yesterday is gone and we are now thinking of tomorrow: we thank God for Jonathan’s election as our president, and hope that he will bring an end to electricity crisis, which is a big shame on Nigeria”.

Aside electricity, Alhaji Gbadamosi observed that urgent provision of pipe-borne water is also necessary. “In my state, Osun; and, everywhere else across Nigeria; power and water are scarce. Industry should not rely on electricity generators because a lot of money is usually spent on diesel oil: this drives up the cost of production and ultimately the price of manufactured goods. This means that we cannot compete in the open market, leading to closure of industry and loss of jobs. So, President Jonathan should arrest epileptic electricity urgently”.

Next, we turned to Alhaji Mohammadu Mounirou Garba Nakura. Alhaji Mounirou Nakura, who is Vice President of Nigerian Community, Benin Republic as well as Leader of Nigerian Hausas in that country; said of the elction of Goodluck Jonathan as President of Nigeria after the 16 April election: “The elction is the work of Allah. I advise President Jonathan to see all Nigerians as one. Only God gave him victory; and, all of Nigeria is for him. So, he should treat every Nigerian fairly. I know we had small problems here and there after the results were announced; but, it was a credible election as rightly observed by the African Union (AU), European Union (EU), ECOWAS et cetera”.

As to what President Jonathan should do, to justify the faith reposed in him; Alhaji Nakura, who hails from Dukawa in Kano Municpal area; advised: “Our president should address the issue of electricity, security, water and education urgently. With good security and uninterrupted power, many investors would come to Nigeria and establish industries and factories, which will boost the economy and provide jobs”. Speaking further, Alhaji Mounirou, who has been resident in Benin Republic for 25 years; reckoned that, where President Jonathan was able to address the areas mentioned above, crime rate will naturally drop.

Through Mounirou Nakura, we were privileged to meet Alhaji Ibrahim from Kwulkwul, Kano State. Our joy was boundless, when the reverred senior citizen, who is 106 years old; stretched out his hand to shake us.

According to Nakura, Alhaji Ibrahim relocated to Cotonou, Benin Republic some 70 years ago. After seven decades in Benin’s economic capital, where Alhaji Ibrahim, who is married to an Hajiya from Ilorin; has made good as an extraordinary entrepreneur, a descendant of the grand elder had gone to Kano and built a tidy appartment preparatory to the return of Alhaji Ibrahim to his root.

Interestingly, after a few days in Kano; Baba seemed to have had enough of Nigeria. Kano was one of few states, where morbid violence trailed the last presidential election and Baba Ibrahim’s brief stay upon homecoming coincided with that mayhem.

Quietly, the reverred old man had made his way back to Cotonou around 23 April, 2011. After settling down on his return to Benin Republic, he had sent word of his return to Cotonou to Alhaji Nakura, who is maternal grandson to one of Alhaji Ibrahim’s cousins. That, in a nutshell; is how we followed Alhaji Nakura to Pa Ibrahim’s residence, which is vicinal to Cotonou’s Zango neighbourhood.

In the course of our latest West African survey, mauricearchibongtravels also spoke with Chief Ebuka Onunkwo, Benin Republic Igbo Leader. As regards his views on the last general elections in Nigeria, the choice of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President and what the president should do toward ameliorating the plight of Nigerians; this is what Chief Onunkwo aka Odozi-obodo I had to say: “The latest general elections in Nigeria can be described in one word; successful. Every honest Nigerian was impressed with INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) and INEC Chairman Prof Attahiru Jega’s efforts. Now, with the election of Dr. Jonathan as President, there is hope that our country will rise again. I believe in him and I believe there is the hand of God in what is happening in our country today. I also believe that since God has a hand in the election of President Jonathan, God will also guide him and help him to successfully pilot the affairs of Nigeria throughout his tenure”.

With regard to moves President Jonathan should make urgently; Chief Onunkwo opined: “Corruption and epileptic electricity supply are the first things President Jonathan should tackle. If he can take care of these, I believe so many other problems would be fixed. The president should also address the issue of killings in some parts of the country. There is the lingering issue of some tribes not being welcome in some parts of the country. If, we say we are One Nigeria, then we should be one in all things.

“We should not only be one, when it comes to sharing oil money; we should be one in accepting all Nigerians as our brothers and sisters, irrespective of ethnic group or religion. This segregation is partly responsible for Nigeria’s lingering underdevelopment because Nigerians from some ethnic groups are wary of going to invest in certain areas. If the president can address this issue, it will foster national integration and unity”, Chief Onunkwo concluded.


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