BEFORE WE GO TO THE POLLS by Olawale B. Ibitoye Esq.

In about a few weeks’ time, precisely February 2015, the country’s general election will commence. As a citizen of Nigeria, I wish to put forward some issues that should serve as a guide as we all go out to elect our leaders at various levels. As patriotic Nigerians, I advise that we should endeavour to vote for what is best for the country and never allow ethnicity, religion, tribe, sex and even age to be determining factors.
The country, in the past few years have, gone through some harrowing experience under the present administration and we now have an opportunity of putting a halt to it by the power of our Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) come February, 2015.

MISSING CHIBOK GIRLS: On the 15th of April, 2014, over 200 girls were kidnapped in a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, North West, Nigeria, during the last West African Examination Council Exams. Rather than having the Government that is constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of her citizens to swing into full action and find a way of rescuing these girls, the government only engaged in an exchange of words with the Governor of the state, saying the story is not true. As I write this report, neither the president nor his vice has paid a visit to the community, and up till today, the girls have not been rescued. Little wonder we now have series of female bombers. To further worsen the acts of the government, a full scale clampdown was made on a group who independently protested and campaigned for the release of the girls. Our president even went ahead to engage a public relations firm Levick for $1.2m to improve the public presentation of his handling of the crisis. Nigerians, should we continually watch while these girls are yet to be found when we can effect a desired change with our PVCs for a more responsible government?

NNPC SCAM: A lot of scam pervades the corridors of power at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, where millions of dollars of crude oil wealth are being mismanaged by a few cabals who will even be “smart” enough to easily rush to court to obtain orders against investigation. If you have done the right thing, why should you be afraid? Nigerians, beware! We need change.

$9.3 MILLION NAIRA ARMS DEAL: Nigerians woke up to a rude shock on the 5th day of September, 2014, when a Nigerian jet allegedly belonging to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was caught by the South African Government with raw cash in a small airport in Northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, accompanied by two Nigerians and an Israeli, with the aim of going to purchase arms. Fellow Nigerians, in a government that preaches a cashless economy, where is that done? It is a shady deal, if not, why is it that no official statement or report could be made when this jet was arrested? We need a change; we need a leader who will fight corruption with a good intent, and not play double standards.

SERIES OF BOMB ATTACKS: Rather than reducing, the activities of the dreaded sect, popularly called Boko Haram, have been on the increase. Our security agencies, policy makers and government at all levels have all failed us. Between 2009 and 2014, the dreaded group has been responsible for over 2000 deaths with violence, killings and kidnapping. Rather than equipping the Nigerian Army to be able to face the task ahead with full concentration, the government, through his appointees in the army, only reward these officers by convicting them of mutiny, suspension and even dismissal. Will all this amount to a form of encouragement for these officers? Nigerians, it is time for change, to elect leaders who understand the cry of its citizens, and who know the effect of encouraging our service men. The change that we desire can do this.

IMMIGRATION JOB SCAM: Not only has the government failed to provide good jobs for able-bodied Nigerian youths, but it has now moved to the stage of extorting money from poor Nigerian youth who need government jobs. Millions of youth were made to part with ₦1,000 each as application fee to get a job in the Nigeria Immigration Service and in the process, over 19 young, men and women were killed and thousands injured across 37 centres nationwide. Up till date, nothing has happened to the Minister in charge of this dastardly act nor has he refunded the money paid by each applicant. Nigerian youth, our PVC is our voice for a government who can, at least, cater for us by creating an enabling environment to get good jobs.

PETROLEUM PUMP PRICE: Amidst comity of oil producing states, our fuel pump price is the highest. Even when the price of crude oil crashed at the world market, our leader did not allow us to enjoy same. We were not surprised when, on a Sunday evening, the Minster of Petroleum, Mrs Allison Madueke, announced a N10 reduction in the prices of petrol. Nigerians received the news with mixed feeling – Why now? What a Greek gift!

INCESSANT STRIKES IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR: This is another major identity of the present day government. Many thought that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, being a former academic, will excel in this regard. Rather, his government has further bastardised the state of our education. In the year 2013, our tertiary institutions were at home for a record of 6 months under Nyesom Wike at the helm of authority. Today, the same failed man as Minister of Education is now aspiring to be a state governor. What! This can only happen in Nigeria where failures in a little government task qualifies you to gun for a higher position. Incessant strikes have negative effects on our educational system. i.e. Production of half-baked graduates, poor public image of Nigerian universities; robbing our graduates of international esteem, financial loss and time waste.

RECURRENT STRIKES IN THE HEALTH SECTOR: Have you been to our public hospitals of late? They are now death traps, sometimes it is either the Medical Doctors are on strike or at another period the Health workers, a lot of Innocent Nigerians have lost their lives in this health sector crisis. Private Hospitals now milk our citizens dry before they could treat you; deaths from minor accidents are now on the increase. Nigerians, we can’t continue like this, we need a change now. They travel out at every single moment for medical check-up even with tax payers’ money, little wonder they die cheaply.

MISSING $20 BILLION: $20 billion dollars belonging to estimated 170 million Nigerians, half of who live below a dollar per day, was reportedly stolen, withheld or unremitted by a few set of cabals within the corridors of power. The erstwhile Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, made this revelation and was suspended from office. This shows the government’s weakening resolve in tackling widespread corruption which has been on the increase in the past six years. At a campaign rally in Ibadan, Oyo State, South West Nigeria, the President boldly said he does not believe in jailing people who steal from government coffers. No wonder he granted Chief Diepreye Alamiesegha and Mohammed Abacha state pardon and soft pedal on the trial of Femi Fani Kayode who is now his campaign spokesman. Nigerians! The time for change is now!

These and many more reasons like devaluation of the naira, oil theft, poor power supply, non-functional refineries, subsidy scandal, are why I advise Nigerians to stand boldly for change even in the face of undemocratic dramas and socio-economic instability characterised by the present administration of the man from Otuoke. Civility and patriotism is when we use our voting rights to effect the much-needed change. Responsibility beckons!

God bless Nigeria
God bless her citizens

Olawale B. Ibitoye Esq.
[email protected]
Advocate of Change @ all levels


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