I read Iyin Aboyeji’s Frontpage article yesterday with sadness in my heart. I didn’t cry but I had tears in my eyes. I am a believer in possibilities and what can be, but yesterday I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of where we are as a nation and where we desire to be as a people. We have to begin to get things right even from now. First of all, it pays to get over our illusion of being the African giant. We are not and we are not close to being one. The only way we can successfully claim to being the giant of Africa is if we all agree the man with the most number of children in a city is also the giant of that village.
Just after reading Iyin’s article, I also read about Secretary Clinton’s trip to Africa which commenced yesterday. As usual, like most American leaders on their trips to Africa, she will be going to Senegal. Mind that Senegal is a part of ECOWAS and a French speaking country. South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa complete Mrs. Clinton’s itinerary in Africa. Let us face it, ours is not a democracy to be proud of. The biggest news coming out of Nigeria remains corruption and now bomb blasts. No self-respecting leader wants to be seen smiling in a picture with a president whose aide agrees is the most cursed man in the world. How can we change this perception and at least start picking low hanging fruits?
The prosecution and eventual conviction of the major companies and individuals indicted in the fuel subsidy scam will go a long way. Until the petroleum minister is sacked and made to answer for her role in overseeing a ministry where such monies were lost to rogues, it’d be hard to see this government as serious about its wishes to fight corruption. Until we are able to start with one, two, three former sacred cows and get them safely in jail, our fight against corruption will not go beyond blog posts like this one. Why is corruption a low hanging fruit? It is because the ability of a Nigerian government to show that it means business is first of all to safeguard the country’s wealth from the ever present dirty hands of looters.
Another challenge we could get started with in terms of providing solutions is power. The goal post that has refused to stop moving has to be held by a wedge. It will come at certain costs but the benefits of privatizing the bulk of PHCN and truly liberalizing the Energy sector cannot be overemphasized. Nigerians will have to pay more to have power eventually but that is a necessity if we must move forward.
Kill cronyism and monopolies. Believe it or not, Dangote singlehandedly decides whether millions of Nigerians can build their own houses or not. It is a crime against free enterprise and markets to have one man determine the prize of an essential commodity like cement. We need an antitrust law in place to check the excesses of monopolies like that of Dangote. The world is watching and the world knows that, like Carlos Slim Helu in Mexico, Aliko Dangote has been greatly helped by his closeness to the seat of power. I like his industriousness and his humility, but I am totally against the current realities of the cement sector. Dangote will always remain a monopoly under this government, that’s a sad truth. In the end, any leader who is not willing to hurt his friends, hurt his family and even hurt his own re-election chances in certain situations cannot lay claim to being a leader.
President Jonathan has failed woefully, but he has some three years more to try and get things right. So far, he looks like he does not care what happens as long as he is president. The problem with that thought is that, not only will he remain the most insulted man in the world as rightly said by Mrs. Sarah Pane, history will also have his name in its sewage. Public office is a privilege.
PS: This was first published on YNaija Frontpage
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