OPINION: What Nigerians want from Jonathan in 2013

Published:2 Jan, 2013

OPINION: What Nigerians want from Jonathan in 2013

Dear Mr. President,

I wish you and your family, fellow Nigerians, and my readers at home and abroad a Happy New Year.

It is heartening to note that you have reflected on public perception of your administration in the last 18 months. But if “slow” speed is all you thought the public perceived, it is either you did not fully understand the people or you did not listen hard enough. Your administration’s public scorecard during the period also included uncomplimentary descriptors, such as “inept”, “corrupt”, and “fail”, to name a few.

Your explanation for slow speed is also deemed unsatisfactory. “We need to think through things properly”, you said, “if we are to make lasting impact.” What about “short-term” impact, such as fixing bad roads, equipping and staffing schools, and fixing numerous vexing problems with Murtala Muhammed International Airport? If the last 18 months were spent on thinking through the much publicised “transformation agenda”, what stops the conclusion that the agenda was not properly conceived in the first place?

The citizens are also concerned that you have wasted the time, energy, and brains of many well-meaning Nigerians who assisted you in “thinking”, by serving on various committees and probes whose recommendations you have sidelined or totally ignored. As a result, many high profile culprits named in the reports have yet to be apprehended.

There are resources for improvement at your disposal. However, time is running out. Looking down the calendar through May 29, 2015, it would appear that 2013 is about the only year left for you to make things happen. Much of 2014 and the first half of 2015 will be taken over by presidential electoral politics, which would make you a lame duck president. Your focus on governance would be further diminished if you decide to run for a second term, but that’s a matter for another day. President Barack Obama of the United States realised this dilemma quite early. That’s why most of his major first-term achievements, including health care reform, were accomplished within the first 18 months, the same amount of time your administration has spent “thinking”.

In order to move Nigeria forward, an important message is being delivered to you today on behalf of fellow Nigerians. It is a two-part message, containing a list of complaints during the past year and a list of the remedies for 2013.

As their messenger, I am struck by their desperation, especially those among them who have no voice. They are genuinely concerned about their own well-being and about Nigeria’s future. Some of them have no jobs. Some have no place to sleep. Some have no food to eat. Some are sick and have no idea how they could receive or afford appropriate medical treatment. Some lost their breadwinners to accidents on bad highways or unregulated air traffic; some to floods or pipeline explosions; and others to armed robbers or terrorists. Even those who could afford a roof on their head and food on the table often have neither water nor power supply. Many of them have stagnated for years because of rising food, housing, and fuel costs and prohibitive bank loan interests.

If everyone in the country were in their situation, they probably would have resigned to their fate. But they see the top one per cent live in sumptuous luxury, while about 70 per cent live in squalour. The erstwhile middle class between the have-too-much and the have-nots has become the shrinking “struggling” class. Most of its members ride tokunbo cars, make do with low-voltage generators to power their appliances, and struggle to give their children the best education they can afford. They live from pay check to pay check, while members of the top one per cent, which largely feed fat on the state, jet from one country to another for holiday, birthday celebrations, weddings, medical treatment, or to visit their children in various schools abroad.

The complaints by fellow Nigerians, echoed in various columns and editorials in 2012, fall into seven categories, namely, national, personal, and property insecurity; food insecurity; poor infrastructure; inadequate schools and hospitals; mass youth unemployment; escalating corruption; and poor governance owing to weak leadership. It is not the case that your administration has not made advances in some of these areas. However, such advances are still dwarfed by the deficits that remain.

These deficits are not peculiar to Nigeria. What is peculiar is their increasing intensity and co-presence under your administration. Yet, more than many other nations, Nigeria has enough natural and human resources to avoid these problems in the first place, or to at least overcome them. That’s why poor leadership and escalating corruption top the list of citizens’ complaints, because they are viewed as the root of the other deficits. Nigerians are worried that the convergence of weak leadership and corruption in your administration will make it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve meaningful change.

Nevertheless, change is not impossible. There are many leaders like you who inherited worse situations and still made a significant impact. However, there is a noticeable distance in political will and passion for positive change between you and such leaders. They also do not indulge in the extravagant waste of public funds that has come to characterise your administration. They do not condone corruption and they are quick to combat threats to national security and stability. They often act decisively and they do not say what they don’t mean.

Nigerians are not mumu. They know when they are being deceived. They know you have made far more promises than you could possibly keep. However, they cannot understand why you have not kept any of them satisfactorily. That’s why they don’t want you to make further promises.

Instead, they want you to fulfil at least four of the numerous promises you have made. First, curb corruption, especially in high places. Start with the reduction of aircraft in the presidential fleet from 10 to five. Do not build a new banqueting hall or a new VP lodge. Make all culprits of the fuel subsidy, pension scheme, and the Security Exchange scams return all ill-gotten funds. And then tell the nation how much extra money we made from all the crude oil we sold above the budgeted barrel price in 2012 and how it has been, or will be, spent.

Second, provide adequate power supply in order to save money on generators, which could then be spent on other sectors of the economy. It will also help manufacturing industries, small businesses, hotels, and other investors to thrive. These are the institutions that create private sector jobs, not the government.

Third, improve on infrastructural facilities. Building roads and bridges, rail lines, airports, and parks do not only ease transport and leisure; they also create jobs. At the height of the economic recession in the United States in 2008, such projects formed the core of Obama’s Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

Finally, ensure food security by investing in sustainable agricultural projects rather than one-off cosmetic programmes, such as fertiliser supply. There are lessons to learn from Brazil, Costa Rica, and Malaysia in this area.

It will help to reshuffle your cabinet to include appropriate professionals and technocrats who can help you in these areas. The time to act is now. Happy New Year!

– by Niyi Akinnaso

Read original article via Punch

  • Mojisoluwa Olabode

    Awesomely worded article. Salient points raised, let’s if subject administration can rise to the occasion & delight us. I won’t hold my breath though.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Governor Ahmed to launch Kwara Infrastructure Devt Fund (IFK) on Monday.

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed will on Monday, 26 September, perform the official launch of the State Infrastructure Development Fund (IFK). The alternate Chairman of the IFK Implementation Committee, Alhaji Abdulwahab Yusuf, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said that Governor Ahmed will also sign an agreement with the independent for trustees of the scheme. According to him, the event will hold at the Government House, Ilorin and will be witnessed by stakeholders in the banking, business, education...

#UNGA: Zamfara will benefit from my UN General Assembly trip – Yari Abubakar

The governor of Zamfara state, Yari Abubakar, who embarked on an official trip to New York for the 71st session of the UN General Assembly has promised to put to great use, some of the deductions he made at the session which lasted for several days.   Also in attendance, was the President himself who spoke so much about poverty, terrorism, unemployment, security & climate change among others.   Mr Yari Abubakar reiterated in a statement made available to the media, the importance...

‘President’ Ambode: Lagos to link inner roads to Smart city project

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday said plans are afoot to link inner roads in the State to the Lagos Smart City Project, just as he expressed readiness to commence deployment of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras in October across the State. Governor Ambode, who disclosed this in Coker Aguda area of the State at the commissioning of some of the 114 roads, newly constructed in the 20 Local Government Areas (LGs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs),...

Shade Of Life: Ebonyi People are myopic, they don’t behave like Igbos – IPOB

The Indigenous People of Bifara, IPOB, has lampooned the people of Ebonyi State for spurning the sit-at-home order it passed. The group had in a circular issued few days ago, asked Ndigbo nationwide to spend the day indoor in protest against the continuous detention of the leader of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. The directive, however, witnessed non-compliance as normal activities and vehicular movements were unperturbed across Ebonyi State. The Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Ugochukwu Nweke while reacting to the development, described the...

Buhari approves 56th independence anniversary programme

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the programme of events for the commemoration of Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary. Bolaji Adebiyi, Director of Press in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja. Mr. Adebiyi said an interdenominational thanksgiving church service had been scheduled for September 25 at the National Worship Centre, Abuja at 4p.m. A public lecture and Jumma’at prayers are slated for September 30 at 11 a.m. and 1...

PDP may declare Dariye’s seat vacant – Dachom

Former Organising Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Plateau state, Mr. Mike Dachom, has said that the party might declare the seat of a former governor of the state, Mr. Joshua Dariye, vacant following his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress. Dariye was governor of Plateau State under PDP from 1999 to 2007. Dariye, before his defection, represents Plateau central senatorial zone in the Senate under the PDP. He first got to the Senate under the Labour Party in...

Nigeria loses N800bn to auto policy

The President, Shippers Association, Lagos State, Mr Jonathan Nicol, said the Federal Government had lost about N800 billion to the auto policy on imported vehicles. The 70 per cent tariff and levy on imported vehicles which took effect in 2015, had reduced vehicle imports by more than 50 per cent. Nicol on Friday said that other ports outside Nigeria in Benin, Togo and Ghana now accepted the vehicles and developing their economies with proceeds from the imports. According to him, with the...

MTN denies paying bribe to reduce NCC fine

South Africa’s MTN denied it paid a bribe to Nigerian officials to reduce its fine to 330 billion naira ($1.05bn) as part of settling a dispute over disconnecting unregistered SIM cards in the West African country.   MTN said in a statement on Friday there had been allegations that a top official in the Nigerian presidency took a payment towards reducing the fine.   The telecom group was initially fined $5.2bn last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM...

Your anti-corruption policy scaring investors – Sen. Bruce tells Buhari

Senator Ben Bruce (PDP Bayelsa East) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to adjust his approach to the anti-corruption crusade, saying the policy was scaring investors. Bruce, who disclosed this while contributing to the Senate’s debate on the economic recession in the country, said Nigeria should not expect foreign investments as even local investors had stopped investing. He said that people who had money to invest were no longer doing so because the anti-graft agencies were harassing any person with...

EPL: Mourinho feels heat as Wenger marks anniversary

Jose Mourinho has vowed to silence the critics when Manchester United face champions Leicester, while his old rival Arsene Wenger hopes to celebrate a memorable milestone with a rare success against Chelsea on Saturday. Mourinho finds himself under fire less than two months into his United reign after three successive defeats and an unconvincing League Cup win at third tier Northampton. United are already trailing six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and another setback at Old Trafford this weekend...

Reps begin investigation into Jibrin’s budget padding allegations.

The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Friday in Abuja, commenced public investigation into allegations of fraud made by Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin against the House. This followed Wednesday’s resolution of the House which mandated the committee to investigate the allegations, bordering on breach of privileges of members. It would be recalled that the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, accused the leadership of the National Assembly of padding the 2016 budget. In his allegation, Jibrin alluded that the corruption...

Khama should ‘go hang’ for telling Mugabe to step down – Minister

Ian Khama’s call for President Robert Mugabe to step down hasn’t gone down too well with the Zimbabwe government: the Botswana president should just “go hang” Mugabe’s former spin-doctor says. Or he should concentrate on Botswana’s desert, Jonathan Moyo says witheringly in an article for a private weekly in Zimbabwe. Khama’s call on his ageing neighbour to step down after 36 years in power was greeted thankfully by many Zimbabweans on social media, where the current wave of protests against the...

Bayelsa first lady, Rachael Dickson gives birth to quadruplet

Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and family may have to continue in celebration as after many years of childlessness, his wife and First Lady of Bayelsa State, Dr. Rachael Dickson delivered of a quadruplet – a bouncing baby boy and three baby girls.   We gathered that the mother and children are doing very well.   Saint Mienpamo, Special Assistant on Research & Social Media to the Governor says the ”Governor’s joy knows no bound.”   The latest news has been tagged a double celebration as...

Electrician jailed 3 months for stealing N11,000 phone

A Jos Chief Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old electrician, Abdulgafar Musa to three months in prison for stealing a Nokia phone valued N11,000. Musa, of No. 66, Shehu Street, Jos, was charged with theft. The Magistrate, Mr Jovita Binjin, sentenced the convict after he pleaded guilty to the crime and begged for leniency. In his plea, the convict said “It was the devil’s hand work; jobs are not coming and I needed money to eat and also give help to...

Recession: Those demanding asset sale are economic predators – Sani

A Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, has described proponents of sale of the country’s national asset as “economic predators and profiteers who want to take advantage of the situation in the country.” Mr. Sani, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, said in a statement on Friday that “Nigeria’s capitalist forces raped Nigeria to recession and now they want to kill and bury it.” Nigeria is currently going through one of the worst recessions in its history, due...

Stop expecting too much from Buhari, pray for him – APGA chieftain

A Chieftain of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Katsina State, Alhaji Umar Tata, on Friday urged Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari with prayers to lead Nigeria out of its present predicaments. Tata, the party’s governorship candidate in 2015, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Funtua, Katsina state. He cautioned Nigerians against over reliance on the President, saying that “he is human and capable of making mistakes.” According to him, what is...

NEMA returns 5,403 citizens to their homes from IDPs camps

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed the return of 5403 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to the home after their stay in Camps. The returnees include 1517 in Mafa , 750 in konduga, 1200 in Ngamboru and about 1,936 are due to return to Dikwa This is coming at a period Governor of Borno State Alh kashim shettima and a team of NEMA North East zonal staff led by Zonal coordinator Alh Muhammed Kanar spent the night in Bama in...

Police Uncover Fraudsters’ Den In Ogun

The Ogun State Police Command has uncovered a “fraudsters’ den” at Pokuku Village in the Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state. The den, which was nicknamed “Pokuku Shrine” was until Wednesday allegedly used by suspected fraudsters to carry out different forms of criminal activities such as fraud, according to the police. The state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Ilyasu, on Wednesday said the police raided the shrine after an intelligence report on criminal activities being perpetrated there. The shrine,...

Bayelsa State Gov Dickson’s Wife Gives Birth to Quadruplets

Wife of Bayelsa State governor and first lady of the state, Rachael Dickson, has put to bed quadruplets (four babies) today. The team of four babies includes four females and one boy. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, chief Press secretary to governor Seriake Dickson said in a statement released moments ago: "This is particularly good news for the family and Bayelsans because this bundle of joy is coming after many years of praying and waiting upon the Lord. "Governor Dickson thanks friends, family members and Bayelsans...

Patience Jonathan: EFCC places witnesses against under security watch

As the trial of former aides of ex-First Lady, Patience Jonathan, begins on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed its 13 witnesses in the case under security watch. The witnesses, including a banker and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) are expected to tell the court how four slush accounts were opened for the former First Lady. It was gathered that the accounts were opened by the ex-First Lady’s former Senior Special Assistant (Domestic/Household and Social Events to...

Gov. Dickson hails judiciary as APC, Sylva lose at Appeal Court

The Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has commended the judiciary for its steadfastness in protecting the sanctity of the ballot and upholding itself as the bastion of the nation’s democracy. Dickson’s comment came on Thursday afternoon following the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the earlier judgement of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, in his favour. Both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld the election of Dickson, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party...