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

CBN bullion Van collides With Tanker, many died, Millions of naira burnt

Central Bank of Nigeria bullion vans, a fuel tanker, a commercial bus and cars collided on the ever-busy Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway, leaving at least 14 people dead. The victims included officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), policemen and passengers of commercial buses, where millions of naira notes were said to have been burnt to ashes. Two of the 10 bullion vans which were in a convoy conveying money from Asaba end of the expressway were said to have collided...

OPINION: Kogi State Governor Bello Going Astray – By Adewale Giwa

If Nigerians did not protest against the anti-social media law sponsored by Bala Ibn Na’allah, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress from Kebbi State that made the Senate throw out the bill into the dustbin, Yahaya Bello, Kogi State governor, would have been one of Nigeria's toughest governors towards journalists. One would have thought that being the youngest governor in Nigeria, is his age pushing him presently to be going astray?     Bello was recently quoted in a broadcast...

FG Set to Launch Buhari Mobile App

Nigeria's Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has stated that the accomplishments of the Muhammadu Buhari regime are under-reported. As a result, the federal government will launch a mobile app that will give a real time update about the achievements of the government, he said. He spoke on Thursday at a meeting with Resident Information Officers (RIOs) in the ministry on the forthcoming launch of the information dissemination App. "..government is doing so much, yet people keep saying they do not...

Nigerian Military Set To Reopen Key Borno Roads After 3 Years Of Closure

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima announced on Thursday that the Nigerian military will reopen the Maiduguri-Magumeri-Gubio and Damasak roads, which have been closed for three years due to the Boko Haram scourge.   The governor made the announcement while meeting with Muhammad Dandano, governor the Diffa region in the Niger Republic. Diffa, like Borno, has...

Rivers Rerun: INEC, Security Agencies Meet With Political Parties

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the various security agencies, as well as political party leaders and their candidates have met again in continuous efforts to ensure that Saturday’s rerun polls in Rivers state are hitch-free.   With the poll already generating tension, the Deputy Inspector General Of Police in Charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, said no group would be allowed to cause violence during the exercise.   Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Aniedi Ikoiwak, has equally given the...

Is Buhari Out Of Sync With Nigerians? – By Adewale Giwa

Many people believe that the emergence of the opposition All Progressives Party (APC) will find a lasting solution to Nigeria’s woes. But, as it is, people who are not parochial in analyzing issues could easily conclude that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not showing any positive sign in tackling the nation’s challenges. This opinion of mine might not go down well with APC supporters/sympathizers who are out there to deceive and defend the government despite...

Troops Destroy Armed Bandit’s Camps In Zamfara

Troops attached to 1 Division of the Nigerian Army have ramped up clearance operations against armed bandits and cattle rustlers in Zamafara State as part of Operation Sharan Daji.   According to a press release issued by Colonel Sani Usman on Thursday, troops killed 9 armed bandits and livestock rustlers within the past three days. They also destroyed the bandits' and rustlers' camps and motorcycles in Bungudu and Maru Local Government Areas.   The soldiers also arrested two suspected armed bandits: Awidi Mohammed and...

Ghanaian Voters Pick Nana Akufo-Addo, As New President – Media Reports

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has won Ghana’s presidential election, defeating incumbent President John Mahama in a hotly contested election according to result released by media outlets across the country.   Mr. Akufo-Addo party also triumphed over Mr. Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC), in parliamentary elections that also took place throughout Ghana on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.   President Mahama’s bid for reelection was hurt by widespread voter disaffection with an economy that has...

Obanikoro in Fresh N450m Poll Cash Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday quizzed a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for allegedly receiving N450m from the Coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in Lagos State, Adewale Onilere, during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election. Operatives disclosed that the N450m was part of the N23bn ($115m) allegedly disbursed to the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 36 states of the federation by a former Minister of Petroleum...

Governor El-Rufai Denies Paying Herdsmen

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has denied paying Fulani herdsmen to instigate the Southern Kaduna crisis. His media aide Samuel Aruwan, at a news conference yesterday, reiterated that El-Rufai did not pay the herdsmen, to either appease or arm them, as widely reported in the media. The Senator representing Kaduna South, Danjuma La’ah, accused El-Rufai of paying the Fulani herdsmen for killing his constituents. According to Aruwan, El-Rufai has continued with the peace efforts of former Governor Patrick Yakowa, and will...

First US Somali Lawmaker Gets ‘Islamophobic Threats’ In Taxi

The first Somali-American lawmaker in the US has said she was subjected to "hateful" anti-Muslim threats from a taxi driver in Washington DC. Minnesota Representative-elect Ilhan Omar said the cabbie threatened to remove her hijab during a confrontation on Tuesday. The 34-year-old said the incident occurred just after she attended policy training at the White House. Ms Omar, a Democrat, came to the US as a child from a refugee camp in Kenya. She made history and national headlines last month when...

Reps seek suspension of ban on land border-imported cars

The House of Representatives yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the ban on the importation of new and used cars through Nigeria’s land borders.   According to the lawmakers, the policy is too harsh and will put more pressure on Nigerians who are already groaning under the prevailing recession.   The decision followed the adoption of a motion by Abdullahi Salame (APC, Sokoto) who said the percentage of Nigerians who could afford cars had declined drastically. He explained that the decline...

Lebanon Takes First Step To Abolish Marriage Rape Law

Lebanese lawmakers on Wednesday took the first step to overturn a law that allows rapists to avoid punishment if they marry their victims. The move came a day after protesters wearing fake-blood-stained wedding gowns confronted lawmakers just steps away from Parliament in the capital Beirut. After a scheduled review of Article 522 of the penal code, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted that a parliamentary committee had agreed to push forward with a plan that would abolish...

The Obamas Looks Incredible in Their Final White House Christmas Card

According to tradition, the White House sends out a holiday card to friends, political supporters, and members of the media. This year's greeting is bittersweet because it will be the last one from President Barack Obama after eight years in office. The silver lining here is that the Obamas — well, they're just like us — and they're sending out a card featuring a photo of the fam. There's...

Senate Calls for NYSC Overhaul

The Senate on Thursday called on the Federal Government to overhaul the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. The call followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye (APC Central). The Senate also called on the government to improve on medical facilities in all NYSC orientation camps across the country and deploy experienced medical personnel to the NYSC medical centres. The Senate therefore mandated its Committee on Sports and Youth Development to conduct...

Italy President Starts Talks Over New Government

Italy’s president has started talks with the political leaders of the country to form a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. President Sergio Mattarella began consultations on Thursday to decide whether to appoint an interim prime minister until upcoming elections scheduled for 2018 or to assign the leadership of the country to an interim government, which should serve until a snap vote could be held in spring. Mattarella, a former constitutional court judge, began by consulting the...

Stop begging those who stole Nigeria’s money, fight them – Femi Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has called on the federal government to adopt an “aggressive policy” to recover looted funds instead of asking for loans. Falana said this on the sidelines of an event organised by the US embassy in Abuja to mark the international anti-corruption day. “People have stolen our money, why are you begging them to return it? We need to fight them and collect the money; we do not need loans that will mortgage the future of our country,”...

Rihanna Slams Beyoncé Feud Rumors Over Grammy Nominations

The “Work” singer wants everyone to “drop this topic.” She dismisses the suggestion of her having a beef with Jay Z’s wife, adding, “We don’t need to be putting black women against each other! We deserve to be celebrated, and the Grammy Academy agrees!” Rihanna accidentally fuelled longstanding rumors of a feud between the women on Instagram yesterday after Grammy nominations were announced....

Kano commissioner arraigned for land ‘racketeering’.

Faruk Faruk, Kano state commissioner of lands, was on Thursday arraigned before a high court over alleged land racketeering.   Also arraigned were Mahmud Bari, a former permanent secretary of the ministry, and Ahmad Ibrahim, a director.   The public complaint and anti-corruption commission of the state charged the trio for criminal breach of trust, which is punishable under section 97 of the penal code.   The accused were said to have sold a plot of land to one Baba Sharu Dala in April. They...

National ID is the solution to underage voting — Muhammadu Buhari

The federal government has tasked the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) ?to ensure that the national identification number is used to authenticate eligible voters in future. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave the charge while speaking at a policy round-table meeting on Identity Management organised by NIMC in collaboration with the World Bank at the state house conference? centre. The accusation of underage voting, particularly in the north, was one of the few sour points of the 2015 election, but the use of...

Senators move to legalize insertion of constituency projects into budgets

The senate on Thursday resolved to pass a bill seeking to give legitimacy to the inclusion of constituency projects in the federal budget.   Constituency projects, which have been a subject of controversy owing allegations of corruption, are carried out by federal legislators across their constituencies.   Abdulmumin Jibrin, a suspended member of the house of representatives, had raised the alarm over alleged illegal insertions of constituency projects in the 2016 budget.   But the upper legislative chamber now wants to make such “insertions” legal.   The...