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

EFCC rearraigns Dasuki, five others for diversion of funds.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday re-arraigned, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA) and five others, for alleged diversion, and criminal breach of trust at an FCT High Court. The others were Bashir Yuguda, Shuaibu Salisu, a former Director of Finance, Office of the NSA, Dalhatu Investment Ltd., Sagir Attahiru and Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Sokoto State. They were re-arraigned on a 22-count charge before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, and they pleaded not guilty...

FG to investigate why production of Big Brother Nigeria is in South Africa.

The federal government has directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reported shooting in South Africa of the ongoing Big Brother Nigeria reality show.   Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has asked the NBC to determine whether Multi-Choice has breached the Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way, by shooting the show in South Africa, as well as the issue of possible deceit, since the viewing public was never told that the event would...

Bill Gates could become the world’s first trillionaire

In our lifetimes, we could see the first trillionaire. And, most likely, that first trillionaire would be Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates . That's according to research by Oxfam, an international network of organizations collectively working to alleviate global poverty. Its recently published report finds that eight billionaires from around the globe have as much money as the 3.6 billion people who make up the...

Yahya Jammeh will be ‘allowed to keep’ luxury car collection – Barrow

Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh will be allowed to keep his collection of 13 luxury cars and fly them out to his exiled home in Equatorial Guinea, a spokesman for new president Adama Barrow said Tuesday.Barrow’s spokesman confirmed to AFP an agreement had been struck to facilitate Jammeh’s exit on Saturday in order to end a weeks-long impasse caused by the ex-leader’s refusal to recognise Barrow’s election victory.   “What is very clear is that arrangements were made and the...

Death toll in Italy’s avalanche disaster climbs to 14

The death toll in Italy’s avalanche disaster rose to 14 Tuesday as rescuers extracted the bodies of two women from a devastated hotel and continued their search for 15 people still missing, local authorities said. Six other bodies were found between Monday afternoon and the early hours of Tuesday, the sixth day of what increasingly appears to be a forlorn search through the snow-covered wreckage of the Hotel Rigopiano. Eleven staff and guests survived the disaster, two men who were outside...

Lagos records 115 tanker accidents in 2016 – Official

The Lagos State Fire Service recorded 115 petroleum tanker accidents in 2016, Nwanovim George, the former Chief Fire Officer in the state has disclosed. Mr. George made the disclosure on Tuesday in Lagos at the ongoing national training for tanker drivers organised by Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of NUPENG. Mr. George, who is currently the Personal Assistant to the Director, Lagos State Fire Service on Training Matters, said the service has already recorded six tanker in January 2017. He urged tanker...

Premium Times: How SSS lied against EFCC boss, Magu.

On Thursday, the Nigerian Senate declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chair of the country’s premier anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The upper legislative chamber claimed it could not approve the presidency’s request to confirm Mr. Magu based on a security report forwarded to it by the State Security Service. “The Senate wishes to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu...

British PM must get parliament approval to trigger Brexit – Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must get parliament’s approval before she begins Britain’s formal exit from the European Union, EU.   The UK’s highest judicial body dismissed the government’s argument that Ms. May could simply use executive powers known as “royal prerogative” to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty and begin two years of divorce talks.   However, the court rejected arguments that the UK’s devolved assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should...

NYSC orientation back in Adamawa after 3-year break

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has resumed orientation of corp members in Adamawa state, after a three-year suspension caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.   The last orientation was held in Adamawa in March 2013.   Speaking to Tuesday in Yola, Mohammed Abubakar, state coordinator of NYSC, said 2, 500 corps members were deployed to the state.   “Registration of corp members started this Tuesday morning by 7 am and you can see they are trooping in; we are expecting 2, 500 corp members,”...

“Quit whining, no one owes you anything”, Fayemi tell Nigerian graduates.

Kayode Fayemi, minister of solid minerals development, has admonished Nigerian graduates to quit complaining and stop waiting for the government to solve their problems. He said this on Monday while delivering the 49th convocation lecture of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka. Fayemi urged the undergraduates to work hard to achieve their dreams and stop waiting for handouts. “Quit whining, no one owes you anything. The earlier we realise that no one owes us anything, the better for us and the more...

President Buhari rejects senate’s recommendation for SGF’s sacking

President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the recommendation of the senate for the sack of Babachir Lawal as secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).   Buhari said his decision was informed by the failure of the senate ad hoc committee on humanitarian crisis in the northeast to give Lawal a fair hearing. ? He conveyed his decision in a letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday.   In December 2016, the senate recommended the sack of Lawal for alleged corruption.   In its report,...

JUST IN: Again, CBN MPC retains interest rate at record high.

For the second time in four months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided on Tuesday to hold benchmark interest rates at record high of 14 percent.   Godwin Emefiele, governor of the bank, announced that the committee also decided to keep cash reserve ratio (CRR) and liquidity ratio at 22.5 percent and 30 percent respectively.   He said the 10 members present at the meeting decided unanimously to keep the asymmetric corridor at +200 and +500 basis points.   The...

SON confisticates 1,000 bags of underweighed rice in Osogbo

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Osun says it confiscated more than 1,000 underweighed bags of rice in Osogbo markets on Monday. Mr Sunday Badewole, the SON State Coordinator, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Osogbo on Tuesday. Badewole said the agency made the confiscation during the enforcement operation where more than 1,000 bags of 5kg, 10kg and 25kg of bags of rice were confiscated. He said many of the rice sellers had...

Sambisa, The Forest of Learning – By Buki Ponle

By now, it is crystal clear to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), or any other groups and individuals with similar perception, that government is not toying with the safety, lives and property of Nigerians. This is clearly evident in the latest search conducted for the missing Chibok school girls in the notorious forest called Sambisa. Few days ago, the Federal Government, represented by the Minister of Information and Culture and that of Defence, arranged to join the Nigerian troops...

No Parliamentary Approval, No Brexit- Supreme Court Rules

It was a massive victory for Gina Miller as the Supreme Court has given a ruling giving the Parliament the right to approve the start of Brexit. Addressing journalists outside court after the judgment, Gina Miller thanked her supporters for the steadfastness. “In Britain, we are lucky – we are fortunate to have the ability to voice legitimate concerns and views as part of a shared society” she said. “I have therefore been shocked at the levels of personal abuse that I...

Court Orders Release of Ex-NSA Dasuki Again

An Abuja High Court has again reaffirmed the bail granted former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and five others in the arm deal trial involving $2.1 billion. Justice Baba Yusuf reaffirmed the bail on Mr. Dasuki on the ground that he was entitled to it and having been admitted to same since 2015 when the federal government brought criminal charges against him. Mr. Dasuki and five others were re-arraigned before Justice Baba Yusuf on the criminal charges that were transferred...

China urged to strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it”

China must strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it” in response to the stance of new US President Donald Trump, a leading newspaper said Tuesday. The comments in the Global Times, a popular paper known for its inflammatory rhetoric and hawkish views, came just days after President Xi Jinping called for the eventual global elimination of atomic weapons. In recent days, Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system deployed...

Yaya Toure explains why he’s not keen on playing in China

Yaya Toure says he wants to remain at Manchester City and is not interested in moving to China, amid reports of a big-money offer from the Chinese Super League.   Reports last week said Toure, 33, had rejected an approach from a Chinese club that would have seen him paid around £430,000 ($536,000, 499,000 euros) a week.   With his contract up at the end of the season, the former Ivory Coast midfielder faces an uncertain future, but he says he has no...

Kenya Conducts Mass Killings Of Dogs

Yesterday, January 23, 2017, Kenya Veterinary officers killed 82 dogs, 2 cats and a honey badger after rabies had been detected among some animals in Yatta, Machakos, LIB reports. According to the authorities, the animals were killed following the threat of rabies which is a deadly viral disease that could affect the local community.    

RCCG sends message to all senior pastors over MMM, other schemes

The Redeemed Christian Church of GOD (RCCG) has said that the doctrine of the mission does not support get rich quick schemes. This was made known in a memo addressed to pastors in charge of regions and provinces, by the General Secretary of the church, Pastor Johnson Odesola, on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. Pastor Odesola stated in the memo that some pastors and staff of the mission are getting themselves involved in all manner of money-making schemes, to the extent...

How Auchi Poly student duped white woman of $267,000 via dating

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday arraigned one Akintunde Vincent Abiodun begore at a Lagos State High court sitting in Ikeja for alleged love scam. The accused, a student of the Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo state was said to have defrauded his victim, D. Bonnici of $267,000 online by claiming to be Christopher Williams from the United Kingdom. According to the complainant, she met the 37-year-old man on a dating site on the internet and allegedly fell in love...