Show me your midterm report
It is two years since the government of Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated on May 29, 2015. Governments all over the world are put in place to make life better for citizens. In our case, the Constitution is very clear on why we have governments. In Chapter Two, the Constitutions under the heading – Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, clearly outlines the goodies citizens are to enjoy from government, especially after citizens have performed their own civic duties. Therefore, from the point of the Constitution, citizens have a legitimate responsibility to expect from government. And when their expectations are not met, they also have a duty to ask why, after two budget years.
In addition to the generous provisions in the Constitution, political parties also add their promises via manifestos and campaign programmes. That was exactly what the All Progressives Congress (APC) did when they asked for votes in 2014. They promised heaven on earth and whetted citizens’ appetite. The manifesto of the APC is a good one, well articulated and perhaps, with good intentions. They promised to bring down the price of petrol per litre to less than N50 at a time it sold for N87 or thereabout. They promised good roads, railways and good housing. They promised to narrow the gap between the Naira and Dollar, as a matter of fact, it was parity that was promised by our now president, to make it one to one. What about electricity, oh, that was the easiest of all. There will be thousands of megawatts in six months. So, in addition to what the Constitution already provided, the APC added jara and people were a falling on one another to pick their voter cards, in order to install a progressive government. What about the promise to feed all primary school children one meal per day? Didn’t the APC take inventory of what it would cost and the numbers involved? If after two years, only seven states out of 36 are struggling to implement the programme, shouldn’t we ask questions?
If after two years people are now taking stock and reminding government of promises made voluntarily and not under any form of duress, should that be recorded as sin on their part, or that they are no longer patriotic? If we do not ask now and demand accountability, is it when campaigns for 2019 are in top gear by May 2018 that will be deemed appropriate to ask for dividends of democracy? People in government should deal fairly with we masses. This is the only thing we can do, to ask politely why things are tough. And it is the duty of government to politely explain that they were either not too prepared or that they thought governance was going to be easy. Nigerians are fair people and I’m sure they will understand. But don’t dare rob lack of capacity on their faces.
It seems to me that this government wants to be clever by half. And it is difficult to help persons and governments that are puffed with conceit. If you are having challenges, level with the people and ask for understanding. Don’t attempt to browbeat!
On the occasion of its first 100 days in office, Nigerians were told to award government that period as honeymoon. Lagos politician and frontline APC leader, Bola Tinubu said so. He said so because there was nothing on ground to suggest some motion. Instead of hitting the ground running with a list of ministers, the President said he was keeping the list to his chest. He didn’t want influential politicians to nominate ministers so that they will not corrupt his cabinet.
From 100 days to six months, there were no minsters. When the list finally came, it was not inspiring, but since that was the best Buhari could find from more than 160million Nigerians, the people had to accept and continue to expect. While the cabinet waited for budget 2016 to empower them, they entertained us with tales of how the previous government plundered the treasury, leaving nothing to be scavenged. Well, Budget 2016 expired two weeks ago and this is the time for each ministry to list what they have achieved in two years.
The one in charge of works, for instance should list the kilometer of roads his ministry has constructed or reconstructed, with graphic details and how much was spent, including the names and addresses of the contractors. He should explain why many lives have been dispatched to untimely grave in the last one year on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, where work has been ongoing forever.
Since he also manages power, he should explain why we are stagnant and cannot move beyond 3,000 megawatts of electricity in two years. If problems were inherited, can’t solution be found and is that not why there is government? Can’t there be will power to review power reforms carried out by the last administration? Nigerians know that Babatunde Fashola is an achiever, but he is bogged down by federal bureaucracy, the same monster that has not allowed Nigeria to move an inch forward since 1960. Fashola cannot do much if the power architecture is not restructured to decentralize power production and distribution beyond what the Jonathan government did. Let regions and states operate at all levels in the power chain and free it from the strangle hold of the Federal Government. Let states with dams generate and distribute within their catchment zones; let those that have gas generate, sell and pay taxes to the Federal Government. But to continue to see power as a federal character instrument is a fraudulent endeavor that won’t take this country far.
It is the same fraud that has been peddled since 1966, when the military took advantage of politicians’ indiscretion to perpetuate laziness, theft and injustice. Sincere persons in this government and in APC know that Nigeria is not working because of the fraudulent federal system that was foisted by the military. They have realised early enough that even the best of political parties and governments with best of intentions cannot achieve much with the present system. They are the ones now calling for restructuring, including former vice president, Abubakar Atiku, and of recent, Tinubu, Rauf Aregbesola, Tony Momoh. But they are not helped by an APC that is now rudderless and adrift. This party has not met for once at its most critical stages since it formed government, to critically appraise the task it willingly took upon itself. There is a president who is not interested in politics, apart from the raw power it bestows.
When the APC coalition was berthed, Nigerians didn’t need miracle workers. Nigeria needed sincere leaders who would put her on the slab and frankly dissect and rework her. When the APC came on board, the country had already been wheeled into intensive care as a result of severe structural ailments that overpowered its systems. What Nigeria needed was a leader who would behave like Mandela, take no hostages, but ask genuine stakeholders how to transform a potentially great country that has been frustrated by regional politics, religion and indolence. They thought a returnee Buhari would be that leader, and they sincerely handed him the awesome powers of president. Alas, Buhari had not changed one bit from his old self, vengeful and fossilized in old habits.
In one year, we have seen many deaths of Shiite members in Kaduna, many from wanton killer herdsmen in Agatu and all over, in addition to economic militias roaming freely as if egged on by acquiescing anti crime agencies. We have heard more frantic calls for restructuring and threats from some persons to annihilate others if they dare ask for dissolution of the present system. Never before have regional cleavages been this acrimonious, as Ango Abdulahi of the ACF and Junaid Mohammed of no fixed political address, are sparring with Afenifere of the Southwest and Ohanaeze of the Southeast. The South-south is on holiday, waiting for vice, sorry Acting President Osinbajo to deliver as he promised.
For me, it is not just the economy, bad roads and no electricity. These are symptoms. It is poor leadership. We need a leader!