The Guardian
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The change Nigeria needs (2)


map of Nigeria PHOTO: interamerica

map of Nigeria PHOTO: interamerica

IT bears repeating the cost of governance, whereby about three-quarter of the budget is devoted to recurrent expenditure largely consumed by the people in government, is both unconscionable and unsustainable.

Public office has become so rewarding that more and more persons now make a career of it, while abandoning their thriving private businesses. Nigeria is held in low esteem by other nations because of the incomparable rapacity of its politicians. This must change.

All the expected radical changes may not happen immediately, but important symbolic measures must be taken quickly to advertise that things are getting better. First, even now, before he assumes power, congratulatory visits by all sorts of favour seekers appear to be taking much of Buhari’s time; these are distractions. He needs to concentrate and think over the task ahead.

Second, government officials’ arrogant display of power and misuse of public resources as exemplified by long siren-blaring, traffic rules- defying convoys of vehicles must stop. The number of planes in the presidential fleet must be reduced to no more than two, the number of advisers and assistants must be drastically cut; so far as the last decade showed, they add very little to the leadership quality of their principals in particular, and governance in general.

Furthermore, there are too many ministries, departments and agencies of government unknown to, and do not affect Nigerians in positive ways, yet drain public resources and add no value to the performance of government. The Orosanye Report is recommended to the President-elect for consideration and action within the shortest possible time.

Moreover, the report of the 2014 National Conference offers broadly-accepted recommendations that, if implemented, would strengthen this nation and set it on the path of progress. The All Progressives Congress (APC) government should rise above partisanship and implement within the bounds of law, the conference report, as it would serve the best interest of Nigerians.

Genuine democracy, is sustained in part, by adherence to the rule of law. To this end, the judiciary must be equipped to be independent and impartial. Other arms of government have a duty to sustain the rule of law. For example, the remuneration of public officers must be firmly subjected to the provisions of the Constitution.

To the extent that the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section 32 of the Constitution empowers the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to ‘determine the remunerations, appropriate for political office holders’, it behoves the President, with the full support of his party members, to enforce the law. There is no doubt that a huge amount of money will thereby be saved for development projects.

The opaque operation of the so-called Excess Crude account separate from the legally allowed Federation Account is a violation of Section 162 of the Constitution. This is not acceptable and it is expected that the APC’s ‘wind of change’ will definitely sweep these manifestations of corruption away in no distant time.

Nigerians voted for Buhari on the strength of his integrity. He, therefore, stands on a firm moral high ground to prosecute the much-desired war against corruption. His accurate appreciation of, and unequivocal pronouncement on this odious and destructive feature of Nigerian life, is welcome.

Said he: “We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival… [and] it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation”. Of particular interest in this respect is the conduct of business in the petroleum and the finance sectors. These two must be persistently scrutinised for probity. Of course corruption will fight back, but again, where there is a will, there is always a way. The combination of a determined leader, a political party genuinely committed to change and a cooperative citizenry patient enough to eschew immediate gratification can, in due course, defeat corruption.

It would be naïve to assume that these and other urgently needed changes to the conduct of public officers will come easy, especially in a democratic system of government circumscribed by all sorts of legal rights. This is why the ‘change’ programme must be elevated to the level of party policy. It is gratifying that Buhari admits the pre-eminence of the party over the whims of its public office holders. This will ensure the buy-in of APC members at every level of government as well as make every member of the APC in and outside of government a change agent of the new dispensation.

This way too, the President could influence the excesses of the state governors such as the bizarre pension perks they have legislated for themselves.

Come May 29, Nigerians want to see their new leaders ‘hit the ground running’; this is understandable from a people who have suffered worsening governance for years. Buhari senses this and he has appealed that the electorate should ‘temper expectations with realism’.

Nevertheless, there can be no excuse for business as usual or for failure. With the substantial control of the legislature, political will of party leaders, and commitment of the APC to govern and not to rule, ‘a new dawn of democratic governance’ may indeed be here.

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  • Ify Onabu

    The Guardian has not yet understood the mind-set of those who want power to shift to the ‘north’ for the sake of it. When they take charge come 29 May 2015, their real intentions will be manifested and all this over-flowing prose will amount to nothing.

    • New Nigerian

      You may be right, however the mindset of the masses of this country is very clear. We believe the change and we are not going anywhere until we see it manifest for all.

  • Prof Adekunle Akinyemi

    Kudos to the editorial board of the Guardian newspapers for the article titled ‘The type of change Nigeria needs’. This has been very well articulated. More grease.

  • asekong

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Anyone with good intentions for the country will wholeheartedly accept this as a road, but so far, all we hear from the President-elect are statements of intent. Let us start seeing the WILL

    • Don Harris

      How do you expect to see the WILL when he is yet to assume office?Assessment of WILL can only begin when he takes over the mantle of leadership.For now GEJ calls the shot and so the scale to measure WILL is in use.

  • Mohammed Eibo

    This change is a must for GMB, those who have looted so much, be made to return stolen billions and face the full wrath of the law. Nigeria is bigger than any one no matter how highly placed they are? common it is unimaginable for normal or rational individual or group of persons to engage in siphoning so much, he or she does not need. I suggest to GMB to subject his ministers for kleptomania examination with psychologists before be giving any appointment”

  • honesty

    If the president elect can focus on this three projects i guarantee 98% success of the change we need.1, The rule of law, 2, 24hr electricity supply 3,.scale down the size of government .

  • sendoff

    After voting for change, Nigerians will soon slump back into careless amnesia and fail to hold Buhari and the APC to incessant scrutiny and insistence to deliver on their change commitment. That is why patriotic Nigerians should continue to appreciate the Guardian newspaper for its continuous harping on the change Nigeria needs instead of joining the chorus of praise singers and well-wisher visitors of the President-elect. It makes one wonder about the other national media outlets that keep reporting trivia while neglecting the crucial message that the people must share and the victorious party must imbibe to change the Nigerian story from stasis to progress.True, the APC did not campaign on the type of change that the National Conference promised, but the party cannot persuade anyone of unawareness about the strategic importance for Nigeria of some of the outcomes of that Conference. While it may therefore, not be expected to implement it to the letter, it would amount to foolhardiness to dump it in the dustbin because many of the issues involved are fundamental to nation-building and will not go away no matter how long we choose to quarantine them. And, thanks to the Guardian for pointing out the 3rd schedule, Part 1, Section 32 of the Constitution which empowers the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to determine the remuneration of Public Office holders. This is a constitutional mandate that members of the Legislative Arms of both the Federal and State governments have since truncated, abused and usurped in order to grant themselves inordinate overt and covert remunerations. This is not the platform to list the corruptive tendencies and practices in the Assemblies, it suffices to say that things like constituency projects, special committee remunerations, innumerable allowances, huge terminal benefits and life pensions for a four or eight year tenure job is clear day-light robbery. These are part contributors to making legislative governance in Nigeria one of, if not the most expensive in the world. The same malpractices apply to more or less extent in the Executive branch which falls directly under Mr President’s purview. Such malfeasance in the two arms of government offers the President-elect and his party rather low-hanging fruits to harvest early in their administration as demonstration to Nigerians that the era of business-as-usual has run its course. The more fundamental structural changes that Nigeria needs will continue to be grist for dialogue and incremental progress.

    • New Nigerian

      Thank you for this reminder. You and I and all of us should stay tuned and help hold the feet of incoming administration to the fire. This is the only way we can ensure that the change we voted massively for is not hijacked by special interests. Let us all stay plugged in to help bring the change to live – GMB and the few around him cannot make it happen. We should rise and fall together.

      • sendoff

        Thanks Mr New Nigerian, could not agree more.

  • New Nigerian

    I applaud the editorial team for these piece. I have had cause to question the editorial team in their overt support for the continuity of Jonathan in office. I congratulate them for getting with the change. I look forward to their continued relevance to our democratic process as members of the 4th estate of the democratic realm (through rigorous investigative journalism that would help bring about the change we all look forward to). Congratulations to Guardian for finding it’s voice again.