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YAR’ADUA 2 YEARS LATER: TURN OFF THE LIGHTS BOYS. KOSI POINT

Source: Michael Egbejumi-David - huhuonline.com

The fact that gentleman Shehu Shagari's administration has been topped in the realm of incompetence by Yar'Adua's comatose version is no longer news. What is shocking though is the depth of the incompetence now on show. This staggering incompetence is then contemptuously garnished by an almighty season of in-your-face corruption and State debauchery. During Shagari's time, the country knew that the man wasn't in proper control of his lieutenants. His government and its officials were corrupt, but the country still had some sense of consciousness and a sense that things could still be rescued. Not so today. What we have today is undiluted despondency. Yar'Adua's administration is not only hopelessly lost but it is hopelessly hopeless. It gives off an unmistakable odour of bereavement. It could not prepare itself to get going because it was lifeless on arrival. The man, Yar'Adua himself cuts the picture of a person who would struggle to get out of his own bathroom without the aid of a GPS. But behold, he is in the driver's seat but his hands are not on the wheel.

When after one hundred days in office I wrote that his administration might be an “Inshallah” one, it turned out that I was too optimistic. The man does not have the decency to even hand us over to “Inshallah;” instead, he's handed us over to his wife Turai, Aondoakaa, Waziri, Okiro, Patience Jonathan, Iwu, Ibori, and a bunch of faceless guys from Katsina State.

A few of us obviously gave Yar'Adua too much benefit of the doubt because he'd come directly after Obasanjo. If you strip away his reverses of some of Obasanjo's acts, you'll be looking at a near calamitous picture. He granted the Guardian newspaper a recent interview and that was when things were confirmed for me: The man is never going to get it. More regrettably, the people around him know this too and are taking full advantage. Unfortunately for me, I read that interview on a Friday and it completely ruined my entire weekend.

Even before Obasanjo and Iwu smuggled Yar'Adua into Aso Rock, he had been talking about a 7-point agenda. Ok, let's look at those as released by him on August 1 2007:

Power And Energy – “…adequate power supply will be to ensure Nigeria's ability to develop as a modern economy and an industrial nation by the year 2015.”

Food Security – “….the development of modern technology, research, financial injection into research, production and development of agricultural inputs will revolutionalise the agricultural sector leading to a 5 – 10 fold increase in yield and production. This will result in massive domestic and commercial outputs and technological knowledge transfer to farmers.”

Wealth Creation – “….reform is focused on wealth creation through diversified production especially in the agricultural and solid mineral sector.”

Transport Sector – “….a goal of a modernized industrialized Nigeria, it is mandatory that Nigeria develops its transport sector….the ongoing rehabilitation and modernization of the railway.”

Land Reforms – “….changes in the land laws and the emergence of land reforms will optimize Nigeria's growth through the release of lands for commercialized farming and other large scale business by the private sector.”

Security – “….With its particular needs, the Niger Delta security issue will be the primary focus, (sic) marshalled not with physical policing or military security, but through honest and accurate dialogue between the people and the Federal Government.”

Education – “….minimum acceptable international standards of education for all. …….a strategic educational development plan will ensure excellence in both the tutoring and learning of skills in science and technology by students who will be seen as the future innovators and industrialists of Nigeria. This reform will be achieved through massive injection into the Education sector.”

Please, in the name of God, which one of these items has even been slightly achieved or started?

The ?emergency declared on Security and the Niger Delta culminated in the creation of a Niger Delta ministry a few months ago. Great. No lessons learnt then from the failure of the NDDC. In effect, another layer of bureaucracy is added on top of an existing problem. Most of the federal allocations due that region are now going to disappear into that Ministry. PDP contractors are currently licking their chops. The start-up cost of that Ministry alone will be monumental. Anything left over will go into overheads and staff imbursements. That region is now effectively left to stew in its own juices. Yar'Adua has resolved the problem and washed his hands off everything. All the various Committee reports have been binned. This is how to manage a country? Would any adult manage their own home like this?

And, without and ounce of shame, Yar'Adua boasted that his administration has been able to “maintain” the provision of 2,700 megawatts (MW) of electricity in Nigeria. Yar'Adua, a university graduate, actually uttered something like this in a public space! Ok, let's examine this: Despite Yar'Adua's claim, the true picture of total electricity generated in the country – according to those in the industry - is actually about 900MW. In fact, this has been the case – off and on - since June 2008. So in real terms power generation has dropped from the 1,500MW - 1,200MW generated during OBJ's tenure which was itself a drop from the Abacha's era. Two years in, Yar'Adua said he is still looking at everything and that he might declare his much talked about emergency on the power sector by the end of this month. To better put this into perspective: Giving our population of 140 million, 900MW roughly translates into about 30watts of electricity per household. A single light bulb consumes about 60watts, TV consumes 100watts, and a computer about 370watts. (“Turned on” appliances such as refrigerators actually cycle power on and off and therefore use less on aggregate). This is why NEPA has no choice but to ration power across the country. It is just that with less power to ration, it takes longer for whole communities to get their turn of electricity. In fact, those control grid guys at NEPA should be commended as they continue to pull off a near impossible job.

South Africa with a population of just under 45 million currently generates 39,500MW and plans to add another 1,000 by the middle of this year. Back in February 2008 Yar'Adua set up a come-and-chop Committee and charged them with the responsibility of delivering an extra 11,000MW (on top of an imaginary 3,000MW) by 2011. It is now over a year later. Yar'Adua's Committee has delivered -300MW! What has Yar'Adua done in response? He went to the Guardian and revised downwards his figures. He is now talking about a total of 10,000MW by 2011 – that is, two years from now. You have to laugh. We can only go by the evidence before us. South Africa? That country has already set aside money and has begun work (which is actually ahead of schedule) to increase its total power generation to 80,000MW by 2025. God only knows what Nigeria's population would be by that time.

The other 5 agenda points have been studiously ignored. Going into them here would only elicit anger and frustration. The only other area Yar'Adua mentioned in passing was transportation. His immediate priority is to parcel off roads to private firms who would run them for profit. Toll gates are coming back. He said his government would then “look at the remaining roads and see what we can do with them.” He admitted that all the monies spent in the transportation area – some N931billion - seem to be lost as contractors simply collected their dues and varnished. No roads; no nothing. It would be interesting to know who those contractors were. He said of the 631 highway contracts that were awarded before he came in, only 13 were completed. He has no plans to recover those monies. For him, it was just one of those things.

Yar'Adua's pronouncements simply don't square with reality. He insists that Nigeria will be one of the twenty greatest world economies by the year 2020. He says he is doing things for us now that will ensure this is the case. But 2020 is just eleven short years away. The take off point for economic growth is power generation and availability. However, going by Yar'Adua's own words (for what they are worth), in two years time, we should have available to us 10,000MW. In six years, we should hopefully have about 20,000MW in total. That leaves us with just five more years to generate far more than 60,000MW that we would require for our projected population size and all of the industries and businesses that will make us a top twenty economy. You see the folly? Just doesn't add up, does it? But this man delights in saying the things he says anyway.

Furthermore, where the previous administration had signed contracts with the Chinese for the construction of double track standard gauge rail lines in anticipation of economic and population growth, Yar'Adua has since cancelled these. His government has ordered some twenty five old style locomotives to be built at very high costs to run on our old single tracks and narrow gauges most of which were built more than 50 years ago. He said these would be “rehabilitated.” We are going to run all these old stuff at the same time as we are talking about being a world leading economy. In all, Yar'Adua says he wants to have about 100 locomotives. Meanwhile, other countries are looking to upgrade their high speed rails.

Let's not even talk about corruption in the land. Perhaps, it is no worse than it was under Obasanjo, but it is now completely unchecked. Moreover, there is a clear official signal out there to everyone that anything really goes now. And…err…we have one Farida Waziri and brother Okiro guarding the exits, what else do you need to know? Siemens that was blacklisted for bribing Nigerian government officials to the tune of 10million Euros in exchange for lucrative contracts that went largely unexecuted was de-blacklisted by Yar'Adua. His reason? The German Chancellor spoke to him when they met in Portugal and assured him that what happened will never happen again. That was enough for Yar'Adua. There was no thought whatsoever about fines, punishment and sanctions for breaking the law. Nigeria's national interest takes a backseat to Germany's. Suffice it to say that international organisations and countries that co-operated with the EFCC during Ribadu's tenure have observed what obtains under Yar'Adua and have all withdrawn from co-operative and joint work with our EFCC. In fact, Andoakaa has thoroughly embarrassed and frustrated Britain's Met Police on behalf of Ibori and other thieving ex-governors that the Met police are still licking their wounds, and are left to ponder what the hell is going on in “great” Nigeria. Just days ago, Yar'Adua endorsed in public the thieving ex-governors as his friends. He didn't stop there. He then added insult to injury when he stated that he has no plans to “jettison” them. The reader is invited to interpret this as they deem fit; but there is only one conclusion. It is just a great pity that the Nigerian nation is not his friend. Some of those thieving ex-governors have since become part of his kitchen cabinet. Can you now see the man some of us thought was a good man? Clearly his oath of office meant absolutely nothing to him.

Across town, the legislators have read the Braille and have removed all pretences in their game. Their only job these days is sharing out our money amongst themselves. Not one bill or policy initiative gets talked about anymore. Those days seems gone forever. Even Bankole has given up and has since joined the bandwagon. He has been reduced to singing. The other day, he was seen in Ekiti with a mouthful of teeth singing about bringing in 'sojas' to snatch ballot boxes. A House of Representative member takes home about N8.3million every month. Heavens knows how much the Lords in the Senate are making, but I know of a Senator from the South-South who goes to Europe and the US at least once a month and he only flies 1st Class which costs nearly $10,000 per return trip. Yet, Yar'Adua put ordinary Nigerians on notice that they would need to tighten their belts and make further sacrifices as a result of the global economic downturn. He said people should not expect any new developmental projects. Fuel scarcity is already upon us again. What manner of a manager is this?

Yar'Adua and the PDP no longer contest elections; they now order the type they want when they want it. They have their ace-in-the-hole, Maurice Iwu still doing his thing at INEC. The wish of the people is routinely and contemptuously trampled upon. We are reduced to looking on helplessly. Where then is the disincentive for politicians not to engage in malpractices? Our Courts now seem to hang price tags on cases filed before them, and it is beginning to look that way even up there at the Supreme Court. Initially, Yar'Adua rightly acknowledged that the election that brought him to Aso Rock was flawed. In retrospect, he only said that to buy himself some time. He has since recanted and now avers that there was nothing wrong with that election. Lately, he's been saying that he won far and square. In the last local elections in Katsina State, polls were not conducted in Daura, hometown of Gen. Buhari, and three other Local Government Areas. However, Local Government Councillors were later sworn-in. All were PDP members. The same template was repeated in Kano, an ANPP State.

Yar'Adua promised a comprehensive electoral reform and set up a Committee which he tasked to – amongst other things - specifically recommend how to get “a truly independent Electoral Commission.” However, he promptly rejected the two key recommendations made by that Committee. The Committee had recommended that the National Judicial Council appoint the Chair of INEC and other members of the Commission. In rejecting that proposal (which means the President will continue to appoint INEC's chairperson) Yar'Adua simply said we cannot solve one problem by creating another one. He did not elaborate. But when pushed about the same matter just a few days ago, and reminded that Presidents appointing INEC Chair has never worked in Nigeria, he warbled that it is not the fault of the person who appoints INEC's chairperson, rather it is the fault of the person so appointed if he or she later proved crooked in that post. See? Please what kind of reasoning is this? My suspicion is that this is very possibly the same manner all State matters are approached.

The other key recommendation he threw out was that election petitions should be disposed off within a maximum period of 6 months and in that interim, no one should be sworn into office, substantively, until all legal matters are resolved. Yar'Adua disagreed. He said once INEC pronounces a person as winner that person should be sworn-in and should remain in post until proven otherwise. He further said it makes no sense to put a restriction on the length of time an election petition should endure. He claimed that it is impractical and that if that were the case, Mimiko and Oshiomhole would not have been able to prove their respective cases. It is mind bugling. So much for electoral reform. I guess those were extraterrestrial aliens that oversaw the election petition cases of 1979 and 1983 in this same Nigeria. He concluded that the best thing is to leave the system just as it is. That the system works. This is amazing! He sees nothing wrong anymore with the way elections are conducted and won in Nigeria.

As soon as Obama, a real change agent who had since rolled up his sleeves and done in one week more than Yar'Adua has done in two years came into office, Yar'Adua sent some delegates to him seeking an audience. God only knows what Yar'Adua wanted to talk about. Perhaps he was trying to find out how Obama was able to put a functional and effective Cabinet in place in less than no time while his own understanding is that putting together even a crappy cabinet takes close to a full calendar year. In any event, Yar'Adua's delegation led by Ojo Maduekwe was promptly turned back by a very junior White House official. This message would have been clear enough to anyone, but not our Yar'Adua. When the G20 rolled around in London just a month ago, again Yar'Adua tried to interject himself and asked to be invited as an observer. Again, he was rebuffed. With his pride hurting, the man went public to complain about what he thought was a slight on Nigeria and himself. He clearly could not discern that serious matters require serious people and serious nations. I guess he wasn't aware that the last G20 summit wasn't the place and time to go and “Ranka Dede” and break-dance about being some happiest time in his life or such nonsense as he embarrassingly gushed when George Bush summoned him to the White House in December 2007 over the AFRICOM debate. In that short meeting, Yar'Adua eagerly and roundly jettisoned the Nigerian government already stated official position on AFRICOM. He lustily contradicted the government he was supposed to be heading, flip-flopping, doing cartwheels and declaring it his best moment ever.

It is a rare weekend that either Mrs Yar'Adua or Mrs Jonathan is not in London or some other foreign country. They prance about with an incredibly large number of official entourage. They have even formed the First Ladies of Africa Club and posed for a tasteless photograph in New York the other day.

Let me use an analogy to explain something that has been clear to me for a while. It is the parallel of someone who inherited a house or a small business from a relative:

Some Nigerians (north and south of the Niger) always feel challenged and see the potential and possibilities of Nigeria and it always pains them to see where we are today as a nation. These people are prepared – excited even, to do more. For other Nigerians though, the act of “rent collection” every month is simply enough and it is, or has become the end in itself. There are tenants or customers (oil) pay the rent and that is good enough. “Landlord” or “?ga” comes and pick up the rent and just go. No improvement whatsoever is made to the business or the house. No re-investment; no infrastructural upgrades; no training and re-training of staff; etc, etc, nothing. The rent pays Landlord's bills handsomely and so Landlord simply doesn't understand why staff or tenants are complaining. Instead, Landlord gets impatient with anyone who harps on about such matters as re-design, modernity, re-positioning the business to better meet present and future needs. Landlord simply doesn't get it. All that sound too tasking to him and he don't see the need for it. Soon enough, he is telling the “trouble makers” who don't like “my house” or “don't want to work here” to leave or else. So when these Landlords describe Nigeria as great, they truly mean it from the bottom of their hearts because they simply haven't fathomed that it is supposed to be better. They know and appreciate that what they have on their hands is more than meeting their needs and in fact exceeds their own expectation. Perhaps their standard or expectation of a country is – with due respects – a Chad or Togo Republic, I don't know. They believe that Nigeria is delivering and ticking over very nicely thank you very much. The sad irony of course is that they fail to see the little work and sacrifice others (the original owner of the business) have put in to get us to even where we are today.

When Yar'Adua talks about State matters, it's like he's rehashing someone else's lines. Like he is just mouthing a Party slogan. He talks monotonously in abstract theories as if it is someone else's responsibility maybe 100 years down the line, not his. Or perhaps he thinks that people cannot see through his platitudes. The whole thing is disingenuous and doesn't add up. He keeps talking about all these wonderful things he has been doing in all sectors of Nigeria's socio-economic infrastructural life in the last couple of years that we don't see or feel at all but which he maintains would all peak by 2015. I'm sure you see the link immediately. Yes, 2015 is when he hopes to be completing a second term.

Let's just say the truth here. Yar'Adua's status (or lack of it), complete lack of charisma, lack of confidence, lack of ideas, zero management style, and grinding incompetence is an embarrassment. When I see and hear him on TV, I wince. The man is just not inspiring at all. Success makes a person look good. Yar'Adua looks determinedly bad. Worse, he makes Nigeria look bad. His performance is awful. The worst bit is that we all know now that it is not likely to get better than this. But that Obasanjo is such a wicked soul oh! He moved heaven and earth only to force this man on us? Perhaps Aunty Dora's funny re-branding effort should start with Yar'Adua. While that is happening, I would kindly point him in the direction of Lagos to go and see what one Fashola has managed to accomplish in under two years.

A whole country lies prostrate while Yar'Adua and his gang gorge themselves and spit out the crud on the rest of us with an audacious impunity. No leadership, no inspiration. The energy is sapped completely from an entire nation space. A dour, colourless, insipid harmattan, drifting indolently from Yar'Adua's nostrils has taken hold of the country. Absolutely nothing moves now. Turn out the lights boys; kosi point (it's all become pointless).

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