IS PRESIDENT JONATHAN FIGHTING AGAINST NIGERIA'S 12 GIANT EVILS?
I have written in the past that “Perhaps, never in history did a people wait for so long, for so little, as Nigerians waited and hoped for good leadership from three elected Presidents in the past 12 years” and they were convincingly, thoroughly and unmistakably disappointed, no, betrayed. Was it in 1999 when a retired Army General, and former military Head of State Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo returned to the Presidency he had vacated exactly 20 years earlier? By the time the rotund but agile, crude though well-travelled and well-educated through conferences and seminars, brusque, impatient, earthy, cruel, unscrupulous and unrefined Obasanjo completed his two terms of four years each imperial presidency, he had not only given democracy a black eye, the fault lines he inflicted on the country’s unity were wider and deeper than the Rift Valleys of East Africa.
Or was it eight years later in 2007 when an ailing Umar Musa Yar’Adua succeeded Obasanjo with the promise to be a servant-leader that would pursue a much hailed Seven-Point Agenda but remained so bed-ridden and so inactive, so unseen by anyone, that some Nigerians will ever believe that the man had died and was buried six clear months before his actual death? Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s exact opposite; as thin as Obasanjo is corpulent, morally straight forward, deferential to the courts, enchanted by constitutional separation of powers of the three arms of government, unlike “Caesar” Obasanjo, had promised to heal the massive fault lines Obasanjo’s divide and rule style had elicited. But the doctors could not even heal Yar’Adua and the Acting President Jonathan became full-fledged President.
Nigerians rejoiced that they not only had a PhD holder in the President’s office for the first time, as though such has any effect on governance, but that his first name was Goodluck appeared to dazzle the world. Understandably, the nation was in that low state where uncertainty was the order of the day when the baton reached Jonathan. But did he race with it? Did he soar like the eagle? Did he even walk like an earnest man on a mission (with or without shoes)? No.
Unfortunately, if Jonathan had any inkling about the exigencies of the moment, about the demands of the grave responsibilities that landed squarely on his shoulders the moment he became (first Acting and then full) President, he has yet to show it. Yet, who would believe that he actually had his job cut out for him? The T.Y. Danjuma-led Presidential Advisory Council defined Jonathan’s job for him; he was asked to face and slay Nigeria’s “12 GIANT EVILS”. The 12 Giant Evils were listed out as “Darkness, Injustice, Ignorance, Idleness, Disease, Immobility, Corruption, Hunger, Fear, Indiscipline, Dishonesty and Want”. Electricity will banish darkness just as checking ethnic and religious killings, kidnapping and armed robbery will remove fear, for instance.
Sometime ago, I called attention to the treasure trove of recommendations and policy proposals contained in the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) and given to both Presidents Obansanjo and Jonathan. I complained that not only did the two administrations disdain those reports (in the main), but that the public has remained ignorant of such recommendations.
Many readers took me to task over that piece; some asked if it was a must that a government should accept every recommendation from every committee or panel. To that my answer remains a stout no. Yet, I still insist that Nigerians reserve the right to know what a committee that was financed with the tax-payers’ money recommended, and they were hosted at the costly Abuja Hilton hotel for all their deliberations. Most importantly, when a committee comes up with recommendations and policies that should be beneficial to the nation, the public should insist that such be embraced. Or when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua created the Niger Delta Ministry, did that action become bad simply because it was first publicly advocated by his political opponent former Vice President Atiku Abubakar?
Or when this year various versions of the Petroleum Industry Bill surfaced and were circulating freely, would it have occurred to anybody that on the PAC’s 25th February 2011 session, it was mentioned that “The corporation (NNPC) discovered that the version of the Bill submitted by the Government was different from the versions at the Senate and the House of Representatives”? The PAC then wondered how then different versions of the same bill sent to the National Assembly from the same Presidency generated different versions. One full year later, that question has not been answered and various versions of that same bill were still in circulation. Most of all, one full year later, that Bill that was considered ultra-important has not neared passage.
Also, PAC, under Electoral Reforms, Public Service and the Rule of Law, noted: a; the politicization of the Civil Service and the consequent breakdown of discipline, b; disregard for financial accountability and probity, c; the bloating of the Civil Service which resulted in appalling low level remuneration and absence of working tools, d; institutionalization of corruption at all levels of the civil service, e; proliferation of parastatals and resultant duplication of functions and conflicting roles, g; scant regard for rules, regulations and procedures resulting in arbitrary decisions and general loss of direction and (my favourite) that “the promotion examination policy had made the civil servants to devote more time to studying for examinations than performing their actual duties ”.
I selected this section because Mr. Steve Orosanye, former Head of the Federal Civil Service recently headed such a reform committee. It will be nice to compare how far his committee recommendations matched those of the PAC and how much of both will the government implement. As no government should be evaluated in a vacuum, such will help in scoring the Jonathan administration either a success or failure.
Talking about scoring administrations, many would think that the administration of the late Yar’Adua was a no-good-blooper just because he was hobbled by ill health. Yes, I have already written that it gave Nigerians little when they expected much, yet a good evaluation must accept that after a long period of slumber, the man who was derogatively called “Baba Go-Slow” appeared to have woken up and took to the fast lane. â€¨
Truth is that Yar’Adua’s last illness chose a wrong time to strike; October 2009 was Yar’Adua’s as no month had been. His efforts at settling the armed belligerence in the Niger Delta succeeded when the militants there accepted Yar’Adua’s amnesty and surrendered their arms. Then owing to that peace, Nigeria’s oil exports rebounded by some 40 per cent above the level where Yar’Adua had met it.
Not surprisingly, Yar’Adua began talking about fixing Nigeria’s epileptic electricity supply and doubling the generating capacity from 3000 megawatts to 6000 two months later by December’s end â€¨â€¨Right after signing the amnesty, his anti-corruption fight seemed alive as a Deputy National chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Bode George, was jailed and yes, Nigeria obtained a non-permanent seat at the UN – a feat Yar’Adua achieved by largely shunning the West. Even as Nigeria’s leading lights in the world of diplomacy begrudged Yar’Adua’s non-attendance of the UN General Session September that year for a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he accompanied the King to a function at a university, he said not a word. Then the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) gave Nigeria its block support for the UN seat – making the votes of the West unnecessary as that plus African votes was enough to clinch the seat for Nigeria. It was a diplomatic coup for which Yar’Adua has not been adequately credited even at home, whether in life or death.
Enough! How is Jonathan faring in the war against Nigeria’s 12 Giant Evils? Unfortunately, instead of facing the 12 Goliaths, Jonathan is struggling to give Nigeria two mint new and very costly Banquet Halls, to bring the Presidency’s to THREE. How on earth did he forget that until the present Banquet Hall was purpose-built for Commonwealth Heads of State and Government’s conference in Abuja in 2001 or 2002, all the earlier leaders from Balewa to Abacha somehow managed to rule Nigeria without even a Banquet hall in State House, Marina Lagos, Dodan Barracks or Aso Rock? Now, one is not enough for Jonathan. Even two are not enough for him and Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Will somebody please tell President Jonathan to be serious for the presidency goes beyond playing at being a Field Marshal; oh, he loves wearing that military uniform at every opportunity (just as a child loves playing with a toy) and/or throwing ball room entertainment during other times. He should slay the 12 Giant Evils!
First we have to look at the road that President decided not to take. He, on his volition set up the Presidential Advisory Concil No!
Written By Tony Eluemunor