CHANGE OF GUARDS IN ITALY
Italians might have heaved a sigh of relief when their erstwhile prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, resigned from office due to the acute debt crisis his administration plunged Italy into.
Berlusconi's unpopularity is likely to have made him lose his parliamentary majority that necessitated his forced retirement from power. Therefore, his fall from power cannot be entirely unexpected because his administration has plunged Italy into deep economic crisis.
Aside from economic crisis Italy suffered under his reign, his administration was rocked by many sexual scandals. Berlusconi has been on trial for bribing a witness, tax fraud and paying for sex with a pole-dancer when she was 17 years and other misdemeanors.
Italians are mostly embarrassed by his numerous sex scandals and alleged racy dinner parties held at his private villa. All these possibly explain why he lost out.
There is no doubt that Berlusconi has never been a good prime minister. Italy did not make any remarkable achievement in his era. The 75-year-old media mogul was accused of muzzling the press and interfering with the country's parliament. He did badly too on human rights and people's freedom. His exit is good for Italy.
The newly appointed Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, should work hard to rid Italy of the acute debt crisis which prompted the resignation of his predecessor. Good a thing, Monti knows his onions and appears to have a roadmap and a mindset of where he is taking Italy to.
Shortly after he was announced the prime minister by Italy's President Giorgi Napolitano, Monti, a former European Union's (EU) competition commissioner said that he wanted to build 'a future of dignity and hope' for Italy's children. By that, he wants to restore to Italy what has been lost under Berlusconi. It is our wish that he realises his goal for Italians.
Already, EU leaders, Jose Manuel Barroso (European Commission Chief) and Herman Van Rompuy (EU President) have hailed Monti's appointment and promised to help in monitoring Italy's austerity measures. Let this assertion be matched with concrete action. It should not end up a mere rhetoric.
The country's new austerity measures include a pledge to raise 15 billion euros from real estate sales over the next three years; implement a two-year increase in retirement age to 67 by 2026; open up closed professions within 12 months and gradually reduce government ownership of local services.
We welcome the change of guards in Rome and urge the new leader to work hard and establish Italy, once again, as a leading European country with high sense of ethics and morality. It is unfortunate that his predecessor stayed long in office despite glaring misfortune and mounting criticisms against the administration.
It is good that Monti has the required experience to pull his country out of the prevailing economic quagmire. His promise that he will restore Italy to its past glory is commendable. He should work closely with the leadership of EU and other European countries and foreign partners. Monti should try to avoid the mistakes of Berlusconi. His austerity measures should have a human face.
Also, his economic plans should accommodate all classes of people.
Monti's resolve to build a future of dignity and hope for Italian children should serve as a lesson to African leaders that mismanage the affairs of their countries and maltreat their citizens through inhuman policies and abuse of office. Italians should be made to be productive in order to revitalize their economy. Monti should restore the freedom of the press that was battered under Berlusconi.
We wish Monti and his administration well and hope that his aspirations for his people will be fulfilled. Nigerian government should be interested in seeing that Italy bounces back to its former position.