Between 2000 and 2020, A call to rise up: - by Rufus Kayode Oteniya


The years 2000 and 2020 are almost a generation apart but they have a thing in common for Nigerians. The are years of unlimited promises by succeeding governments for the people and the country.

Long before the globe started to think about the millennium bug, millennium development goals and the millennium euphoria, Nigerians had had the year 2000 in mind. Shortly after General Ibrahim Babangida took over the government of Nigeria on 27 August 1985, the military government started talking about the goals for year 2000. It seemed we had a major development plan toward 2000.

Every serious nation, has short, medium and long term development plans. They have plans for the next one year, plans for the next five years, plans for the next 10, 15, 20, 30 and 50 years. So it was not an exception that our governments seemed to have such plans.

The government talked of great project and incredible promises that seemed to be endless. There was a promise of free and qualitative education for all by the year 2000. Free health for all by the year 2000. Qualitative railway services by the year 2000. Portable water for all by the 2000, electricity for all, telephone for all, good roads for all by the year 2000, affordable houses for all…….. The list was endless. The governments were virtually saying everything for all by the year 2000 as the year appeared to be eternally away.

As the year draws nigh, the enthusiasm started diminishing and frustration started setting in as there was nothing to suggest that the governments were serious to deliver on the promises. And finally 2000 came and there was nothing for all by the year 2000. Our only consolation was 'militocracy' - a government by the military in civilian dress which the incumbent government just celebrated its 10 years of existence.

We are all living witnesses of the spoken and broken promises. They gave nothing to the people but took everything. We heard, we read, we saw, we talked but we didn't act. The values we had in 1985 before the promises started were gone in 2000 and we acted not. The infrastructures of 1985 were no more in 2000 but we kept mute. The good roads of the '80's have turned to death traps in 2000 and we accepted. The standard of education nosedived and public schools became exclusive for the poor and we were indifferent. All our universities lost out from the global ranking and radar and we folded our arms. Our hospital and health centres became death centres and we were tolerant. Our aircrafts became flying coffins and we did not cry foul. Nigeria turned out to be a weak woman that every man was taking an advantage of as every administration was indifferent about our collective psyche taking advantage of us by looting our treasury at will and we failed to stand up for our rights.

No passive people can expect a change. The status quo will remain. For Nigeria to change, we must act and now is the time. Rosa Parks acted when she refused to stand for the white in the bus, this gave the dream to Martin Luther King Jnr and this brought Obama to the White house. Without Rosa Parks acting, there would be no dream for MLK jnr and there would be no Obama. If Mandela and other apartheid fighters did not act, South Africa would not be free today.

“The future will have no pity for those men who have the exceptional privilege of speaking the word of truth to their own oppressors but who have taken attitude of passivity, mute indifference and sometimes of cold complicity”. Frantz Fannon

After the failure of the 2000 project and in a typical Nigerian way which is never in want of promises but actualization , the administration of Obasanjo initiated another plan and declared the intention to pursue the vision of placing our beloved nation among the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. What a great goal! It is the dream of all to see our country become a great nation but greatness is never achieved through only wishful thoughts. An idea must be supported with good plans and strategic actions in order to be achievable and this is exactly what our leaders lack. If wishes were horses, a beggar would ride.

Almost halfway into 2020, how far have we gone towards the realization of this objective. With only 10 years and 7 months to go, can Nigeria still generate the energy required to propel the economy to this level? Are the other infrastructures in place? Can we have a consistent and sustainable double digit GDP growth that is required?

While speaking at the commissioning of the Olorunsogo Gas Turbine Power Station Phase One Project in Papalanto, in Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State in early 2007, the former president promised the nation 10,000 MW of electricity by the end of 2007 and projected 40,000 MW before 2020., Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said that his government had taken a bold step in ensuring that power became the cornerstone of his regime, adding that very soon Nigerians would start feeling the impact of regular power supply in their household and business environment, according to him a country without an adequate supply of power cannot attain economic enhancement while also stating that posterity would judge the tenure of his regime.

More than 2 years after saying this, posterity has started judging him. We are still struggling to sustain a power supply that fluctuates between 1,000 MW and 3,000 MW. Little did we know when he promised us an uninterrupted power supply that he didn't mean electric power but political power and so he gave us Yar'Adua so that he could prolong his power. "Really, Obasanjo did not disappoint or lie to anybody about his promise on power...He delivered... He (Obasanjo) promised 'uninterrupted power,' which is the manifesto of PDP (People Democratic Party)...." Prof 'Wole Soyinka at Nigeria Liberty Forum London Event, May 29, 2009.

South Africa, the 32nd biggest economy in the world according to both IMF and CIA but 28th according to the World Bank is working seriously to double her energy production to 80,000 MW within the next two decades. If a nation that is not even among the big 20 has this plan, is there any chance for us concerning vision 2020? May be if the other nations would borrow from us in taking retrogressive movements. Nigeria is currently ranked as 39th, 40th and 41st respectively by CIA, World Bank and IMF.

Between 2000 and 2020 is 2015, the year when the millennium development goals (MDGs) must be met. The MDGs were a UN initiative that were officially established at the Millennium Summit in 2000. They are eight international development goals that 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include reducing extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development. With about 5 years to go, Nigeria can not be said to be on the path of compliance with these goals.

Our expectations were high when President Umaru Yar'Adua came up with his 7 point agenda that has since turned to a zero point agenda. The programmes were ingenious, but the execution has so far has been disastrous. On power, he has consistently re-affirmed his target of generating 6,000 MW of electricity by December 2009 and 10,000 MW by 2011.

It is time we take on the government on its promises. Unfortunately, the Executives have pocketed the Legislative arm of government who are supposed to be in the function of check and balance.

This is a call on all good people of this great Nation! A thousand words are not as effective as one action. A thousand good intentions are not as good as one action. In recent time, the power in mass action or protest has been more revolutionary than any bloody guerrilla. No government can stand against the power of the masses. Demonstrations by the nationalist group in 2006 caused the ousting of the corrupt prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand . The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests resulted in the opening up of China though much is still left to be desired especially in the area of human rights. A mass protest that started from a remote village led to the end of the repressive communist leader Nikolai Ceausescu of Romania and after the assassination of Benigno Aquino, a political opponent and a tainted presidential election The People Power Revolution in February 1986 removed the authoritarian Ferdinand Marcos of Philippines . The recent event in Madagascar is another testimony to the power of the people.

Even in Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida was forced out of power on August 26, 1993 amidst different rounds of strikes and protests that brought all economic activities in the country to a halt and more recently, the third term 'wahala' of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was defeated due to a massive outcry of the people that caused the legislators to vote against it.

Fellow countrymen, let us start sending clear warnings to Aso Rock and let the government know that if it fails to deliver the 6,000 MW of electricity and other promises by the end of the year, there will be no hiding place for any of them. We should start warming up and mobilizing because this is a task before all and for all.

We have talked, we have praised, we have criticized, we have had patience but we haven't acted. Now we will act.

Seeing Nigeria liberated from these marauders to become a great nation is a cause I want to live for and if there is need, die for. It is better to die for something than to live for nothing.

God Bless Nigeria !
Nigeria Go Better!

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