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JONATHAN, LEST YOU SPEND FOR NOTHING

By NBF News
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How much a President can accomplish in under a less than one year depends on what he decides to reform, restore or deter. Capital projects can not give the mileage, but constitute for the most, 'work in progress'. Contractors are likely to take advantage of the time limitation to misbehave. Therefore, through revolutionary policies, including ban where necessary and sweeping changes across the board will he make impact.

Which bridge did Murtala Mohammed build that earned him a face on our N20 note, apart from other places named after him? Or is Thomas Sankara popular because of housing estates? There is need to weed out and separate the wheat from the chaff. Every good thing in Nigeria is today compromised and few people profit thereby.

A thief gets a chieftaincy title and a doctorate degree alongside winning the hearts of virtually all the pretty girls whose parents, by the way, are willing to marry them off even if they were 13 years of age. The impostor commands the respect of the clergy and enjoys police protection.

It is probable that Mr. President is unaware of these things even as he has taken up the Power (electricity) challenge. I hope it is with a view to overhauling the sector rather than to throw in more money without first engaging the vicious, desperate and contagious collective who deliberately foist a culture of helplessness and hopelessness on us all.

It is a very critical, if not the most important requirement to get the seeming intractable power crises sorted out. Indeed it calls for emergency to uproot these people who are determined to hold the vast majority captive. I say this because funds already put in so far are simply huge. It still will not do to spend so much and then auction the outcome in the name of privatization.

PHCN earns quite a lot of money through billing, but hardly admits it, least of all declare same, instead gets subvention for sundry claims. You do the arithmetic and wonder why the public is fleeced in many instances. It is either consumers pay levies for transformers and workmanship or they routinely pay for preferences in light rationing. Any important function or event is frustrated into 'doing the needful' so much so lights will blink indiscriminately when for instance our national team is playing a crucial match.

The practice has destroyed many household appliances. Game and viewing centers are also known to 'render' to NEPA in order that the masses may patronize them. Equipment is recycled by officials colluding with contractors even as importers of generators and maintenance personnel thrive when the problem persists.

How are we so sure that after everything has been put in place and light becomes steady, some freak in connivance with other like minds would not plunge the entire country into sudden darkness? In a country where in the past a Python was said to have destroyed NEPA installations, what will stop Grasshoppers from swallowing up the same?

With the absence of deterrence for many offenders, it is only natural that pretty soon the tribe of evildoers will grow large. So, knowing our people and their characteristic tendencies to exploit, there is no guarantee how stable a system we shall get.

Some of the developments attributed to Fashola of Lagos for instance are not consequent on cash flow. At what cost did he clear Oshodi market and Mushin or insist that people do the right thing? He is not the one painting people's houses or giving them loans to do so. He only requires that citizens follow the direction he is pointing to, giving Lagos a facelift and we can attest to his performance in so many other areas as bonus. Therefore whatever is required to deal decisively with saboteurs of our commonwealth and economy is in order.

The problem with just throwing money about is that it escalates the very disease one tries to cure, unless a process of sanitization precedes it. That is why corruption flourishes because there is no systematic mechanism to engender enforceable order; nearly everything is in disarray and appears to embolden sticky fingers and perverts to dare. This occasions a rise in the cost of living, fall in ethics and extreme poverty.

You may not see the correlation, but whenever a few people can afford to pay an obscene price, everyone else falls into deprivation regarding it. So instead of another spending spree, let us examine and focus attention on the familiar but vexing rot into which we have sunk. The enormity of the problem is so big that every other thing can wait while we proffer solution. Mr. President cannot afford to be cozy; he's got to roll up his sleeves.

•MARTINS LOMBA