Since the last time I dropped a line, not much has changed as regards the Nigerian story, save for the very many unending revelations of greed of political kleptomaniacs in the high places of yesterday. In the next one month, precisely on May 29, 2016 this government will celebrate one year in Office, yet the story has remained the same since May 29, 2015 when political power changed hands. Maybe it would have been a better story, if things had simply just remained unchanged and not got worse. From the usual fuel scarcity, the nation has moved to a total fuel shut-down; from the old days of Up NEPA recurrent power outages, what the people now live with is what can be called total powerlessness of another kind; and from the yesteryears of a jalopy economy, what they now apparently grapple with day to day, is what can figuratively be described as an economy already murdered by Dollar Assassins, and is only waiting to be buried. Thus, the last 6 months have not only been tough for the average Nigerian, it has been full blown hardship relayed in 3D.
Sadly, this reign of agony is coming against the backdrop of high profile promises of change that appear to have crash-landed under the weight of needless political shenanigans and intra-party bloodletting. Within the same party called the APC, an occasion of political gridlock has been generated in which a Senate leadership superintended for the first time by an Accused person in the dock, has constituted itself into an opposition government to an Executive arm led by a President who seem not to care much if his entire House is burnt down, as long as he does not fail to catch the hundreds of corruption-studded rats trying to flee the inferno.
Recently, and in an apparent bid to mitigate the intensity of the heat, the Presidential team last week called for a Town Hall meeting somewhere in Lagos, where the President through his Ministers asked Nigerians to still consider donating more patience to the government. In the seemingly impromptu, damage-control kind of parley, the group of 6 obviously inner caucus Ministers took turns to reel out the plethora of reasons why the change promised has not come and why this hardship may not leave soon. It was a session that by the time it ended, the people must have been left angrier that how they were before the so-called town hall assembly. As is usual with government functionaries in this part of the world, many words were uttered but nothing valuable was said.
Now, the request for more patience is a noble one, but how on earth do you still ask a people to be patient when after 11month of heightened expectations, they seem to have no idea of where that patience will eventually take them. The Yorubas will say a ‘dead child is better than one missing’, given that at least the parent will know where they stand. Under the last government, the people knew they had no expectation and so they knew what to do. However under the current regime, the President’s goodwill and strong reputation is something that gives them the strength to hope, only that they seemingly appear to be at a point of stagnation, where they are totally lost as to whether it will still happen or it will not; or like what some have said, whether ‘they’ will allow him do it or they will not. Thus, how do you preach patience when at the so-called town hall meeting, all that the 6 Ministers did was to keep harassing their audience with the usual catalogue of reasons of why things have failed.
While the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr.Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN again re-told the familiar story of how the age-long epileptic gas supply chain has made it impossible for him to power the homes of Nigerians, the obviously flamboyant Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr.Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu simply felt good in quickly shifting the blame for the paralysing fuel scarcity on the ever notorious fuel cabal, who he claims continue to divert all the fuel meant for Nigerians to the doorstep of Cameroonians and Chadians. It was so bad that the way Dr.Kachikwu lectured his audience, any bystander would have thought he was speaking to a group of excited illiterates. Is it that before his celebrated appointment, Dr.Kachikwu did not know that in the last 16years of return to Civil rule, one of the hallmarks of the Nigerian petroleum sector has been the clandestine ferrying of petroleum products across our hundreds of unsecured borders? So how is that news to anybody? Should Dr.Kachikwu’s speech at that Town hall not have been one relaying to his audience the ingenious plans, whether covert or overt, being marshaled by his Office to change this inglorious status quo?
On his own part, the Minister for Power not yet realizing that eloquence does not fighten principalities, nor can it fight them sounded as if once he gets enough gas to dangle the usual 5,000megawatts before the people, all will be well. Perhaps Mr.Babatunde Fashola, SAN is mistaken as to the magnitude of the power needs of the country, or maybe he is simply just taking the escapist route of playing the ostrich. Whichever the case may be, the Power Minister should be informed that a better response at that Town hall meeting would have been to lay before the people a brilliant and workable power roadmap that will radically dismantle and transform the power and energy architecture of this country and not simply lay the blame at the footstep of gas.
Mr. Fashola, SAN should have told the people the following – Are we building more thermal stations, or is it still going to be a combination of thermal and hydro going forward? What practical steps will this government take to against all odds get gas to the existing thermal stations? How does government intend to resolve the many grey areas that attended the last privatization exercise, such as over-billing and absence of metering? What renewable energy sources are we going to be exploring as a country and what detailed plan is in the pipeline towards making this an alternative source of energy? What of Solar power, is it one of the options this government is looking at to subsidize the generation of power to those on the lower rung of the societal ladder? What legal framework is this government adopting on Electricity generation, transmission and distribution? Will there be a decentralization of power generation so that anyone and everyone with capacity whether it’s a Corporation or University, can generate its own power and notwithstanding the megawatt, will not be legally mandated to push it to the National grid? But none of these came.
The seeming aloofness of the current crop of Ministers leaves so much to be desired, such that the necessary inference to be drawn can be found in that popular adage that says that, ‘Aise dede Ara Aiye, ni mu ni ranti Ero Orun’, meaning that ‘recurrent ineptitude of those still living, is quick to make one remember the fair performance of those who have gone’. After all, if the people had thought they had voted out the demon of cluelessness and replaced it with the spirit of result-oriented action, should they still be made to look over their shoulders at the past, to consider what they used to have? This scenario can be best captured in that evergreen assertion, where it is said that the people having become tired of the needless squatting of the dog, got annoyed and decided to sell the dog to buy a Monkey, only to then discover that the squatting of the Monkey is even far worse than that of the dog which they thought was a burden.
The Buhari government must be careful not to push the people to that point where they start drawing the above conclusions. The President cannot continue to play the role of a good and sincere man, who does not want to stain himself while his government is gradually been lowered into the grave. In conclusion, I must deliver a couple of personal words to the President and hope he will find time in his leisure to carefully consider them. This is it –
“Mr.President, kindly oblige me a little of your time, as I have news for you. To repair Nigeria Sir, you must fight those who do not want things to work; it would be a dirty fight, but Sir you must fight the fight the way the fight comes and you must fight in a way that your fight will show both good results in the immediate and great results in the long term. Sir, Presidentialism is about political wisdom and political wisdom is summed up in the ability of a leader to manage diverse political interests, no matter how primitive and disgusting. Therefore,you must get down to radically restructuring the country and not doing the same old things with a new style. For instance instead of your government simply going ahead to recruit another batch of 10, 000 policemen into an already corrupt Police Force, change would have been for you to painstakingly restructure the entire police force from amending the Law establishing it, to funding, training in modern policing, and the creation of the long overdue State Police. This would have been REAL CHANGE delivered.
Mr. President, while it is good to fight corruption to a standstill, it is however better that as corruption is being fought, there is also simultaneous restructuring going on, such as the building of infrastructural facilities like roads, rail, power, e.t.c; the carrying out of reforms in key sectors and agencies; and an intensive care regime to give the economy full recovery. Sir, I must inform you that all you have enjoyed in the last 11month in which nothing seem to be happening, is your stockpile of goodwill, but Sir goodwill to the best of my knowledge goodwill has never been known to take any country from being third world to first world. Sadly, with the coming of every new day and the hardship it brings, the more the loss, devaluation and depreciation your goodwill suffers.
Mr. President, please be reminded that anytime soon, you will be judged based on your first four years in office and if those four years have only been targeted at recovering looted funds and drawing up a long-list of corruption-related trials, the renewal of your lease in Aso Rock may be heading for the rocks. Like it is said Mr. President, no matter how much of a glorious future you promise the people, you must still be careful to take practical steps to keep them alive so they can enter into the future so promised. After all, like our people have said, if it takes a Man twenty years to rehearse how to go mad, when exactly should we expect him to make it to the Market square. May God grant you the wisdom to consider these thoughts and use them. Thank you for your kind consideration Mr.President”.
Olusola Adegbite,Esq is a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, NIGERIA. He shares more posts like this on his Facebookpage. Send him a mail Solar9ng@yahoo.com