Friday, June 3, 2016

One Year After: Beyond The Blame Game

By Ayo Oyoze Baje  
Anyone still blaming the former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration for all our current socio-economic woes, one year after leaving office, must be wallowing in self-deceit or simply living in fool’s paradise. Government is a continuum. Furthermore, when a leader takes over an institution, be it public or private, he inherits both the assets and liabilities. As he builds on the assets, he seeks ways to mitigate the pains inflicted on the people by the liabilities.
*Buhari 
One sweet victory leads to a new set of challenges. It is never a stroll in the park, nor a picnic in paradise. The top of the ladder, as the wise ones say, is not meant for dancing, or dithering to take decisive actions. Successful leaders find the reasons to succeed, not giving excuses for failure.
It would, therefore, do the spokespersons of our president a world of good to henceforth stop looking over the shoulder and laying all the blames of the failure of the Buhari-led government to frontally tackle and reverse the country’s dwindling economic fortunes, on the previous administration. Political campaigns, couched with sleazy slogans should have ended over a year ago. Now is the time for those who the electorate invested their trust and goodwill on to roll up their sleeves and get down to brass tasks.
After all, what is leadership all about? It is about having the vision to identify the led majority’s most pressing challenges and mustering the Capacity, the Character, the Courage and the Commitment to finding lasting solutions to them. It is about engendering team spirit; working with the best of hands and brain to deliver the so called ‘dividends of democracy’ to the good people of Nigeria. It is not about any individual, no matter how knowledgeable, to exhibit a philosopher-king mentality, pretending to know it all and foisting his views, sometimes puerile and out of sync with modern governance practices on his people.
Truth is, this administration needs all the assistance it could get. One of such is an economic think-tank, made of top technocrats who could read the next direction the global productive pendulum would swing and internalise it to proffer solutions to existing challenges. Such a group would have informed the president on the need to focus more energy, time and resources on revamping the tottering economy, soon after he took over the reins of governance. But one year after, there is no crystal clear direction where the ship of the economy is heading to.

Agreed, the drastic dip in the price of crude oil in the international market is a clear and present danger to the lifting our economy out of the wood. It demands creativity in governance, for our political helmsmen to think outside the box, including the diversification of the sources of revenue from the mono-product of oil. The other is to drastically reduce the bloated pay package of office holders and recurrent expenditure on running government.
While the motive for the battle against the monster of corruption is lofty, noble and patriotic, the method employed so far has been less than salutary. This has thrown up the fundamental questions. Is it right for the EFCC, our anti-graft agency to arrest suspects before investigations, claiming that they are deemed guilty until they prove their innocence? Does that not violate their fundamental human rights? Or, for the drive to recoup campaign funds be targeted at members of the opposition party, the PDP while their counterparts in other political parties are treated as ‘saints’? Where then lies moral justice? Are such funds not from the same country-Nigeria?
In fact, one is worried that the war on corruption is seen as that of one concerned individual, Mister President. It has not been imbibed as a national ethos – such that it is promoted and propagated as a way of life right from our homes, through our educational and religious institutions to our places of work. Besides, it would do Nigerians greater benefits if the proceeds of graft, as recovered, are used to uplift their parlous Human Development Index (HDI). Discerning Nigerians would want the government to go beyond regaling us with the billions of naira or is it dollars recovered from thieves of state. We have heard similar stories in the past.
But we are yet to see viable projects executed with the recovered Abacha loot, a decade or so after all the media blitz. Perhaps, such could be better deployed to improving on the epileptic power supply, creating jobs for our teeming youths, provide health and educational facilities to the most vulnerable members of the society, especially under-five children, the aged, widows, orphans, the homeless, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Also significant is the need for governments at all levels to begin identifying the root factors that fuel corruption and dealing with them decisively right at their base level. Is it mass poverty, lack of protection for the honest and hardworking civil servants, who leave service only to be denied their terminal benefit. Or is it simple greed? What about the insidious and persisting problem of the political class feeding fat on the national till, at the expense of the long-suffering masses?
Nonetheless, even as we commend the current administration on the gains made so far in battling the Boko Haram insurgency, attempts at curtailing corruption in the public service and reforms in the judiciary, a lot of work lies ahead. Government’s lack lustre approach to bringing the rampaging, blood-thirsty Fulani herdsmen to their begging knees leaves much to be desired. A power generation of 1,400 MW for a population of some 170 million Nigerians is inexcusable. Youth employment rate of over 23.9 % is a time bomb! Great circumspection is required to resolving the resurgent, yet condemnable militancy in the Niger Delta region of the country.
The best way out of our recurring, self-inflicted, socio-political and economic challenges is the devolution of political power from the bloated federal centre to either the six geo-political zones or the states. If the president has not read the details of the 2014 Confab Report, now is the time to take a break from his globe-trotting engagements to do so, for the love of our dear country -Nigeria

*Ayo Oyoze Baje is a commentator on public issues    

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