SPECIAL FOCUS: Just a Piece of Advice To President BuhariFeatured, Latest News, News Saturday, January 2nd, 2016
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
Compliment of the season to fellow compatriots. Almost this time last year, the mood in Nigeria was mixed. That time, as success wishes and warm greetings on the incoming year (2015) rented the air, the planning for the last general elections was also in the top gear. Then, the political parties, their candidates and members were immensely engaged in various strategies, gimmicks and moves to woe the electorates and ultimately to upstage one another. No doubt, the 2015 general polls largely belonged to the Nigerian public, giving the level of their participation – support or opposition to a particular political party and candidate. I recalled with excitement, the campaigns and activities of supporters, apologists and followers of the parties and their candidates, in particular, on the social media.
The power of the new media in the last general elections made me to draw the conclusion that, the smart, serious and sensitive politicians, will never take for granted the effects of the online platforms, far before and during the future general polls.
It was the political mood then that informed the choice of my piece, published Friday, December 26, 2014 with the title: “My Manifesto To President Goodluck Jonathan”. Of course, the mood of the piece appeared dramatic, but indeed it was not. Readers would recall I raised, for the attention of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, those areas he and his administration have failed Nigerians, yet offered advice with respect to the needed improvement, new approach and modification on different socio-economic areas of the country. Honestly, I did this, knowing fully well that a good per centage of Nigerians were simply fed up with his government and party. Indeed, a good number them have made up their minds on the party and candidate to vote for.
Yet, my recommendations were sent, first as the last Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (spear me the question if indeed he was; still in the New Year mood please) was in the race and second; who knows; surprise may happen. But, I’m sorry, wonder will never happen with poor performance. As it is said, it is a simple arithmetic – ‘You can’t give what you don’t have’.
Also in the piece, I gave the main rival to the immediate past President an “Expo”. Whether what I gave was indeed a tip for victory or not, the then Presidential hopeful, (now) President Muhammadu Buhari has contested the decisive poll and won. The rest, as it is said, is now history.
Just as I did then (counseled), former President Jonathan, so also, I desire to do, to the incumbent President Buhari in my piece today on the key sectors.
With respect to the provisions in the N6.08 trillion 2016 proposed budget, which is non-oil based, I join teeming Nigerians in commending this much advocated and very bold move by President Buhari-led Federal Government (FG). Still, as commendable as the initiative seems, Mr. President sir, your political will to ensure that the alternative means of national revenues, (non-oil) as you have itemized in the budget proposal to yield the desirable outcome is what Nigerians are looking up to. In addition to this, is power. The plain and simple truth is that for our industry, SMEs to develop and grow appreciatively and steadily, the Nigerian power sector just as you are doing in the oil sector, must be re-assessed and overhauled. I so much believe that any administration that fixes power in Nigeria will enjoy overwhelming respect, goodwill and support from Nigerians. And let me say here that your choice of the immediate past Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) is not a ‘mismatch’. Mr. President, never shift focus and stop paying attention to what is going on in this Ministry. I repeat the fate of our industrial growth and success of your Government is largely depend on the effective performance of the Power Ministry.
Giving your recent public statements on the state of the country, Mr. President, I have the impression that you regularly have ‘first-hand’ feedback from Nigerians. In view of this, I’m very sure you are aware the level of support you and your Government are enjoying from the Nigerian public on the fight against corruption. In fact, let me say you had won Nigerians’ heart further by declaring that all stolen money would be traced; the thieves investigated and tried, no matter how long it takes. You thrilled not a few when you declared that the criminals would be prosecuted whether they return the stolen money or not; and that, your Government would not adopt “plea bargain” approach. Let me confirm to you that this is exactly what Nigerians and millions of those who voted you and your party into power demand. Perhaps for the first time, Nigerians are speaking with one voice on the issue relating to corruption and punishment to those found culpable. However, I urge the EFCC, the security operatives and FG prosecutors to be diligent and very professional in the manner the trials of all the suspects are pursued. On the rule of law, I advocate for and subscribe to it. Still, where I have problem in this is when reality is compromised for politics – making ‘backdoor’ court rulings on very serious National and corruption matters. I have recently discussed this in a piece on corruption; reality and politics. Mr. President, I don’t know how you are going to achieve this, the Nigerian Judiciary must be made to be convinced about the ongoing drive and key into it. I am not canvassing for a rubber stamp judiciary, rather an independent, yet highly disciplined and professional one. Already, you had solicited for the judiciary support in your New Year message; only hope and wish that the members of the bench will do the needful to favour the common objectives and goals of Nigerians.
On this, in particular about the Boko Haram insurgents which have laid siege in the North Eastern zone of the country, I think everyone can assess and conclude on what has been achieved so far, most especially when efforts in the last seven months are juxtaposed with what was done by the immediate past government. However, if the popular verdict is that the troops are winning the war, still, it is never the time to gloss over any victory that might have been recorded in this regards. If the “fleeing” terrorists are still able to organize and launch deadly attacks by now, the message being passed, which from all indications is clear to the authorities and to everyone is that, we still have much pace to cover on the war against terrorists and their attacks.
Again, I wish to inform you that some Nigerians were not really happy with your response Wednesday during the maiden media chat to the question on the whereabouts of the abducted Chibok girls. The response that you did not have “credible intelligence report” with respect to the kidnapped girls present location is being considered in some quarters too direct and “undiplomatic”. Honestly, I respect the opinion of these folks, yet differ on the view. Mr. President, I encourage that the truth must always be told, perhaps, what might be considered in the future is that be diplomatic, yet, reel out the fact’. This is very possible sir and I believe your audience will understand and appreciate you, if found yourself in this type of situation.
INSURGENCY AND HIJAB WEARING
Kindly note Mr. President the view I wish to express here is if you still stand by the plan to outlaw the use of Hijab by the female Muslims in the areas where the (insurgents still wreck attacks?). We all know that no child understands the story from the parents that they cannot provide for his upkeep, just because they are lacking in the means for that purpose. Similarly, we all accept the fact that no serious military man willing to conquer a war will ever go into the battle front without being properly kitted to confront the opponents. The above is to establish the difference between acts that are obligatory and those that are voluntary. It is also applied to the question that: is the Hijab wearing an obligatory or voluntary act? President sir, I believe as a Muslim, you know very well that the previous is the answer.
Still, I share your concern and circumstances that provoked this decision. The concern here is the likely provocation that will follow the ban if ever pronounced. Many Nigerians appreciate you and your administration resilience as well as the audacity to put the terrorism behind the country. I fear restiveness and distraction that will trail the ban if your government announced it. Hijab wearing, first has religion colouration and two is that it is about a doctrinal (Islamic) law. No pretention. Nigerians are religious (how I wished they are so Godly), so, let due attention be accorded to this fact. Also remember sir, the Nigerian law defines the country as a multi-religion nation. The long and short of the view being expressed here is that temporary ban on wearing of Hijab cannot be a solution. Instead, I recommend more presence of security operatives with support from the viable, local and community security groups at the public places such as schools; markets; motor parks; shopping malls and worshipping places. Many have as well mentioned the need for our security to step up on the intelligence gathering to pre-empt attacks by the insurgents and their mercenaries. This is very key.
N500 STIPEND TO THE UNEMPLOYED AND VULNERABLE
Still on your media chat, I personally was not satisfied as well as not comfortable with your response to the question on how did your government plan to go about the disbursement such that the real purpose is achieved. Mr. President, I was shocked when you replied that the Ministry of Labour would look into the payment processing of the money. Honestly, I have personally expressed worry on how will your administration successfully go about the scheme. I have expected to hear from you the mapped out plan as well as its implementation. As a matter of fact, I read a report recently quoting a member of your cabinet, stating that compilation of names for the payment has commenced at the local government level nationwide. So what happened sir? How come you are not aware about this Mr. President? Is it a question of communication breakdown? What is it sir Mr. President? The same goes to your response on the state of Nigerian refineries. You mentioned that none of the four were functioning, whereas, your Minister of State For Petroleum was quoted as saying that the Port Harcourt’s were already working at 60 per capacity. Mr. President, this inconsistence in information dissemination is a minus and does not represent your government very well. It is a must you take note of this.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, PDP!
If I repeat here that the PDP practices ‘extreme reactionary” opposition, this is without any apology. My position is due to the extreme level the party has taken playing the role of the opposition. But before I move on with that, I wish to dwell a bit on the history. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo started his anti-corruption war, against his party members, I criticized him often. My argument was that the crusade was lopsided and targeted only at the perceived enemies. Interestingly, those who supported President Obasanjo then also agreed that the campaign was not total. Another common ground of both pro and anti-Obasanjo war against corruption was that all the accused (then) were actually guilty of corruption. If there is anything the present PDP has done in the recent that is commendable, it is about the fact that it has (tactically) admitted (this week) that some of its members were indeed corrupt, therefore publicly ‘disowned’ them! The party at the end of its National EXCO meeting shocked many, when it declared that the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others who are presently standing trials over misappropriation of $2.1 billion arms money were not PDP members! It also threatened that any of its members who is found guilty of corruption would be shown the way out. Nigerians are watching and waiting to see how far threat will go. But if the “money dispenser” is denied by the PDP leadership, what then happens to the Oga patapata who gave approval to all the money paid? I have mentioned earlier that I’m still in the New Year mood, so, don’t ask me please, who is the ‘big boss’ I was referring to. However, the only person I pity is the former PDP Leader, and President Buhari’s successor. Despite that some of the same EXCO members who denied Dasuki and benefited from his boss largesse, the Oga himself might also be told he did not belong to the party. But how come he was elected as the President of the country under its platform, you might think people will ask when the denial comes. Don’t go too far, during their time as the ruling party, six is greater than 19.
I still say Happy New Year to the PDP, despite the latest outbursts “undemocratic character” and “dictatorship” (semantic) by its National Spokesperson and acting National Chairman.
Finally, in the spirit of the season, the PDP members should not lose sleep over the position they had found themselves now. After all, they have been in power for almost two decades. Being in opposition is not permanent. The Republican was in power in the US for many years before former President Bill Clinton of The Democrat defeated Geroge W. Bush (Snr) in the 90’s. Clinton two terms in the office was followed by Bush (Jnr) of the Republican. He also spent two terms in the office. Incumbent Barrack Obama belongs to The Democrat and is rounding off his eight years in office. I believe opposition is not necessarily as extremely diehard as the PDP goes about it here, in other climes. Still, their democracy is growing and oppositions are more advanced, critical but objective. So PDP, this is another year, give Nigerians a dynamic and vibrant, not reckless opposition to advance and grow our democracy. Happy new Year once again!
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