Between the transformation agenda and the change mantra
In recent times, the present administration has been taking a lot of bashing because of its nationalistic and courageous stance on public issues and policies with a sizeable chunk of those making the blitzing attacks have not taken sufficient time to study and digest before making uninformed commentaries and outright condemnation of the present administration.
For instance, some people have criticized President Muhammadu Buhari led government for introducing price variations and adjustments of petroleum prices and halt the payment of huge and questionable subsidies to all manner of characters.
They hinged their criticisms on the premise that, when President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ), wanted to carry out similar reform in 2012, some of those presently in PMB’s government were vehemently opposed to it, making the GEJ’s government then to rescind its decision and continue the untidy and sloppy arrangement on ground then.
It is the same policy they rejected then that they have now turned around to implement which bothers on insincerity and doublespeak.
However, those in PMB’s government have come out to explain that the circumstances prevailing in the country now is different from what obtained in 2012, hence, the reason for their action.
As a matter of fact that, this is one of the striking difference between the transformation agenda and the change mantra, the transformation agenda indicated that the government then was weak, indecisive, confused and lethargic. It lacked strength of character and will power to get things done appropriately. If not, the government would have stuck to its policy decision, and take time to explain to the generality of Nigeria, why it took such a decision then and what would probably be the end result for the country.
But, it never did, instead, it quickly chickened out and continued the arrangement where billion of dollars were illegally siphoned out of the country and the importation of refined crude oil for domestic consumption continued without any silver in the horizon.
Perhaps, the government then was not even convinced about the policy it wanted to implement.
However, the change mantra represented by PMB and his government, clearly did the opposite, they persistently explained that, they took tough decision that would eventually save the country from imminent economic collapse and disaster.
Rather than pander to the different interests of some groups, it took time to explain the mess the country is in, to the people, the repercussion and consequences as well as the exigent need for such a decision. They also explain the short term and long term implication of the policy on the people and political economy of the country. It is also good to note that, explanations by different government agencies are still on-going at different levels of the society.
Furthermore, the transformation agenda under the leadership of GEJ brought about a situation in which the government defended and protected corruption to no ends, in fact; at that point in time in the history of Nigeria, corruption was more or less the official policy of the state.
In the first instance, the president then said very bold and calmly that, stealing was not corruption, if stealing is not corruption, what is corruption; the anti-graft agencies were toothless bull-dogs that kept barking but could never bite.
The former president defended the former aviation minister, now a senator, Stella Oduah, on the allegation of buying two BMW cars for highly-inflated and ridiculously exorbitant prices, for the president then, it was not a big deal and she was not duly investigated under his purview.
Again, when the former petroleum minister, Alison-Diezieni Madueke was accused of corruption and fraud in certain transactions which included not paying monies collected through the NNPC into the federation account, as required by the 1999 constitution, necessitating even the former CBN governor, now the emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to raise an alarm to notify the president about the ugly development.
GEJ protected her minister and sacrificed the CBN henchman then, as the matter was cleverly swept under the carpet.
Again, the change mantra epitomized by the government of PMB, who said immediately he became president of the country that, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. He introduced Treasury Single Account (TSA), Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and empowered the ant corruption agencies to function effectively.
Today, in Nigeria nobody wants to misappropriate public funds because, no public official or even in the private sector, to be napped, disgraced and jailed for graft.
In fact, the former, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boss, Roland Omatseye was recent jailed for corruption and fraud.
Moreover, the transformation agenda is noted for not fulfilling its set goals to the people, it is instructive to note that throughout the duration of the tenure of office of GEJ, the dualization of Ilorin-Ibadan expressway was never completed and several lives were lost on the ever busy road, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, which is the busiest in the country was abandoned and left in a deplorable state of disrepair, the Lokoja-Kabba-Ilorin was neglected, making motorists to have hectic time traveling, giving armed robbers field day to rob and farmers finding it cumbersome to get their farm produce to urban centers, the second Niger bridge was not touched despite repeated promises to the people of the south-eastern geo-political zone, in a related development, the Abuja-Gwagwalada-Lokoja road was abandoned, turn the expressway into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a highway of death, the Ogoni cleanup was neglected, while the people of the place were subjected to inhuman and deplorable environmental hazards and conditions, also, Anambra-Enugu-Aba-Port-Harcourt expressway was also neglected etc, this is in spite of the very high revenue that accrued to the purse of the Federation Government because of the high price petroleum products in the international market.
Now within one year in office most of these abandoned projects have been captured in the year 2016 budget and government is carefully planning there systematic implementation, also, the government has flagged-off the cleaning up of Ogoniland, without much ado, this is an indication of the change mantra of the present administration.
Furthermore, the transformation agenda played politics with the issue of counter-insurgency, crippled the military financially, diverted funds meant to buy arms and ammunition into private pockets and for campaigns as well as initially refused to accept that the Chibok girls were kidnapped and when it eventually accepted, it did not show any genuine commitment to rescuing the school girls, but under the change mantra of the PMB, all the Nigerian territories hitherto taken by the Boko Haram insurgents have been taken back, the insurgents have been rendered largely ineffective, the military is being purged of graft and indiscipline, the armed forces is being professionalized and thoroughly equipped as well as put square pegs in square holes in the military establishments.
Under the transformation agenda, there was no sense of history and mission; it was a government that liked to hear the echoes of its panegyrics. It was a government that always played to the gallery and threw money at everything, this was even more noticeable during the 2015 general elections, where raw cash was made available to every Dick, Tom and Harry by the ruling party in a desperate bid to retain political power at all cost and this is responsible for the economic difficulties the country is going through today. Now, what is going on in the country, which is PMB and the change mantra represents is, careful spending, micro-managing the economy, frugality and judicious use of public funds, the president and vice-president as well as cabinet members have all taken pay cut, all the leakages and loopholes in the system are being blocked, while working-round-the-clock to make Nigeria a better place for all to dwell in.
Government is not run on the basis of good luck or conjectures, governance is not a tea party, it is a lot of hard work, where tough decisions are taking for the overriding interest of the commonwealth of the country. In the past, people occupying political offices only took care of themselves and their interests.
Now the focus is on the people and the country. If the same people who presided over Nigeria in the immediate past had continued in government, Nigeria would have grind to a halt, with the possibility of disintegration of the country.
It was providence and the resolve of the good people of Nigeria to have a change; and the confidence the people of Nigeria repose in this government will soon pay-off, in spite of the teething problems, indeed, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, the PMB government is taking the right steps in the right direction, no doubt, Nigeria is working and it will surely get to the promise land. Above all, we all have a role to play to make the country better, and this is a role we must all play with sincerity and purpose, devoid of any evil agenda.
Jide Ayobolu, a social commentator based in Lagos writes this piece.
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