Monday, October 3, 2011
PRESIDENTIAL MEETS, WHAT DO THEY REALLY TALK ABOUT?
Icheoku sometimes wonders what the heck in the world do presidents talk about behind closed doors whenever they meet; especially Nigerian presidents with American presidents, whenever they are privileged to be invited to the White House? Icheoku is deliberating this thought in view of those seemingly intractable problems facing Nigeria which to America and the rest of the advanced world is not really much of a biggie, having encountered and conquered similar problems during their years of progression to modernity.
Put in another way, why can't Nigerian presidents via these presidential meets, tap from the wealth of experience of these advanced countries which have since figured out how to draw rings around such problems which still constitutes Nigeria's 800-pound gorilla in our midst? Icheou says if these countries, through their shared experiences of the past, have devised and mastered solutions to Nigeria's current seemingly daunting problems, why does our so leaders or presidents so called, not exploit such forums as their private meets with presidents of these advanced countries, to seek and harness solutions to Nigeria's still existing and recurring many problems? All they have to do is to put the American President or British Prime Minister on the spot during such meetings and extract firm promises on their countries helping Nigeria resolve its many problems. Such Nigerian president should follow up such meets with a press conference and announce to the world what their hosts' commitments to helping Nigeria are; and let such host president or prime minister recant it or fail to live up to the promise.
Icheoku is surprised that visiting Nigeria presidents do not determinedly broach such issues of helping Nigeria with their host presidents or prime ministers; and even beg them to please help Nigeria solve her many debilitating problems. There is no shame in begging and it takes a humble mind to admit to one's shortcomings/handicaps and then ask for assistance. Any audacious and courageous patriotic president of Nigeria, who wants to do good by the Nigerian people, would always use such opportunity of a meet to seek assistance from these advanced countries to help Nigeria travel their own journey of developing their own country. But unfortunately, it would seem that various Nigeria presidents do not exploit this diplomatic avenue beneficiary and fruitfully; and are merely content with the photo-op that follows it?
Icheoku sometimes queries whether these Nigerian presidents are too coy, naive, shy or even too proud to "beg" for such favors; knowing the haughty genes running inside the average Nigerians' gnome. Sometimes too, Icheoku is forced to believe that these Nigerian Presidents are awe-struck and dumbfounded being in the presence of these White-men presidents and prime ministers of these advanced countries to even voice an opinion; talkless of making some demands or requests? They are simply put, held spellbound at the presence of their colonial masters and are wary of offending them by saying certain things that they may not ordinarily want to hear? Or could it be that these Nigerian presidents are simply too stupefied during such meets to make any meaningful demands of what it is their country wants in form of assistance from such advanced countries? Such presidential meets it would appear is a forum where Nigeria presidents are given handouts of what those advanced countries want out of Nigeria; and how they would like certain things to be done by the Nigerian president as would be beneficial to their own countries, especially in the areas of oil and gas? Any close observation of Nigeria presidents emerging from such meets often depicts an image of a little misbehaving child who have just been scolded and reprimanded by her parents or superiors; and asked to go and sin no more?
For instance, the biggest engineering country in the world - the United States of America, a friend of Nigeria, could easily have been cajoled by a deft and crafty Nigerian president into helping resolve the intractable engineering challenges of Lagos-Ibadan and Ore-Benin roads; or the second River Niger bridge which could be easily finished in a matter of weeks or at worst just under few months? What about the West-East road which the terrain is inhibiting its completion, or the South-North rail-lines or even the under-producing Kainji dam? Icheoku have witnessed civil engineers perform timely construction magic with roads and bridges the world over especially in the United States of America; with some principal engineers in some construction companies pledging their lives should their work ever fail for want of quality. Icheoku hereby challenges Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan to beg the American President Obama for help with those impassable roads in Nigeria and see those roads put in good pleasurable use for the next twenty years without any major repair work or damage; talkless of a complete non-motorable failure, provided adequate maintenance culture is imbibed. Or better still, let Jonathan beg Obama to help give Nigeria the elusive power supply and have Nigerians "powered" uninterrupted for less and very few power stations. Nigeria's electricity power need is very minimal comparatively and could easily be supplied with uninterrupted power minimally.
But every engineering project in Nigeria is left for Julius Berger which in the world of engineering, has not secured a berth in the lofty shores of proven engineering marvel or feat; yet in Nigeria, because of the manner of commandeering every business as a monopoly, it is all Julius Berger or nothing? Of all the engineering wonders of the modern world, Julius Berger cannot point to any with their "prized" logo on it, but in Nigeria they enjoy a near-total monopoly of major construction projects and you wonder why the roads and bridges in Nigeria are in despondent state? Icheoku is not saying that Julius Berger does not do a "good job," but that they should have some viable competition to fight for all those jobs that is usually theirs for asking or sometimes unsolicited. Nigeria government should liberalize that sector of the economy and allow some other engineering firms and companies to move into Nigeria for business. That way, Nigeria's engineering sector will be better with services rendered in order to attract future contracts and not as a monopoly who knows that the government has no other option.
Sometimes Icheoku feels it is loosing its mind thinking about Nigeria's missed opportunities and those seeming impossibilities and problems of Nigeria which have readily available kindergarten-solutions; yet one sees all those pretenders to the crown of solution and problem-solving, pontificating endlessly without resolving those problems. If Icheoku were in a position, every minister or commissioner in charge of any department or ministry of government would have less than six months to prove that they can get the job done or be showed the way out. The money to do the job is there, so Icheoku does not understand their excuse, for year in year out, telling Nigerians they would soon have this and that but without ever delivering the promised result? Icheoku says if it means going to planet Mars to hire some aliens to do the job that needs to be done, so be it; but please just get the job done or their arse is history. But unfortunately, the Nigeria situation is so convoluted that it precludes really accountability and performance as tasked-offices are occupied by partisans who were simply rewarded for their contributions and support during the election, hence they see their respective assignments as goldmines to recoup and pay themselves first, before doing the job for which they were selected.
Nigeria still have power problem in today's world when universities and colleges have their own independent private power stations and sometimes even sell power to cities and governments in the United States? Nigeria have security problems when institutions and colleges even have their own independent and private police forces and sometimes help cities and governments with their own policing needs as might from time to time arise and which overstretches their own police force? Nigeria cannot maintain its three refineries when Koch Industries refineries are looking for where to sell their refined petroleum products and/or where to build new refineries. Nigeria Airways cannot maintain its few airplanes when United Parcel Service courier company has over four thousand continuously flying airplanes; and United and American Airlines have a combined total of airplanes in excess of eight thousand? Nigeria's national hospital is a glorified clinic when Kaiser group, a privately held hospital, employs over four thousand doctors with several state of art medical centers to die for and the list goes on and on.
So with such recurring opportunities to smooch American presidents or British Prime Ministers or other world leaders, Icheoku asks why are Nigeria presidents not being more exploitative of such openings? Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar etc are all well developed, yet none of their citizens knows how to lift a tool since they do not work but are on permanent scholarship and gratuity; but their leaders have dutifully employed to good use their oil blessings, twisting arms and playing politics of oil to their country's benefit. Their engineering tasks are done by Western countries using abundant Asian labors, yet an ordinary road in Nigeria called Ore-Benin road has remained impassable and a death trap. Most recently it added a top flight Nigerian musician Dj Moph to its litany of victims and it is also important to remind our readers that eminent writer Professor Chinua Achebe became confined in a wheel chair as a result of a car accident on the same stretch of roadway. But for Nigeria's oil, it is a free for all scramble, where the West "freely" take without giving back tangibles in return or should Icheoku say, the Nigerian minders could care less if dividends are ploughed back to the society.
Icheoku asks what is the use of these meetings if nothing concrete is discussed and obtained therefrom towards helping Nigeria surmount its legion of problems? Icheoku wonders what President Goodluck Jonathan said to President Barack Obama during their last meets at the just concluded United Nations meeting in New York? Was he just like the dutiful servant, who listened with head bowed as Obama dictated to him what America would like to see become of his clay-footed administration in Nigeria? Or was President Goodluck brave enough to man it up to Obama and let America know that on his shoulders rests the fate of over 150 million blackmen and women of Africa who call Nigeria home and who expect the same good quality of life available in America. Did the president after Obama has finished asking about the menace of Boko Haram, plead with him for some assistance both in finance and manpower as well as technical know-how as he struggles with the hydra-headed blood-letting monster that Boko Haram Islamic terrorists has become? Did President "Goodlucky" Jonathan look President Barack Obama right in the eyes and say to him, 'Mr President on behalf of my people - the people of Nigeria, I want to report to you that Boko Haram has become an octopus which we do not have the necessary wherewithal to kill or cage and could you please rush needed aid to Nigeria as we struggle to put it under control?' Icheoku says Mr President should have added to whatever it was he discussed with Obama the following:- 'President Obama, please remember that US gets part of their oil from Nigeria and if Nigeria unravels, so would your access to cheap oil. So come to Nigeria's aid at this their hour of most need.' What a day that will be when there will be a Nigerian president, standing tall in the comity of nations, who truly gets the back of Nigerians; and not one who is just pandering to those world leaders, whose commendations he values more than the "hold-his-feet-to-fire" criticism he gets at home.