Wednesday, January 25, 2012
WHOLESALE JETTISON OF POLICIES, BANE OF A NIGERIA STALLED?
Icheoku laments the wholesale throwing overboard of ideas and policies of past governments by their successors and the lack of continuity of some laudable programs started by such previous administrations, as the major problem militating against Nigeria's overall development. It is akin to a house which is midway to completion, being demolished by its new would be occupier who then starts it all over beginning with the drawing plan, blueprint and then foundational works. Then right before its completion but in advanced stage of construction, there is a change in title deed and yet again, the same old song plays itself out de-novo. The result is a house in perpetual state of being built which is never finished nor completed and which can never be finished just because subsequent occupiers find it psyche-soothing to always press the reset button each time and every time there is a change of guard.
One popular aphorism has it that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different result is the shortest form of insanity defined; hence Nigeria cannot expect to grow into a major player within the un-enabling environment of its ever temporary governments and the cavalier manner with which they abandon or change existing policies put in place by previous governments. Such fluidity of policies make it impossible for any country to solidify and have a directional core; which in turn denies it the character of a tangible and meaningful place to attract investors and their investments. Recently the Nigerians Aviation minister was quoted as saying that the concessionary contracts entered into by the previous administration as it concerns airports in Nigeria would be reviewed and Icheoku wonders which investor would like to risk his money in such a quicksand, roller-coaster investment climate where one's investment is not secured nor assured; but is malleable to political dictates of whoever is in power.
Icheoku says any incoming new administration worth its name and in a place where things follow conventional procedure and not obfuscating parochial and primordial pandering, would first go through a well detailed and comprehensive transition or handover note to determine what policies of the past government need continuing, which needs dumping and which parts could be conveniently continued with some targeted fine tweaking. That way there would be a real bridge of connectivity between the past and the present government and by necessary implication, provide a platform for the new government to build upon. But a new government which does not see anything good in its predecessor or the need for there to be some basic life saving and preserving umbilical cord retained, will end up groping for direction for the duration of its term on how to steer the ship of the state. As a consequence thereof, such an unguided infantile government ends up failing as it most times performs worst than the one it succeeded; due to the simple fact that it was not properly grounded or anchored.
The situation is not helped by the peculiar nature of Nigeria, where government is personified in the person occupying the seat of government; and the two becomes one or the proverbial "two-nity" (pardon my attempt at pun of trinity). The new comer brings along with him only his own people as every official that served in the previous government is swept out and with it, goes all their policies and ideas on how to move the government forward. With new officials, comes new ideas and untested policies; and the revolving door keeps on oscillating as successive governments emerge to continue the circus that leads to nowhere.
Take for example some laudable Nigerian programs of the past which are now defunct and where still existing, are but their ghostly apparitions. The genocidal Yakubu Gowon, a man between who and Icheoku there is no love lost because of his controlled Federalist army genocide on Biafrans especially the women and children, initiated the three "Rs". A commendable policy geared towards making amends for the atrocities committed against the people of Biafra and to enable the war-wounds heal. No sooner was his government overthrown by Muritala/Obasanjo than the new regime discarded the reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation program that would have gone a long way to assuaged the ill-feelings of Biafrans and thus create enabling environment for the wounds of that war to heel. But unfortunately the man who ordered the Asaba massacre, Muritala Mohammed, did havoc to this palliative policy alongside his eventual successor Obasanjo, a man whose disdain for the Igboman is legendary. As a result, the psychological damage of that war of survival, a war which was forced on the Biafran people by the pogrom against the Igbo people in the North, still effervesce till today. This three "Rs" would have been the proverbial shot in the arm for Biafra and by extension Nigeria heeling process, but Muritala and Obasanjo decreed otherwise as they wished they had dropped an atom bomb on the entire Southeast?
Then enter NYSC, the National Youth Service Corp program which is now a shell of its old self. Well conceived by Olusegun Obasanjo administration as a laudable means of integrating Nigerians by having Nigerian graduating youth go to other parts of the country to serve their fatherland. This writer's first foray into Yorubaland was as a result of the program which took him to Efon Alaaye in the then Ondo State and there started the budding love for the people of the Southwest whose hospitality and social life is yet to be equaled amongst other peoples of Nigerian. From a personal experience, but for the NYSC, may be Yorubaland would have been out of my radar; but suffice it to say that greater part of my adult life was spent in the Southwest and it was memorable; all thanks that the vision of OBJ, the man who Icheoku do not agree with for most part. Admitted that NYSC was recently threatened to its foundational existence by the madness in Northeastern Nigeria, when those animals decided to kill Nigerian youths sent to their land to help them out, Icheoku is of the school of thought that says no matter the provocation, the program is highly valuable and should be maintained. Instead of dismantling it like they did to Nigerian Law School, the authorities should find a way to guard against what happened in the past and ensure it grows in reaps and bounds.
And speaking of the Nigerian Law School, Icheoku regretted the day that decision was made to cannibalize an Ibironke institution that helped harmonize law training in Nigeria and also brought lawyers in the making from every parts of Nigeria into one academic auditorium to interact and assimilate one another's legal point of view. The decentralisation is one huge mistake; yet they would not decentralize SANship and let every region or state award SANS to whoever plays the politics well instead of just the Lagos axis controlled body? If Nigeria is truly one, common percolating points such as the former Nigerian Law School Victoria Island should have been sustained to serve as a unifying institution for all would be Nigerian lawyers and by extension help various Nigerians meet and interact with one another towards understanding our differences and figuring a way out of the woods of prevalent suspicion and distrust that give rise to such idiocy as the ongoing Boko Haram siege of Nigeria. They have so far massacred hundreds of innocent Nigerians and counting; with the security agencies at best helpless or collaborating with them and giving them?
Then enters OFN, Operation Feed the Nation, another brilliant idea of Olusegun Obasanjo which makes Icheoku wonder whether if Obasanjo was simply smarter during his first time in government or he just lost his compass on his second coming? The demise of this wonderful and revolutionary program makes Icheoku wonder out loud what is it that is wrong with Nigerian leadership or does it take rocket science to understand that a country being able to feed her citizens is highly laudable and a program to die for to sustain? But there were some interests, both foreign and domestic, who saw it as a threat to both their farmers in their respective home countries and their ten percent kickback from imported agricultural and food products and they ganged up and sabotaged OFN to death. President Shehu Shagari attempted re-branding it to Green Revolution and Icheoku wonders what he found faulty with an operation which is feeding the nation; needless to point out that his then Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, was making millionaires out of his acolytes and party faithfuls with rice import licenses and rice imported from Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, India as well as other Asian countries.
But on a hindsight, Icheoku figured out that the Green in the then 'Green Revolution' stood for greenbacks and that it was meant to pile up some "Benjamines" in coded secret accounts of then National Party of Nigeria faithfuls in Switzerland as well as other offshore account heavens. Icheoku emphasis that there was nothing wrong in OFN as a name or in Shagari continuing with Obasanjo's OFN program as begun, except that Shagari's minions and town-criers saw OFN as an Obasanjo legacy and wanted Shagari to have his own. At the same time, they forgot that Obasanjo established OFN for Nigeria and did not take it along with him when he retired to his farms in Otta. Nigerians also forget that truth can sometimes also come from imbeciles and that it does not matter whose idea a great idea is, a great idea always remains a great idea and such was Operation Feed the Nation. Icheoku hereby emphasis that OFN was one heck of a missed opportunity for Nigeria to feed herself and the rest of the world and reiterates that those who killed the OFN are responsible for any hungry stomach in Nigeria today. Why should Nigeria be importing billions worth of food and agricultural products with such a blessed climate and fertile lands that are plentiful in various places in Nigeria; and the government of Jonathan is talking about petroleum products subsidy removal when they can put the scalpel on agricultural imports?
With the arrival of Imam Muhammadu Buhari, a man who Icheoku loves to detest because he murdered three innocent Nigerians based on a retroactive drug offenses death-penalty decree, came WAI - War Against Indiscipline. Icheoku have always maintained that but for the killing of these three innocent Nigerians, the Buhari/Idiagbon government would have still maintained its place in the annals of Nigeria history as the best government for correctly identifying and honing in on Nigeria's cardinal problem, INDISCIPLINE. But unfortunately however, the stubborn as an ass Buhari has refused till date to apologize for that his khaki-days rather youthful exuberant indiscretion, which still hounds him till today and would always stop him cold in his tracks on the way back to Aso Rock. Icheoku says not under our watch and not while Nigerians who lived through his gulag-like regime still have some air in their lungs. Icheoku says until Muhammadu Buhari makes a full mea culpa for the murder of Bartholomew Owo, Bernard Ogendengbe and Lawal Ojulope, apologizes and asks for forgiveness, that illegal killing would remain indelible in our memories and with it our vengeance through the ballot.
WAI was effective as every Nigerian alive then would attest that the solution to all Nigeria's problem is the re-institution or reintroduction of the war against indiscipline. It was Buhari's war and a good war worth waging once more and forever; and for which Buhari/Idiagbo regime won so many of us over as fans to just that extent only. An undisciplined soul is susceptible to all manners of criminalities including the hydra-headed monster corruption, the 800 pound gorilla in the midst of Nigeria. Nigeria as a society is weighed down by millions of marauders for who anything goes and let the government worry about it; but who fail to realize that they are part of a whole and their indiscretion takes a heavy toll on the society. A report just realized has it that civil servants in Nigeria collected about three billion dollars in bribe within just one year and you tell Icheoku all is well with such a society? Who doesn't recall how people queued up for their turns in Nigeria during the WAI days of Buhari/Idiagbon regime? How police men arrested people who tried to offer them bribes? How NEPA and Water Board maintained a steady supply and flow of their utilities? How every Omo'EKo as well as other visitors in Lagos and other cities in Nigeria maintained a line to enter a molue?
Those were the good old days of WAI and you wonder why the program died and why not recreate those times once again to help fight all the indiscretion Nigeria is saddled with? Even the EFCC would be put out of business with an effective reintroduction of WAI; likewise would money be left by politicians to deliver democratic dividends to their electorates instead of ferreting them away? Bad none motorable roads would become motorable as contractors would do the job for which they were mobilized and not abandon same after collecting their cost upfront? Would the plague of ghost-workers still inundate government treasury, Icheoku does not think so as Bar Beach Sunday show could be re-instituted to dispatch criminals to the world beyond. It is just too painful that problems with readily available solutions are still bogging down Nigeria just because no one have decided to tame the rats and the man given the assignment is simply too scared of some Goliaths to effectively discharge his duties. Icheoku says, lets bring back WAI and assuage Buhari's restiveness; it is a right thing to do as it will help tackle so many currently intractable vices impeding Nigeria's forward match into a future that is both bright and promising. It is a legacy to have and Icheoku commends Buhari for going to the heart of Nigeria's problems and trying to extricate it.
But somebody discarded the program and in its place introduced his own version of mobilization called MAMSER. However Babangida failed to understand that you cannot mobilize a dis-shovelled society bogged down by indiscipline and that was the mistake that forced him out of power and which still hounds him till today. For instance, Dele Giwa's parcel bomb murder was uncalled for as Nigerians found out that one can kill the messenger without killing the message. The substance of the story he was pursuing and which his killers wanted to suppress still reached Nigerians and you wonder on hindsight, whether Babangida and crew are wondering why? But all things considered, Jerry Gana did a good job selling MAMSER as their sloganeering campaign "if you are a teacher, teach well; a truck driver, drive well; if you are a lawyer, lawyer well; if you are a politician, politic well" and so on; that every Nigerian felt valued in whatever trade or professional calling he was engaged in. Unlike the today's madhouse where every Nigerian including the clergy now wants to be a politician as politics has become the only guarantee to ensure stupendous livelihood, absent bank robbery? Those were the days of MAMSER and you wonder why the subsequent government did not adopt the program and pass it on to their successor?
There was also the Road Safety campaign slogan of "Dead men have no right of way, why throw your life away, drive with care for life is dear;" which have also gone moribund and you wonder the persistent carnage on Nigeria roads? Then factor in the harried fact that motor-parks have drinking parlors in them where drivers take alcoholic beverages minutes before embarking on their journey, then you have a perfect storm akin to pouring gasoline on a an inferno. Somebody is running the Federal Road Safety Corp and Icheoku wonders how many unlicensed drivers drive in Nigeria; how many drivers ed programs are available in Nigeria; how many times his department have revoked some bad driver's license deemed unfit to make use of the privilege of driving since it is not a right; how many defensive driving classes commercial drivers are made to undergo each now and then. Reading through the various reported accidents cases on Nigeria roads tend to reveal that majority of those accidents were avoidable human carelessness as when a drunken or sleepy driver fails to make a sound judgment and is overtaking a vehicle on a steep hill or in a hair-pin turn without a clear vision of what lies ahead. Some readers may accuse Icheoku of over sanctifying the issue and that accidents happen everywhere; but why not help stop those that can be stopped instead of busy picking up Nigerian dead on our roads all the time? All Icheoku is saying is that some driver education and PSA commercials could help lessen instances of road mishaps in Nigeria and should be encouraged by this government.
As far as Icheoku is concerned, Olusegun Obasanjo second coming to power left two most important footprints in Nigeria - the liberalization of telephones which makes it now easy for Nigerians anywhere to speak with their aged grandmas/pas in some remote villages in Nigeria and then his institution of the EFCC. Icheoku says but for the tragedy of desiring a third term, which caused the deviation of then Nuhu Ribadu led EFCC from its cardinal goal of fighting corruption into becoming an agent of Obasanjo, hounding vociferous perceived opponents, and thereby rubbishing a blooming legacy, the EFCC would have turned out to be another laudable legacy of Olusegun Obasanjo. But the shadow of a tragic hero which constantly foreshadows him cost him that feather in his cap. As it stands today, the EFCC is but a shadow of its old fiery self, a toothless bulldog which barks all it can but without daring enough to sink its fangs on any of the readily identifiable corrupt public official. Icheoku wonders why it is difficult for Nigerian public officials to just resign if they cannot do the job for which they were hired or are prevented from doing same by undue pressure of the state or its officials? The present EFCC is now a scarecrow hanging lifeless in a corn field in middle of Kansas or rather Nassarawa State compared to what Nigerians knew of the good old days when Nuhu Ribadu was manning the tiller as a corruption watchdog czar.
Late President Umaru Yar'Adua was only a blimp on the radar and his terminal sickness did not help matters at all nor allowed him to bequeath a legacy for which he could be remembered. Even his seven-point agenda have been devolved into a no point agenda; and his successor, the man who wears his tribal Ijaw native outfit so often that Icheoku wonders if the Ijaws of the Niger Delta Nigeria are the only one he is their president, is to put it mildly, have LOST himself in the labyrinth and maze of a Nigeria complex political landscape. Icheoku says except President Goodluck wakes up immediately, his government might go down in history as the government with neither an agenda nor any meaningful accomplishment and would not be remembered for anything talkless of a lasting legacy. All his electioneering campaign promises are still unfulfilled and supposedly being held hostage by some Goliaths, which have forced the president into a frightening tunnel-vision governance without really appreciating Nigerians numerous and diverse problems hollering for his urgent attention in the peripheral vision. If only the president is brave enough to send his sling shot into these Goliaths' foreheads and free himself of his mortal fear of their mortal threat. But he could not dare and is even afraid of mentioning that the principal Goliaths facing him down are Obasanjo and Babangida for crying out loud.
All said and done, were Icheoku a president, we shall resuscitate back all or most of these laudable programs of past administrations and bring them back to live and with it vault Nigeria into a place of reckoning. All that is required is the will to face-down enemies of progress and even those proverbial Goliaths who the current president is afraid of, not even to look into their faces and call them out for who they are. Icheoku had once advised that these Goliaths be named and shamed for the president and Nigerians to free themselves of their stranglehold. At least the biblical Israelites identified their nemesis Goliath, so David had a face before he swung his slingshot or catapult. So how would Nigerians supplicate to God to help President Jonathan overrun his Goliaths when they have neither a name of face to take to God in their prayers? Icheoku says the first order of business for the president is to name those Goliaths and then see Nigerians charge after them; but a weakling who sees shadows or former military head of states and/or an ex-president and calls them Goliaths, might not be the proper person to follow into battle.
Icheoku says nostalgically many Nigerians who were alive and could bear testimony to some of these laudable programs would attest that were these programs still alive today, the country would have been a different place, totally transformed, reformed and for good. But often good men are interred with their bones and so were these programs; hence a Nigeria in perpetual journey to lalaland is still going in circles round and round to nowhere just because successive governments choose to throw the baby away with the bath water and some good policies and programs got incinerated in the peculiar Nigeria politics of we and them and the lack of continuity coupled to the complexity of egotistic self-effacing new occupant of seat of power. Icheoku says this is very unfortunate, retarded and not progressive; it is the reason Nigeria is stalled and going nowhere meaningful soon and should be done away with!