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Agenda for president elect – by Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda
Mr. President elect, I most heartily congratulate you on your well deserved victory at the polls in this time of our political evolution. As one who has prayed for you and worked in my little way, for you to realise your ambition against the counsel of my brethren, I very strongly feel that you have no time to stand and stay or ravage in your victory, but must commence work immediately. Four years is not too long. The task before you to say the least is enormous and you must not disappoint your teeming supporters and indeed Nigerians. Let me say one thing very unequivocally about the election result. You won overwhelming in all parts of the country. Never mind what figures are brandished as what you scored, particularly in the South South and South East zones. That is not a true reflection of what transpired. I can also say without contradiction, that the only result that is close to the reality is the result from South West; that means even the Northern figures still has some question mark. Be that as it may, you won convincingly, clean and clear, so you must set out, hit the ground running immediately.
As a Christian I must inform you of what I seem to be hearing from God for you. God is saying that if you must succeed, you will have to do and follow what the engrafted word of God, says in Jeremiah one verse ten. It reads: See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. This must be your strategy, your manual, no more, no less. There are a lot of things that you must root out for you to succeed. Can I tell you something? Believe you me, this is the simple reason you won this election, and this explains your party philosophy of change. Nigerians are feed up with the way things have been or are being done, Nigeria need sincere and not cosmetic change. You therefore will have to root out firstly corruption form this nation. You can do it, it can be done and it must be done. You will have to pull down all the impediments on the way to getting this country to where is should rightly be. Obasanjo missed the opportunity when he decided to go for a second term and third term might be life presidency. Those things that impede our progress are men who feel they are untouchable. Be informed you have them in your party as well. You must shove them aside if you must make any meaningful progress. Look out for them. They come in different manners. I name some – the praise singers, the big contractors who will tell you, you don’t need to drive this small car; or you need airplane to convey you to toilet. Watch out for them. Don’t wait till second term. You need to pull them down out of the corridor of power. They manifest nepotism. They will tell you that you need only your brothers to work with you, mark such people, they will destroy you. You will need to destroy the hawks, the mosquitoes, and the caterpillars, men of timber and caliber who want the corrupt social and economic order to continue. It is called status quo. You have to destroy the status quo that will not allow young people to have jobs. Remember when you were in the army, some people in this country said that telephone is not for the poor. See what telephone has done to your campaign. What would have happen if only the rich had it? Your will have to throw down such status quo. You will therefore need to build and plant a new social and economic order that will give hope to the hopeless. Conceive programmes that will give affordable houses to the people, guarantee them a means of livelihood. You must change the mentality that says that mass transport must be rickety, air condition bus is a luxury for the masses. A system that says that the masses must watched EPL in viewing centres while the rich watch them in their cozy parlours with champagne. A system that says that the children of the recruits in the army must not rise above their parent’s status, by that, that the children of the recruit must come to serve the children of the generals is an unfair and exploitative system. It must be discarded and pulled down. If children of bank managing directors, director generals, governors and ministers etc go to Harvard, they must be made to compete fairly with the children of the drivers that went to a Nigerian public university. Whoever does better should have the job.
There are certain anomalies that you must correct. Recently, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission accepted that it used a wrong matrix to work out the tariff which saw innocent consumers being ripped off and overpaying by as much as fifty percent of their bill. A good government must cause the electricity companies to refund the excess collected from the people. The same goes for Multichoice. In South Africa the consumer’s pay-as-they-watch, but here we are raped and made to pay for services we do not use. It must be revered and customers compensated adequately.
The emolument of public officers must be made to reflect the reality on ground. There is no justification whatsoever, that our legislator should be carting away such unreasonable amount as salaries and perks. It must stop. They are not operating in the moon. We all buy from the same market. Government officials must not bring you down. A situation where a government official just feels like going to play gulf in Ghana, and taking the tax payers money for such jamboree must go with this inglorious administration. The unacceptable explanation given for the free fall of Naira must stop. We believe and rightly so that no country in this world allows their currency to be so bastardised. Every government works assiduously to ensure stability in the exchange rate. Mr. President-elect, if Naira fell because of fall in the oil price, why did this same Naira not rise when we were selling oil at over $120 per barrel? Does the market price only respond when it has adverse effect on our economy? This is one reason that we voted out Jonathan’s government. The truth Mr. President-elect is that, the government that acknowledges that 400,000 barrels of oil is stolen every blessed day, must know those behind the criminal act. For these criminals, the only way to bring this illicit money is for them to bring it through the black market. So since it was getting close to the election, and they needed much money, they decided to devalue Naira for them to have much money to bribe electoral officers. That was their strategy, but God failed them.
In the same stratum Mr. President-elect, you must probe what happened that at the time this country was making the highest revenue from oil, the government of Jonathan depleted out foreign reserve by about ten billion dollars. Simply economics teaches that when you are having more money, you should be saving for the rainy day. In our circumstance, when we were having more money, we were also dipping our hands into our savings to take out money. If the money so taken was used for a specific project, we would have understood. But in this case nothing is there for them to show us they did with that money. This is even in the face of mounting internal and external debt. I don’t need to tell you about the challenge with electricity. But let me tell you something I wrote about it some time ago. A friend of mine attended a World Bank conference on power in Dakar Senegal, and a World Bank expect, presented a paper on the needs of West African Sub region, and noted that the whole of the region required just 18 billion USD to generate power for the region and even export. Ironically at that time Obasanjo had spent that amount in this country and we are still in darkness. You need to find out what went wrong. Recall that Ya’Adua had intended to declare emergency in the power sector. Find out what made him to renege on that promise. One thing I can tell you that, whatever made him to take back his words are still very much around today. It is one of the things that you must throw down and destroy; otherwise you will not be able to build and to plant.
One action you must avoid is being lackadaisical about anything. Your predecessor in office showed a lot of this. For instance when the Chibok girls were kidnapped the following day or so, the President was seen doing a ballroom dance in Aso Rock. What a responsible president would have done was to cancel such engagement, to show concern for the girls and identify with the anguish of their parent. It was irresponsible to have done otherwise. This is one reason the northern states turned against him, those of us who are parents too turned against him. You must bring back what is left of those girls. Ask your predecessor for he told us on two occasions that he knows where the girls are. Let him direct you to the hide out so you rescue them. This will soar you popularity, even though your detractors will say you brought them back because according to them you sponsored the insurgent. Never mind bring them back and God will bless you if you do.
Mr. President-elect to whom much is given, much is expected. We have given you much vote; we expect much performance from you. We will not accept any excuses. I read you acceptance speech; there was something you said which is not very clear. You said that we should forget the past. I don’t know what you mean by that. If you mean to forgive who wronged you, I accept that, but if you mean to forgive the criminal acts of the past, then you have begun badly and are certainly trudging on the part of failure. You need to know what happen in the past that has brought to where we are today. Think about that your statement.
May I offer you some of the reason that we voted out Jonathan, some of them you know anywhere. The reasons why Jonathan failed are closely linked with the following: lackadaisical attitude of that government toward issues enumerated above. You will recall that the PDP government, did nothing about that occurrence, until the international community spoke up and the Ezekesili’s of this world started the protest. That was most unbecoming of a President that pledged to protect life and property of Nigerians. It is on record that he never visited that place. It is the most unbecoming aspect of his administration, very unfatherly. Closely related to this is the lack luster handling of Boko Haram. If that government had frontally confronted this insurgent at the onset, like it did in that last six weeks the story would certainly have been different. Like somebody said, what they could not do in six years, they were able to accomplish in six week! What an irony, I have mentioned in the foregone paragraph the issue of the unnecessary devaluation of naira. You have to revalue the currency. Smaller countries that do not earn as much as we do, have a better exchange rate. The history and operation of this rot is rooted in corruption.
The General sir, your government must find out why we took $10 billion from our external reserve with nothing to show for it. You cannot afford to close your eyes to this absurdity. Our schools are not better off than before they took out that money, our hospitals are begging for attention. In short public infrastructure is still in sorry state, yet we lost such colossal sum in so short a time. You must show a determination to stop the hemorrhage in our oil sector. The lack of political will to confront oil theft, caused the fall of our Naira. You just must do something about it and urgently too. All of these dovetail the apparent lack of performance. You know what Nigerians need and you must give it to them. When first came on the scene, people were always rushing home to listen to Network news, to hear what you have done for that day. By this Nigerians want action. I recalled what happened at that time. A contractor who was awarded a contract for tarring the road from Cele bus stop to kpako in Oshodi Isolo LGA; collected the mobilization, and walked away. But once that government was shoved aside, and you came on board, he immediately went back to site and did the job. That is the kind of thing we expect today.
Another thing that irritated Nigerians about Jonathan, was the overbearing attitude of the wife on state matters. You must not give room to this. There is nothing like the office of first lady in our constitution. If you need such an office then, you must send a bill to the national assembly to amend the constitution.
One of your predecessor’s undoing was his apparent disregard of party structure and elders and over reliance on a few rogues who stole so much from their state coffers to fund his campaign. That action divided the party and as the Bible says; a house divided against itself cannot stand. Hence the mighty fall of almighty PDP. Avoid such mistake.
There are certain things you must do immediately, and these are: if you sincerely want to deal with corruption rejig EFCC and ICPC to function effectively. Do not operate Obasanjo’s style of witch hunting perceived enemy. Go after enemies of the country within. You need to recover a lot of the loot from them. In the same manner you must investigate the NNPC operations and the inherent fraud in that organisation. I think you must also dismember the organisation for effective performance. You will also beam you search light of the following organisation. There is lots of decay in them. There are the military, police, customs, immigration, prisons, FRSC, national identity management scheme and Nigerian civil defence and security corps. You also need to probe ministry of aviation especially on the aviation intervention fund, its disbarment and utilization; sports commission to find out why our sports are dwindling in spite huge financial investment by the government and corporate bodies. The fire incident in the glass house if probed will reveal a lot of things. FCTA is another such spot to beam the search light on, etc. federal ministry of Finance incorporated must be thoroughly investigated. We need a forensic audit of their activities. You must block the loophole there in FMF incorporated.
Mr. President-elect you must revisit fuel subsidy probe and the reason our four refineries are not working at optimum production capacity. This cannot escape your eagle eye, just like Immigration recruitment exercise. The others are Jonathan campaign funds donation. It must be probed and the past leaders cannot just be allowed to go like that. You must bring them to account for their past misdeeds. Otherwise you would have given them and future leaders license for crime.
Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda is a Medical Sociologist, Security Awareness Consultant, a social commentator and the author of the books – The Bewitched Church; and- Issues in Security Awareness.