By Martins Oloja
As I was saying last week when a shortlist of the first G-5 was released, we have a responsibility to rescue Nigeria from the present ruling class that has been causingsome distractions in the news media. The ruling class construct here should not be construed to mean the APC-Buhari administration. The ruling class members are everywhere you go in the country. They are in the ruling party. They are in the opposition parties. They were and still are in the military, security and intelligence agencies. They are in all the executive and legislative arms of the three tiers of government. They are always in charge of government and governance. There has been but one mind in all of them, all bent against their country called Nigeria. That is why we need to appeal to a critical mass and indeed good people to be organised enough to recognise one inescapable fact: that it not easy to displace a ruling class and its henchmen in the corporate world. The good news is that there is some resurgence and a growing awareness even in the media that the ruling party supported by the ruling class does not possess at the moment the dynamic capabilities needed to fix Nigeria.
Even older columnists and commentators who used to advertise some glimmer of hope of a better tomorrow are now clarifying the hope effigy they once saw: They are writing about the renewed debate of underperformance. Now, most citizens would not like to listen to the lamentation of publicists who have been blaming the last administration for the gross incompetence and mediocrity of the last two and half years. It is gratifying to note that the elders are now writing about the ‘the witness of untruth’. The optimists of yesterday are now surprised that despite vaunting about anti-corruption policy there are still many hiding places for many transgressors. And so instead of cohesion in the palace, their “open government has become an open subversion of government by aggrieved insiders getting their pounds of flesh against other insiders” as an elder just noted.
As it was once predicted on this platform, the honeymoon is now effectively over. And the truth that was kept in a grave is coming out. It was once noted here too that you can keep truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.
This is why I have been consistent in appealing to concerned people that we should “organise” and not “agonise” as former Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives, Mrs. Nancy Pelosihas rightly advised. That is the strong woman’s own message on strategy and organization, notably where opportunity should meet preparation.
This is not a time for frivolities and oratory. This is a time we also need to appeal to the serious elders and angry young ones that instead of wailing and hailing in the social media about the years that the locusts have eaten so greedily without punishment, we should not be carried away by the distractions of the power elite. The rent seeking power elite(members) are very serious and strong in the social media too. As I was saying the other day, they are Charles Dickens characters, the “Artful Dodgers” so called for their skill and cunning in the art of stealing. They rob with their pens and cause distractions for activists in the media so that the serious ones will continue to agonise instead of organising.
Last week, instead of further continued inquiries into the controversial whopping $25 billion state oil firm’s contract, they said nothing was missing. Before the distraction with the IPOB arrowhead’s story, they got the 36 state governors to take the steam out of the demand for federalism by getting them to like Oliver Twist, ask for more bailout funds in the name of Paris Club Debt Relief inconclusive refund. The governors are already distracting us with their shenanigans that without the refund, the 2018 budget proposals would be doomed. This is without prejudice to the few serious ones among them. They always distract us with stories that do not feed democracy well. In all the states of the federation, there is extreme hunger. After all, extreme hunger was one of the issues in sustainable development agenda the original MDGs (2000-2015) was plotted to reduce. And it was for that purpose in 2006 that the then president Olusegun Obasanjo’s government agreed with the same Paris Club members that part of the reliefs granted in the $18 billion forgiven should be devoted to developing MDGs projects in the country. In October, 2005 Nigeria and Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $18 billion and an overall reduction of Nigeria’s debt stock by $30 billion. The deal was completed on April 21, 2006, when Nigeria made its final payment of $12 billion and its books were cleared of any Paris Club debt
In a statement conveying the cheering news to the federal government then, the Paris Club said that in arriving at the debt forgiveness option for Nigeria, it took special cognizance of the economic reform programmes of President Obasanjo’s administration.
The creditors then said the deal would also help Nigeria in its fight against poverty.Specifically, the creditors then agreed to recognise Nigeria’s implementation of its home-grown reforms under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) intensified surveillance as a legitimate instrument that fulfils the requirements for debt relief.
We may have been distracted from some details of the debt relief deal including policy support instruments such as Fiscal Responsibility, Public Procurement and Freedom of Information Acts. In other words, the reform agenda of the Obasanjo administration was triggered by the need to fulfil all righteousness according to the former creditors. They called it “economic reform programmes”.
Recall that most people had felt that the $12 billion paid to the Paris Club should have been used in developing critical infrastructure we are still struggling to develop. What is worse now, according to the Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, and NBS, despite the 2006 exit from the debt burden, Nigeria is now under the yoke of another $15.05 billion worth of foreign debt and domestic debt portfolio that stood at 14.6 trillion naira as at June this year. The Buhari administration just curiously requested for national assembly’s approval to take a fresh foreign loan of $5.5 billion to develop critical infrastructure.
Where do we then go from here? Let’s expand the shortlist of last week. It is time again to appeal to some people we can somehow trust not to leave the country alone. There is no other country we can call our own as this same GeneralBuhari once noted in his first coming as an unelected leader. But the most urgent one is Project 2019: Here is this week’s shortlist for Fix-Nigeria 2019 (2):
The first Chairman of EFCC is quite reliable as a police officer and lawyer. He is an incorruptible officer of the law. Recall that he reportedly deposited with the CBN a whopping $15 million (USD) he claimed an accused and a former governor of Delta state used to bribe him in those days. He did not mention it in the media. He only quietly disclosed the deal to the authorities. It was only revealed when the state was persecuting him without reference to his integrity. As an assistant commissioner of police and chairman of the flagship anti-graft agency, he arrested his own Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun and successfully prosecuted him. He once contested presidential election on the platform of ACN now APC. He is bold and useful in the system in any arm, in any agency that is relevant to his training and experience.
This former governor of Akwa Ibom State and minority leader at the Senate is a bulldozer when it comes to project management. He also has a sense of urgency and taste for quality. Just make a trip to Akwa Ibom state – from the airport in Uyo to the inner-city roads, you will see the hand of a visionary leader who knows the importance of critical infrastructure. He should be groomed for more critical role in future. He has demonstrated that government too can really work. His stalled specialist hospital project in Uyo, for instance, should have been exemplary but for bad politics, after he left office. Anyway, the man is a project manager and a strategic planner.
They already knew about her passion for work at the United Nations when she first served the global body’s Scribe as Sustainable Development Goals expert. She was quite efficient as Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSA-P) on MDGs. Former President Goodluck Jonathan curiously removed her without any rhyme or reason and this action shocked the UN MDGs Office that picked her up. She is quite organised and can handle operational efficiency. She should be recalled home to serve in more suitable capacity in 2019. In 2010, at the UN Office in New York when she gave the country’s report on 10 years of MDGs in Nigeria, she received plaudits.
Pat Utomi & Donald Duke
The politician in them should not just aim for the top from the outset. They should be made to serve in strategic agencies even as ministers. They should plan well and they can do well with a fresh vision for their country. They can partner well with the Fasholas, el-Rufais, etc for a greater nation. They are even needed at the National Assembly.
Tunde Bakare, Poju Oyemade and Ituah Ighodalo:
These three men of God believe that the God of men can do exploits in Nigeria He (God) created to be a world power. They are young and passionate about their country. They will be useful (as Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been) as nation builders in any capacity. They are very educated and disciplined. If the nation can achieve part-time legislature model through amendment of our organic laws, these three clerics I know can do exploits. They need Nigeria to work well for the prosperity of their gospel too.
To be continued…
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Martins Oloja/Guardian