WANTED: A New Era of Governance By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Esq
Section 135 (2) of the 1999 Constitution:
“Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, the President shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of four years commencing from the date, when –
(a) in the case of a person first elected as President under this Constitution, he took the Oath of Allegiance and the oath of office.”
Section 64 (1) of the 1999 Constitution:
“The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each stand dissolved at the expiration of a period of four years commencing from the date of the first sitting of the House.”
Last Wednesday May 29, 2019, leaders across the country took their oaths of office in their respective positions based on the recent elections. It is the exercise of a fresh mandate, to serve the people and to deliver the much-trumpeted dividends of democracy. This cannot be business as usual, of just holding ceremonies for the ritual alone. The template must change, the tempo must increase and the game must bear new rules. It was permissible to claim that there was a rot in sixteen or one hundred years, it was okay to blame it upon corruption and the looting that had taken place since 1960 and it was indeed acceptable to complain of dwindling oil prices, all as reasons for non-performance. But after four years in the saddle, the buck passing has to and must stop. This time around, the masquerade must dance.
The All Progressive Congress, (APC), as the ruling party, must approach the drawing board afresh, and think up viable modules for visible and progressive governance, not abstracts and propaganda. President Muhammadu Buhari himself, must stand up to be counted, in the order of section 5 of the Constitution, to exercise the executive powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There should be no absentee governance, in this new era. The Manifesto of the APC is so very rich and loaded, and it is capable of delivering Nigeria from its present dilemma, if properly pursued and implemented. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), must also rise up to the challenge of a viable opposition, based on objective analysis of policies and programmes, with very viable alternatives, and not just media entertainment and comical appearances on television. Nigerians deserve good governance.
My honest thought would be that by now, the President should at least unveil his team. He won the election since March and Nigerians are full of expectations from him. We have passed the period of blame games and moved to substantive good governance now. The President has to sit up and confront the issues of national development as a matter of urgency, as if life depends on it, because indeed, life depends on it. Top on this agenda is SECURITY, which has so far challenged and seemed to defy all known solutions, to the extent that criminality has now been commercialized. Kidnapping has become so common and cheap that the kidnappers now demand just N5,000 as ransom! The President is being challenged in the area of his professional expertise and he has to demonstrate to us the kind of competence and capacity expected of his status and experience in this field. We need some assurances urgently, that someone is in charge of the hopeless security situation of our land. We need some immediate comfort, that terrorists, armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers have not taken over power, without any challenge.
Next of course to security is POWER supply, which lies at the root of the underdevelopment of the economy, as the profit margin of every known enterprise is consumed by the seemingly intractable crisis of the energy sector. If we can tackle the problem of epileptic power supply and give Nigerians electricity, then we would have solved about half of the problems of Nigeria. The All Progressive Congress (APC) had promised us in 2015, 5,000 megawatts of electricity every year and although the Minister of Power insisted on available 7,000 megawatts, there is no visible evidence of such on all the streets of Nigeria. And even at that, 7,000 megawatts is a far cry from the 20,000 megawatts that the APC promised in four years. Does it then mean that there is nobody in the APC that has the Manifesto of the party? Do they not remember the promises that they willingly made to Nigerians? You then add to that the ECONOMY, including provision of basic infrastructure and facilities to boost productivity. The text messages that we receive daily are generally disturbing: “no food at home, children are crying. Please help. Anything you send will be appreciated. My account details …” In some other cases it is to pay school fees, house rent or hospital bills. If you are a leader in any church or mosque, you would at least confirm that counselling nowadays is purely a matter of welfare, especially in the area of financial support. We have turned to the alternative government.
There is no gainsaying that the task is very arduous and enormous, but it has to be accomplished, somehow and anyhow. There is no alternative to this. The President should work with experts that can challenge our situations, who have the capacity to think ahead and spearhead some revolutionary ideas of growth and development. The citizens should not be the ones pushing the leadership, as that is a total aberration. The President should lead us with his new agenda for our nation, working with experts who are well positioned and determined to effect a true change. To all intents and purposes, the time of experimentation is over; we want some action, we want to truly feel the positive impacts of governance, translating into genuine prosperity for all. Let the President lead from the front. He seems so aloof and generally not on top of many things in government. We shouldn’t be hearing of the infamous cabal in this new era again, as Nigerians deserve true leadership. We shouldn’t be holding night vigils this time around to be able to get the President to name his team, as he has had more than enough time to do that. There has to be a way that the President will debunk the cry from his own bedroom through Aishat Buhari, that his social investment programmes do not bear visible impact on the greater number of the masses targeted for such. There must be a score card through which the President can douse the gloom generated by the latest report from The Economist, that Nigerians got poorer under his administration.
The advantage of having President Buhari and Professor Osinbajo at the helms of leadership cannot be downplayed at all. And we do no flattering by so saying. The fact that the two leaders have nothing traced to them so far, in terms of corruption or abuse of office, is a great plus for us all, as that in itself is a major boost for investment decisions and other economic activities. It is also like saving half of our resources, when the leaders themselves are not directly involved in pilfering. The challenge however is how to translate these sterling qualities into some benefit for all, because it sounds like some contradiction, for the people to become poorer under an honest leader, save that capacity to deliver may be lacking. What are we then saying? That the President must come out smoking, he must end his holiday and take charge of governance, as we certainly cannot afford another four years of absenteeism, leading to insecurity, economic despondency and gloom, constant blackout all over the land, mass poverty and illiteracy.
What should be done? We need action, action and action. That is what is needed. Of course we are all human and subject to the frailties of life, which may arise from old age, ill health or other factors. But this is why the President needs a TEAM (Together Everybody Achieves More). The President needs to work with the right persons, prodded purely by the considerations of merit and competence. Put the right persons in the right positions and give them free hand to work. I still believe in my mind that a Professor Osinbajo in any team should be an asset that should be harnessed to the fullest. The President and his Vee Pee seem to compliment each other in some ways, such that I always think that given free hands, the latter can change the equation for good, even though I have no proof of any such restraint for now.
Now to the States. No matter the efforts of the President, it will not matter much if the governors are not ready to change their ways. Recently, it was revealed by the Minister of Health that most States did not access the health insurance scheme funds, whilst for education, many of the States refused to buy into the SUBEB programme. It was the same story with housing, when the Housing Minister shocked us all that many States did not meet up with their equity contributions to access the housing schemes. They have also refused to invest in power supply. So, it is proper to state that there is no governance going on in the States, beyond sharing revenue and bailouts from the federation account and then squandering it, either on re-election or installation of stogies and cronies. For the second term governors of Kaduna, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Cross-Rivers, Plateau, Kano, Taraba, Abia, Ebonyi, there can be no excuse at all for non-performance. And even in Lagos, it was clear to the blind, that APC would carry the day and so it is expected that the Sanwo-Olu team would hit the ground running. For the new governors, it should not be a time to declare honeymoon by taking new wives, or embarking upon vendetta, by demolishing structures built with the resources of the State, but rather to forge a new alliance for progress and development for the benefit of the people.
Last week, another human rights czar, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, clocked 60 years. Agbakoba it was, who along with some other notable activists, democratized the human rights struggle in Nigeria, with the formation of the Civil Liberties Organisation, (CLO). He intellectualized it, taking up rare cases in the courts, even for condemned prisoners. The joy of it all is that he successfully piloted the affairs of CLO, leading to a peaceful transition to the amazon, Comrade Ayo Obe, then later to the irreplaceable Comrade Chima Ubani and many others. Dr. Agbakoba would later lead lawyers in Nigeria as President of the Nigerian Bar Association. Happy birthday, to a special icon.
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