By Akintunde Oyebode
In 2011, Labaran Maku displayed a copy of Lee Kuan Yew’s From Third World to First, announcing that President Jonathan bought 42 copies to be given to the newly sworn in ministers. It was intriguing to see a Nigerian president use intellectual means to inspire his team, albeit one who went through the complexities of three degree programmes. This was a refreshing departure from the methods of the celebrated war hero and connoisseur of poultry, Olusegun Obasanjo, who believed a signed but undated resignation letter, was the best way to rouse the troops.
Sadly, after almost one year in office, the honeymoon is over. The Jonathan administration can be likened to a chair in the barbershop; all motion, barely perceptible movement. In eleven months, the government has been defined by three issues; an ill-advised single term policy, the removal of subsidy on petrol and the obvious insecurity of the state. It is hardly the type of transformation Nigerians voted for in April 2011.
A cursory evaluation of the government’s achievements in the past 12 months paints a gloomy picture.
Electricity – Apart from a power minister who clearly shares more than a name with the famous cartoon character, there is little to smile about. Today, Nigeria barely generates 3,200MW of electricity, 64% of the (laughable) target of 5000MW set by the government in 2011.
Insecurity – From the day President Jonathan was sworn in till date, a month has not passed without news of bomb explosions or bloody shootings. It is almost reminiscent of the movie, Con Air, where a known killer Cyrus is introduced as “a man who has killed more men than cancer.” The growing insecurity has slowly become a major cause of death in Nigeria, and the most alarming part is the country is slowly getting used to this.
War Against Corruption – As expected, no prominent public officials has been successfully prosecuted by the various anti-corruption agencies in the country. This is not a surprise; economists will point to a strong correlation between the number of churches/mosques and the piety of our public officers, even if the chaps at Transparency International disagree. From the lady whose neck line resembled Elizabeth Taylor’s, to the man who hurriedly replaced her, the scorecard is appalling.
Of course there are notable mentions. The Freedom of Information Act was signed in June 2011, yet government agencies still refuse to comply with it, as an Associated Press report released recently clearly demonstrated. In September 2011, the President inaugurated a panel led by Steve Oronsanye to restructure and rationalize Federal Government agencies; one must wonder if the report of the panel is not being used to wrap boli and epa in Abuja and its environs. In response to the protests on the removal of petrol subsidy, the government conjured a phantom subsidy reinvestment programme; today Dr. Kolade et al must be wondering why they were invited to Abuja. The Presidential Task Force on Petroleum Revenue was constituted on the 7th of February, and given 60 days to complete its task. We will ignore the obvious fact that this committee usurps the role of NEITI, and remind the team that 60 days expired on Monday. Of all the criticisms this government faces, the most deserved seems to be the inability to follow through on the multitude of initiatives it starts. It feels like we are watching a hybrid of Charles of Ponzi and Professor Peller at work.
As the 1st anniversary of the administration approaches, I have a book recommendation for Ali Baba and his team of neophytes. This one is written by less illustrious authors: Ram Charam and Larry Bossidy, whose names might not ring a bell; but their book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done is invaluable for people who plan extensively and do little. From the evidence of the past 11 months, copies are sorely needed in the several Abuja libraries.