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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Bringing a Season of Demands on President Jonathan’s Real Transformational Program



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Patrick Iroegbu patrickiroegbu@yahoo.com

Certainly, political leadership is fundamentally performed on the theatre of economic and social circumstances of a people – during peace time and conflict moments. This article presents a reflection by drawing from one of Prof. Okey Ndibe’s social media short entries in this column on the ongoing Nigeria’s debate on what to ask of the Jonathan’s administration as he transforms Nigeria – not in his own terms but that of the collective Nigerian people.

For any reader who might have followed the numerous write ups and seasoned commentaries of Prof. Okey Ndibe in different newspapers and electronic websites, facebook and tweets, you will seem to surely realize how influential his lead writings and ideas are impacting Nigeria’s leadership expositions on the political job performance. Whether a reader has followed him up in the facebook or in any other social media outlets, Prof. Okey Ndibe writes simple and straightforward essays and commentaries that critically appeal to the rulers of Nigeria to rethink and act better for the Nigerian masses.

The kitchen budget of the presidency has raised a whirl-wind dust and it has continued to do so currently. At least, Nigerians are becoming more critical than being sympathetically in love with regard to how the presidency gluttonously feeds on the tax payers. Dr. Okey Ndibe was the writer who in his thorough way of bringing out facts to the education of Nigerians revealed that President Obama of USA pays for his meals and wonders why President Jonathan and his team should be fed by Nigerian tax payers endlessly, and at the same, gets paid huge salaries and allowances of every magnitude they apportion to themselves at the expense of Nigerians who cannot afford to feed properly for a common good life.

The ongoing debates and actions on the removal of Fuel Subsidy in Nigeria have been highlighted enough, demonstrated enough; and equally, one can say, enough calls have moved from not only reinstating the fuel pump price at #65.00 but also to do more than that fact in the real terms Nigerians accepted their conditions. As it is hoped to revert to the pump price at #65.00, it is cautioned that doing so now will even no longer do enough given the outstanding present Nigerian political and economic predicaments and Boko Hram Sect electrified violence. That is, there is a need to emphasize the meaning of transformation to understand better what Nigeria is faced with in reality and in the perceptions of inequality of opportunity. In other words, the wide gap experienced in the living conditions between political office holders and the poor masses should be focused on and bridged. In that view, rooting out the obstacles to hardship – namely corruption and insensitivity of Nigerian leaders – to tame the unfortunate conditions of Nigerian masses should demand for enough focus and practical action that must respond to the reality on the ground. Nigerians, as Okey Ndibe likes to argue, most of the time, desperately live their daily lives meshed in the calamity of insecure lives and discriminatory economic opportunities. Empowered security and equal opportunity should spread across the geopolitical and social boards to touch everyone’s lives.

The president of Nigeria living on a food budget of over 1 billion naira of the Nigerian currency – when its citizens live on a less than two dollars (US$2.00) a day – in a year with all other full benefits at the expense of Nigerian tax payers does not speak to what it takes to show exemplary transformational skills, attitudes and programs to touch and change lives in Nigeria. When the kitchen budget of the presidency far outweighs or out-costs the lives of millions of jobless Nigerians and other vulnerable population groups put together, one wonders how the presidency and its administrators rationalize the meaning of transformational agenda of actions to realize transformation. The call for a rethink is to help the leaders to actively think bold in line with the reality of Nigerians on how resources are created and expended in leading Nigeria to be progressive and competitive with its human and material resources.

Below you will read in a paragraph one of such significant entries Dr. Okey Ndibe recently posted in one of the social media outlets that I have been reflecting with and modelling out in a curious way. I have considered it necessary to share it in this column and invite you to reflect with what Nigerians at this opportune moment in its historic leadership experience and popular uprising should be asking our elected and appointed leaders and bureaucratic administrators to be doing now with the program of its transformation of Nigeria.

I think also that we all should know that a government that promised Nigeria a transformational agenda is a government that owes Nigeria a program that must be so visible and so realizable in the making of transformation a reality. An economic and human growth killer corruption – re-baptized in Nigeria as 419 – is the one most single topic everyone understands how it works in this country. It is inbred in Nigerian pattern of living and only Nigerians can undo it through policies of its leaders. Bribery – by expecting, a sense of sorting out and settling, asking and giving and by receiving is patterned in Nigeria as a fixed culture, a fixed expectation, a fixed attitude, a fixed life way, a fixed manner of going about things – by connection, flesh – bottom power, material loot, bumping over merit in favour of mediocrity, political compensation, godfatherism, unfair contract awards and return of 10 – to 45 % dividends, resale of properties to cohorts, etc. Yet social scientists tell us that no culture is a fixed system. That every culture is fluid and, indeed, in a flux. In other words, ever changing – can be invasive, expansive, borrow and get borrowed in terms of its values and virtues. Holding all of the trends and virtues to be true, one is puzzled and needs to ask, why is corruption not being helped to change and transform the lives and Nigerian society? Why has the expansive cultural system of no-fixity only centered on deprivation and rip-offs than on promoting the good aspects? Why have religious pastors and evangelists of the day become more of crusaders of wealth and fame than that of poverty in spirit and simple lives for the other, the society for God? Sexual favours and inclinations shaped around religion have also become a prize tag for loyalty and goodfaith to the pastors and church governors or administrators in Nigerian cities. Adopting active sex life performances as part of religiosity in practice despite its condemnation on the pulpits beats one’s imagination as to what to really take as good or bad for the gods and for human followers.

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It can therefore not be a surprise for prolific writers like Okey Ndibe and his likes in the field of public intellection to have continued to up-rise Nigerians to face their leaders to deliver on their promises to transform Nigeria. Again, to transform Nigeria is not a theory. It must be an action package, a realistic thing or issue that is well discussed, consulted and planned for. Transformation must not be limited to any individual, group, agency or institution. Transformation in the concrete sense of it must be broad based, all encompassing, all-inclusive and all touching and changing of lives and society as a whole. One thing transformation MUST NOT do in Nigeria and for Nigerians is to humiliate lives and means that will subsidize, govern and sustain the same livelihood that they aspire to have and carry and consequently it forward. Insecurity, joblessness, terrorism, excessive corruption, killings, ethnic and religious intolerance and all other evils in Nigeria are wheels and threads that connect to the treatment and debasement of the transformational system.

As I said earlier about Oke Ndibe’s propositions, here is what he clearly states that we should all consider and reinforce in demanding for social justice and benefits of democracy from the Nigerian leaders of today:

“We, the people of Nigeria, ought to seize this moment to define the terms of the debate. Let’s not waste this opportunity to roll back the organized fraud in Nigeria that enables the president, governors, ministers, legislators, local government chairmen/councilors to live like emperors – at the expense of the rest of us. Labor leaders and workers as well as professional associations ought to insist… on removal of the scams called security vote and constituency allowance; that Jonathan sell off the planes in the presidential fleet (bloody hell, Nigerian officials ought to travel commercial!); drastically reduce ministerial portfolios; ban foreign medical trips for Nigerian officials (if they’re “transforming” Nigeria, as they claim, they must enjoy the same medical services as other Nigerians); remove the immunity clause that protects criminals in office; institute part time legislatures (where law makers are paid allowances for the days they sit); identify, prosecute and jail the fuel marketers (and their bureaucratic enablers) who have defrauded Nigerians through inflated fuel subsidy claims etc, etc.”

There are many other things President Goodluck Jonathan, “the merciful one leader”, as his name ascribes him (Ebele) and his team can do. But what has baffled Nigerians the most is why did this president start with the fuel subsidy removal at 100% one time action and at a wrong time, and even when it did not follow the fiscal year – of April? Should the cabals or mafias in Nigerian economic system continue to hold the nation at ransom? We want to hear and observe how this government is going to go tough on all those who are linked to Boko Haram and other pockets of terrorist sects in Nigeria.

We want also this administration to try and understand what transformation means, including the realities of transformation on the lives of Nigerian people. A difficult or dangerous situation, especially a sad or desperate predicament brought about by the fuel subsidy removal is asking more on this government to seize this moment when the critical ovation is high – is to address corruption and spread the benefits of reduced corruption to everyone.

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I strongly consider the fact that transformation, which is focused on the benefits of non-subsidy on corruption as many social commentators have said it in different ways is persuasively one unavoidable implications of the match on the streets of Nigeria by Nigerians and their allies around the world cities in support for dealing decisively with the so-called Nigeria’s oil cabals, corrupt and corruptive political office holders in the country.

A time when political office holders in Nigeria will begin to travel in public and commercial vehicles and feel like other members of the public is a time we will begin to think that transformation has come to Nigeria and that it is for everyone.

Moreover, a time, when hospitals in Nigeria will be used by everyone and medical attention given to everyone on equal terms as it is a right to have them on a non-segregated health care services basis and opportunities will be a time we will feel that transformation is coming to Nigeria.

In addition, now is the time when we can press hard on the government to stop playing on the public intelligence. Realizing that Nigerians are more politically and socially sensitized than ever, the social media will not rest until social justice in terms of development, security and opportunity to Nigerians and their friends are rendered to them. To stand on bettering themselves, going progressive and becoming all-inclusive in all aspects of Nigeria for Nigerians will be seen as a time we will know that, indeed, the gospel of transformation is a message of reality to advance human life and dignity; and not the notorious one like the fuel subsidy imbroglio to de-empower and impede Nigerians from living the next day due to intolerable pains of hardship.

Let me wrap this small discussion up by stating that Nigerians and their political behaviours have become progressively linked to human rights issue of the moment and there is no going back to the yester-day and yester-year measures of Obasanjo and other military juntas Nigeria ever had. Nigerians should therefore be encouraged to think wisely, act wisely, and demonstrate against policies that degrade and malign them; and of course build together for national reason and growth with the government of the day wisely.

Politics of the day is a plight of the population of day. A government of the day should therefore systematically listen to that plight and frame transformation of the day with the collective plight – that is, indeed, the true condition of everyday lives of the population. Nigeria will not be Nigeria without the Nigerian population of human beings. As such, transformation should think human. Thinking human by Nigerian policy makers should embrace humanity anthropologically. That way, it is sure that Nigerians will get focused and transformed to promote the human nature that makes Nigeria a nation of a people of its kind and values.

Like it or not, it is right to demand from this leadership a typical tough policy and protest play-card on corruption, particularly a historic tough line against the cabals in the oil and gas field, including all political and public office holders to render what is due to Nigerians. Let us join and make transformation a ‘principle and practice’ of a new life culture of total inclusion in health care services, education, employment, safety of lives and property, as well as a liberty to choose and live – as one’s home town and hall of personhood in any region or ethnic part of Nigeria for Nigerians. Anything short of these is non-transformational and far-seeing in the reality and state of things in the country today.

I need to add quickly that whatever we seem to be writing and commenting on Nigeria’s corruption, leadership style, unity and principles of solidarity and inclusion presently had been well stated in 1966 through 2011 by Chief Emeka Ojukwu of the memories of Nigerian-Biafran conflict and time. Ojukwu should be read at his grave site a “crowned hero of transformational foresight and agenda for Nigeria” because that was, indeed, the central eugenic part (good gene side) of life he lived and championed for Nigeria.

Finally, I want to offer that the proper way to situate and appreciate the overwhelming protests by Nigerians at all levels against the fuel subsidy removal on the 1st of January 2012 is to deeply state that Nigerians have believe in this current leadership and expects it to fight for them. It suggests that the current administration has no political alternative mantra than to work for Nigerians in their own terms; namely on how they critically feel, act and want to be represented in the things that affect their lives and society.

Essentially for all Nigerians right now, this is a season of demanding from the Jonathan administration all that matter and bother Nigerians at home and far away from home. Let therefore no one important item be missed out as we audit and add to the list.

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