- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Lest the President should forget
I like to crave the indulgence of readers of this column who have come to identify it with issues of education and curriculum to allow me to use this week to draw our President’s attention to some salient matters that need his immediate attention. It is important to draw his attention to the issues because he just marked his birthday and may be toying with the idea of giving birthday gifts to some people. I got so concerned on the need to also remind him, if he has forgotten that Nigerians are waiting for actions that will alleviate their sufferings because one of our outspoken Senators recently reminded the President that he is the most powerful President in Africa. Whether that is true or false is another matter. But the fact is that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a country with a population of 150 million people, the most populated black nation on earth and the sixth largest crude oil exporting country in the world. This fact is without prejudice to the fact that the President himself does not want to be seen as either a Goliath or a General. Whether Nigeria needs a Goliath or a General as President is besides the matter. But what cannot be argued about is that there are several socio-political problems that are begging to be attended to instead of us getting enmeshed with controversies on the people’s perception of the President.
What are the issues? They are many and include the need for the President to provide shoes to many children who have no shoes to wear just like the President never had shoes to wear when he was growing up. He needs being reminded because he seems to have forgotten so soon after he was sworn into office as Executive President. He has not done or said anything that will put shoes on the many shoeless feet in Nigeria. Rather, what the President has done and has insisted on doing, contrary to wise counsel and persuasion, is to withdraw petrol subsidy. He should be told that once he does that, if he is allowed to do so, Nigerian children who can afford pairs of slippers today will automatically begin to walk barefooted.
The President needs be reminded that all the palliative measures that he wants to introduce after the withdrawal of petrol subsidy will not get to the poor children in Nigeria and their parents. In fact, I doubt whether there are people in Nigeria who believe or trust the President any longer apart from sycophants who have become part of every government in power. The question is why is it difficult to believe or trust the President? The answers, once again, are many and are obvious. One, the President, in March, signed a minimum wage bill and everybody sang his praises. A few months later, the labour engaged the government in a tango over the non-implementation of the Minimum Wage Act and all the Ministers went to work to convince everybody that he meant well. Ask the President and the Ministers to name any Nigerian federal worker who had been paid the minimum wage in Nigeria in spite of a supposedly released circular on the effective date of implementation and a table. Workers were deceived and taken for a ride. While workers are waiting, producers, marketers and other business people have increased their prices and life has become harder for Nigerians under our President who, in March – April promised to put laughter on our faces. Life, today in Nigeria is a nightmare and our President seems to have forgotten us. He has put more agony and created more uncertainly in the life of the people. Two, in 2009, the government in which he was number two-signed an agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities on increased funding and condition of service, almost three years, later, during which he had become the Executive President, nothing significant has been done to implement the agreement. ASUU went on a warning strike and once again, Ministers began to make promises and jumped around like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In a jiffy, an enlarged implementation committee was allegedly put in place in Abuja. As I write this, ASUU is threatening a nationwide strike because there is nothing on ground to show that our President remembers that he was committed to changing things for the better in Nigeria. What will remain a surprise will be what he does to avert the imminent nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. Again the President wants us to believe that he will fulfill promises of palliatives. Many have lost hope on this.
Three, the other important issue that the President has raised since he assumed office which has caused a major crisis as the first one – withdraw of petrol subsidy – is the tenure elongation thing. The President wants governors and the president to have a single term of office. There is no doubt that this is a novel idea that can sanitize the overcharged political atmosphere in the country due to the greed of politicians and their acolytes. But because the President has not laid the foundation on which the people can believe his best of intentions or trust him, the matter is being treated with suspicion and it will remain so and may die a natural death, except, of course, the President goes ahead, in his characteristic way of ‘no going back’ posture to impose the idea on us.
Each time I go out and come back, I ask questions whether our leaders value us and really want to do things that will make life better for us. I have not heard or read in any newspaper how much the government makes from exporting crude oil. But, I have always been fed with how much the Nigerian government has wasted on an imaginary subsidy, on demolishing and constructing tollgates, on corruption and failed projects, privatisation and many others. When I read all these in newspapers, I shuddered because I know that they can never happen in other countries, even in Africa.
The President of Ghana, early in the year, announced to Ghanaians how much profit the country made from her first shipment of crude. There was the assurance that every Ghanaian would benefit from the largesse and the people believed their President.
Let us remind our President that life is hard in Nigeria, that things are not working, that many more children are dropping out of school. This is in addition to the already eight million of them that are not in school. The President should be advised not to add more to the yoke the people are carrying. Instead, he should be reminded to fulfill his promises of paying minimum wage, improving conditions of service in universities, making more funds available to universities, providing shoes to Nigerian children.
And as we remind him of all these, we, of course, have not forgotten to say, happy birthday, Mr President.Share