THIS piece was written about a year ago, precisely October 17, three days after the senate began and concluded the screening of the ministerial nominees. The reproduction of this piece is to assess the stewardship of those that have managed and are still managing our affairs in the last one year.
As Nigerians, can we say we are better off today than we were about a year ago? I do not think so and I am sure most Nigerians would agree with that assessment. Jobs have been lost at a time we are complaining of youths unemployment.
Most federal roads are impassable. We are not sure of what to conclude on power generation and transmission as power supply kept fluctuating. So what is the problem? What assails us a nation? Why has it been so difficult for us to get it right with the array of brilliant, bright stars that this country is blessed with?
Indeed, the feeling of the populace is reflected in the response of Aisha Buhari, wife of President Mohammadu Buhari, in her interview with the BBC and which has generated so much furore, that Nigerians are disenchanted, they are not happy, that there is widespread and growing poverty in the land and the lot of the common man has not been improved upon in the last one year. The middle class is not faring any better.
Last year I had written, ‘watching the senate screening exercise … two different feelings assailed me. The first of the feeling was joy and the second was sadness. The joy was in the potentials I saw in these men and women. They come with intimidating credentials that would be the envy of any nation that has such people. I listened to Dr Kayode Fayemi, former Ekiti state governor. He was eloquent. He knew the problem of the nation and he no doubt knew what could be done. He equally has the intellectual capacity to drive his conviction.
He has degrees in history, politics and international relations with a higher degree in war studies with special interest in civil-military relations. He was the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, an institution dedicated to the study and promotion of democratic development, before he ventured into full politics and emerged the governor of Ekiti state. I equally listened to the soldier-scholar, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazzau, former Chief of Army Staff, like me, most Nigerians are unaware that he is an accomplished scholar with a Ph.D in Criminology. He holds a B.Sc. in Criminal Justice. Two masters degree. The first in International Relations and the second in Higher Educational Administration. He was Registrar, Academic Branch, Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and Part Time Lecturer of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University. He is the author of five books and several journal articles.
He is a member of several international professional organizations, including World Society of Criminology, World Society of Victimology, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, American Society of Criminology, British Society of Criminology, and International Police Executive Symposium. He is the founder and Chairman Board of Trustees, Nigerian Society of Victimology, the Foundation for the Victims of Child Abuse. Chief Audu Ogbeh at 68 is believed to be quite old and considering the fact that he had always been part of nearly most of the administrations in the country, playing one role or the other, his nomination came with more condemnations than accolade. But the deed is done.
He is today, again, a ministerial nominee. He comes with years of experience. He spoke about what could be done in agriculture. He was also very eloquent, as expected. Former Lagos Governor, Raji Fashola(SAN), Abubakar Malami (SAN), Amina Mohammed whose elocution was a delight and the others who had all been cleared, all spoke well. They seem to know what ails our dear country having analysed the problems in the hallowed chambers of the senate’. Unfortunately, their elocution was just that. It was only meant for the distinguish senators. Immediately after the exercise they forgot what they said.
I was being prescient when I wrote then, “all these hardly ever translate into great performance that would touch the man on the street, that would translate into jobs for the teeming population of youths walking and ‘working’ the streets in illegitimate exercises. Youths who have nothing to do but resort to criminal activities, to engage in kidnapping, robbery, cultism, ‘yahooing’ and whatever illegitimate thing they can lay their hands on to do. I am convinced that the nominees’ lofty ideals did not leave the senate chambers with them. It was a garb they donned for that exercise and they had removed and dropped it by the entrance as they were leaving the chambers.
I am not being unnecessarily pessimistic. But after having listened to such eloquence over the years, I am yet to see how it has been able to transform our country or make the country a better place’.
A year after, how have we fared? Has anything changed? Can we say we are better off? What really has changed? Nothing except the blame that the previous administration led us to this sorry pass, as if we didn’t know that before Nigerians opted for change, which no longer resonate.
It is thus imperative for President Buhari to rejig his administration and bring in those who would bring about the change we all desire. His presidency attracted a lot of goodwill both nationally and internationally, but the goodwill would only be sustained when the expectations of Nigerians are met.
Technocrats should be brought into the system irrespective of their ethnic group or their religious leaning. Nigerians did not vote for a regional or zonal leader, but a national one. No doubt the president has done well in fighting Boko Haram insurgent and corruption. But he needs to go beyond that.