Posted by By Esin Etim Esin | 6 January 2019 | 734 times
“The object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers or of races, but the happiness of the common man.” — Sir William Beveridge (1879-963)
Across the world, good governance is acknowledged as the foundation for meaningful and sustainable development. Good governance is about the people whose well-being is the primary responsibility of government. And that is encapsulated in the above quote from Sir William Beveridge.
When Mr Peter Obi, the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) observed that good governance is common sense, and not rocket science, discerning Nigerians knew what he was talking about. In their pursuit of elective public office, it is presumed that the aspirants or candidates have identified the developmental challenges they hope to tackle and have developed a programme of action – if, indeed, they intend to serve the people.
Some three and a half years ago, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd) assumed office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He and his party platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised “Change” for Nigerians, even as he cryptically announced: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. We now realise that “everybody” and “nobody” have cancelled themselves out.
This piece is not to exhibit the score-card of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), but to ask ourselves whether he deserves the votes for a second term, as compared to his main opponents: the dynamic duo of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi. As the saying goes, what the eyes see cannot be denied and what they cannot see only exists in the imagination.
Nigerians have never had it so bad in peace-time. From a combination of ineffectual attempts at good governance, bigotry and politics of vendetta, Nigerians have been inflicted with a battered economy, acute nepotism, mismanagement, infrastructural decay, mass impoverishment and despondency.
One of the interesting features of “Integrity” is that it is easier earned than maintained. Nigerians and friends of Nigeria will recall President Buhari’s My Manifesto: Securing Our Nation and Prospering our People. Using the essentials of good governance as yardsticks, here we go:
Administration of Government
A common thread in President Buhari’s style of governance is pervasive nepotism, incompetence and mediocrity, and poor vision.
In the twilight of his 2015 mandate, President Buhari eventually admitted that the economy has been in a bad shape under his watch. This is a stark reality that has been repeatedly mentioned by the generality of the citizenry and expert opinions within and outside the country. The indices should alarm any thoughtful administration; but, apparently, not so for PMB and his team, as they continue to constrict the economy: Nigeria’s total debt stock is N22.7 trillion; debt servicing as a percentage of government-retained revenue is about 59 per cent; domestic credit from Nigerian banks constituted a mere 15 per cent of GDP; the nation’s Global Competitiveness Index rating slid from 124 to 127; and so on.
Without further details, it goes without saying that the dismal state of the economy also reflects the trying conditions of manufacturing, agriculture and other key sectors. In agriculture, as the PMB administration reels out its grandiloquent initiatives for expansion and self-sufficiency, the harsh realities are clear in the prices of foodstuff and other farm produce. In the meantime, as at mid-November 2018, Nigeria was the second largest importer of rice under the PMB watch.
Rule of Law/Due Process
Locally and internationally, the PMB administration has consistently demonstrated disdain for rule of law and due process. Among notable instances are unauthorised expenditure of public funds; contempt for court orders, as in the cases of Col Sambo Dasuki (retd) and Sheikh El-Zackzaky; invasion of the National Assembly and Judges’ residences, and many others, by agents of the administration; open partisanship by public officers and various other acts of arbitrariness.
Security of Life and Property
Insurgency appears to have become a major industry, as the likes of Boko Haram continue to wreak havoc on lives and property, and increasing the population of displaced persons. A more worrisome dimension is that the insurgents, who the administration had “technically defeated”, are now engaging in dare-devil attacks of security formations. By the way, we have not heard from the Information ministry for quite a while now.
There are also the persistent attacks by killer-herdsmen, cattle rustlers and other bandits seemingly having free rein to rampage across the land. Meanwhile, continued kidnappings for ransom are attracting less mention by comparison.
As terrible and scary as it is, it is no longer news that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children, over 12 million. Are we surprised as the PMB administration budgeted N400 billion for education, while disbursing over N1 trillion for fuel (petrol) subsidy. With an investment of barely 1 per cent of the federal budget to education, Nigeria cannot realistically expect worthy dividends, as education has a strong correlation with economic growth and development. With 1 per cent of its federal budget allocation, how could the PMB administration hope or expect to reach the heights attained by the continental giants like South Africa at over 5 per cent and Egypt (3.5 per cent plus).
It is also revealing that as at the end of 2018, academic staffs of the three key segments of tertiary education in the country - universities, polytechnics and colleges of education - have been on strike for some time now. In the meantime, the PMB administration is fixated on securing a second term in office.
Similar to the fate of the education sector, health-care delivery is not faring any better. Compare the Federal Government’s allocation of N340 billion to health, while paying over N1 trillion for fuel subsidy. In the meantime, health tourism has expanded tremendously as Nigerians seek medical attention abroad. Who can blame them when President Buhari himself undertook an eight-month medical vacation to the United Kingdom?
Citizen Well-Being, National Cohesion, Ethos and Pride
Nigeria’s official unemployment figure has increased by 3.3 million persons under the PMB administration, from 18.8 per cent to 23.1 per cent. Nigeria also boasts the highest number of poor persons at 87 million, which is growing by 6 persons per minute; while our Human Development Index (HDI) ranking fell from 152 to 157. HDI focuses on the quality of life enjoyed by citizens of any country; with per capita Income as one of its measures. On an official invitation to Nigeria, the global philanthropist, Bill Gates, did not mince words in observing that the PMB government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan did not give human capital development the priority it deserves. He further advised the political leadership to meet its responsibility of promoting the welfare of the people, especially the grossly-neglected teeming youth population. Typically, some spoke-persons of the administration engaged in diversionary tirades without any value-added to the welfare of the citizenry.
The PMB administration has rendered the country more divided than in any other era, including the constitutional crisis of the 1960s. With casual disdain for public opinion and sensibilities, the administration pursues the politics of vendetta, nepotism and recrimination. It has not only constricted the economy, but nurtured despair, despondency and haplessness in the generality of the citizenry.
Furthermore, with a Stress ranking of 148 out of 149, Nigeria now has a huge population of highly-traumatised people. It is no wonder that their sense of self-worth and national pride is at rock-bottom.
Transparency and Accountability
Whatever the number of cases prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), there is no doubt of the lopsided approach of the administration to the campaign against corruption. While the PMB administration pats itself on the back, it has kept mute over glaring cases and allegations regarding some of its members and acolytes. These include those involving former SGF Babachir Lawal, Abdularasheed Maina, unaudited accounts of the NNPC, subsidy payments, management of the nation’s refineries, NYSC certificate sagas for two members of the Federal Executive Council, shareholding of Etisalat and 9-Mobile, Ogoni Clean-up, recovered Abacha loots, and other stolen funds, lopsided appointments without recourse to the Federal Character Principle, etc.
It is the responsibility of the leadership to harness our abundant human and material resources for the common good. Leadership is not just an insignia for display, but all about performance: producing results and fulfilling a mission in the interest of the led.
The present dispensation has taken us way back to the dark days of the politics of hate, recrimination, vendetta and parochial pursuits. The longsuffering majority now groan under threats and destruction to their lives, property, livelihood, sustenance and future. After all the lies and subterfuges, the reality should dawn on Nigerians that PMB has not demonstrated leadership, statesmanship and firm grasp of the developmental challenges of Nigeria.
Should such a man and his team be entrusted with additional four years to unleash more traumas on a hapless, prostrate majority, the consequences would be dire, indeed. So, help us Almighty God.
•Esin wrote in from Kachia, Kaduna State.
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