Friday, January 16, 2009

Era of Silentocracy

Dear Mr. president, When you came into power on May 29, 2007, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief. Despite the flawed electoral process that brought you into power (which you frankly admitted), Nigerians, in their desperate bid to put an end to the reign of your predecessor, received you with open arms. As soon as you mounted the saddle, you beamed a flicker of hope as you rolled out your Seven-Point Agenda aimed at making Nigeria emerge amongst the best economies in the world by year 2020. Nigerians applauded your purposefulness.

Further, you won our hearts with your strict adherence to the rule of law, which was the bane of your predecessor. Worthy of note was the return of the N10bn allocation (which was unlawfully seized by your predecessor) to the Lagos State Government. This emboldened the anti-graft bodies, especially the EFCC, to carry out their duties without fear or favour, as some hitherto sacred cows were arrested, prosecuted or, at least, publicly humiliated.

However, just as you have begun to win the hearts of Nigerians, you suddenly began to shift ground and began to bow to pressure from mostly corrupt party stalwarts and your unnecessarily numerous advisers who felt that your liberality would hinder their selfish and parochial interests. And you caved in. You turned against the EFCC that teamed up with you in your anti-corruption campaign, perhaps because the anti-graft body went too far to touch a very sacred cow. And with the collaboration of Police authorities, you forced the hard working EFFC chair-man into a hush-hush training leave.

Well-meaning Nigerians as well as the international community condemned your approval of this flawed redeployment, but you unleashed your infamous weapon of self-defence – silence. Even when the issue assumed a crisis dimension, you kept mute, only to break your silence with the appointment of a successor to the EFCC chairman (presumed to be on study leave) without following due process. Even when the Senate, including notable legal luminaries and the international community condemned your action, you stood your ground.

Before this was the “Etteh-gate” – a national issue that embarrassed the country. When the nation was waiting for her Number One Citizen to make a categorical statement to end the stalemate, you maintained your characteristic silence (which I term Silentocracy), using the rule of law as an excuse. Mr. President, your silence on each occasion was far from golden.

Mr. President, in the seven-point agenda, you promised to declare a state of emergency in the power sector within 100 days in office. About 600 days in office, and the situation of power is still deplorable. Yours sincerely represents over 75 percent of unemployed graduates who, in a frantic bid to make ends meet, engaged in small-scale businesses, but whose efforts have been hampered by epileptic power supply. Many industries have collapsed due to lack of power supply. How would Nigeria emerge among the top world economies by year 2020 the way we are going?

Security usually has the highest vote in annual budgets. But how can you secure a nation with over 75 percent of the population living below the poverty line, while a privileged few live in affluence?

Nigerians are very hard-working people with amazing survival instinct. Given the right atmosphere, the average Nigerian can be very productive. Stable power supply alone can make half of the population engage in meaningful productive activities and reduce crime to the barest minimum.

And the Niger Delta issue. The crisis in that region cannot be quelled through military intervention as you once advocated, before rushing to Britain to seek assistance from Gordon Brown who was ready to provide military assistance if you so desired. But at what cost? The Niger Delta question does not need further dialogue, let alone a summit. The facts are very clear. What we need is sincerity of purpose. Just mobilise Julius Berger and other construction companies to survey the area and commence infrastructural development of the region and the so-called militants will turn into vigilante groups that would assist security operatives to protect the facilities in the region!

Considering the stupendous amount of money we made from oil in the course of the boom, Nigeria has no business with poverty. Yet the common man has been pauperized in the midst of plenty. The prices of petroleum products have remained the same, even at a time that the neighbouring Ghana reduced the price of the commodity, though they don’t have it in abundance as we do. Tell me, how much will it cost this country to repair our refineries and build new ones?

Our roads are in deplorable state, with hundreds of lives lost daily there. The nation once lost 46 gallant soldiers who were returning from a peace-keeping mission in Darfur in an avoidable road mishap. Air travelers are regularly stranded for days in airports across the country as a result of blackout!

A United States-based global humanitarian organi-sation – Save the Children – once reported that one million children die yearly in Nigeria. The report therefore ranked Nigeria among countries with the worst basic health care for mothers and children world-wide (second only to India). Yet, ours is a country with some of the best medical experts in the world.

Mr. President, it is disheartening to hear you say that you are taking your time to plan how to fix the nation’s numerous problems, in your response to critics who rightly pointed out that you’re too slow. I pray you finish your careful planning during our lifetime.

Mr. President, you have an ample opportunity to write you name in gold, given the huge resources at your disposal. Nigeria must survive. Insha Allah!

I wish you well.