Back in 2000 I visited Nigeria and passed through Benin. It was a sorry sight. I couldn’t believe the poor shape the city was in. I visited again ten years later; the place was in a sorrier state. Lately however, whenever I saunter though Edo State, I am comparatively impressed by the progress made under the current governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
So I am partial to Oshiomhole. I have a soft spot for him and always made sure to pay attention whenever he is in the news. But Oshiomhole can’t seem to get himself off the news these days – sometimes for good reasons and other times, not so good. Just a few weeks ago, the fairly unattractive man snagged himself a very beautiful wife. Only God and a few privileged Angels know how the man pulled off that astonishing caper. Plus, the young lady is 30 years younger than Oshiomhole. I’d be lying if I say I am not a wee bit jealous of the governor there.
Then Oshiomhole veered off to another woman. He laid into Dr Ngozi Okonlo-Iweala, our former Finance Minister and a former Vice President of the World Bank. As the national searchlight beamed on incompetent governors that have not been able to pay workers’ salaries and pensions for several months, Mr Oshiomhole took it upon himself to attempt to re-direct that searchlight onto the past government. He seemed intent on pinning the entire blame of non payment of salaries on Okonjo-Iweala and her economic policies. And he did it in a very personal way that was as visceral as it was cringe-worthy.
Oshiomhole was on Channels TV the other day and just wouldn’t shut up. He wouldn’t let his interviewers get any word in edgeways. The man basically had a conversation with himself. The focus was again on some governors’ inability to pay salaries, but the only thing our Adams harped on was how Okonjo-Iweala withdrew some money and what not. He claimed - contrary to available evidence - that the last federal government also wasn’t able to pay workers’ salaries. Then he talked some more about Okonjo-Iweala. He talked about her with so much negative passion you would have thought she was a former girlfriend who left him at the altar. It was a most embarrassing outing.
In every media, at every opportunity, Oshiomhole has gone after the previous government with crude vengeance. I just don’t understand it. But it is with this same all-consuming emotion that the Buhari government seems to be going after the previous government too. This is the first time I will hear of an inability to constitute personal staff and a federal cabinet being blamed on handover notes! Here we are, seven weeks in, and Buhari hasn’t even got a skeleton of a government in place. The only thing that passes for governance so far is the periodic wailing about the previous government, and, promises that that regime and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would be investigated.
I say: please investigate by all means and sanction where appropriate, but can we please have a government that actually governs! Economically, Nigeria is beginning to hurt; can we have an economic blueprint please? Foreign policy nkọ?
I do not think the change people voted for is a government that only want to investigate the past and rubbish people and previous doings. I am sure we can chew gum and walk at the same time. All I can see oozing out of the current government at the moment is the need for vengeance as if that is all we require to make progress in this country.
That need for vengeance has similarly been visited on Ike Ekweremadu. Ekweremadu’s sin seems to be that he, a PDP senator, got himself re-elected the Deputy Senate President while the APC National Assembly members were off on a jamboree somewhere. A couple of weekends ago, the APC tried to force Ekweremadu to resign. The man refused, so now, the government went and sic the police on him, giving all sorts of specious reasons. Ekweremadu was lucky; the police had actually turned up to arrest him but he wasn’t in the office. This is where we find ourselves so early in the day. Even if Obasanjo and subsequent governments behaved in such depraved blackmailing manner, I thought we were promised change.
As Buhari dilly-dallies, incompetent politics and inelegant prevarications are let loose on the land by his Party. From the Presidency, it is endless flip flops and reversal of one official pronouncement right after another. Presently, without the services of technical advisers and support around him (particularly in the area of finance) State governors are having a field day taking advantage of Buhari.
Please let the government get off its back and get on with the task of proper governance. Let’s talk about and focus on the provision of security, infrastructure and economic welfare. We can do this as we continue to investigate past infractions. Where there are proven cases of corruption and stealing, yes, yes, yes, let the government go after the perpetrators and do the legally needful. But there are petrol queues that need to be considerably shortened, abeg.
Just a couple of days ago, Oshiomhole was again in the news. He claimed that States are not able to generate internal revenues because there are not enough taxable entities in those States. He blamed it on the previous government. So Buhari and his people do need to get a move on because, at this rate (and God forbid), should Oshiomhole’s marriage has any age-related hiccup, the Governor will surely blame it on Okonjo-Iweala and the last government...