Wednesday, 26 February 2014
A President And His Many Promises By Ahmed Babba Kaita (MHR)
As Nigerians entered the New Year with little hope for the future, President Jonathan tried to reignite the usual zeal with which each New Year is traditionally welcomed. It was an effort in futility though. There isn't any prospect that 2013 would be any different from the tumultuous 2012. The body language of the President, his handlers and the ruling PDP were as uncoordinated as ever to engender any hope that things would be better in 2013 than they were last year..
In a message to his ‘numerous’ Facebook friends, the President painted a bright picture of a new year, relaying entirely on diplomatic niceties that he mistook for genuine assessment of the situation in Nigeria. Our future gauge was assessed by the "Clinton Foundation" and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
While confirming the consistent GDP growth rate of over 6% per annum for the last 3 years, President Goodluck claimed the "Clinton foundation" celebrated Nigeria as one of the 10 fastest growing economies for this feat. The President was equally carried away with David Cameron's comparing Nigeria with Brazil and Indonesia in a weird unsupportable argument of growth and development.
President Jonathan might have hinged his absolute believe in Cameron's declaration based on Cameron's assessment of the common factor unifying the three countries which he mentioned as; fitness, obsessed with enterprise, spending money on the future - education, infrastructure and technology. Superficially an excellent view, if I may say. But, shouldn't the President consider more, the assessment closer home than resting his hope of "fresh breeze" on misleading diplomatic niceties from Europe and USA that cannot be supported with the reality of stagnation very visible on the Nigerian soil. A simple conscience analysis would have told President Jonathan that neither Bill Clinton (after whom the Clinton Foundation was established) nor PM David Cameron would have lasted a week in office with half the mess trailing each and every action he has taken as a president.
President Jonathan claimed improvement in various sectors of the economy, the most ridiculous being security. He even claimed an improvement in "life expectancy." That, I found most ridiculous. Cut away from the life threatening situation most Nigerians are exposed to, the president is the last person to know what life expectancy (the real thing) is in Nigeria. Daily, people are being killed or maimed on our national highways by either the guns of armed robbers or insurgents on one hand, or the guns of rampaging security personnel. For those who escaped these threats, our dangerously dilapidated roads would definitely finish the job. Not even the powerful convoys of state governors and other high ranking government officials that hitherto bullies other road users off the road - sometimes with fatal consequences is immune to the deadly consequences of Nigerian roads that got more deadly with more money spent on them.
How one rates the claim of rising life expectancy against the poor state of rural and urban healthcare delivery systems requires more presidential explanation. But, it deserves being mentioned that no nation develops by relying on foreign hospitals for treatment of common non-life threatening ailments. Perhaps, on their different visits to the Nigerian shores, both Clinton and Cameron might have had to contend with tight schedules to glance through our local newspapers. They couldn't have missed numerous adverts of various Dubai and Indian hospitals with attractive offers for healthcare services.
Such adverts have since become a good source of revenue for numerous ailing publishing houses. Same goes for foreign schools scavenging on the Nigerian public who are left with no option but to patronise most of these low rated institutions that can never be allowed to operate in Europe and the US. Fortunately, these schools are still a better option to cultists and drug addicts production line our local universities have been reduced to through long exposure to unfriendly policies and utter disregard to the roles of universities in nation building.
With indisputable evidence of a declining nation caused by moral corruption with a devastating effect of social stagnation, both President Jonathan and Prime Minister David Cameron couldn't have being celebrating any other "GDP" growth beside the ever growing "Gross Domestic Problems." Cameron wouldn't have faced the British parliament with a phantom prospect of a new year when he cannot substantiate such dreams with tangible evidence of clear blueprint of how he intends to achieve it. Perhaps, through with dumping garbage second hand goods, Europe is set on turning Nigeria into a giant political and economic laboratory where any unimaginable theory will be put to the test. How else does a paper "GDP" growth translate to a change of fortune in Nigeria when the number of people living below poverty line is rising same time with the imaginary "GDP" growth that the president hold so dear?
I couldn't help but agree with the president in his call for attitudinal change. The only difference however is that, while the president is seeking for this change from the Nigerian public, the solution lies with the change of attitude toward leadership by the Nigerian leaders. No nation develops when issues of corruption are treated with levity. Various probes set by this regime provided ample chance for the regime to prove its zero tolerance to corruption but, sadly corruption keeps growing and suffocating every aspect of our wellbeing as a nation.
Indonesia and Brazil do not grow their economies by playing frisbee with multi-trillion Naira corruption allegations as the one uncovered by the fuel subsidy scam probe for which no one is yet convicted. Corruption, just like cancer, stifles growth and threatens the continuous existence of a nation. And just like cancer, it requires a painful therapy regime to contain. But first we have to accept its signs and symptoms and treat them for what they are rather than accepting any foreign concocted theory of "GDP" growth without supportive evidence. The first step to addressing a problem is to accept it exists.
Kaita is a member of the House of Representatives representing Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa Federal Constituency of Katsina state.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters