Wednesday, 19 June 2013
The Presidents Probity Perplexity By M.B.O Owolowo
A depressing state of affairs in the leadership dearth is further compounded by a supposedly accidental president whom has been consistently criticized as lacking tact or initiative. He has unfeignedly appeared flummoxed ab initio without the critical portrayal characteristic of his antagonist’s. His retinue of image launderers have been so preoccupied with defending absurdities that some have even resorted to fallacious ululation; or how does one explain the misinformation by the Minister of Information on his near death experience following the tragic loss of lives in the Bayelsa State air mishap
. Other presidential aides have vainly attempted to justify the unjustifiable regarding the latest contretemps generated by the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident, as we were informed the president has ordered a probe into the accident; how comforting. What has been the outcome of the fuel subsidy probe that was initiated after some of us came out en masse remonstrating the proposed subsidy removal earlier in the year, as we optimistically (rather despondently) await the implementation of the report by the Nuhu Ribadu led Petroleum Task Force.
Even when the president’s critics have been implored to cut him some slack, he comes up with another absurdity. Still reeling from the N2 billion ($12.5 million) banquet hall and N16 billion ($100 million) vice-presidential abode, please note; the figure was N7 billion initially then it was appropriated with N9 billion being the recurring figure. But wait a minute, it wasn't appropriated to N9 billion, rather it was appropriated by an additional N9 billion, bringing the total to N16 billion pending approval. Some of us were already imagining what other financial fatuity he was going to concoct; an additional N250 billion security budget to contend with the growing national insecurity that's ironically meant to be under the purview of the Commander-in-Chief of the FRN or another grandiose increase in fuel prices, none of which would surprise me the slightest.
The latest faux pas is the appointment of Anthony Anenih as Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, this especial appointment has deservedly created some furore in many quarters but the apparent expostulation isn’t primarily because of Pa Anenih’s 'prime' age of 79, but for his antecedents.
Some have raised issues concerning his notoriety, highlighting his public spat with Oshiomole for the Edo Gubernatorial elections including the claim by Orji Kalu and the “Bola Ige treatment” debacle. However the most revealing censure was his involvement along with other ministers in a probe of financial impropriety within the transport sector. The damning report not only revealed how about N300 billion ($2b or £1.2b) was misappropriated during his tenure as Minister of Works and Housing but also the non-execution of the awarded contracts. As I often lament, its sombrous enough contracts are inflated in Nigeria but the non-implementation is just taking the piss! Talk about being ‘raped’ by a boisterous ‘rapist’.
Some of the president’s supporters have even tried to draw a parallel between with the ages of Buhari and Anenih to justify the appointment. The argument is Buhari would be 73 if he decides to contest in 2015. The Buhari chronicles has conveniently become the manual of recrudescence for the presidents sycophants. They often raise otiose innuendos trying to justify the constant abashment caused by their befuddled politico.
Personally, I have nothing against the older generation and I believe democracy should be all embracing. We wouldn't be upholding the ideals of democracy if we marginalized a certain aspect of society.
There are some leadership examples in support of the older generation:
President Jose Mujica of Uruguay is 77 now and he assumed office in 2010 when he was 75.
Nelson Mandela was also 75 when he became president in 1994, even if ceremoniously compensatory.
Another example is Alpha Conde of Guinea, who was 72 when he assumed his position as president in 2010. Despite being part of the opposition for decades of successive governments he wasn't deterred, he contested and won. Conde is 74 now and very active in the administration of his presidential duties, he would be 76 at the end of his first term in 2014.
The youth are understandably frustrated by the state of affairs, some youth are beginning to wonder if a certain clique from the older generation would willing quit the socio-political stage. Some of us have come to the realization the younger generation need to be actively involved pronto. The youth must appreciate they wouldn't be given the opportunity or mantle of leadership on a silver platter; they must vehemently strive to prove their potential and mettle.
Though I am an advocate for the younger generation but also a realist, I would love to see a Rochas, Fashola or Ribadu at the helm of affairs but the reality is we still have some socio-political complexities we must contend with. For instance, can a Ribadu, Fashola or Rochas arrest some of our past presidents to give particular account of the $16 billion wasted on electricity or $12 billion Gulf War oil windfall?
Evidently there are some political dinosaurs in our milieu that should be jettisoned; they are preventing the involvement of new blood in our polity with their ill-gotten resources. Ideally they should be interrogated for squandering the nation’s commonwealth, but instead gallivant freely and are even celebrated in certain quarters.
In contrast, have the younger generation faired any better in positions of authority? James Ibori was 41 when he became Governor of Delta State in 1999 and was in office till 2007. We all know where he is spending his Christmas at the moment and I don't believe he has ulterior plans for the New Year.
Coincidentally this is not the first time he is spending the yuletide behind bars; this commendable feat was orchestrated by Ribadu in 2007. Ribadu belongs to the next crop of aspiring leaders and is a plus to the younger generation unlike our president.
Ostensibly, the president can't excogitate anything meaningful or productive because his thought processes aren't in tandem with economic realities and the hardships faced by those he is meant to be serving. A good leader is meant to be the servant of his/her followers, making necessary sacrifices to achieve greater objectives for the common good. So it’s not a ‘my turn to chop’ tenure Sir!
The president shied away from the presidential debates during elections and preferred to dialogue with a local artist. He is reaping the consequences of his poor public relations, notably the indecorous response to publicly declaring his assets: “I don’t give a damn”. The depletion of the Excess Crude Account, supplementary budget for fuel subsidy and the apparent exculpation of subsidy thieves aren’t helping his case.
In view of these contrastive points, age isn’t an equitable criterion in determining performance in office. Everyone whether young or old should be free to contest for any political office; the electorate will decide who they want. If the electorate would have a fair say in determining who rules them is another intricacy entirely.
The president must realise he has mounted the saddle of leadership at a very crucial juncture in our subsistence as a great nation; his executive position requires responsibility and accountability to the whole country and not just a segment.
Our size and diversity if properly harnessed and managed can have positive impacts on not just the country but the entire continent. My friends and colleagues from other parts of the continent often wonder if Nigeria understands the special position it is in and the pivotal role it can play in continental advancement: the world is watching.
Following a nexus of executive gaffes some of those who voted for him have been honest enough to admit their folly, whilst those blinded by bigotry and hate continue in their recalcitrance. I laugh when I read comments like “we voted for Jonathan not PDP” Seriously! Er! Let's try explaining that to a 12 year old succinctly. However, I am dismayed when I read comments like “We don’t care who is president, as long as it’s not a Northerner or Muslim” Seriously!!! Have some of us truly lost our sense of reasoning to the extent of not brooding beyond these platitudinous polarities? Can’t we be reasonably fair and objective by calling what is good, good and what is bad, bad? Crucially, the sooner we rise above religious and ethnic bigotry the better; else we would be back in the same retrogressive quagmire come 2015. We would have no one to blame but ourselves as the corrupt continue to ravage our resources.
Pathetically, it appears the only thing our thieving democrats care concerned about are their bank account balances, the masses can go to blazes for all they care. The reality is only the conscientious intellectuals amongst us can initiate change, but we seriously need to re-orientate the masses for they are the primary impetus driving the noble cause for change. Nigeria will be great I have no doubt but not with this current crop of pillagers; it may be the coming generations that would reap the rewards of the valiant era that fought to redefine the status quo with 'enough is enough'
GOD Bless you all and Nigeria!
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters