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Of The Tanzanian Change And Our Own Change By Peter Claver Oparah

December 20, 2015

Of recent, the hyperactive Nigerian social media has been abuzz with heightened excitement of some Nigerians on reported changes that are taking place in Tanzania under President John Pombe Magufuli. As is typical of Nigerians, we are dancing around it. We are clapping, chorusing and making sweet music of what is happening in Tanzania. Trust Nigerians, with their penchant to kick-start charity from abroad, 'what is happening in Tanzania is the real change. It is the desired change and what Nigeria really need'. To these excited Nigerians, we don't need the Buhari change. We are not being fed by bread and butter by Buhari's  change even as we didn't fathom how the Tanzanian change can feed Tanzanians with the much-longed-for bread and butter. 

For the hurting and exasperated scoffer, still ruing the feel-good days of PDP and former President Goodluck Jonathan when the treasury was latched open for all manners of freeloaders, President Buhari should take a tutorial from Tanzania. Whether he knows the components of the Tanzanian change and how it fits his own desire to scoff at every move of the Buhari regime to show his hurt, is another matter entirely. To the confused and compromised commentator and columnist who is finding it hard to convey his intents, Buhari should learn from Tanzania the real change and stop confusing us with his own fake change. To the distressed PDP confederate who is still is shocked from the aftermath of the historical defeat of his party in March and April, Buhari needs to undergo a refresher course in Tanzania to appreciate what change is and stole confusing 'witch-hunting of PDP chieftains' as change.

But then, let us take a full preview of the Tanzanian Change as these interests gleefully paraphrase in any known media space. The fact is that some yodel of this legendary Tanzanian change does not even know the ingredients of that change or why they recommend it in place of Nigerian change. I am reproducing below, the undistorted commentary of one of the most fervent merchants of the Tanzanian change in the media. 

"Last weekend they were opening parliament, and there was a state dinner planned for all guests that were going to cost about 300m. President Magufuli cut the budget to 25m and ordered that the rest be taken to buy hospital beds for Muhimbili. They got 300 beds and mattresses and 600 bedsheets from that money. On 23rd Nov 2015 he announced that there will be no official ceremonies for Independence Day on  December 9th, the money is to be used for more pressing issues and the day should instead be spent cleaning up our environment.

"On Saturday 21st Nov 2015 a group of 50 people were about to set off for a tour of Commonwealth countries (don’t know for what) but President Magufuli cut that list down to 4 people, saving government 600m in tickets, accommodation and per diems. No more foreign travel, embassies will take care; if it’s necessary to go, special permission must be sought from him or Chief Secretary.

No more 1st class and business class travel for all officials except President, Vice, and Prime Minister. No more workshops and seminars in expensive hotels when there are so many ministry boardrooms available.

"President Magufuli asked how come engineers are given V8s when a pick-up is more suitable for their jobs. No more sitting allowances. How the hell are you paid allowance for a job which you have a monthly salary? That also applies to MP’s.

"President Magufuli has literally pressed the reset button; returning Tanzania to factory default settings, because that was the Julius Kambarage Nyerere left us with.
On the day after he was brought to power, in the morning as State House officials were showing him round he decided to take a walk to ministry of finance, told them to get their act together, asked why some employees weren’t in office (ever since then the traffic jam in mornings has become worse) and ordered TRA to scrap all tax exemptions, everyone must pay taxes especially the big guys. 

"President Magufuli went to Muhimbili Hospital unannounced and walked through the worst parts that they keep hiding from important visitors. He fired the director, fired the hospital board and ordered that all machines that weren't working (so that people go to private hospitals owned by some doctors) to be repaired within two weeks otherwise he fires even the new director; the machines were repaired in 3 days.

"Finally, last week when going to open officially Parliament President Magufuli didn’t go by plane, drove the whole 600km from Dar to Dodoma.
President Magufuli has reduced the size of the presidential convoy, even reduced the size of the presidential delegation that travels with him President Magufuli chose a Prime Minister we haven’t heard of before, a guy with a reputation for hard work and no corruption. All the big guys we expected could be PM have been let wondering what hit them.His motto is: Hapa Kazi Tu

"After President Magufuli visited ministry of finance and Muhimbii Hospital without announcing, it is said the ports, (most corrupt, delaying, thieving officials) were all of a sudden the most efficient place. No loads are missing, things are done quickly, and that habit of forcing for a bribe so that your container is released is no more.
Oh, they say when he was confirmed as winner people started congratulating him and wanting to bring gifts to his place he turned them back, saying he will receive all congrats over the phone, nobody should visit him.

"All individuals/firms that bought state companies that were privatized but haven’t done anything (20yrs later) are to either revive the industries immediately or hand them back to the government.”

These are good, laudable and highly recommendable especially in a continent given to acute prebendal leadership. Make no mistake, the change in Tanzania being wrought by President Magufuli shows rays of redemption in a continent where cannibalism and the worst forms of leadership atrophy have ripped apart well-endowed nations and made millions of people desolate. The new Tanzanian President is flashing a needed torch on a debilitating anomie that is finishing off the African continent as the world marches on in global advancement. But then how comprehensive are change such actions in a country as wide, wild, multifarious and untamed as Nigeria with gargantuan size, population, disparity and profound capacity to sustain mindboggling corruption especially among its politicians and public officers?

So would it be apt to state that the change in Nigeria are far less extensive than what is happening in Tanzania? Given the structures of the Nigerian federation and economy, would it be proper to pontificate that the Tanzanian change stands to impact the people more than the change presently going on in Nigeria? The answer to these posers is a big NO. Let's be sincere here: were a President Megalufi a Nigerian President, would the laudable actions illustrated above that has spawned so much raucous celebration among Nigerian nay-Sayers (who, by the way, spit on the concept and idea of change in all its entirety in Nigeria in their bid to preserve their illicit comfort zones), assuage the feeling and pervert fantasies of these same Nigerians?

How will the bold moves taken by the Tanzanian president suffice for the syndicated cries of bread and butter that mark the agitations of those who are now perversely yakking for change after they did everything to frustrate change last March? How far would reaching a President Buhari visiting hospitals and making pronouncements, visiting ministries and firing one or two staffs, cutting down on the size of the Presidential entourage, etc. do to the humongous Nigerian state and economy in its present state? How far can symbolic gestures and actions, as laudable as they are, vitiate the reckless agitations for manna which the Nigerian opposition now make their daily catena even when they and theirs ensured the economy was completely wrecked and plundered before Buhari took office?

But come o. So we are not seeing historical and far-reaching changes in Nigeria capable of not only redefining the economy and conduct of businesses in Nigeria but also catapult Nigeria to real growth and fame since Buhari came? Sho? So we read nothing of the stoppage of the Byzantine culture of free looting and brazen stealing of the commonwealth since the New Sherrif came on board? Are we so blind to the impact of such revolutionary stance on the lives if hundreds of millions of Nigerians and the growth and prospects of Nigeria? So Nigerians are oblivious of the strict culture of accountability that has been forced down a recalcitrant system many Nigerians have exploited and abused to steal the treasury to the bones? 

Is it that we are not seeing that the economic rodents and ramparts that feed freely from the wealth of the masses have been chased out of circulation and all rat holes through which they salt the people's' wealth plugged in one fell swoop that they are wondering what tornado hit them? Are we not aware that the cult of idle speculators and free loaders that live off the lifeblood of Nigerians's poor and vulnerable have been so rusticated that their ancient means of stripping the country bare have been blocked via the Nigerian Change? Is it that Nigerians are unaware that the trillion Naira scans and billions of dollars scandals that recently became an everyday fad in the conduct of statecraft has stopped? What greater change is more far-reaching than that? Making pronouncements in hospitals or ordering civil servants to report early to work or cutting down official delegations? Which of these has President Buhari not made in Nigeria that we are so cheaply lapping on to the symbolic postures of President Magufuli as the desires variant of change for Nigeria? Are Nigerians not aware that the culture of corrupt contract bazaar has been busted by the change in the country since May? 

Which Nigerian pretends not to know the comprehensiveness and revolutionary content on the war against corruption that forms the keystone of the Nigerian change? Which Nigerian, in a bid to shore up dwindling political fortunes, pretends not to know the far-reaching benefits of stopping the Byzantine stealing that has not only wrecked Nigeria and her citizens but has diminished Nigeria's capacity to operate as a serious nation capable of exerting a positive influence over her citizens? Which Nigerian will pretend that visiting hospitals, offices, making correct statements here and there is the type of change Nigeria needs today as against stopping plunderers from wrecking the economy, taking in the powerful and hitherto untouchable Nigerian looting cabal for an inquest and sending intending ramparts to run for cover? 

Pray who wakes up each day with stories of billions of dollars missing here and there and trillions of Naira stolen everywhere as was the dreary scenario before our change dawned on May 29? If this is not revolutionary and far-reaching, pray which is? Visiting a hospital or one or two ministries to order that services be improved? How much of lives are saved by these visits and how much of stolen monies are redeemed by these (laudable) visits in contrast to the change we have in Nigeria today? President Magufulicut a state dinner from N300 million to N20 million, and that becomes great news in a country where President Buhari cut independence celebration from the N333 million spent on such celebration last year to N70 million this year? That President Magufuli cut his delegation to the Commonwealth is great news in a country where President Buhari cut his delegation to the UN General Assembly to 22 this year from the 600 that the former regime took to the same function in 2003? That President Magufuli joined in environmental clean up, as some Nigerians gleefully celebrated last week should be such exciting news in a country where the same people celebrating this worthy tokenism took time to criticise President Buhari for introducing periodic environmental clean up exercises and orderliness in chaotic Nigerian sphere in his first stint as Head of State shows the dark minds of some Nigerians in the face of change from a vile and rotten order they wished had continued to further their invidious interests.  

So these scoffing Nigerians are oblivious that President Buhari, in deference to change, has cut down the number of his ministries, the size of his appointees, the allowances and perks political office holders enjoy in Nigeria? Most importantly, is it that these revellers against change are not aware that culture of wandering and peddling influence all over Abuja by pimps, locusts, scoundrels, layabouts, pests,  vermin and political hangers-on and walking away with billions of Naira for doing nothing, has been abridged by change? So these Nigerians clapping themselves to stupor about change in Tanzania but who snigger and deride against a more far-reaching change in Nigeria, are blind and deaf to the sordid details of the anti-corruption cases thumbing all over the land since change dawned or they want to be plainly mischievous by touting about the change in Tanzania? Are these Nigerians not aware that by enforcing the TSA policy, President Buhari has employed change to recover trillions of Naira that were hitherto stolen by unconscionable public officials who run zillions of slush accounts, trading and salting enormous public resources that would have served tens of millions of Nigerians? Are these Nigerian maskers for Tanzanian change oblivious of the impact such measure can unleash on a famished people that have lived at the mercy of rouge regimes and their officials? 

All said, I restate that the Change in Tanzania introduced by President Magufuli is good and desirable. If anything, it is a great rebuke to the hypocrites who are making a dance of it in Nigeria today to scoff and deride a more comprehensive change that is taking place here. It is an even bigger indictment for the dark interests whom these people work for which crippled the country as it's commission lasted and which worked so hard to frustrate our change. Most importantly, it us nit equal in proportion, impact, size, effects and coverage to the Change in Nigeria, our Change, which these celebrations aim to diminish. 


Peter Claver Oparah
Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: [email protected]