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Jonathan One yr after: Okotie rues stagnation

By Ishola Balogun
In just few days, the PDP and some state governors would mark their first year in power.  How has the journey been? The ruling elite, not having much to offer after getting power, continue politicking even when the elections are over.

So, one is not surprised that the present unwarranted debate over where the 2015 presidency should go, has predictably over heated the polity, not minding the  fact that some of the elected officials have hung verdicts that are still being resolved in election tribunals across the country, twelve months after the elections.

In fact, only recently, some elections were overturned, requiring re-runs to fill the vacant offices. Some Governorship elections are  due in a couple of months in states like Edo and Ondo. Even these, would create their own electioneering tensions and the losers are likely to head for the tribunals to get legal redress.

With the way our election calendar is structured, we are likely to be having perpetual tension-soaked political atmosphere in between elections. Coupled with the usual violence that mar the process, we can hardly have a settled polity. Reflecting on the first anniversary of this government, Prince of Nigeria, and Chairman, Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH, Rev. Chris Okotie, told party faithfuls during the week that the entire political process is in dire need of a clean out.

“We’ve been doing things the same way as far as our politics is concerned, so we’re bound to have the same result”, Okotie said, explaining the present stagnation. What he found particularly irksome, he said, is the present agitation over the 2015 elections, when the dust of the last one is yet to settle. The insensitivity of the Nigerian politician to the pervading misery in the land is appalling.

“These people couldn’t care less. They want power for power sake. That’s why, having won the elections, so to speak, they can’t perform”, the Prince lamented as he  pointed out that there’s really nothing on ground to celebrate. For stakeholders like Okotie, where the shoe pinches most, is the nonchalance of our governing cabal. They are clueless regarding the way forward for our economy.

Federal government officials are flattered by the 7.1 % growth of our economy which is ranked as one of the fastest in the world, but we’ve not seen that growth translate into high living standard for our citizens, like is the case with other countries. Flaunting paper growth will do  nobody any good unless the macro-economic impact is fully felt by most Nigerians.

Twelve months of the present PDP administration has not brought the desired positive change that the voters eagerly expect  when they were inundated with the slogan, “Good luck for me, good luck for everybody”! The luck seems, in reality, to be for a few venal  rich who are in the ruling clique.

Okotie

Rev Okotie said he decided not to be  too critical of the President initially, to give him time to settle down considering the controversy that heralded his administration due to the storm of his emergence as the PDP presidential candidate. “Moreover, he received his first baptism of fire with the Independence Day bombing, which jolted the entire nation because it was unprecedented. Then, for the first time the suicide bombings came on”, he said.

That’s quite thoughtful, one may say. In fact, Okotie rightly earns the admiration of  those who see him as the new face of Nigerian politics. His level-headed politics and statesman-like approach to national issues justifies his Prince of Nigeria title.

Refreshing as it is that the Reverend’s temperate politics could douse the present tension in the polity, he cannot, but be surprised that there’s no visible impact of governance at all levels. “Our democracy is on trial”, he said.

There’re so many unresolved issues. Boko Haram continues to waste precious human lives; now, some northern politicians are still bitter over the outcome of the 2011 elections, with some threatening a violent resistance if the 2015 polls are rigged.

This is bad news for our democracy. And the bad news extends to every sector of our national life. President Jonathan can not point to anything tangible he has done since he came to power last year. In fact, he appears to be struggling to assert his presidency.

“Twelve months is a long probation for any president to prove himself on the job. And for someone like Jonathan who has been in the corridors of power for more than a decade, governance ought to be a familiar terrain. He has no excuse not to perform. What he needs to do now is to device an effective strategy to contain the Boko Haram. He can do this by deploying more efforts in intelligence operation which should aim at destroying the terrorist’s operational bases and blocking their supply lines. Their financial backers and sponsors can also be identified. With the help of foreign intelligence organizations, these guys can be apprehended. Also, genuine efforts should be made by the northern governors to dialogue with the group, along with federal government officials.

“ More importantly, a short-term programme of rehabilitation and development for the poorest regions of the north where the Boko Haram groups are based should be set up by the federal government.

A general amnesty and micro-lending facilities for small scale agri-business and the Almajiri/nomadic education could be a part of a total package the government could offer the Boko Haram in exchange for disarmament and an end to the campaign.

“ Jonathan has to find a way to create a secure atmosphere for local and direct foreign investment if his Transformation Agenda is ever to get off the ground. No economy can run on generators. The energy crisis, therefore, should be the core project in any realistic economic reform programme. If power is stable, it impacts all other sectors directly and the ripple effect will translate into macro-economic growth because the manufacturing sector which spends almost 30 percent of its product cost on power generators, will regain its competitive edge against cheap imports from Asia.

“ Small and medium scale enterprises are the engine of economic growth. And they are the worst hit by the power deficit. If government can provide power, and succeeds in repositioning the capital market to create confidence in institutional investors, our economy would be back on track.  A genuine basis for transformation would have been laid. That’s when Jonathan’s luck can be good for Nigerians.”

 


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