By Adisa Adeleye
Many Nigerians will not understand the sudden change in the popularity of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government after the celebrated victory in the 2011 election. Many believe that if elections are held in many progressive states in the country today, the ruling party would suffer reverses more humiliating than the Edo State case.
The President was seen before the April 2011 elections as “God-Sent” and the one who would liberate the people of Nigeria from the political and economic woes of the past. Judging by the stature of President Goodluck Jonathan, this view is not misplaced.
The sudden turn in political fortunes has been demonstrated through public reactions on the oil subsidy question and other domestic issues which might have culminated in the dismal failure of the ruling party to secure victory in the last Edo State election.
The ruling party and its leadership have been under severe strictures for poor performance and lack of diligent application to progressive governance. Of recent was the alleged “face-off” between the Executive and Legislature on budget implementation.
However, watchers of President Jonathan continue to have implicit confidence in the President and in his ability to perform to the best of his ability in the present turbulent and politically charged atmosphere.
Many analysts are convinced that the problems of the President arise out of the difficult terrain of the country and the peculiar nature of Nigerians who are noted for their lack of patience and understanding.
That Nigerians are difficult to govern is axiomatic, and that the political leaders are slippery is a matter of fact. It may, therefore, be difficult for a godly person to succeed in the midst of political treachery and sectional insurgency. With Boko Haram bombs at appointed places, it might be nearly impossible for sanity to prevail.
Thus the need for iron determination to survive. Nigerians might be looking for a Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister to fire their imagination during the period of depression.
The Churchillian “we will not surrender”, we will fight in the air and beaches……” was enough to fuel the resistance of Britons during the Second World War and Britain eventually triumphed. After the depression of the last Olympics, perhaps the President`s mind was captured in the article titled “JONATHAN AND THE LONDON OLMYPICS” by Dr Reuben Abatti, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Jonathan. As a crafty Journalist, Dr. Abatti supplied what is necessary to lift up the dampened minds of the nation.
The new message is that the nation has to do many things of the past and more new things to encourage and improve sports if the nation wants to achieve glory in future global competitions. “We are a country of gifted people”, he said.
“We must identify those areas in which this country can excel and work hard at them”. “We must win medals and bring glory to our nation”, he advised. “I mean serious business. We must get our acts together”. Like all other appeals after failures, the private sector is looked upon to do a salvaging job. Nobody has suggested ways of encouraging the private sector to invest in sports when it has to grabble with its own existence in an unfriendly economic environment.
For instance, what are the incentives from government for encouraging private investments into sports development?
Most of the problems of the Federal Government and its leadership are based on what people see as promises made and not kept.
Reading through 2012 edition of Our Daily Bread some few days ago, I came across this interesting passage: “when people say with a sigh, `Promises, promises`, it is often when they have been disappointed by someone who failed to keep a commitment, the more it happens, the greater the sadness and the deeper the sigh”.
Nigerians have listened patiently to the promises of reforms, reforms, and yet they are no visible revolutionary reforms. The economic reforms have brought paper-growth of GDP without appreciable growth rate in general employment. The picture today is that of a depreciating currency (N) and unfavorable high exchange rate in a tightened monetary stance that perpetrates deepening poverty in the country.
Unfortunately, the 2012 budget has been less emphatic on devaluation and stunted growth of the economy. As I have written before on Devaluation, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a former President was bold and categorical in his 1983 Budget Speech when he said;
“ I have followed with keen interest the on-going debate on the devaluation of the Naira, I am convinced that given the present structure of the Nigerian economy which depends largely on one export commodity on the one hand and places heavy reliance on imports of capital goods and raw materials in the other, devaluation will not be in the best interest of the country, I therefore wish to state without any equivocation that under the present circumstances, this administration has no intention of devaluating the Naira”.
However, another enlightened contribution was given by a former Head of Civil Service, Chief Allison Ayida who noted in his “Reflection on Nigerian Development” that `the way out is to evoke a new strategy involving less dependence on imports and the promotion of local manufacturing and agricultural production. Oil revenue should be seen as providing the fuel for engineering the growth points.
If we can manage the domestic economy properly and efficiently, the external sector will gradually assume less importance and the Naira will find its level in the floating basket of currencies`.
It is a pity that oil money is distributed to take care of the current expenditure (70 – 80 per cent) of both the Federal and State budgets and not more on capital expenditure. The question is how can economic reform succeed in an environment which is unfriendly to poverty eradication policies? And also, in a state of partial darkness – lack of power.
On the question of political reforms, it has become an old song which has lost its melodious stanza. Perhaps Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie saw the right vision in 2001 when he advised that “Nigeria should sit down and work on the Constitution. The agitation for national conference has been on for long and I think this is the time to hold it.
“We cannot run from it for much longer. The more we run, the more necessary it becomes. One thing I fear about this nation is this, a civil revolution. I see a civil revolution in this country and I fear it – you hear of ethnic militias everywhere, it is telling us something…”
There was no Boko Haram insurgency at that time, but ethnic and religious clashes. If the political and economic situation is viewed against the present nonchalant attitude towards reality, this is the time to reverse it to the more positive posture.