By Kassim Afegbua
We are in difficult times as a nation. We are getting deeper and deeper into the abyss of inaction and poor rendition of leadership essentials. It is becoming humiliating and shameful to some of us seeing the level Nigeria has plunged into. The transformation mantra that heralded this administration has since plummeted and the fresh air that was promised has since become a hollow ritual.
The Jonathan administration appears boastfully fixated for lack of clear cut policy direction thus exposing the inherent lapses in the system. It is obvious that there was no discernible policy agenda other than the fact that some people just felt the President should continue the seamless transition from late Yar’ardua unto himself.
The quality of representation in government and its debilitating trajectory has been most disturbing. Nigeria is becoming one hell of a country with no ideological and developmental roadmap to unleash the country on the super highway of symbolic and emulative leadership mutation.
Questions are being asked in very polemical context as to the reason why we have suddenly found ourselves in this journey of self destruct; a journey that has exposed leadership weakness that cannot stay the course; a leadership that is gradually alienating itself from the mass of the people by the kind of anti-people policies that are walking the streets of Nigeria every day.
The President may mean well in his heart of hearts, but the candour, charm, charisma and benevolence that should fire his resolve to act in very profound manner is missing. The character of those drooling around him, many of whom are serving the interest of their pockets and not that of any altruistic purpose, makes the entire leadership orientation to be perceived as one of money-grubbing.
It is therefore very disturbing when you hear government officials render incoherent monologues as a replacement for dialogue with the Nigerian people. It is my opinion that the Jonathan-led administration is one that is manifestly adrift both in conduct and policy agenda.
What else for a government that is run on the basis of one committee after another and not through any well-thought out policy agenda? Ministers are called upon to serve in Committees that are drawn up from their Ministries to look at what ought to be their primary responsibility in the first place.
As we speak, Nigeria is living two worlds; North and South, and now made worse by the natural disaster of flooding that has kept everyone in abeyance. When Arik Air couldn’t fly, and Lokoja was swallowed up in flood, it dawned on us that we are living in delicate times.
There are no passable roads in most part of the Country. There are often no alternative when we are faced with crisis situation like the Lokoja logjam that is now at hand. Travelers have been held up for days trying to wriggle out of a situation that appears unabating by the menacing force of angry water let loose from the Cameron mountains. We have lost count of the dead as a result of this unfortunate situation.
In the fullness of this disheartening and frightening scenario, rather than tackle the situation we find ourselves with utmost dispatch, government has concluded plans to deploy a whooping sum of N600billion for population census in the year 2016, in the following order; N200b for 2013, N200billion for 2014, and N200billion for 2015. This Census project is to me a wasteful exercise.
Our immediate problem is not about our figure or how many we are, but that we do not have infrastructure to meet our daily needs. As useful as census could be in nation-building, our previous experience in this area has not shown any marked importance about using census figures as an incentive for national planning.
Rather we tend to politicize it in a manner that derides its importance. Our last Census exercise has not yielded any roadmap to contend with our developmental initiatives. I have a strong feeling that now that there are so many furores about subsidy or no subsidy, the need to look elsewhere for easy money to run elections is becoming more and more compelling. The Census project becomes as it were a gap-filler.
Otherwise, a serious government that is desirous of making very profound intervention in national development will not deploy such whooping sum into a project as “contemptuous” as Census when we are begging for infrastructure. A nation that is still importing fuel cannot possibly be thinking of spending N600billion on Census when that figure can give us six refineries in the country.
This is why the National Assembly must stop this adventure in overkill. It must help the ordinary Nigerian to make life more meaningful than this inchoate adventure that is programmed to fail. The National Assembly must demand explanation on why the Executive arm of government prefers census to building infrastructure; why it is placing emphasis on issues that are far removed from the people.
The country is presently being ravaged by floods and denudation. Thousands are being rendered homeless by no ordinary design of their own. Thousands are being rendered jobless by this avoidable natural disaster.
In the fullness of such wanton destruction, all the government could think of is about Census? Come on, someone should be bold to whip President Jonathan in line. All the patent thoughts about transformational agenda have exposed the dubiety in the system. Our debts are piling up in trillions.
Our infrastructures are decayed. We are still doing things the old way. We are nurturing a system that has no capacity to withstand the daunting challenges. We waste money on useless adventure. We flex muscles for nothing. Poverty is grinding the inner fabric of the nation to a halt.
Unemployment and underemployment have become the normative order. While government fat cats swim in the opulence of looted funds, the masses are singing dirge as a result of unpaid pensions, owed salaries, unpaid arrears and other entitlements. That is the Nigerian story; a story of many ifs, a story of many hisses and sighs. A story of noise making in the day, and silence in the night. Life they say goes on. That is the Nigerian story