PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan knows about renewed hope. “I bring to you today, a message of renewed hope and faith in the immense possibilities that lie ahead,” he told Nigerians in his 52nd independence anniversary broadcast.
He spoke glowingly of the impact of his transformation agenda. It has changed the country; it has planted it on the steady path of progress. The plaudits the President lined up for the successes of his agenda are moderated by reality.
In less than five years, Nigeria moved from the Vision 2020:20 programme of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration to the transformation agenda. Few Nigerians understand the transformation agenda. We hear about it in speeches, but if its impact in the lives of Nigerians is measured by their conditions, it is not working.
Nigerians have learnt to abridge their expectations. They do not expect instant transformation of their country into paradise. They know there are challenges, particularly with leaderships that have fallen into a routine of complaining, like ordinary people they should inspire.
Granted there could have been improvements in some sectors and the country is going through its worst security situation since the Civil War, the President, has more work to do. Just as power supply is improving and another wave of fuel scarcity begins.
Where should Nigerians place hopes? The President suggested the 2013 budget would firm up the transformation agenda. Nigerians know that budgets in the past 13 years have tilted more in favour of recurrent expenditure (salaries, cars, maintenance of offices and official quarters) over capital votes (roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, rails).
The President’s promises leave Nigerians forlorn. They provide little comfort. His silence on review of the Constitution, an exercise Nigerians hope could result in better management of the federation, heightens anxieties over his position on untangling the maze that masks the nation’s future.
A momentous occasion like the 52nd anniversary serves a great platform for the President to connect with Nigerians. He could have used it better. Being dismissal about challenges Nigerians face is not very helpful. Failure to admit governments could do better distances Nigerians from their leaders.
Nigeria cannot live on potentials. No country does. The translation from dreams and hopes to realisation of the ambitions would make all the difference. Our leaders should strive for more openness in their search for peoples and platforms that can enhance the capacities of Nigerians to make their country work better.
More concerns about the humanity of Nigerian leaders — that makes them live above the people and their challenges — result in more fears about Nigeria’s future. It is the responsibility of leadership to provide hope now and for the future.