June 10, 2009

Seven-Point Debate

NEEDLESS debates are trailing the seven-point agenda of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. As usual, in the absence of a clear direction for the administration, debates on the seven-point agenda provide cover for its motion that is mistaken for progress.

In two years of propounding the agenda, what did it mean to Nigerians? The centrality of the seven-point to the administration and its glaring failure to improve lives of Nigerians should get Nigerians worried – and they are worried!

The government seriousness about the agenda shows when it launches into its defence each time a word is said against it.

Central Bank Governor Prince Sanusi Lamido, during his senate screening, drew government’s ire by stating that the seven-point agenda was unwieldy. He would have preferred a two-point prioritised programme.

Nigerians are not interested in the components of the agenda, its numbers, or its purpose. They want to see visionary efforts targeted at improving their conditions. The Yar’Adua administration is too inept to produce the required response, the global economic situation cannot be the only reason for this, nor the man’s oft-repeated knack for being methodical.

President Yar’Adua is too deliberate, and sometimes out of touch with situations. His own seven-point agenda overwhelms him.
If the Niger Delta and the rule of law, which are on the agenda, are examples, the President abused both in one full swoop. He deployed troops to the Niger Delta (as part of the strategy to make the place safe for development?) and the  troop movement was without the approval of the National Assembly.

Section 217 (2) of the Constitution states, “The Federation shall subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of – ( c ) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly”.

Did the President’s actions in the Niger Delta reflect rule of law? Did he consult the National Assembly, even if there is no law presently reflecting the full intents of Section 217 (2) c?

Nigerians easily see the ruse in the President’s seven-point agenda. If in the second year of a four-year tenure there are no indications of where the agenda leads, it is expected that criticisms of it should grow.

In dabbling into debates with the public on the seven-point agenda, Yar’Adua and his men must understand that Nigerians are tired of words. Electricity supply keeps declining, water is in short, or unsafe supplies, security has degenerated, while food security is addressed with words. Transportation and health are not in any way better than the other sectors.

Nigerians have been kind to the President because of his health. They still expect him to  work, and not rely on the suspect expertise of spin-doctors who tell him we are making progress.