June 15, 2009

Yar’Adua’s presidency @ 2

By Ayo Fashina
CONSIDERING our present bickering over fuel scarcity, minimum wage and appointing authority for Chairmanship of INEC, it is clear that collective amnesia has set in concerning the circumstances in which the present administration assumed office in May 29, 2007.

The administration took office at a time of maximum danger to the integrity and survival not just of democratic governance, but the Nigerian nation.

There was mass discontent regarding manifest flaws in the conduct of the 2007 elections and the outcomes therefrom.

Labour and civil society groups had been mobilised by the opposition parties to protest the results.

Plans were mooted of mass action and civil disobedience, amidst calls for an interim national administration.

The President’s avowed commitment to  rule of law and inclusive approach to governance rapidly dissipated the gathering forces of destabilisation.

His humble mien, simplicity, listening disposition, non-combative body language and above all practice of his servant leadership mantra, soon disarmed many hitherto disillusioned stakeholders and endeared him to others.

Mr. President’s approach to tackling the myriad challenges of national development closely mirror his eight-year sojourn as Governor of Katsina State. In the early years of his governorship, there were misgivings about perceived inertia and crippling adherence to due process.

However, the sterling record of achievements at the end of his tenure, is an eloquent testimony of the criticality of planning to the effective implementation of projects.

Today, Katsina State parades a massive transformation in agriculture, education, health care, roads, etc. His prudent, effective and efficient management of public funds is legendary.

The many benefits of this are continuing to manifest in the State, including the recent commissioning of the State University named after him. The said university (acclaimed as a leading state university with world class infrastructure and facilities) is only the culmination point of a huge investment in education in the State.

It is this deliberate and studied approach that has been applied to the management of the key intractable challenges of national development ranging from public power supply, education, transformation, Niger Delta crisis, electoral reform, security, corruption, agriculture, etc.

On the highly vexed power supply crisis, a programme of action with timelines has been emplaced after thorough study of the issues. For the first time, the significant involvement of IoCs in power generation has been crystallized.

The multiplier effects of IoC involvement in power generation are immense regarding utilization of gas (which had hitherto been wantonly flared). The December 2009 goal of 6,000 megawatts is achievable.

It is one of the many ironies of Nigerian public discourse that the issue of electoral reforms which Mr. President initiated (without any prompting) and set up a committee to study and make recommendations is now being exploited to discredit his commitment to electoral reforms.

The opposition and civil society elements insist on a wholesale adoption of all the recommendations of the Committee.

This is a rather strange development, within the context of regular conduct of government business. In any case, Mr. President has sent the necessary bills on the electoral reforms to the National Assembly which will consider all inputs and evolve the requisite outcomes for Presidential assent.

Notwithstanding the recent altercations between presidential aides and National Assembly members, it can be firmly asserted that there has been very harmonious relations between the executive and legislative arms of government.

This is a testament to Mr. President’s deep respect for the principle of the separation of powers which he also extends to executive relations with the judiciary.
The respect for the principle of the separation of powers naturally flows from Mr. President’s defining governance mantra: the rule of law.

The non-observance of the rule of law (in Mr. President’s estimation) underpins all challenges to national development, including corruption, poor leadership, insecurity, etc.

The principled adherence to the rule of law has had a salutary impact on the polity, ranging from management of political disputations and crisis situations to obedience of court orders.

A positive spin-off of this is the respect for human rights, especially by all law enforcement and security agencies in the performance of their statutory responsibilities.

The challenge of insecurity and the reform of the security sector have received tremendous attention under this administration.

The defining ethos of the security sector reform is the evolvement of a professional security sector which is effectively resourced, committed to a clear mandate and subject to democratic control. In this regard, the military has received improved funding to upgrade capabilities.

The holistic approach adopted in the reforms in respect of the Police is geared towards ensuring that the nation has a Police Force that is appropriately funded, equipped and trained to perform its statutory responsibilities.

Continues tomorrow