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Job creation: Tread softly Ict Minister – 1

By Dele Sobowale

“If you are looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place”. Notice in front of bar in Kansas City, in the days of the American Wild West.

Any public official wanting to have  trouble with me should make a careless statement about job creation; be it the President, a Governor, Minster or whatever. Unemployment, affecting over 40% of our people; and involving every home in Nigeria, is such a personal and social tragedy that it should be completely taken out of the salad bowl of lies which public officials peddle all over Nigeria.

Henceforth, every announcement which comes to my notice will be challenged and if found to be untrue will be condemned in the strongest language permissible – short of libel – on this page. There will be no compromise on that.

Ministers can tell the President all the nonsense they want at the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting all they want. Jonathan wouldn’t know the difference anyway or ask the right questions. That was why he got all of us into trouble about fuel subsidy. He failed to ask the right questions. The Wednesday meeting is almost always a case of the bland leading the bland.

But, the minute they take the malarkey to the public domain, Unijankara people are waiting for them. We will ambush them and deal with them. And, we don’t need the Freedom of information Act to do that. The three articles that got me into detention during Babangida’s regime and the four that resulted in the same treatment under Abacha were written without the protection of the FoI bill. Only lazy media people ask for FoI.  The determined search for truth and the will to publish what we know is all we need; at least that is all I need; to deal with the liars and jesters in public office.

*Communication Technology Minister, Omobola Johnson

The latest among public office holders to promise jobs is the Federal Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson. In a feature article published in the PUNCH on July 3, 2012, titled, “ICT Job creation: beyond empty promises”, the Honourable Minister (she is still honourable until she fails to fulfill the promise) was reported to have told an ICT stakeholders forum that the federal government has plans to create 1.3 million jobs “through the Information Communication Technology sector by 2015”.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that the same number – 1.3 million fictitious jobs – was announced to have been created by the Bank of Industry, BOI, in one year. But, GEJ’s government officials must be in love with 1.3 million as a figure to peddle around for job creation – whether true or not.

Be that as it may, this is just a warning to the Minister that somebody is watching and waiting to know how many jobs have been created each year and how the cumulative adds up to 1.3 million by 2015. Generally, I dislike arguing with ladies. My upbringing at home, at St Peter’s Primary School, Lagos, and Igbobi College, Yaba, has ingrained in me the habits of a gentleman. So, unless pressed to the wall, I never quarrel with the fairer sex. I don’t want to take on Mrs.

Johnson the way Mrs. Allison Deziani forced me to open fire on her as Minister of Petroleum Resources. Mrs. Johnson still has time to backtrack and provide more achievable projections. But, if she insists on 1.3 million and fails, she will just be another Minister deserving the lash on this page.  That is not a threat; it is a promise.

Jobs are too important to be subjected to the cynical publication of lies which have characterized governments in Nigeria almost from 1960.The fact, is unemployment and poverty and the social maladies which destitution induces are too crucial for anyone to raise our hopes and dash them at will. Personally, I am sick and tired of official lies on jobs.

For a start, will the Honourable Minster, who has been twelve months on the job, tell us how many of the 1.3 million had been created in the last twelve months and how I can verify the claim? Or are we to wait until 2015, when she might not even be in office, to have 1.3 million created in one year? What are the projections for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and who is going to create the jobs – private or public sector? Jonathan probably did not ask her; he after all doesn’t “give a damn” about anything important.

I am surely not the only Nigerian  waiting for the answers from Madam to these questions – otherwise the first salvo will come soon…

“I don’t give a damn about it if you want to criticize me from here to heaven. Channels can talk about that from morning till night, all the papers can write about it. It’s a matter of principle”.  – President Jonathan, June 24, 2012 during media chat in Aso Rock.

“The emperor has nothing at all on”. Hans Christian Anderson, 1805-1875, in The Emperor’s new clothes”.

President Jonathan has just relieved me of a burden by staging that media chat. Those block-heads who have been wasting my time accusing me of hating Jonathan will now have to explain if there is anything to love in a leader, in one of the most vilified countries in the world, refusing to strike a blow against corruption by clinging to a principle which can only be subscribed to by social, political and economic predators.

As usual with GEJ, he was telling only half the truth; or perhaps, an entire untruth. When he declared that, “I was governor of Bayelsa state, I was thoroughly investigated”, he deliberately forgot to add that the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, listed him among some governors who made restitution.

In plain language, the former governor of Bayelsa State, now President of Nigeria does not want to expose himself again. That may be the reason why the President refuses to declare his assets now. Jonathan is hanging unto a fig-leaf, which he calls principle.

But, Nigerians, my fellow countrymen, deserve the insult of one shareholder out of 160 million, telling the rest of us to “go to hell”. You voted him into office and we will receive four years of such insults. He’ll be back again in 2015 to insult you more. You deserve it. We, at Unijankara, knew the man all along; we were not surprised. In fact instead of the media chat, or publicized insult to Nigerians, we watched football – which was less infuriating and more entertaining. The commentators even taught us good English!


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