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Will it be different this time?

THERE is a familiar ring to all  that has been happening in our nation these past few weeks. It is like history repeating itself all over but, this time it is so close to the immediate past and penultimate governments.

It beggars belief that we are still applying the same antidote that we have applied to same ailment in the past and expecting different results. So much razzmatazz, so much frenzy.

People are getting groggy with excitements, that at last, the big masquerades are being unmasked. Daily we hear of mind blowing billions of naira, monies that belong to the commonwealth of Nigeria being distributed like a birthday cake. They are all being paraded to face the instruments of the law, to face justice.

The question is: Will this time be different? Will it be another circus show as witnessed in the past? Will justice really take its course and come of age in this country? That is the challenge of the present circumstance.

Again, we saw it  under the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the EFCC was used to hound and persecute perceived enemies, the only ones who came in for trial were those who were not in the good books of the government of the day. At the end, the EFCC as an institution was brought to ridicule when President Yar’ Adua came on board.

President Goodluck Jonathan went further during his tenure to bring the high and mighty of the PDP party to justice through the fuel subsidy scam investigations.

Again, after much huffs and puffs, the whole thing gradually faded away. This government has started another process, will this time be different? Why must our prosecutions and trials be a circus show? How is this trial by the media different from the ones we have witnessed in the past? How do we convince our judiciary to go with the flow?

How do we make our lawyers change their attitudes towards criminal prosecutions and delays? How can we make the EFCC realise that the criminals are not only in the PDP, that for there to be real change, everyone that is guilty must face prosecution? How do we make the people in position of authority  realise that they have to lead the change?

How do we judiciously use recovered funds for the people’s benefit? Are we going to continue with the same old methods and expect different results?

It is true that the government is under severe pressure to perform, judging from the campaign promises given and expectations of the people. The people are beginning to realise that it will take sometime for change to come but the fact that people are calling for change does not mean that due process must be jettisoned.

It does not mean that our security agents must first put people in detention before searching for evidence that will be used to prosecute them. Maybe our security agencies do not know this; every one big fish that escapes conviction through court process is a failure on their part. That is why the media trial and bravado is not the issue but the conclusion of the matter. Will the outcome of the present drive be different? It does not appear to be so.

We have heard rumours of looted funds in the custody of the Central bank, why should funds be lying there fallow? Do we not have specific projects to tie this fund to or we want to share it as usual for politicians to mis manage?

A few weeks ago, a story was on the internet regarding the new President of Tanzania, the one who won the Goodluck Jonathan supervised election. Barely one month in office, this is what the New Vision Media online reported about him; “…Last weekend they were opening parliament and there was a state dinner planned for all guests that was going to cost about 300m.

President John Magufuli reduced the budget to 25m and ordered that the rest be taken to buy hospital beds for Muhimbili. They got 300 beds and mattresses and 600 bed sheets from that money.

On 23rd November 2015, he announced that there will be no official ceremonies for Independence Day on 9th December, the money is to be used for more pressing issues and the day should instead be spent cleaning up our environment.

On Saturday 21st November 2015, a group of 50 people were about to set off for a tour of Commonwealth countries (don’t know for what) but President Magufuli cut that list down to four persons, saving government 600m in tickets, accommodation and per diems  No more foreign travel, embassies will take care; if it’s necessary to go, special permission must be sought from him or Chief Secretary

No more 1st class and business class travel for all officials except President, Vice, and Prime Minister. No more workshops and seminars in expensive hotels when there are so many ministry board rooms available.

President Magufuli asked how come engineers are given V8s when a pick-up is more suitable for their jobs. No more sitting allowances, how come you get paid allowance for a job which you have a monthly salary for; that also applies to MPs.

President Magufuli has literally pressed the reset button; returning Tanzania to default factory settings, because that was the standard Julius Nyerere left us with.

On the day after he was brought to power, in the morning as State House officials were showing him round he decided to take a walk to ministry of finance, told them to get their act together, asked why some employees weren’t in office (ever since then the traffic jam in the mornings has become worse) and ordered TRA to scrap all tax exemptions, everyone must pay taxes especially the big guys

President Magufuli went to Muhimbili Hospital unannounced and walked through the worst parts that they keep hiding from important visitors. He fired the director, fired the hospital board and ordered that all machines that weren’t functioning (so that people go to private hospitals owned by some doctors) to be repaired within two weeks otherwise he fires even the new director; the machines were repaired in three days

Finally, last week when going to officially open parliament, President Magufuli didn’t go by plane, he drove the whole 600km from Dar to Dodoma.

President Magufuli has reduced the size of the presidential convoy, even reduced the size of presidential delegation that travels with him

President Magufuli chose a Prime Minister we haven’t heard of before, a guy with reputation for hard work and no corruption, all the big guys we expected could be PM have been left wondering what hit them.

His motto is: Hapa Kazi Tu = “HERE, ALL WE DO IS WORK/ SERVE!”

Our approach to issues must change if we are to make the desired impact. The over all interest of the nation must take precedence over the personal whims and exuberance of over excited law enforcement and government officials.

After President Magufuli visited Ministry of finance and Muhimbii Hospital unannounced,  it is said the port (most corrupt, delaying, thieving officials) were all of a sudden the most efficient place. No goods are missing, the process is faster and the habit of forcing for a bribe so that a container is released is no more.

Oh, they say when he was confirmed as winner people started congratulating him and wanting to bring gifts to his place he turned them back, saying he will receive all congratulations over the phone, nobody should visit him.

All individuals/firms that bought state companies that were privatised but hadn’t done anything (20years later) are to either revive the industries immediately or hand them back to the government…”

Now this is what change is about. We cannot continue to do things the way we did in the past and expect a change of result. Look at the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, see how agents of governments are being used to subvert the will of the people, the same accusations that have been levied against PDP in the past.

Some die hard cynics have concluded that what is happening in Tanzania cannot take place here because Tanzania is a small country. And I say, your take off in the hundred meter race will determine how you finish.  A leader’s body language says a lot and the example you set will determine the direction subordinates follow. At the top we are slow to action and that has trickled down. Even in Tanzania President Magufuli is facing oppostion from reactionary forces but that is expected. If you cannot manage small you cannot manage the big things.

Our approach to issues must change if we are to make the desired impact. The over all interest of the nation must take precedence over the personal whims and exuberance of over excited law enforcement and government officials.

By Sunny Ikhioya


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.