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New year, old mindset

PRESIDENT Buhari’s January 1 speech was cheering as well as disappointing.

On the one hand, he mentioned his administration’s laudable focus on agriculture and infrastructural development. And I was particularly pleased to hear that negotiations are underway to create (at long last!) a coastal railway line that will link Lagos, Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt (my home town), Aba, Uyo and Calabar.


If the above cities – and the many other urban and rural locations that are on the government’s radar screen – become connected by modern rail and road networks, the socio-economic impacts will be enormous and exciting.

Numerous employment opportunities will be generated and the existences of farmers and millions of citizens in all walks of life will be transformed.

However, we aren’t going to get to the Promised Land by doggedly clinging to outdated ideological mindsets and archaic governance methods. And I’m very unhappy about the fact that Mr President, in his speech, dismissed increasingly strident calls for restructuring with the somewhat blinkered observation that: “When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.”

Nigeria desperately needs restructuring. And restructuring will happen eventually – and in the not-too-distant future, for that matter – whether Buhari and other staunch traditionalists like it or not!

As Victor Hugo, the brilliant French 19th century Man Of Letters, pointed out: One cannot resist an idea whose time has come.

An aversion to profound and radical change is normal, especially if one is elderly. But we are all getting older and older with each passing day; and we all have to tolerate unwanted new inevitabilities on a regular basis.

And guess what?

It is often the case that the new stuff we didn’t want turns out to be better than the old stuff to which we were psychologically wedded.

Insulting proposition

I’m told that most Northerners regard restructuring as an insulting proposition and Southern trick that will undermine their region and only help those who hail from the lower half of the country. But restructuring, if properly managed, will deliver countless benefits to ALL Nigerians.

So instead of stubbornly fearing, fighting, criticizing or ignoring the inevitable, Mr President should be copying intelligent and progressive fellow Northerners like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was Olusegun Obasanjo’s Vice-President and has expressed pro-restructuring opinions.

Mr President should be actively participating in – and dynamically LEADING – the debate, bringing proponents of restructuring together and playing a key role in terms of analyzing different modus operandi and ensuring that we wind up with the best possible version of restructuring.

A word is enough for the wise.



Apologist refuses to apologise!

THE recently released list of appointees to various government boards contained the names of three dead gentlemen:

Senator Francis Okpozo, who died December 26 last year in Benin City, was appointed to chair the board of the Nigerian Press Council; retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Donald Ugbaja, who died in November, was appointed a member of Consumer Protection Council.

And the late founder of Fidei Polytechnic, Rev Christopher Utov, who was appointed as a member of Nigeria Institute of Social and Economic Research.

And, by the way, at least one of the above’s family had received a condolence letter from the Presidency. So it’s not as if the Presidency was not aware of the demise of the individual in question.

And the embarrassing incompetence did not end there. Some names were also duplicated, while some nominees were appointed to sit on the board of a company that the government had already privatised via concessioning!

But instead of keeping quiet or expressing regret on behalf of the government he serves, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has mocked those who have dared to complain: “What I find irritating is the so-called outrage by the Nigerian elite that in a list of almost 3,000 people nominated for various agencies, five or six had died. And there is a general pretence by the Nigerian elite that it was of huge, monumental importance; that it shows incompetence and all that.

“I ask myself: a list that has been under compilation for over two years, revised and re-revised, do they expect that about 3,000 people would all still be alive after two years? If not, do they expect the Presidency to go knocking from door to door 24 hours before the announcement to ask who was dead or alive, or to ask if they would survive until the announcement? Are they supposed to have done that? “So, the whole thing (criticisms) is extremely unreasonable.

“…The Nigerian elite are filled with Lilliputians, who quarrel over nothing and ignore major issues of importance. And I call this collective stupidity and idleness of the mind,” Sagay said.

I am so disappointed in Sagay. I thought he was a super-smart, no-nonsense kinda person who would never defend the indefensible.  His ridiculous outburst proves that I was wrong.

As for Mr President, he should not listen to Sagay’s attempts to downplay this humiliating error and should sack whoever was responsible for it.

He is surrounded by aides and civil servants; and some of them are supposed to protect him from making this kind of massively stupid mistake.

The internet is awash with people laughing at the President.  What a pity. Heads should roll.


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