By Dele Sobowale
“In my first coming, all our refineries were working. Port Harcourt used to refine 60,000 barrels per day, and was later upgraded to 100,000 barrels per day. Kaduna and Warri were also working…we used to satisfy the demand of the local market. We equally exported 100,000 barrels of refined petrol” – President Buhari while receiving delegation from Eni.
Like most statements coming out of Aso Rock and Federal Government agencies, it was a typical half-truth released as history. Perhaps Buhari was out of the country when Professor Kole Omotosho published the story of the fuel crisis in 1977 and Buhari’s promise to end it then – without success. I also hope the President realizes that there are at least three million Nigerians alive today who remembered the history of the glorious past he sought to tell.
Furthermore, he stopped abruptly in the 1970s; made no mention of his second coming in 1984-5 – by which time the refineries which were constructed under his watch had inexplicably started to exhibit signs of old age after only ten to fifteen years in service. Fuel scarcity had returned in 1984-5 just as in 1977. This is his third stage appearance.
Perhaps Buhari would like to answer two simple questions. Must a presidential candidate in Nigeria in 2015 need to be told that the two primary problems he must solve are related to regular power and fuel supply? With almost three years gone in his four year term, does he really expect Nigerians to forgive him his trespasses against them in 2018 on account of fairy tales told about achievements in 1977? For God sake more than half of his fellow citizens were not even alive then. It is all very well to say that things will be better in the long run. But, Nigerians like anybody else don’t live in the long run. They live now; they need fuel and power right now and they have waited for almost three years and things are going from bad to worse.
One of the reasons we are in this mess as a nation is because the military, starting with that self-righteous, self-admiring and ungrateful former President – Obasanjo – had roped our Federal Republic into a unitary political structure which has saddled the FG with more responsibilities than any other FG in any federation in the world. And, if we have to point to one cardinal reason every single one of the Heads of State – civilian or military – has failed it would have to be the untenable political structure which the military foisted on us.
Great nations have achieved their greatness by having leaders who are a step or two ahead of their people – or at least are not too far behind when dramatic shifts are occurring in the polity. Buhari was at first uninterested in restructuring because it serves his personal purpose to have four more years running Nigeria as it is. So, he is against it; then he reluctantly agreed to establish a committee to advise him on the matter. It is clear that given that 2018 is an election year that nothing will come out of that committee report. Buhari just wants to buy time; to deceive Nigerians that he is serious about restructuring. He will forget the whole thing once in for the second term.
By contrast, we have other leaders, even Northern leaders, who have exhibited the flexibility of mind-set required to rule a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-interest country like Nigeria. They are also younger, better educated and more respectful of the rights of all Nigeria’s ethnic groups. Permit me to bring some excerpts from a publication which I came across recently.
RESTRUCTURING AS A PATHWAY TO UNITY AND DEVELOPMENT – The Atiku Abubakar Files.
“None of us is as great as all of us. We must look beyond our individual ambitions and interests. It [restructuring] is about country and its current and future citizens.” Place that statement side by side with that of a leader who is telling fairy tales about a glorious past.
“One of the consequences of excessive centralization and the military rule that facilitated it is that the Nigerian President is the most powerful president in the world.” It would have been well if we can always have self-less sages as presidents. But, all we have experienced since the 1979 Constitution are rapacious individuals awarding oil wells to friends (including girl friends) and getting us into Halliburton, Siemens scandals, 52 pieces of luggage unchecked and Mainagate.
“Nigerians are comings. The struggle for these reforms (electoral) is not about any one individual or group whether or not they have aspired to or are aspiring to political office.” Centralisation of power in Nigeria has created in our Presidents the same feeling expressed by Louis XIV, 1638-1715, King of France who declared L’Etat C’est moi” or I am the State.” Once in Aso Rock, they treat Nigerians including state governors as their servants at best, or slaves at worst. A Nigerian President took five months to select his cabinet and still has not appointed board members for most agencies. Can Trump or Macron get away with that?
“We must begin to think differently, think big and come out of our comfort zones so the world would not continue to leave us behind.” Let us ask ourselves: when in the last three years have we heard that sort of appeal? Great leaders challenge their people to reach for the moon; not to wallow in the blame game; not to spend almost three years lamenting what they inherited but charting the way forward.
There will be more from Atiku’s fascinating book which provides us with a new sort of leader to compare with what we have now.
Now I must turn to another aspect of the qualities of leadership which is currently in short supply in Aso Rock.
“Leadership is the ability to define issues without aggravating problems.”
Warren Bennis, in THE UNCONSCIOUS CONSPIRACY.
Herdsmen/farmers/communities murderous conflicts would have been regarded a national disaster if the President and some of his top officials have handled it well. But, they failed woefully. A former President of France cut short an official visit abroad to attend the funeral of six people killed by terrorists. The President of Nigeria was absent when seventy-seven (77) of his “Fellow Countrymen” were slaughtered by people he still refuses to recognize as terrorists – even though the entire world recognizes them as such. And, when the state governor and leaders of Benue were invited to Aso Rock, it was to be told to “accommodate foreigners in their mist”. There was no condolence message to the families, no promise of compensation.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in the same government has revealed plans by the FG to establish “Cow Colonies” in all the thirty-six states of Nigeria. Mr Audu Ogbeh must be the only educated adult in Nigeria who seems not to understand that the FG owns no land anywhere in Nigeria. More to the point, the Minister is totally illogical when he asserts that the “colonies” don’t mean that the FG will take land from others to give to herdsmen. One question will expose the deceit. Who will give up the land and who will use it?
The South South Summit on restructuring, penultimate Saturday, well attended (I was there) has already said no. The entire South will also reject the idea. Benue and Taraba already passed anti-grazing laws and might not go along. With more than half of the states rejecting the policy, one can only wonder how the FG intends to implement it without use of force.
Ogbeh has hastily put the wagon before the horse. Chaos is certain…
OBASANJO IN SLICES – 1
“Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” De La Rochefoucauld.
Once again, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, (aka OBJ) was in the news after sending another poison pen letter to his latest successor in office. Reading the letter, as well as previous letters written to Shagari, Babagida and later Jonathan it would be difficult not to come away with the impression that OBJ was a saint. Yet the only reason the man is walking free in Nigeria is because none of his successors had taken the trouble to read my book PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED. It is all about the grand larceny committed by OBJ’s administration. By 2007close to N8tn was already missing from the Federation account.
Chapter one referred to N10b taken without NASS approval; Chapter 4 summarises series of illegal withdrawal of fund totaling over N1 trillion; Chapter 5 listed large scale embezzlement of public funds allegedly involving the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Customs Service; Halliburton; Aviation funds; Siemens and Julius Berger; NPA; Chapter 6 told how the PDTF was monumentally raided resulting in a Senate committee indictment of the President; page 223 revealed mismanagement of N200 billion Ecological Fund; and in page 290 …$2billion block sold for $5 million etc.
The man keeps talking because none of his successors had the guts to prosecute him…