By Tony Eluemunor
There are failures of governance and here are failures of governance! There was the type that Nigerians used to complain, arrogantly, about.
When the Second Republic began in 1979 with President Shehu Shagari’s inauguration, Nigerians, as arrogant as they were then, never stopped complaining.
Yet, by then, respectable primary and secondary schools as well as universities abounded. And by such, I mean public schools. The interstate dual carriage-ways were connecting one Nigerian state with another, and they were as smooth as conveyor belts.
Then the military shot their way into power, and before the soldiers left the stage when democracy returned in 1999, Nigeria had been fatally battered. The Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and the Jonathan administrations under the Peoples Democratic Party tried their hands at putting Nigeria on an even keel, but they too registered some fatal failures.
Yet, and this is important, some of their failures were not unnecessarily defended by their fellow PDP members. Now, please note what follows: as the Obasanjo administration was winding up, and the ministers congregated for their last group photo right inside Aso Rock after their valedictory Federal Executive Council meeting, General T. Y. Dajuma, then still the Minister of Defence, announced that the government had failed because “we failed to grow the economy and grow jobs.
Actually, Danjuma did not say anything new. All through Obasanjo’s first tenure (1999-2003) the House of Representatives led by a PDP member Speaker, the illustrious Ghali Na’Abba, (in a House of Representatives in which the PDP had a comfortable majority) led in the effort to keep Obasanjo on his toes.
They opened up inquiries into the transparency of the operations undertaken by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (now the corporation has been changed to Company). Once in a while, the Representatives even invoked the “I“ (impeachment) word against Obasanjo.
It was actually from that arm of the House of Assembly that the message went forth across the land that the Obasanjo administration had failed irredeemably. With time, especially, after Evans Enwerem, the Senate President, fell and Dr. Chuba Okadigbo replaced him, the Senate joined in excoriating Obasanjo’s hapless administration.
Please compare that era to the present, and you would know that the National Assembly of that time knew that it was an arm of government totally independent of the Executive. The National Assembly of that era knew that it was the representative of the Nigerian peoples and should have an oversight function over the Executive—on the people’s behalf. But what obtains today? It appears that the National Assembly thinks itself to be an extension of the Executive. And the outcome stares us all in the face!
Today, Nigeria is steeped in failure at every turn. In every index, Nigeria hugs the part representing not just failed nations but the very worst among the failed nations. The Naira is now close to being worthless. Electricity supply is almost non-existent. Water supply to homes and industries is so negligible that many Nigerians do not know that a public water supply system exists.
The manufacturing base of the economy is steadily being eroded. The public school system is comatose, so comatose that the very teachers in government-owned primary and secondary schools actually pay exorbitantly to send their children to privately owned schools. The Federal and State universities have remained closed owing to a lengthy lecturers’ strike. And then, there is insecurity everywhere!
Yet, none of the failures mentioned above is as troubling as the failure I am about to mention next; the enthronement of shameless rubber-stamp-ism.
It is noteworthy that those who took the reins of the PDP after the 2003 election had ensured that those young turks who had cried out that Obasanjo’s failures were destroying Nigeria, and so had opposed him—the likes of Nduka Irabor and Ghali Na’Abba (as well as the old turks such as Chuba Okadigbo himself —were not allowed to return to the National Assembly. That was how Obasanjo could fluff away four years of his second term in the Third Term useless effort, because of a cowering National Assembly.
Now, the ill of rubber-stamp-ism is in full stride. All the APC members who have declared their interest to become president come 2023, have never hinted that anything is wrong with the Nigerian economy or national security.
And I hope, dear reader, you are not asking me to assume that all of such candidates know that a lot is wrong but are being diplomatic about it, because that was how Buhari was re-elected despite his glaring 2015 to 2019 failures but he refused to learn any lessons or introduce any change after his second inaugural speech.
This arrogance of failure is not only galling, but it is destructive, in that the concept of failure is becoming blurred in Nigeria. Already, we have seen the failure of a messiah that Nigerians celebrated as he was succeeding President Goodluck Jonathan.
He was heralded as Nigeria’s ultimate hero and messiah. Today, his administration has not made Nigeria better in any way. In fact, Nigeria has become worse in every way. Yet, today, I must say with Marie Corelli (in The Sorrows of Satan): “But I do not write with any hope of either persuading or enlightening my fellow-men.
I know their obstinacy too well. This is Nigeria where democracy is a joke, where ethnicity is all that matters and where the truth changes colour every moment. Now, hope is being murdered.
Buhari and Lai Muhammed begin and end every address with the problems inherited from President Jonathan. Perhaps they should be reminded of a statement Alhaji Lai Mohammed signed as Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC on Dec 1, 2013 in Lagos. While lambasting the PDP on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike that was on then, Show original message.