Let me welcome all of us to the year 2018. Last year was quite a trying one for most Nigerians because of the prevailing hardship and economic recession that swallowed us up. The President’s New Year message has given effect to the fact that even though we are in celebration mood, we haven’t actually been celebrating.
We have been agonizing and lamenting. It has been a game of blame and accusation. Nigerians, generally a happy people, have not really found their celebrative voices as they suffered from the unwholesome activities of ‘saboteurs’, who are determined to give government a bad name.
Some spent their time at the fuel stations on Christmas day waiting helplessly for fuel. While we were agonizing over fuel scarcity for the better part of last year December, government decided to give us a starter to whet our appetite and bring smiles on the faces of Nigerians. It announced the composition of the boards of some of the agencies of government; a total of 209 chairmen and 1,258 members drawn from across the 36 states of the federation.
What ought to have been a punch line to the frenzy of fuel scarcity became an albatross, by the inclusion of eight Nigerians who had passed on, as appointees of the newly constituted boards.
At first, the number of dead persons started from one, then two and then three, until a count of eight ended the score line.
The list generated a lot of hoopla, overhyped as it were, to underscore the missing link in a government of gerontocracy run by President Muhammadu Buhari: lack of coordination. It does appear the government was too much in a hurry to dish out Christmas package by way of appointments but ended up with more criticisms than expected. President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, in trying to rationalize the mix-up, ended up mixing himself up.
Oh, the list was long compiled in 2016 when the President was having health challenges; hence the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, had to just roll out what was available. The job of a spokesman could be as simple as he wants it to be. It could also be as difficult as he wants it to be if the right information is not sourced to back up claims and counter-claims.
The truth is that, the list as presented by the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, was a huge scandal. It undermines the integrity of that office. It reduces the person of that office.
No matter the number of persons contained in that list, it is the duty of the SGF to ensure that ghost names do not feature prominently in a list of persons to be appointed for positions. First, the names were generated from the states’ party offices in 2016.
When it became manifest that the appointments were to be carried out, the simple administrative thing to do was to vet the list again and ensure that those persons were still very much with the party across the states.
Some persons have defected between 2016 and 2017.
So many things have happened that should ordinarily remind the SGF of the need to do proper check before dishing out the list for public consumption. Boss Mustapha is one Nigerian whose capacity I do not doubt, but I am somewhat taken aback that he could allow this simple administrative procedure to slip off his grip and cause government terrible embarrassment.
It exposes the fact that there is no coordination and synergy. It exposes the political party to outright ridicule. It tells of the breakdown of communication between the political party headquarters, state chapters and the hierarchy of government. If those names emanated from the state chapters, the onus was to reconnect with the state chapters to reaffirm that the earlier names sent in 2016 still remain valid, whilst also doing proper check on the persons so nominated to be appointed. In the fullness of such administrative lapse, I expected to hear from the spokesman in the office of the SGF explaining the lapse and giving us details of the mix-up, and not the president’s spokesman.
To make matters worse, government also announced appointees for already privatized companies. Haba, Boss Mustapha! What ought to be a Christmas gift, became a sore thumb for a government that is permanently in the news for the wrong reason. It calls to question the absence of synergy and proper coordination within the presidency. This is why I have always advocated that the party should wake up to her responsibilities of playing a stop-gap role in matters of state policies.
The APC hierarchy is too laid back in the governance process. Being withdrawn is a mark of weakness which must be corrected and not a mark of loyalty to the constituted authority. It is from the manifestoes of the political party that those seeking election derive their agenda and roadmap. If the individual fails, it is the party that fails. If the individual succeeds, it is the party that succeeds.
This is why there has to be a deliberate and conscious effort to ensure that the right synergy is created to build a robust and symbiotic relationship that will create the right mood for governance. If the party were to be active, it would have been able to do a further check before the SGF released the list.
As we enter year 2018, we expect a better deal in our shared commitment to take Nigeria to a greater height.
This year will witness a lot of politicking because 2019 is election year. The politics of 2018 will cause a lot of distraction to governance because of horse-trading, networking and permutations. The various candidates for all elective positions will be known this year in preparation for the elections early 2019. Sycophants would be at their best during this period. Hypocrites would have a field’s day.
All manners of permutations would flourish in a bid to set the tone for the 2019 elections, but Nigeria must be the ultimate beneficiary. PMB’s NEW YEAR SPEECH I listened to the president’s speech and message to Nigerians aired yesterday at 7a.m.
There is a remarkable improvement in the contents of the message when compared with his previous speeches. He has given a roadmap on what government is trying to do in building infrastructure to drive individual and collective enterprises. He has threatened to get to the root of the fuel scarcity and deal decisively with those saboteurs that have caused us pains. I just hope it won’t take him another one year to carry out this threat.
As much as I agree with the president that saboteurs were at work on the fuel scarcity issue, he needs to understand that every government has its army of saboteurs but the capacity of government to proactively handle challenges will help to reduce the pains caused by saboteurs. Let this threat not end as mere rhetoric that has become the second nature of PMB.
I just hope the president’s appointees are not feeding him lies, because the picture he painted of the rail system and road infrastructure appears to me cheering news but on ground, we are yet to take off. Our roads are suffering neglect. This dry season should afford the government the opportunity to do a quick fix on our roads before the rain sets in. Mr. President, in 2018, we must move away from theory to practice, from intangible to tangible.
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