Simply put, the Minister needs to see that scarce funds are being wasted on this pointless tour of states, which will not change any Nigerian’s perception of government performance.
As I watched the NTA network news on Thursday, November 1st 2012, I was caught between disgust at the unnecessary display of emptiness I was witnessing and shame for my country at how growth continues to be a foreign word for us. The Minister of Information was in Lafia to see the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in continuance of his ‘Good Governance Tour’ of federal project sites across the country. While in the state, he was taken to a School of Nursing and Midwifery, which had just been constructed as well as some other federal road which according to the correspondent, had reached “40% completion”. Yes, I also wondered why something that was less than halfway completed, got mentioned as a sign of good governance.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku started this tour in Abuja and has continued on to most states in the North Central region since he began. The tour is supposed to bring to the consciousness of Nigerians, how much progress and ‘good governance’ governments at the federal (and state) levels, were bringing to their people. Basically, he shows up at a state capital, has brunch with the state governor, visits a few roads and schools under construction, talks into a camera with a lot of bravado and moves on to the next state. I am still yet to get the point. Especially since Professor Jerry Gana also embarked on a similar tour when he was in the same office under President Obasanjo, and nothing was achieved.
Besides the fact that the Minister probably has little or no knowledge of contract details when he gets to these sites; thus making it impossible for him to serve the small purpose of admonishing contractors who happen to be behind schedule, it is completely pointless to go round the country showing Nigerians signs of development, when things should speak for themselves; and so far, most of what Nigerians see, does nothing to speak well for the Federal Government. Federal roads in Lagos are eyesores. The Ibadan Expressway continues to claim lives as if it were a ‘Boko Haram’ on its own. Erosions (which are supposed to be under the purview of the Federal government’s ecological fund) continue to divide and devastate communities in the South East. The bad governance list is endless.
I remember a few years ago when Governor Nnamani was in charge at Enugu State. He bought a newspaper page virtually everyday to advertise his achievements in turning Enugu around. But whenever I visited the state, I was not sure where those things were. It was all noise with little or no action. His successor and current governor, has been the complete opposite media wise. But going to the state capital Enugu these days, leaves most Nigerians in awe of how serene and clean it has become. Simply put, the Minister needs to see that scarce funds are being wasted on this pointless tour of states, which will not change any Nigerian’s perception of government performance (especially since many don’t even have power to put on their TVs and see the tour on the NTA).
So what else does the Minister do besides this tour of a thing? He addresses the media every Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting. For that, I think the President has more than enough Media and publicity aides if need be. What else? The Minister oversees the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Well, in a few months, it will be merged with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and transferred to the Ministry of Information Communications Technology. What else? The Federal Ministry of Information’s website says their mission is “To provide the citizenry with credible and timely information on government activities, programs and initiatives, while creating an enabling technological environment for the socio-economic development of the nation.” I’m sorry but this is 2012. Whatever is listed in that mission, can be handled by a website, social media and even phone SMS’s all handles by one or two people. We don’t need a whole ministry to do that.
It is time to start cut down government spending and evidently, this Ministry might just be a good place to start.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.