by Jude Egbas
Nigeria’s infrastructural decay is legendary. The power conundrum remains that: a conundrum.
Last Friday evening, a disingenuous tweet found its way to my Twitter feed. It was from Reno Omokri, President Jonathan’s Special Assistant on New Media. For the record, Omokri does a good job of putting a spin on every presidential move, especially the wrong ones. My decision to begin “following” Reno a few weeks ago on Twitter was borne out of a desire to afford myself a few guffaws now and again.
The tweet read: “President Jonathan is a nominee on Time Magazine’s poll of the world’s 100 most influential people. Pls vote for him here….”
For me, ‘TIME’ and ‘The Economist’ were the oracles— emblazoned with beautifully crafted and strongly worded articles I would devour over and over again. So, my shock was palpable when I read from Reno that President Jonathan’s (GEJ) name could well find its way into one of the journal’s annual masterpieces: a glowing profile of 100 who have had a positive influence on lives all over the world.
As Reno wrote, GEJ was only a nominee. He needs votes to eventually make the shortlist into an enviable roll call that would include very powerful people. In my opinion, Reno and his boss should forget it, completely.
Those of us who often take the Government to task on issues of national concern are always scoffed at for not bringing any solutions to the table. Today, however, I run the rule on five steps Jonathan can take to really begin peddling his influence domestically:
- The Committees are becoming a bore: President Jonathan ran his campaign on a ‘Transformation’ and ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ mantra. Everyone knows thus far that these pay-off lines have devolved into misnomers. If anything, we have woken up to the formation of committees to look into every aspect of Nigerian life from the kitchen sink to the rest room. History has shown that these committees have never solved our problems.
Sadly, the proliferation of committees in the Jonathan era points to a diabolical scheme to create more avenues for ‘the boys’ to have more access to that proverbial national cake. We know that there are several ministries and pseudo ones too. Why inaugurate committees to carry out the functions of the plethora of Ministries and junior Ministries? What has become of the findings of various committees and probe panels in the past? Why create more committees when the recommendations of previous committees have ended up in Government trash cans?
- Fixing Nigeria= Infrastructural improvements: Trust me Jonny Boy, the day my generator quits complaining of overuse and interstate roads are no longer death traps, I will personally pen a glowing tribute to TIME Magazine requesting that your name makes the shortlist of influential people every month!
Nigeria’s infrastructural decay is legendary. The power conundrum remains that: a conundrum. 160 million or more people are yet to reap the dividends of democracy, two decades after. No one said all these problems could be solved by President Jonathan waving a magic wand, but “get to work!” has been the outcry.
- Fight corruption: No Nigerian President has possessed the mettle to put the monster of corruption in its place and President Jonathan has been no different. Yes, corruption is deep-seated, but with the requisite political will it could be fought to a standstill. Corruption walks on several legs in the petroleum sector everyday ( the president prefers to call these legs ‘cabals’) and rears its head in the ministries.
Last time we checked, these men who fleece our common wealth are garlanded with presidential honours and feted at Government functions. Those are the chaps who negatively wield an influence over us, not the President.
- Security challenges: TIME Magazine should please explain to us how a president under whose watch several lives have been lost and who is at a loss on how to fix the security problems that daily confront his people, has become so very influential. Yes, every country is beset by security challenges, but in our case, what is discernible is the sheer cluelessness of the security and intelligence agencies and a glaring lack of tactics. There appears no strategy or method to combating terrorism.
- Poverty is rising and Jonathan is influencing? Let us get down to brass tacks: Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the World. According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, almost 100 million Nigerians (out of a population of 160 million) are living in absolute poverty. I don’t think this 100 million people would tell you they have been influenced by Jonathan in any way. And we are talking about an oil rich Nigeria here. 80% of Jonathan’s Nigeria lives on less than $1 a day.
I want to believe that the President did not ask to be on TIME’s most ‘influential’ list. It must all have been a mistake, some bad dream, a printer’s devil. The logical thing for Omokri and his fellow media hatchet-men to do now is to stop pursuing the ‘Vote for Jonathan’ line. It is a scandalous and embarrassing line to pursue. At this moment, we all know that GEJ is everything but influential at home.
As for the authoritative TIME Magazine, a mea culpa of some sort from them to the Nigerian people for rubbing our misery in and reminding us of how short we have fallen as a nation, will be apposite. We can thereafter dismiss this as a cruel joke, pretend like it never happened and get on with our lives again.
Please join me on twitter @egbas.