Date Published: 02/26/10
YARADUA IS BACK, SO WHAT? By Mike Ozioma
While I sympathize completely with President Yaradua on his ailing health, I still have reservations on his level of competence to effectively make a major positive change in Nigeria as President. On the one hand, our continued excuse for illegality is the cause of most problems in this country. Why did we endorse Jonathan as Acting President in the first instance when we were quite aware of the illegality surrounding it. We saw clearly how cowardly and unpatriotic our senators and house members acted and derailed from the constitution and we endorsed it on the grounds of necessity, only to come back later to cry "foul". Yaradua simply exercised his constitutional powers and deliberately did not send a letter to the N. Assembly because the constitution did not compel him to hand over power to his deputy, it was only discretional. Well, he apparently did not obey the law as he also did not break it in his bid to retain power on a sick bed, but then, what should our lawmakers have done? Cover up for him by acting illegally, or impeach him for gross neglect and abuse of office (attempt to cause chaos by creating vacuum)? While it is more understandable that the FEC members were on his payroll and could not do anything to impeach their boss, the actions of the National Assembly clearly showed the extent to which Nigerian Leaders care less about the welfare of the citizens of the country. With less meaningful jobs created, more poverty and desperation inflicted, less substantial education of youths achieved, little or no improvement in the supply of gas and electricity, and next to nothing technology advancement achieved in this e-age, to mention but a few, yet political business in Nigeria has climaxed to a point where Nigerians believe that something meaningful goes on in Aso Rock which will mature in a no distant time. Ok fine, our President is back, the much anticipated return and the reason for all the cover up and dribbling in the house of assembly, so what next? Business as usual. The question is, what is the usual business which goes on in Aso Rock which makes Yaradua our Messiah? The Seven Point Agenda? So massive, so attractive, and well structured, or is it? The Seven Point Agenda to me is the Biggest Presidential Joke of the Century!!!
Yaradua's joke (7Point Agenda) borders on Power and Energy, Food Security and Agriculture, Wealth Creation and Employment, Mass Transportation, Land Reform, Security, Qualitative and functional Education. I call this agenda a joke because it doesn’t contain the elements of an intelligently designed Project.
Firstly, let’s look at Power and Energy. This sector is very critical to the development of this nation. The Yaradua Agenda believes that investment on infrastructure and reforms will lead to an ultimate generation of power enough to serve the nation. This investment is primarily based on the use of Gas and Hydro turbines to generate electricity. Question is, does Nigeria need a stand-alone Government Owned Power project to save us from power crisis? This clearly shows that there is no meaningful research going on in the Power sector to provide a lasting solution to the power crisis. What happened to Solar and Wind Energy? Sun is what we never lack in this country, in fact, it is killing us and boiling our blood and makes us more impatient and aggressive to one another, so why can’t we harness it? Using solar or wind electricity to power a building, city, industries, and businesses in Nigeria is comparatively cheaper and more efficient than running the power from the national grid because transmission losses will be minimized, efficiency will be improved, and solar systems have a very long life span. The minister of Power is out of options on this matter. He blames the Presidency for not implementing his bogus proposals and then tells Nigerians that some Cabals, local communities, and Niger Deltans are his major challenges. Well let’s leave this at that.
Let’s consider food security and agriculture: Is it wise to focus on giving soft loans to agriculturists to practice subsistence agriculture or is it better to invest heavily on a system that focuses on commercial agriculture with an aim of providing employment and a technologically driven method of agriculture?
We had agro based industries in this country and they accounted for our ability to rank among the major exporters of cocoa, palm oil etc...Let’s leave it at this for now
Wealth Creation and Employment: This is where the government seems to have woefully failed. The Yaradua wealth creation and employment process is geared mainly towards agriculture. We're in an Information TECHNOLOGY Age, not Agriculture age. Does the President even know how many Nigerians who are unemployed? Well in case he doesn’t, a 2009 figure from the World Bank put unemployed Nigerians at 40 million (Quite alarming but true)! While mechanized agriculture can account for means of employment to a lot of Nigerians, Information Technology should remain the main focus of a system capable of generating the much needed wealth creation and employment for the country. Judging by projections, millions of jobs will be created for graduates if Government focuses on building an InfoTech Oriented recycling economic system. Lots of our Multinational companies even outsource InfoTech to other countries while we have one of the best brains in the world that can be trained! Already, India and Malaysia seem to be at the forefront in this industry in Asia, but according to the Great Scientist from Nigeria, Philip Emeagwali, Nigeria has the capacity to leapfrog into the Information Technology world and top the world in IT, and it’s not late at all to start. All this needs is to get the best professionals to plan and roll out a system capable of creating a next to nothing revenue and employment generation opportunities in Nigeria. Again, the minister of Communication does not know what to do on this one. She would rather embark on a campaign to repaint OLD NIGERIA rather than pursue means to refurbish it. She constantly blames ERNEST NDUKWE and the other Cabals in NCC for her failures. Let me leave it at this.
Mass Transportation: There seems to be a railway project going on in the country, but why would Government engage in funding such a massive project? Most Government projects have failed in the past, why start another one that’s going to gulp all the money and then be mismanaged again in the future? Let’s leave it at that.
Land Reform has some good but rather slow implementations from the Government. It is commendable but still needs to be progressed.
Security: Again, Government needs to wake up. Nigeria needs a new Security system independent of the Nigeria Police. This should involve graduates. For God's sake, we have Corps members who serve the nation and end up not getting good jobs. Let’s utilize them while they are still useful to us and at our disposal. They can be trained and enrolled into the force while they are serving the Government. We have to utilize our service men and women in order to build a reputable and modern security system. Funds have to be set aside for this purpose over a long period. This is a good reason to ensure that funds are properly managed so that they can be available to handle these projects. The NNPC and FIRS are major Government parastatals which must be sanitized before meaningful accounts can be rendered to the nation for specialized projects like this.
Qualitative and functional education: Well, this again is where the government has got it all wrong. Firstly, we need to determine the causes of the rot in our education system. It’s not only because of poor funding, but many other causes. Some questions have to be answered. 1. Will the reforms make education available to everyone who needs it? 2. Do people have to quit their jobs to go to school? 3. Will it become a research and knowledge based study rather than a hunt for certificate? 4. Will people be able to study the courses they desire rather than scramble over available courses? 5. Will it be affordable? 6. Will it reduce or eliminate exam malpractice? Well, any reform which does not answer these questions will end up not solving the major education challenges in the country even if adequately funded. People graduate from our education system at unbelievable ages, mostly because they could not afford private universities and there were fewer spaces in Government Universities. People graduate from universities but do not even know much about their fields of study, many did not study the courses they wanted and they lost interest and resorted to cheating just to graduate and get the certificates. Give the same students the course of their interest and they'll graduate with more competency. Well let’s leave it at that.
I did not just wake up and call Yaradua's laudable project a big joke, these processes have not been put in place by his Government to make the 7 point Agenda meaningful and achievable. It is coarsely pursued, lacking substance and practicality, and without a definite evaluation system to test its progress and degree of actualization. In my opinion, this 7point Agenda should be restructured after careful planning by different professionals, renowned economists and industrialists, and should be interwoven into a single AGGRESSIVE GROWTH PLAN for the nation aimed at creating massive employment, driving the economy into a technogically driven one, diversifying the revenue generation of the country from oil into IT and Agro, and ensuring a more secure and environment friendly economy for private investment and Indigenous entrepreneurship. Every meaningful policy which is initiated should translate to lives being changed in the streets. It is not possible that Government is performing excellently; yet, no change is seen in the streets and in Nigerians generally. For instance, when Obasanjo privatized the telecom industry, the effect was immediately seen in the streets and communication, though very expensive till date, became available and accessible to everyone. Without the privatization policy we would still be using land lines and 090 mobiles, and Government can go on praising itself for good policies and good governance, or go on making excuses of cabals and groups hampering its efforts. There is simply no excuse for failure.
Well, unless President Yaradua takes these drastic steps, his 7 Point Agenda still remain a Big Joke, and if he is back to Nigeria, so what?