Before Goodluck loses goodwill

Yes, there is no doubt that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) means well for the generality of Nigerians. This sentiment could well be hinged on his modest antecedents from serving as a dedicated Deputy Governor in Bayelsa State to becoming a full-fledged Chief Executive of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May 2010, following the demise of his predecessor, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua.

His lofty rise from the ranks politically, of course, was besides that fact he has a good number of other endearing and perhaps sentimental considerations working for him before his re-election as President in April 2011: that he is humble and comparatively versed in the art of governance; educated to the level of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree; and being the first man from the South-South geo-political zone to aspire for the highest political office in the country among others.

With supposedly high expectations of spreading assertively, his declared “breath of fresh air” to Nigerians upon clinching the Presidency, the electorate in their millions and irrespective of their ethnic, religious and political party affiliations apparently voted en masse for GEJ to become the current President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the Presidential Election this year.

Nevertheless, just like a torrential rain, the continued mixed reactions trailing a proposal by Mr. President to forward a bill to the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, for a six-year single tenure for President and 36 state governors in the country, beginning from 2015 are not unexpected, just as the proposal continues to attract distasteful publicity and innuendoes for the nation’s No.1 citizen.

This particularly seems so, when juxtaposed with the somewhat high expectations from GEJ by the masses of the Nigerian people during the last general polls. Despite the fact that Mr. President had expressly stated that he would not be a beneficiary of the proposed tenure elongation arrangement for elected officials, the scheme simply garners more opponents than supporters from all parts of the country and beyond.

In other words, divergent views, strident criticisms, both positive and negative, effortlessly pour in for the President and his party over the proposal, just as his recently constituted Executive Cabinet is still a subject of disparagement in certain quarters. Such scornful remarks emanate right from the streets, socio-political circles, professional groups, conventional media to the Internet, the global information superhighway.

Many, indeed, have contended that of the purported seven-point areas of focus for the Administration, including Critical Infrastructure, Niger Delta, Food Security, Human Capital, Land Tenure Changes & Home Ownership, National Security & Intelligence and Wealth Creation, to revitalise the nation’s economy and herald an era of transformational leadership, the President only “chooses” to forward a “hidden, self-serving and irrelevant” proposal to the NASS for consideration, as the Administration’s very first bill after induction.

Scores of other notable Nigerians as well have described the proposal as a needless distraction, and remarked that GEJ rather seems “clueless” about resolving a myriad of problems this country is facing at the moment. Granted, that socio-political exigencies and realities warrant needed constitutional and policy amendments in governance from time to time, yet, a greater number of the people via their divergent reactions to the plan, think otherwise.

From the feelers across the country in connection with the current Administration’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into becoming one of the 20 top economies by 2020, it’s an understatement to assert that most Nigerians are getting disillusioned by the day, about the Government’s readiness to “make good things happen” and better their lot.

Fantastic as the idea of tenure elongation may sound, at least based on the President’s handy explanation on why revisiting the idea for now, the Government should gauge the prevailing mood of the followership, that the timing may be wrong, as people are more concerned with solving their mounting socio-economic problems. One feels it is too early for this Administration to fritter the copious goodwill, unusual support and primordial sentiments it’s been enjoying since the victory at the Presidential poll in April, through any distrustful endeavours.

Instead of putting the cart before the horse, the Administration should learn to engage the populace extensively before hauling itself into policy somersaults. More so, the National Assembly has stated clearly that it is very more prepared than ever before to go off the beaten track by killing any unpopular bills or policy pronouncements on arrival at the NASS.

As Nigerians seriously yearn meaningful change in their standard of living, now that the President “has shoes” of various world-class brands unlike the time he said he was “without shoes” in elementary school at Otuoke then, he should at least endeavour to put even if “Aba-made” shoes on the feet of the masses of Nigerians.

The political leadership at all levels ought to lead by example. The current palaver over the Minimum Wage of N18, 000 must be resolved immediately, to avoid any needless industrial action in this prostrate economy. Since the Government had signed the minimum wage bill into law, why are state governments reneging on the earlier agreement to pay the concerned civil servants after winning elections?

The frequent fiscal policy “shocks” being introduced by the Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), all in the name of reforms will only continue to induce unnecessary run on other financial institutions in the banking industry. It’s still suspect and unthinkable how the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) in connivance with the CBN liquidated three publicly quoted commercial banks “overnight”, transferred ownership to the Federal Government, changed their names, constituted new management teams and instructed the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to delete the names of those banks from its official trading list, all on a single weekend, without prior consultations with the depositors and shareholders in those financial institutions.

The disturbing issues of Boko Haram phenomenon coupled with the rife insecurity of lives and property, rising youth unemployment, inflation, biting poverty, decayed social infrastructure, increasing lawlessness, corruption and culture of impunity among top Government officials need to be addressed.

For this Administration not to lose face with the masses of the Nigerian people who long for good governance, this is the time to make them breathe Mr. President’s “breath of fresh air”. And, now that President Jonathan has superior, durable shoes with Executive powers, millions of Nigerians continue to ask: Where is your Administration headed, sir?

Written by
Gbenga Kayode
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