Yar’Adua And His Policies

by Femi Sobowale

That President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is a listening leader is not in doubt. The fear being expressed by observers right now is the amount of goodwill behind the variety of advice he listens to, or approves for implementation. This became manifested in the rate at which the president has been reversing otherwise government approved policy pronouncements by top government functionaries.

It must be noted that the president has been treading softly on national issues that bother on the need to bring about some people-oriented policies and measures that positively touch the lives of ordinary Nigerians. To this end, some people prefer to give the Nigerian leader a nick-name like “Baba-go-slow”.

Even then, the government is slow, the thinking among some analysts is that, given the arm twisting and near military tactics of the immediate past regime of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerians are tired of a dictator in democratic garb. But on the other hand, the people reason that, prompt attention to, and implementation of policies towards people’s needs should not be sacrificed in the name of “looking before leaping” syndrome.

One of such government’s decisions that suffered from the surge of reversal was the pronouncement by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to the effect that EFCC can only investigate cases, but not to present defendants for trial. The no-prosecution order attracted Nigerian public’s outcry against this somewhat undue intervention, with attendant resort to the status quo. Another is the naira re-denomination as announced by the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, in which the government directed that the policy should go back to the Economic Management Team for “fine-tuning.”

Government’s policies are supposed to be products of intense deliberations and brainstorming by experts in the field and at the various levels of government before being made public, and implemented. Recent events on the issue of government’s policies as they unfold tend to suggest that, enough or proper consultation among stakeholders has not been given priority as expected. It is not for the fun of it that presidents all over the world appoint advisers on topical issues from different areas of expertise to render valuable services at advisory levels to achieve government’s goals and objectives. Members of kitchen cabinet fall in this category of advisers, and they are used in that capacity, and are expected to be government’s think tank that gets policies across for implementation.

President Yar’Adua has made some appointments that may be deemed appropriate going by the caliber of people on board the ship of state. However, the movement of the vessel as being captained by the head of government has not been very encouraging, and calls for immediate engagement of its top gear to ensure faster speed have been made by Nigerians. Based on this observation, it is not out of place to suggest that the time to keep the country going at a faster but steady pace is now. Nigerians want to see practical approaches toward solving some of the fundamental problems facing the country in their efforts at nation building.

It is true that caution must be exercised in any human endeavor to prevent avoidable mistakes, but this can be achieved without unnecessary delay and dragging of feet on numerous issues that require urgent attention. Without enumerating them, most Nigerians and those in government know those areas that should be attended to, without further resort to “go slow.”

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