Transformation Agenda and The President’s Team
All the ministers, special advisers and aides recently appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan really have a lot of work to do if they want the Jonathan administration to succeed. The men and women chosen so far among the over 150 million Nigerians, to assist Jonathan transform Nigeria should count themselves lucky.
Lucky is used here in the sense that such appointment is a great honour and privilege. And to whom much is given, much is also expected. All the selected men and women should not see their appointments as an invitation to come and eat. They are called to serve. Those of them that are advisers should in the name of God and humanity advise the president very well on key issues. As Jonathan noted while swearing into office these Nigerians, he warned that he does not want to appoint advisers that he will end up advising.
By saying this, Joe is telling the appointees to be knowledgeable in their respective fields and be always ready to have ideas and useful advice to offer at every moment. In a marked departure from the Obasanjo era, when the former helmsman said that he was not bound to take advice offered by his advisers, Jonathan is indirectly saying that he is willing to take advice from his advisers.
But it is proper to add that he will only take the advice that can aid his transformation agenda. The same applies to what the ministers will do. Their agenda will be in line with the president’s transformation agenda. Though, ours is a federal system of government, at least, in name. For Joe’s agenda to see the light of the day, it must trickle down to other tiers of government-states and local governments. Jonathan’s agenda will have good impact only if it rubs-off on states and councils where most Nigerians reside.
For those in the biggest party in Africa, the PDP, carrying the new agenda is taken as assured because they are all covered under the same umbrella. They share the same ideology. Selling them to ANPP, APGA, LP, CPC and some others may not be that easy. These parties have different logos and ideologies but one common denominator that runs through all of them is that they seek for the welfare of Nigerians, though their methodologies may differ.
I am not too conversant with all the men and women chosen so far to work with the president. But those I am quite conversant with, I believe are men and women of substance, pedigree and knowledgeable in their fields of learning. I do not want to call names here so that my purpose will not be misrepresented. But all those I have in mind, they know themselves. They got appointed based on track record of achievements and not because somebody dropped their names or CVs. Some were even begged to join the administration because of what they can offer. Some got there by virtue of they being card-carrying members of the ruling PDP. That one also is not easy.
No matter how they made it, all of them are welcome on board. All of them are now members of the president’s transformation agenda team. The success or failure of that team squarely rests on their shoulders.
It is the wish of all Nigerians that this country transforms and becomes great among the comity of nations in our life time. We have the manpower and the material resources to achieve such a lofty goal. Now the president is willing to provide the political will to make this come to fruition, his advisers should hit the ground running for this noble dream to be accomplished.
What will the team achieve within four years? Some people have argued that four years will not be enough for a total transformation of Nigeria. They hinge their argument on the fact that a lot of things have gone wrong that four years will not be enough to fix. Their argument is plausible. I tend to agree with them to some extent. But I hasten to add that anyone desirous to effect a change in a society does not really need donkey years to do so. We know that Rome was not built in a day. But the foundation on which it was built was laid probably in one day or two. It takes time to achieve greatness but a journey of a thousand miles starts with one little step. Let Joe’s four years be the take-off point of the nation’s transformation that future administrations will build on. It is time we start seeing governance as a continuum and not an end. One administration should be tailored in such a way that it will naturally dove-tail into another without dislocating the system. If we run consistent governments with a continuum component, Nigeria will transform earlier than anticipated. Our democracy is young as well as our country due to colonial intrusion hence we are in a hurry to catch up with countries that have practiced democracy for over 200 years like the United States and other advanced democracies. We will get there if we are methodical and focused.
The president’s wise men and women (are the females up to 35 % as promised by president?) should work as a team with one purpose in mind. The female component to our development paradigm is very crucial. Any society that negates the services of over half of its population (the female) is doomed to fail.
I am sure all of them know what Nigeria’s problems are and how to solve them. Any of them that feigns ignorance about them has no business being there in the first place.
Given that four years will not be enough to solve all the nation’s problems, that is why there is the need to prioritize them and solve the ones that are of paramount importance.
The energy problem would have come first in view of its need in our daily lives. But the Boko Haram insurgency has relegated energy to the second position and brought security on the front burner. The threat posed by the ferocious and vicious Boko Haram is real and cannot be ignored. The nation’s security agencies are yet to find answers to the bombing rage of the outlawed Islamic sect. Security is now the number one issue, courtesy of Boko Haram. And without security, nothing else can work. Outside security, the transformation agenda will amount to nothing. There is even nothing to transform in a state of anomie.
So, the select wise men and women must come up with pragmatic ideas to tackle the menace posed by Boko Haram and other outlawed armed groups. Provision of adequate electricity will follow behind security. We need energy to power our industries, factories, offices and homes. Good energy supply can leverage on other sectors like education and health. It can even assist in the area of security. Energy is also a top priority.
What about education? It is very indispensable in the transformation agenda. In a knowledge-driven world, education is a vital component of industrialization. It provides the human resources that will empower the transformation agenda. The world’s topmost 20 economies, which we envision to be among by 2020, take education seriously. We cannot get there with our present educational system as well as energy output. The transformation agenda must factor in education from the basic to the highest level and improve the standard.
The nation’s economy is sick. It is run on only crude oil. No economy can grow with only one product. We should diversify the economy in order to achieve growth.
The transformation team must work on this area too. They will champion the redistribution of the national wealth between the various segments to bridge the yawning gap between the haves and have-nots. An oil-exporting country like Nigeria cannot be suffering from scarcity of kerosene and diesel. Nigeria’s economy should be able to support a living wage for its workers. To do this effectively, the transformation government must fight corruption at all levels. Zero-tolerance to corruption is the sure way to make governance transparent and working. Transformation without providing jobs to teeming army of jobless Nigerians is a ruse. Above all, the health of Nigerians is key to the agenda.
If health is wealth, then a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Nigerians cannot be healthy in a filthy environment with inadequate health care facilities. We cannot be healthy when over 70 % of Nigerians live below $1 per day and where many do not have access to potable water and sanitation. In Nigeria, housing is still a major problem. We cannot lay claim to being healthy when most of our roads are in ruins. There are indeed lots to do but let the transformation team tackle these ones first.