Dear Mr. Ugochukwu et al,
I have never met any body who knows Nigeria,who does not agree that the country is riddled with corruption; not one person. It is at least one point where the 100 million or so of us have agreement. I have also not met a person who does not want to see it go away. I therefore share your anger and frustration.
One other point you and others have made is that the people have a right to demand accountability of their governments. This is also another universal truth. The people at Abuja, Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Ibadan etc, are our servants and as their masters we owe it to ourselves to demand accounts of their stewardship from time to time. It is our evaluation of this stewardship that would help us determine if their contracts would be renewed or whether we should let them go.
Once again I have not seen any disagreement on this score.
Another point of agreement is that nearly everything is broken down in the nation: the roads, the schools, the health care delivery system, agriculture department, the industries, local government, the state government and any thing you dare to think of. They all need to be fixed. Along this line of thought is the thinking that nearly everybody who works in the country is corrupt starting from the administration, through the governors, the political leaders, the union leaders, the clerks in the offices, the police, the military, the gate keepers, etc. Even the people charged with fighting corruption like Ms. Fareed Waziri.
Given the three points of agreement above: the country is riddled with corruption; nearly every thing is broken; most of the people are corrupt; I hope you will agree that the solution cannot be simple.
What I have seen in the on going debate about the fuel subsidy removal (FSR) is that people like you in opposition to FSR are suggesting that the fight for corruption should start elsewhere say from fighting the corruption removal at the executive level before getting to other places. It is obvious to me that there would be disagreement on approach. It is what we in US have called “not in my backyard” mentality. The concept came into life in the 1980’s with increased crime. Most people wanted more prisons built at other people’s back yard but not in their neighborhoods.
Is this not what people are crying for and what the opposition to FSR really comes to?
I want to bring up another point. Even with our agreements on the state of the nation, can we agree that there is a good way and a bad way to start the fight? Can we also agree that there will be a fight no matter where we start? If we agree on the two points above, it would follow that Mr. Jonathan has only two options: close your eyes and start somewhere, any where; and “do nothing”.
All the past administrations chose the “do nothing” approach. It was safer. And it is still safer. And that is why things are the way they are now. Mr. Jonathan chose to do some thing; to start some where; to start with FSR. I have already given him credit for starting some thing. Whether he succeeds or fails would be determined in the future and I wish him good luck, I hope he succeeds.
But if he fails it would not be that he did not try.
I want to get back to an earlier point; that there is a good way and a bad way of doing anything, in particular with the FSR war. If Mr. Jonathan had announced his policy and proceeded to implement it and the masses came out in force to protest it, it would be a mass rally in line with the Arab Spring or the Occupy Wall Street movement. If you watched those mass movements’s progress, you would have noticed that there were no clearly defined leaders. Some suspects included Muslim Brotherhood, students, but as time passed the leaders emerged from the crowd. Although the Arab Spring is still in progress some of the earlier leadership team that emerged were found to not represent the popular will and were thrown out.
Libya is a good example.
The military in Egypt is another example as we see a new movement forming.
The difference with Nigeria is that the public did not emerge as individuals but that the chaos was directed by political opportunists in the labor movement who declared a labor dispute where there was none. And who would not agree to negotiate the terms of introducing the policy or the terms of implementation until late. They even had no respect for the judiciary.
A nation without law and other cannot function.
To make matters worse the so-called leaders did not have any plan. If you watched the Egyptian Spring, you would observe that there were people cooking for the crowd, people cleaning the square to make it hygienic, people policing the demonstration to ensure that it was peaceful.
Our political opportunist did not have any plans like that.
Poor women who came out to sell akara balls were beaten up and forced home. These are women who live from hand to mouth. I wonder how they are managing. They were not the perceived enemies and the anger was not aimed at them, but they are double victims.
I also want to come back to you analysis of the budget items or your list of “bad” items in Jonathan’s budget. If you really want to educate the public about the corruption in Mr. Jonathan’s budget, an honest analysis would put everything in a contest.
As somebody who has been involved in preparing multi billion dollar budgets we start from the prior year’s budget. We ask the question: what did we do last year? What are we going to do differently this year? We create a column headed Year Before, another column headed New this Year and a third column headed Current Budget which is the total of the first two columns. An honest analysis would always show the before and after picture.
You failed to do this.
If you had wanted to be honest, you would have provided your readers a list that shows what the costs of what is in Mr. Jonathan’s budget is vis-à-vis Yar’ Adua’s, OBJ’s, and as far back as you want to. That would be perspective; that would be education. The way you presented the information is as careless as the way the labor leaders jumped into FSR without thought or preparation.
It is not helpful.
We have one nation called Nigeria. I want to believe that we all love her even with her many pimples. If we want her to continue to exist even as we want to cure the diseases she has, we must strive to throw away only the bath water and not with the baby. This admonition is particularly given to the educated among us, PhD’s, doctoral students, all the way down to those on the streets without formal education.
It is important that all who claim leadership positions or desire such positions to understand that leading a Nigerian nation is a difficult task and that all hands ought to be on deck.
Mr. Jonathan is trying and he needs our help; not our distraction. The help need not be to always agree with him. In fact he needs strong opposition and alternative programs to consider
But there is a difference between a loyal and Royal Opposition and the enemy of the nation.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba