Tinubu, Beware The Gathering Clouds (2)

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu
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By Hassan Gimba

Last week, we read how the signs are not looking good for a nation like ours that wants to be reckoned with internationally. We concluded by asking the federal government to look at ways to reduce the cost of governance and the unimaginable take-home pay of political leaders and redirect the excess towards production. And we emphasised that we must become a productive nation that eats, drives and wears what it produces.

We also exhorted anyone genuinely interested in the welfare of workers, and of Nigerians, to proffer solutions that would boost our economy and strengthen our currency and not suggestions that would bastardise our economy and drive the naira’s value further down. And that salary increase at the moment will not help the economy.

The federal and state governments must also, as a matter of urgency, resuscitate moribund industries dotted across the landscape so as not to only galvanise production but to improve locally generated revenue. And because millions will get direct and indirect jobs if the moribund industries dotting all over the country become alive, the production of local materials will be boosted as there will be more buyers, leading to more employment.

Government, and here I mean the federal and state governments, must always be truthful and fair to the citizens. They must also make their agencies work. The government must let government function. In almost all cases, it is the government that makes government fail because the actors do everything from a prism of personal gain. Nothing about service anymore. Then there is the Nigerian syndrome of “Do you know who I am?”

I will give you an example. Just recently there was a furore that the Presidential Villa owed the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company ₦923 million, the Nigerian Police owed ₦1.4 billion and the office of the Central Bank Governor, ₦1.6 billion. Put together, the federal government and its agencies were indebted to the tune of ₦47billion. And, you see, God save any AEDC official who tries to disconnect power from Villa, Police Headquarters or CBN

But every year there is money for the payment of NEPA bills in the government and its agencies’ budgetary allocations, so why should the bills accumulate? If the power company has not been paid, where did the appropriated money go? Is the government here not strangulating the electricity company with its hand, yet every day we cry of epileptic power?

It is commendable that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ordered the immediate payment of the Villa bill; however, is it enough without instituting an investigation into the failure of the Villa bureaucracy to pay its electricity bills despite budgetary provisions? This is the sort of thing that would make Nigerians sit up and take note. Otherwise, it is just the old system: sweep the sleaze under the carpet and let sleeping dogs lie.

Perhaps, because citizens, rightly or wrongly, think those in authority would naturally dip their hands into the treasury, and also scramble (as the Europeans scramble for Africa) over state resources, that is why some of them scramble over any resources close to them. Maybe this is why any warehouse they see, any trailer load of food that enters their ‘trap’, they pounce on it. And do you blame them when they refuse to pay NEPA bills?

Every day something new is trending. Yesterday it was budget padding; today it is “each senator got ₦500million.” Who knows what tomorrow will bring? The citizens must feel that their interests are also part of the mix. That sense of belonging would automatically bring down the crime rate substantially.

Governance must be accorded the seriousness it deserves. When you go through our budget and the imputed figures, like a template across the MDAs, one would be forgiven to think that governance is a joke and budget implementation is akin to sharing the national cake within an anointed group.

Justice and fairness must permeate the land. No nation can rid itself of crime as long as its leadership does not go out of its way to give the people a sense of belonging and fairness, and its judiciary fails to give protection to the oppressed.

Therefore, leaders at the centre must be exemplary, which will make those in charge of other tiers of government follow suit. It is not enough for a leader to be mouthing platitudes while his actions go contrariwise. This is what is meant by “Change must begin with the leader” where the Brazilian lyricist and author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, said, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

I will never get tired of hammering it – to all who care to listen – what Sheikh Usman Dan Fodiyo wrote in his book, Bayan Wujub al-Hijrah alal ibad: that “the death of a thousand good men is not as tragic as having an unfit man in a position of national leadership and that “a kingdom (nation) can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice.”

To ensure that justice is served, we must strengthen our legal and judicial systems. We need to reform our laws and improve the capacity and independence of our judges and lawyers. This will earn the system more respect and bring back the trust of the people that has been heavily eroded.

These, and more along this line, are the things our leaders must do to make our country the great nation it is meant to be. Every leader will be proud that under his watch we became a united people and forged ahead to become an industrialised nation.

To stitch the “merely geographical expression” that we currently have, therefore, is a task that must involve all of us. We do not have any other country to call ours. And we cannot afford to see the country put together by God through the British rendered asunder.

Another reason I always look at some Nigerians from the south and north who shout “Let Nigeria be divided” and shudder. Do they know what they are saying? Do they think that that is feasible anymore? Would it be beneficial to all concerned? We will look at this next.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.

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