BY KUNLE DANIELS
The above titled speech by Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam on Page 19 Vanguard newspapers of February 3, 2015 tells the tale of the stumble and fall of emergency ‘commentators on national issues’ as the writer describes himself. With the title, one had thought he was going to read of another interesting and progressive contribution to the erudite and earth-shaking issues raised by Professor Charles Soludo, but alas it was another pay-to-write deliverable by one of the many half-hearted commentators sympathetic only to their own cause and not that of Nigerians.
With due respect, one must inform Mr. Iloegbunam that the debate has gone beyond the name-calling and rabble-rousing point he is trying to drag us to; people of goodwill have dropped the partisan toga on this matter and are busy thinking up workable solutions to the gargantuan problems to be handed over by the current administration come May 29, 2015. Nigerians have reached the consensus that APCs idea of lifting the poorest 25 million people out of hopelessness must be done; they agree that the school feeding programme is necessary to bring in the 10.5 million-out-of-school children into school; they also agree that the current 24% joblessness is unacceptable. So the question now is, how do we fund these lofty and compulsory projects?
The author used almost half of the piece to quote Prof. Soludo’s impression about APC’s plan to fund its promises. He also had a quarrel with Fayemi for responding on behalf of his party in a civil and erudite manner resonant of the best traditions of advancing social discourse in a democratic setting. The writer went berserk with ad hominem attacks on Fayemi and the APC for not responding in the same shallow-minded manner as done by Femi Fani-Kayode, Peter Obi, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the other PDP gang-members. It is so sad that a party which had been in unbroken power for the last 16 years still whines and cries at any little push by ordinary citizens.
Iloegbunam wrote like someone who was rushed to deliver the piece or his pay would be stopped. If not, how would a national affairs analyst not follow the trend of discussions and address the issues either for or against the assertion that the PDP government under President Jonathan has wrecked this country almost beyond remedy? The author has not denied the fact that over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are stolen under the present administration as confirmed by Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The writer has also not justified the allegations of missing $20 million dollars, nor the ‘arrested’ $15million for arms purchase in an illegal transaction, the N10 billion jet expense allegation against the well-favoured Mrs. Dieziani Alison Madueke and so many more. Well, we may make do with the official response that ‘America will know.’
The difference between APC and the school of thought represented by Iloegbunam is that while one has realised that the current appalling state of the nation needs penitent re-commitment to turning it around and is willing to do so, the other supports the ruling party in playing the ostrich, leading the nation in a supersonic speed to self-destruction. PDPnomics suggests that all is well with the nation if they can only rejig the figures and call it the ‘largest’ economy in Africa as if that is a magical word. The economy is the largest but jobless, hopeless, rootless and ruthless. PDP’s economic team snarls at anyone who says the vast majority are poor, after all Nigerians own a lot of private jets and the president has about 11 aircraft in his fleet – the largest non-commercial fleet in Africa.
On the part of APC, it has said time and again that it believes tackling corruption is the singular most important economic initiative we can take as a nation at this time. This is notwithstanding the fact that even some of its own members must change their ways in the process. That is the disposition Nigeria needs and not the prodigal posture being taken by the PDP and its sympathisers.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria earned N51.50 trillion as proceeds from oil between 1979 and 2011. Only N3.10 trillion was earned between 1979 to 1999. From 2000 to 2011, the sum of N48.40 trillion was received. The successive regimes from the civilian to military were still able to build the longest bridge in Africa, the National Assembly complex, massive roads, refineries, power lines, dams etc. despite the relative low earnings. One is of the belief that the opaque nature of our major revenue earning institutions like the NNPC, Customs, Internal Revenue Service etc. needs to change, these institutions can earn far more than they are currently doing. A new government must reverse this trend. Government money must be put in the service of the people and not squandered by a few cabals harboured by a ‘benevolent’ Santa-President.
Seriously, one wonders, does the advisers and sympathisers of Mr. President think before they talk? Do they have a period of introspection about the direction they are taking this country? Or is politics just a game of power, power and power without any thought of legacy and posterity? A thinking government should be asking, why are people so angry with the president after having stood for him against his own party hawks in 2011? They should be wondering why, in spite of all his so-called ‘transformation’ miracle, about a 100 million Nigerians could barely take dinner yesterday night. They should be asking why there is no single clean-up operation in Niger delta under a president from the Niger delta. PDP should be asking why things fall so much apart under this president whose shoelessness endeared a beleaguered majority to him just four years ago.