Polscope : A New Nigeria is Possible

23 Feb 2013

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Polscope with Eddy Odivwri

In January 2006, I attended the World Social Forum in Bamako , Mali. The theme of the global gathering was “Another World is Possible”. We all came back charged believing that a new world indeed was afoot. Seven years after, the world has become even more dangerous and precarious. That same Mali where the El Dorado construct was conceived and declared is today, in turmoil; so much that the rest of the world is trying to rescue the tiny francophone nation from a bunch of rascals who have seized the soul of the country.

Presently, there is a brewing controversy whether or not Nigeria is indeed sliding into a failed state status. Elder statesman, Professor Ben Nwabueze stirred the hornet’s nest with his declaration that Nigeria is fast tilting to a failed state.
Those who so believe, have enough elements to paint the picture of gloom, despair, despondency and distraught.  

The many things that happen to us everyday are more than enough to feed the feeling of a failed state. All you need do is scan the headlines everyday. It is scary. There are even more bizarre acts that go unreported. How many times, for instance do we read report of how the women who clean the toilets at the airports repeatedly greet a passenger using the toilet, not because she is friendly or cheerful, but all so he/she can ”do weekend for mama”? Or even the FAAN officials at the scanning machines who openly beg for alms as if they earn no salary?  But I know Nigeria can experience a rebirth. I know a new Nigeria is possible.

Each time I drive through the smooth and neatly-paved stretch of Orile-Mile 2 road in Lagos, I know a new Nigeria is possible. When I have a smooth drive through the well-marked lanes between Sunrise and Sawyer Bus stops on the Apapa-Oshodi express way, or from Benin to Lagos within three hours or so, I know a new Nigeria is possible.

When I hear a taxi driver who probably makes less than N5,000 a day returns N3 million forgotten in his cab by a passenger, I know a new Nigeria is possible.

Sometime last year, I had driven to somewhere near the Oshodi bus-stop along the Apapa expressway in Lagos, and parked my car by the roadside, near where the bus terminal is, to see someone. I had an old clock inside the car which I was taking for repairs. My laptop bag and a few books were on the back seat. The clock was facing up. I am not sure I spent ten minutes with the person I went to see.

By the time I came out, my car had been surrounded by uniformed policemen and even some in mufti. A female officer was stretching her neck into the car with some evident trepidation. I was shocked and had to confirm that indeed it was my car. As soon as I showed up, they all drew closer bombarding me with questions and identity checks. They had reckoned that I was a terrorist and that the clock in the car was meant to time when the supposed IED I was carrying would explode. It took my bringing out the clock, explaining, identifying myself etc. etc., for them to believe I meant no harm.  Their surveillance level was high. Each time I remember that incident I know a new Nigeria is possible.

Not long ago, we were analyzing the electricity situation at our daily editorial conference. A lot of my colleagues noted that the power situation has greatly improved. Some even said they now experience steady power 24/7. I was shocked. My part of town has not been as lucky as I yet fire my generator every night. Yes, every night! But when I hear of such positive changes, I know that a new Nigeria is verily possible.

When I hear that the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) approved the compulsory retirement of judges with controversial records and judgements that rout the public, I know a new Nigeria is possible.  A new group called Foundation for Value Transformation  has been born with the aim of changing the value system of Nigerians so the country can have a reconstructed and better assured future.

Yes, there are bad guys all over us: in the offices, in the cabinets, in the schools, in the private sector, in the churches and mosques, just everywhere. Yet, I know that if you do your little best in your small corner, and I do mine, then, we can begin to experience the song of transformation which President Jonathan sings ever too often. And then we will know that a new Nigeria is possible.

Good Governance Train: A National Jamboree?
The Information minister, Mr Labaran Maku  is currently on tour of the entire country allegedly in search of federal government projects in the various states. The various projects by the host state governments are also being toured and inspected. The latter has indeed become the in-thing as the so-called federal government projects are as scarce as virgins in maternity wards. As I write this, the train is in Delta State. I have a worry with the entire concept. First, does the federal government not have an inventory of its projects (if any) in the various states? Do we thus need a special enlarged team of observers and commentators to verify and ascertain that these projects are where they are?

But more importantly, if the federal government decides to send a verification team across the length and breadth of the country to assess what it is doing, why does the task of funding it fall on the state governments being visited? State governments provide logistics (and all its coefficient implications) accommodation, and more. If indeed, an unstated essence of the tour is to access how much a state government has done, how fair will the assessment be, having been fed, accommodated and transported around by the same state government that is being assessed? In any case, does it not amount to a breach of federalist principles for a central government to go around monitoring what the constituent tiers of government are doing?

Yet, I am also worried about the size of the good governance crew. With representatives from all sectors of the economy including civil society et al, I am at a loss on what they are meant to do. Give credence to whatever the verdict will be at the end of the day?  It can hardly be any less subjective. Mr   Maku must do everything necessary to wean the project from the fast-forming label that it is a national jamboree.  I think the Minister of Information should think of more ingenious ways of informing his boss what Nigerians think of the government, that is if he’s got the balls.


2015 and a President’s So-called Agreement
I hear that Mr President is swimming in murky waters with his party’s governors.
Murky waters? Who polluted the water? In any case, Mr President is an Ijaw man, he knows how to swim and navigate through all kinds of water. So there is no problem

I am serious. The signs on the wall are frightening and…
(cuts in) A-l-a-r-m-i-s-t! Which signs are on the wall? Fake prophet!. Stop heating up the polity. There is nothing amiss anywhere.
Put your ear on the ground and you will hear that the PDP governors are spoiling for war against Mr President, for breaching the gentleman agreement they had with him.

Agreement? Which agreement?

The agreement that he will run for only one term. Meaning that he will not run for the 2015 contest.
(pouts the lips) is that the murky waters you were referring to?

Yes? Is it not murky enough? Do you know the implication? If the governors withdraw their support base from the President’s ambition, does it not stand a failed project?

You appropriate so much powers to these governors. You seem to forget that Mr President had seen it all. He grew through the ranks having been a Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President, Acting president and now a bonafide (confirmed) President. He knows all the antics of the governors and he is more than able and ready to put the governors where they belong. You know he is a smooth operator.

You don’t get it. The governors hold the longer end of the knife. And they can do and undo with any President that tries to undermine them.

You underestimate what is called federal might. Did you not hear that the Presidency moved to restructure the Governors’ forum during the week.
Did the move succeed?
No, but they have not given up.

Don’t worry. Eneke nti Oba the bird, says, since men have learnt how to shoot without missing, it has learnt how to fly without perching. The game is on.

In any case, who has seen the so-called agreement? It is phantom.  And even if there was any such agreement, is it superior to the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria which grants the President the right to seek second term re-election? Is it superior? Tell me and don’t just mope at me!

You are talking like a Machiavellian prince. Do you know what is called honour? You mean a President will sign an agreement with such core stakeholders on an issue and you come around to ask if the constitution is inferior to it? Is that honourable? Where is the ethos of gentleman agreement?

You are merely being emotional. Issue of honour is moral. It is not legal or constitutional. The question to ask is whether or not the President has the right to seek re-election.

Yes, he has the right to contest, but…
(cuts in) But what? He has the right to contest. That is the operative line!
Even St Paul in the Bible said that not all things lawful are expedient. So it is not all about the law or constitution. Do not forget all the promises of the President that he would not seek re-election. It is a matter of a man’s word being his bond.

That is your opinion. Decisions are not static. They are open to review depending on the variables playing out, otherwise the world would not have been here, because God himself had several times decided to wipe off the world and eventually changed His mind severally. So don’t attempt to be more Catholic than the Pope.

I can assure you that if the President reneges on his promise, he will be cutting his nose to spite his face at the end of the day. The repercussions are grave.

You people are killing yourselves over nothing. The President has not even said he will be contesting the election. So what is all these hoopla?

But we can all see the body language of the President. And it is so loud that he will contest.
You mean you can determine such core national issue from a subjective understanding of a so-called body language? In any case, what language is the body speaking? Yoruba, Ijaw, or Urhobo? Please let’s be serious.
Let’s wait and see.

Tags: Featured, Nigeria, Politics, Polscope

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