Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Genesis of King Jonathan and his Coterie of Profligate Special Advisers

“It is not a feasible excuse to blame the clouds for the rain that floods one's front room, if you have failed to repair the roof” – Anon

Many Nigerians are crying foul that they had been deceived by the pretence of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s transformational agenda. They believed that they voted for him because he claimed he understand what exactly is wrong with Nigeria and has the panacea to fix the country. There is no doubt that many Nigerians bought the campaign mantra that a “shoeless” president may govern better since he might know where it hurts. The fuel subsidy has exposed the underbelly and paucity of this monstrous deceit. The subsidy regime announced by the regime on January 2, clearly exposed the emollient presidential campaign of Goodluck Jonathan as nothing more than an inveigle dissemble preened to perfection so the People’s Democratic Party can continue its misrule.

My argument is that Nigerians should have known better and if we do not learn this lesson now we may yet fall foul of the credulous glib of the destructive party again. There are several acts of the regime immediately before and after the election that should have forewarned Nigerians about the fact that this is not a government for the people. It might have been elected by the people but the government clearly revealed his hands as been pro-PDP elites and foreign institutions more than pro-people of Nigeria.

First of all, the government immediately after the election set up a transitional committee headed by retired General Theophilus Danjuma. The panel amongst other recommended that the president pruned down the number of ministry and parastals sucking the Nigeria economy down the drain. What did the government do? It expands the executive arm of the government. It created more special adviser than any other government that has ever ruled Nigeria, including pernicious military rule. The regime in June 2011 sought and obtained the approval of Senate to appoint 20 special advisers to assist him in running his government. The President with acerbic impunity and in apparent breach of legislative directive went ahead to appoint at least 24 advisers as at the last count. A quick sample of some of the advisers clearly reveals the mendacity of the regime. There is a special adviser on New media (Twitter and Facebook), who is attached to the office of the special adviser on research and strategy even while the special adviser on Media and publicity exist separately. All of whom by the virtue of their designations have staff attached to them with benefits ordinary Nigerian can only dream about.

Even after the outcry of the Nigerian people following the subsidy upheaval, instead of reducing the bloated executive arm of government, the president announced a 25% pay cut for all political appointees. The joke here is what exactly were these special advisers doing to advance good governance and reduce corruption- the main bane of the country?

Here is the truth, you do not borrow to finance a bloated government and then come back to balance the books on the back of the poor by withdrawing subsidy that is more attached to inflation than any other thing. Even the devil and its mother-in-law know that anytime price of petroleum went up in Nigeria, it is a clarion call to all traders, jobbers and shop owners to increase prices of goods and services.

We are already being taxed for government inefficiencies. Why should you increase our tax by 116%? The song that keeps coming up on this issue is never going to go away: Practice what you preach. Former minister of the Federal Capital Territory a little while ago asked a pointed question that is worth repeating: “the Minister of Agriculture recently “bought 150 Toyota Hilux vans for monitoring projects. “What are they for? A few years ago, the Minister of Agriculture bought the same type of cars for monitoring.” They should stop all these useless spending it will not add value. The federal government has no land, agriculture is basically a state government and private sector affairs these are expenses that don’t make sense.

The Guardian newspapers published on January 5, 2012 reported that of the 21 parastatals under the federal ministry of education (with two supervisory ministers), from august to December 2011, activities of the two ministers were wrapped around eight parastatals and yet the other parastatals have upwards of 200 staffs and structures. Some of the “obscure parastatals” according to Guardian includes “Nigeria French Language Village”, “Nigerian Arabic Language Village” et al. The sheer waste of resources and money by this regime boggles the mind.

This again, is why we need to start practicing true federalism if we are not going to fall prey to more subterfuge taxation by the corrupt government at Abuja. All these one size fits all is stupid. Agricultural needs of Shaki in Oyo state are quite different and distinct from that of Dutse in Jigawa state. There is nothing the federal government interstate regulatory regime could not do through joint interlocal regional agreement with States using states expertise and technical staff.

Finally, the president’s party controls both arms of the National Assembly, it is time for that party to push for a legislative Act that will reduce and permanently limits member’s allowance and benefits. The biggest state legislatures in the world is in the State of New Hampshire (USA) and their member’s take home pay is less than $100 per month, while the average cost of maintaining each of our federal legislator is $2.1million per year. That is the reason why some of them will kill, maim and rigged election to win office. They are not in it to serve the people but their pockets.

President Jonathan is right, yes, we need a transformational agenda albeit not the ones he is currently carrying out. The only thing that will save our democracy is a government for the people and not the ones elected by the people to lead them to penury.

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