‘Change’ agenda: Litmus test not yet over!
BEFORE we are swayed by our deceptive and misguided praise-singing; and before we begin to hail, clap for and perhaps pour accolades and awards upon those who, of late, have chosen to serve Nigeria free, we need to exercise great caution not to end up in those familiar but dangerous political terrains of yesteryear; not so soon after our corporate sigh of relief following the enthronement of the government of ‘change’ under Muhammadu Buhari.
Regrettably, however, what we feared most [the resurgence of the old order] seems to have begun and everybody has overnight turned a crusader for better Nigeria.
If we are really sincere and committed to picking the bits and pieces of Nigeria from where they had been flung by the unbridled recklessness of past administrations, and if what we vouched to do was to rebuild Nigeria and not merely to secure the requisite votes that would ensure our ascendency to power, then the leadership of the country just cannot afford to sacrifice its laudable vision for the country on the altar of party patronage.
Bringing the message closer home and being more specific, by the time the screening of the most controversial ministerial nominee, the former governor of Rivers State, Chief Rotimi Amaechi was for the third time postponed, and given the petition against him, it was obvious that the shine and the pomp that naturally accompany such celebrated exercises had left the embattled ex-governor.
One could not help pitying the nominee as he strode in and out of the Chamber as if he were being goaded or compelled to serve Nigeria in that particular capacity. I guess that those subsequent appearances before the Senate would have been seen, in a more decent society as scornful and ridiculous and would have caused the pitiable politician to have immediately read the hand-writing on the wall and towed the more honourable path of bowing out of the ostensible ‘forced labour’. As a matter of fact, it got to a point that a political analyst was heard asking whether service to the nation was by force; that they should leave the ‘poor man’ alone.
Though we may not be considered competent to advise, yet it may still be necessary to remind our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari that there are a thousand and one plum positions at his disposal with which to reward and compensate his political associates and/or benefactors. It must not necessarily be a ministerial appointment.
Again, we may not all agree, but the Rotimi Amaechi screening saga has, to a reasonable degree, subtracted from and diminished by some points, the high and positive rating of the Buhari administration as a regime founded on transparency and integrity: indeed, ‘a Daniel come to judgment.’
Of course, it is not enough that the ‘ais have it’. It is also important to take into consideration how the ‘ais’ came to having it, in spite of the petitions, the stalled screenings and the walk-outs. In such matters as this, I remember we were taught that one of the kennels of good leadership is that justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done.
It is also not enough for the minister in question to try to launder his image by volunteering to serve Nigeria free of charge. That, I am afraid, smacks of an attempt by the minister to garner further public acceptance.
By and large, it appears that the administration, in spite of its avowed commitment to transparency and its admirable ‘change agenda’ has, in this case, stepped out on a wrong foot whereby the unmistakable reaction of the people and their unexpressed voice-votes have been sacrificed on the altar of party patronage.
Whether the minister in question would deliver and perform wonders in whatever ministry to which he is assigned is not yet the issue; neither are Nigerians yet interested in how much the country would save by the minister serving free.
Indeed, the whole exercise has been aptly and succinctly summarised by the political analyst who said that the All People’s Congress as a political party has profoundly demonstrated that whereas Nigerians would have their ‘say’ on whatever issue, that the APC would always have its ‘way.’ Regrettably, it might have worked in the screening exercise. It might also have worked in the ministers’ confirmation, but our hope and our prayer is that such should not always be the guiding principle of the party on every issue. Instead, let the guiding principle on such delicate national issues be ‘the over-riding interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.’
Such back-and-forth raising and dashing of hopes would only convey one hard message to Nigerians, especially the underprivileged, namely; that those bygone days when they used to be greeted by one ‘messianic regime’ after another with all too familiar preambles…‘Fellow Nigerians…’ only to be dispatched to more horrendous living conditions and destitution are back, the only difference being that the current greeters [or perhaps deceivers] are now clad in Agbada, and no more Khaki.
• Echeta, an Attorney at Law, writes from Lagos.