Monday, 30 January 2017
Article: Interpreting The 'Change' We Voted For!
By abiodun KOMOLAFE
The world had barely settled down to the reality of Brexit when Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton to clinch victory in an election that would eventually shame the power of opinion polls. Trump purportedly played a fast one on unsuspecting Americans and the world was left to grapple with 'Trump Trauma'. A few weeks after, Fidel Castro was done with the wildness of this world and the world, with the exception of those who felt threatened by his Marxist-Leninist disposition, mourned the passing of a great humanist. Along the line, Yahya Jammeh happened to our democratic psyche and that tragically revived memories of sit-tightism that has all along been the bane of our Africanness. Elsewhere in Europe, Italy stunned the world with a referendum which, though looked and sounded marginal in shape and size, has, in all the important ways, changed the face of global politics. And, uninterested in being uncounted, Nigeria continues to grapple with recession even as economic juggernauts catwalk excuses!
Indeed, the global village is in a mess and all eyes can see it! Nations are waging wars against nations! Sicknesses and diseases are defying medical prescriptions! Conflicts, endless droughts, hunger and deprivations are separating us from our journey and it is as if signs of the end times are already staring us in the face.
With a special attention on Nigeria, that dear country is experiencing a siege revolution is no longer news! Willingly or by happenstance, the town is tough while the glory of the gown is tormented. In addition to the global uncertainty which has shaken Nigeria to her foundational relevance, politics, not policy, threatens her existence and it is as if godly minds have eloped with their prudent counsels. Like a steeringless vehicle, inflation has gone to an unbearable level and it is as if those witches and wizards of the military-era Nigeria are back at work! To make matters worse, Africa's foremost giant, and world’s 10th biggest oil reserves, now joys in having more than 60 per cent of her people living on less than $1 a day. In 2016, unemployment rose from 12.1 per cent in the first quarter to 13.3 per cent in the second quarter. Only God knows where it now stands!
Truth be told, events of the last few months have again compelled bewildered Nigerians to debate the particular nature of the 'Change' they voted for! Of considerable worry is their inability to discern whether or not the events of March 28, 2015 were destined to take Nigeria to her Promised Land or Muhammadu Buhari was merely ordained to act Nigeria's Moses. For God's sake, why has a bag of rice, which sold for N7,500.00 in December 2015, now gone beyond double and how come less than 500 people are sitting on not less than 20% of Nigeria's 2017 budget, all in the name of constituency and other meaningless projects? Widening the scope of our worries, why has Cuba, in spite of her travails, become a socio-economic success while Nigeria, despite its touted giantness, continues to look Northwards, not inwards, for succour? All said, will Nigeria get out of this miasma unbowed and where lies the road to comfort?
An Igbo proverb says: "you don't need a mirror to see what you are wearing on your hand". Agreed! The times are quite unusual. But Nigerians must have to work together for their teeth to chew the meat! Bola Tinubu struck the right chord when he urged the government to "re-engineer the economy bottom up, diversify the economic base, strengthen our industrial base, modernize infrastructure, enhance agriculture, and provide employment and of course, ease of doing business." It is interesting to not that Buhari has been there before. Therefore, that he knows what to do to navigate the country out of the economic turbulence is not in doubt. But he has to act fast and the earlier he does this, the better for the ruling party and this fractured microcosm.
Assuming without conceding that government at the centre is currently moving beyond sharing our pains to making genuine efforts at restoring Nigeria's political and economic credibility, keying into Osun State's 'government unusual' which has made the business of governing and growing the state an exciting experience will not be out of place. With its adoption of some of the state's initiatives like the School Feeding, Elderly Welfare and Youth Empowerment schemes, Nigerians will agree with me that the Federal Government is on the right track. But, more still need to be done, especially, in the area of massive infrastructure development, if it must timeously deliver on the promised dividends of democracy to the citizenry. The president must come to terms, not only with the details and the intricacies of 'cash' in the people's "pockets and food in their belly" but also the basics of the "promises of a brighter future." After all, a naked man does not put his hands in his pocket.
Platitudes aside, for any country in the world to develop, the socio-economic benefits of good road network can never be overemphasized. Apart from getting people, markets, services and knowledge connected, it is also advantageous in the economic growth of the society. Osun, under Rauf Aregbesola, has demonstrated the impactful interaction between the state's economic development and the sufficiency and quality of its road network. Therefore, it's time Buhari rose to the task of tapping from this wonderful experience that has turned Osun State into 'a permanent construction site'.
Again, this is where those who are accusing the governor of wasting resources on the construction of an airport have also missed it. As a matter of fact, there is a lot of benefits derivable from an initiative as laudable as this. Among them are speed, reliability, rapid delivery of medical supplies as well as efficiency in connection of markets across states, countries and continents. Statistics revealed that not less than 35% of world trade by value are transported by air. In 2013 alone, about 49.3% million tones of freight were handled by air.
As we know, Osun State is adjoined by not less than five other states: Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun, Akure and Kwara. At a time like this when the state is putting its trust in diversification, a cargo airport will in no small way add to its income generation capacity. In like manner, Nigeria can truly serve as Africa's hub for "distant markets and global supply chains in a speedy and reliable manner" if only those in positions of authority can look in the direction of upgrading facilities at our airports with a view to serving the original purposes for which they were established. But for paucity of funds, the story of MKO Abiola Airport in Ido Osun would have been pleasantly different. All the same, Aregbesola has demonstrated that it can work and Buhari will do well by borrowing a leaf from this worthy venture.
And, to those who delight in accusing Aregbesola of engaging in 'capital flight', it may interest them to know how Dubai got to where it is as well as the contributions of Jews and people of colour to the development of the United States of America. Added to this will be some tutorials on the indices for measuring growth. In my considered opinion, Buhari will be doing progressive governance a lot of good by learning some useful tips, along this line, from Osun State.
Education, Agriculture and Security are some other important areas where I am optimistic the Federal Government can effectively partner Osun State in order to meaningfully impact the lives of Nigerians and I hope to address them in subsequent interventions.
Well, this is not to say that hypocrites and pathological naysayers whose portion is in attitudes that bring failure will not attack the president for taking a bold step like the aforementioned. Unfortunately, that's their professional calling and there's nothing one can do to cure their mischief. Beyond their disjointed preachments, they see politics as a game of death even as they represent all the bad things that poverty can give. Shepherdless in the journey of life, they once accused Bisi Akande of mismanaging Osun State but, not unexpectedly, the stone that the builders rejected have eventually become the cornerstone. And, in their eager, sometimes feverishly paranoid attempt to interpret the times, they fail to understand that Osun is an integral part of the project called Nigeria; and that both are constituents of the global village. So, whatever ails the eye is not unlikely to ail the nose!
Warren Buffet made a strong statement when he remarked that no one gets credit for predicting rain but for building the ark. In other words, how Buhari goes about fulfilling his election promises to Nigerians will go a long way in determining how posterity will remember him.
May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders' efforts, scatter!
(KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org))
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 12:23