Having read the two books written by Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the recent book by the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, I have come to an un-researched conclusion that Nigerian politicians do not know how to talk politics.
Talking politics means talking good because politics is about the goodness of society. That is why political philosophers devoted all their lives in looking for the good of the state.
One of the reasons Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 election is because none of his followers took quality time to explain to Nigerians the good works of his administration. It was after he had left office and these books were written that I got to know that he initiated the treasury single account (TSA) policy that was geared towards fighting corruption in the public service. Indeed most Nigerians never knew that he fought corruption, no matter how small.
When President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, he continued it on a more aggressive manner that ministries, departments and agencies of government now have access to less public funds to steal. Goodluck Jonathan should hold his lieutenants and followers responsible for losing the 2015 election: because they refused to tell Nigerians the good things he was doing, instead of quarrelling with the then opposition party.
President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) is about to suffer the same faith. Whenever I hear or listen to his lieutenants and followers, all I deduce is reactionary responses to the distracting allegations from the opposition political parties. From the Ministry of Information to the National Orientation Agency (NOA), PMB’s media chiefs, his political party’s publicity chiefs and all the rest behind him, they are merely quarrelling with the opposition political parties. They are not initiating, talking or telling Nigerians details of the good works PMB is doing in Nigeria today.
I am yet to be convinced that this retinue of followers is doing a good work in talking and explaining what PMB has done with the Nigerian economy in the last four years. Under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), who has told the ordinary Nigerians what ERGP means, how it is being implemented and the expected benefits? Things like the petrol scarcity and subsidy and the price of petrol, unemployment, inflation, exchange rate, food importation, foreign debts and the standard of living of Nigerians?
Such an explanation should also include funds released to states to enable them settle backlog of salaries and pensions, stoppage of states-debt related deductions, the reasons for the TraderMoni [Federal Government Empowerment Scheme], Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operation, and other interventions of the government to reduce hardship in the land. Nigerians need to know in details the effect of government’s actions in the agricultural sector.
On security, the opposition claims that insecurity has been the worst harvest by Nigerians due to the terror activities of the herdsmen and Boko Haram. Someone should take out quality and quantum time to prepare a detailed documentary on how PMB is tackling these terrorists. That documentary should be used to explain to Nigerians in simple languages and forums about the causes, origin, membership, operations and the extent of damage they have done to Nigeria.
It should cover the issues of security expenditure; joint operations; military posting, training, facilities and allowances; police killing of Yusuf and many of his followers leading to the open operation of the Boko Haram, police abscondment from training to fight Boko Haram; all the issues about displaced persons and the official stealing of the funds released to care for the displaced persons and so on. It is instructive to state here that the biggest tool against the PMB government is his handling of the continuous killing of Nigerians in the North Central region especially in Benue and Plateau states. If this is not well explained to Nigerians, the All Progressives Congress-led government may lose substantial votes from this region and other states affected by the herdsmen killings (Adamawa, Taraba, Zamfara and Nasarawa).
On some miscellaneous issues, Nigerians need to know in details why the national assembly increased the 2018 budget by N500 billion (about US $ 1.36 billion) and PMB allowed it. Nigerians need to know how really the TSA works. What has been concretely achieved with the TSA? The work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) needs to be explained to Nigerians because it appears EFCC is more interested in showcasing accused persons than successfully prosecuting them. From May 2015, how many people have been accused, how many have been prosecuted and jailed (besides Joshua Dariye [Governor of Plateau State] and a few others) or released, how much has been recovered from accused persons and who are they, how many properties have been confiscated and who owns them, how has the government utilized the recovered funds etc.
Another issue is that of appointments into top government offices by PMB. Nigerians have been saturated with the feeling that appointments by PMB are skewed in favour of the North. If the government does not agree with this position, it should provide alternative explanations to prove the critics wrong. How many appointments has he made since 29 May 2015? How many are from the North and how many are from the South? Provide convincing reasons why some obvious cases should be so: for example the replacement of the former Minister of Finance who was from the South by another person from the North.
President Buhari may be doing great goods in these areas, but how well do Nigerians know about that. It is the duty of his political party and those who are responsible for talking about the works of his government that should talk the politics of President Mohammadu Buhari. This has become immensely essential in this election and New Year seasons.
* Okachikwu Dibia writes from Abuja, Nigeria.