Many of my readers have requested that I repeat my article of last week in view of its currency and importance, and, hopefully, President Jonathan will take it more seriously. I absolutely agree with them.
We are 48 hours away from the year 2014. 2014 would be Jonathan’s last full year in power, so he has to make full use of it. That would be his last chance to construct a meaningful legacy for himself. As it stands today, he is in a very bad shape. The legacy he has built so far has been that of incompetence, corruption and impunity. But one year is surely enough to reverse this outlook. After all, the late Murtala Mohammed spent only six months in office but he made a clear statement on competence and the fight against corruption.
The first thing the president must decide to do in 2014 is tackle corruption. President Jonathan must make up his mind about corruption. On New Year’s Day, he must make this resolution. And the place to start is for him to change his current attitude about corruption. Our president does not appear to know that corruption is an imp that stunts the growth of nations. Our president’s mien suggests that he encourages, protects and romances corruption, sometimes even with the life of his government. President Jonathan must change his disposition towards corruption. No nation has ever developed or even made any meaningful progress without first tackling corruption. All great leaders who have made a difference to their countries have said so.
Second, the president must change his mindset about security of life in the country. The first duty of any government is the security and safety of the people and, in fact, our constitution states that the security and welfare of the people are the responsibility of government. The Nigerian state has technically failed, if one considers the level of insecurity that daily confronts Nigerians. The president only talks and complains about terrorism without doing much about it. I have never seen a nation’s president that sounds so helpless as Jonathan does. Yet, he wants to continue as president. Jonathan does not even comment on the armed robberies and kidnappings that have virtually taken over the land. Armed robbers now use grenades, yet the president doesn’t see an emergency. Are the robberies and kidnappings also the handiwork of those who have promised to make the country ungovernable for him?
The thing the president must do in this matter is to first know that the nature of crime has changed globally, so the strategy and tactics of their resolution must change accordingly. That also means that the government must invest heavily in the training of security agents who must now be grounded in new methods. High-precision equipment are available to defeat these modern-day criminals, but, with the level of corruption we see in today’s government, Nigeria may not benefit from them. These equipment and training are available to any serious leader who is serious about keeping his people safe and secured.
The kind of poignant stories one hears from those on the battlefield fighting terrorism must be tackled at once. Some of the commanders on the field occasionally use their salaries to service trucks because of corruption. For the first time, some soldiers now abandon their commanding officers and run away because they don’t feel adequately equipped. We are courting disaster as a nation, and, if this scourge of corruption is not decisively handled by the president, anything can happen. If his ministers use bulletproof vehicles, then, the president must personally ensure that those on the battlefields are at least properly kitted with modern weaponry to confront the nation’s enemies. The president must personally ensure that this is done because this is an absolutely important matter.
Another thing the president must confront in 2014 is unemployment. About 80 per cent of Nigerian graduates is currently unemployed and a total of 52 per cent of Nigerian youths is without employment as of 2012. These figures must have worsened by now. Nobody will need to tell the president that this situation is unsustainable. There are several ways to meaningfully create jobs that will ultimately boost the economy, and I will name a few.
In spite of the disgraceful security situation in the country, Nigeria currently has only about 370,000 policemen. This is scandalous for a country of 173 million people. For a start, Nigeria should not have fewer than a million policemen, considering its size. And I think the president should give an executive order for the employment of one million graduates from the current 80 per cent graduate unemployment and give them world-class training to face the challenges of a modern society. The second thing the president should do in creating employment is to compel the petroleum minister to produce the $10.8 billion that even Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala admits has been unaccounted for. This $10.8 billion is roughly N1.7 trillion. Let this whole amount be invested in the housing sector in all the zones of the federation. Nigeria currently has an estimated 17 million housing deficit. This N1.7 trillion will go a long, long way. Jonathan should resolve to construct one million housing units in 2014. This is one surefire way of tackling the current very embarrassing unemployment level in the country. And nobody should say it is not possible because it is. It has been estimated that building one million housing units countrywide would create approximately 30 million jobs because almost everybody from architects, quantity surveyors, estate agents, petty food sellers, horticulturists, decorator, labourers, block makers, iron rod sellers, engineers, furniture makers, insurance agents, cement sellers and many, many more would be engaged. And if the N1.7 trillion missing oil money is not immediately available because it has been stolen, while the president is trying to recover the money through the EFCC, ICPC, police and SSS, he could loan money at single-digit interest from the N3 trillion stuck in the pension fund. He could borrow, because the money would be repaid from the proceeds of the sales of these houses anyway. The current Jonathan government’s policy of a private sector-driven mass housing programme will fail because interest rates of over 20 per cent from banks will keep the houses out of the reach of ordinary people. Only millionaires will afford them.
Another thing the president must do in 2014 is to finally make up his mind to tackle the oil theft in the country. For the first time in Nigeria, and this is happening under Jonathan, oil theft has been taken to an industrial scale with the quantity of oil now being stolen outstripping the amount left for the country. Jonathan should stop behaving as if he is helpless. If he is, then, he should resign as president. And if Jonathan is serious, he can, before the end of next year, increase our oil production to 3 million barrels per day. A more serious president would be able to achieve 4 million barrels daily.
We must maximise our oil production levels as quickly as we can, because the world energy order is about to change forever. With the success of the hydraulic fracking technique pioneered by the United States and with about 20 African countries about to become major oil producers, oil will lose its princely value in the next 10 years, in any case.
If Jonathan is able to face these and achieve even half of them, he would have helped himself greatly and his legacy would be different from the terrible one he is about to leave behind. But, again, from his body language, it would appear that I have just wasted my time and ink.
President Jonathan’s Monumental Achievements In 2013
Has anyone been listening to the president and his ministers lately to hear how they have been praising themselves for their monumental achievements in 2013? One of them actually said that President Jonathan recorded more achievements than all our past heads of state put together. These chaps are simply wonderful. I will not call them stupid. It is either they are sick or they are just comedians.
Meanwhile, I am in Dubai where their ultra-performing leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said in effect that he has not achieved anything yet. Whatever they have done so far is nothing compared to the plans that they have. Spot the difference!