The Issues Jonathan Must Address if He Wants to Contest in 2015 – Kaoje
Engineer Bala Muhammed Kaoje is the president of the Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria. The former National Treasurer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)and Minister of Sports in this interview says President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling PDP must address the hanging issues on insurgency, Chibok schoolgirls, corruption, the army and government battered image if the president wants to contest in 2015.
How is the handling of the insurgency issue and the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls likely to affect the fortunes of Mr. president and the PDP in coming election?
The problems of Boko Haram and the subsequent abduction of 230 female students in Chibok will definitely affect the fortunes of not only Mr. president who may want to contest election in 2015 but also our party as the ruling party. Right now, with the number of things that are happening, people are blaming the party. Everybody is talking about the PDP because is the ruling party and the way and manner these things are handled has exposed a lot of things in the sense that people feel that the government has not been quick in response.
Most of these things are partly because maybe some of these people who are opportuned to be closer to the president do not have the guts to go to him and advise him on what should be done and how quickly it should be done. Maybe it is in his own wisdom that he takes time to decide in taking action on issues.
But I think by now the president must have learnt some lessons for not taking action when things like this happen. For example, I have heard people talk about the president not going to Chibok and I heard the president himself talk on why he couldn’t go there. But if I have had the opportunity to meet with the president, I would have impressed on him to visit Chibok. The reason is that, it is not for him to go there to find those girls or bring them back but it is for him to meet with the parents of the children and talk to them because in politics that is important. Presidents all over the world rush to where their citizens are affected by any disaster, either flood, fire , storms even kidnap as we have in Nigeria. They go there, talk to people and sympathize with them. In any case, I think some lessons have been learnt.
How has this affected the reputation of the Nigerian Army?
Well, some of us in the past were impressed by what our army was doing on peace keeping mission in Africa and around the world. But from what has been happening since the beginning of the Boko Haram crisis till today, a lot of the shortcomings of the Nigerian military have been exposed. Believe me, as far as Nigerians are concerned its rating has become so low. Not only the military, the rating of all the other security agencies in the country is as well extremely low. That is why atimes I pity our president because he cannot be everywhere, he cannot do all the jobs by himself. He has to rely on information but the security agencies have failed to supply the right information to him. The president is a sort of boxed into a corner.
Whereas, without adequate intelligence, adequate information regarding this issues the president becomes incapacitated. Some of the people that he has entrusted with this responsibility and funds made available to them have not produced any result. This is where the whole issue regarding the fight against Boko Haram or even the abduction of the Chibok girls has become a laughing matter against Nigeria by the rest of the world. You hear the comments by political leaders in other nations regarding our leadership in the country; they are disturbing and we are not happy about that. Our president is like any other president, it is not right for him to be exposed to such comments because those who are supposed to do their jobs have failed to do it.
Nigerians and the international community are concerned about issue of corruption in the country. How will it impact on this administration?
I must tell you that I am disappointed. Whatever position anybody is holding in a country, he is expected to provide good governance. Good governance encompasses so many things: Selfless service, producing results that are positive will impart on the lives of the people and so on. Anybody, from the president down to other political office holders , as soon as they are appointed should know that they are expected to be accountable. So they must prepare themselves on daily basis and portray the nation in good light. But I think something is fundamentally wrong with how things are done in this country. If anybody that is given an office to hold in trust for Nigerians is asked a question he should answer the question. If you don’t have any skeleton in your cupboard what are you afraid of? I must say that as long as we take service to the nation the way some people now take it, this nation will have problem in progressing to where we want it to progress to .
What is your view on the refusal of the Petroleum Minister to appear before the House of Representatives over the N20bn jet probe?
I cannot jump to conclusion on this issue but I think whoever has his integrity in doubt in any organization within a nation has the right to go and clear himself before any other thing can be said about such a person. She might not have done anything wrong but because of her refusal now to go and explain herself, everybody is thinking that she has corruptly enriched herself through that system.
But if she has done what is expected of her as a leader, this matter wouldn’t have become a subject for discussion for too long. She said the president must give her the go ahead. Of course, it is the president who appointed her but I think the National Assembly has the constitutional power to know what is going on in her ministry. If they did oversight and they are not clear they have the right to ask questions and as well call the person in charge to come and explain things to them. People should not be playing politics with everything. Except we choose leaders who are upright and are not concealing any information, do what they are expected to do and produce positive result, we still have a long way to go as a nation.
This administration has embarked on some major projects such as the 2nd Niger Bridge, dredging of River Niger and reconstruction of the Lagos/Ibadan expressway projects. Do you see the projects completed before the 2015 election kick off?
I will speak as a professional not as a politician or a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). When you look at the whole thing, you will see that the president has a good initiative and is as well committed to getting the projects completed. But the major propelling factor that will enable the projects to be executed properly and quickly is funding, which is lacking.
Are you saying government does not have the money to execute its projects?
I cannot say government does not have money because I know it has various accounts but I don’t have the power to know what is in those accounts. The problem is the sluggish nature of government in terms of approach to get things done. For instance, when you look at the timing for the passage of budgets year in year out in Nigeria you will see that it is impossible to realize much because of delays, right from the preparation of the budget by the Executive and getting it passed by the National Assembly. This is why we still don’t know where we are going with the 2014 budget and this is the second quarter . These are part of the problems that hamper budget implementation in the country. Except we find a way to change that, it will be very difficult to impress Nigerian citizens that we are doing what is right.
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