Mistakes Jonathan Cannot Afford to Make Now, By Clement Udegbe
THE ship of state of Nigeria is adrift for some key reasons.
The Northern elders, elites and political leaders seem to be determined to either intimidate, harass or force GEJ not to run in the 2015 presidential election.
The merger of the ACN, CPC, and others to form the APC, which was the joy of many earlier, have just turned out to be more of a gang up to the disappointment of those who thought our democracy was shaping up.
But following the Chibok incident and the expressed willingness of the international community to assist Nigeria, some of them have seen the need to change their stance. They were blinded all these past four years and did not see the danger of Boko Haram as the nation’s number one enemy. Then they did not seem to care if the country was blown to pieces, aware that they will never be able to beat GEJ in 2015; thus, they told lies to themselves that the failure of Nigeria was only the failure of GEJ.
We cannot trust APC with a leader like Governor Nyako who has called for war against Igbos of the South East on the erroneous premise that GEJ was an Igbo man. Same for General Buhari who threatened that blood would flow if he failed in 2011.These are men who fought to keep Nigeria one, yet they are with Malam El-Rufai who thinks that he will be a better Northern champion by fighting dirty with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and others who at different fora vowed to make Nigeria ungovernable. Never mind their recent grand standing with the involvement of the civilised world in the Chibok girls matter.
They have succeeded in politicising every aspect of the Nigerian life such that GEJ cannot afford to make certain mistakes if he wants to keep the stability of Nigeria.
First, GEJ must contain the spread of insurgency by restricting it to the North East till it is wiped out. It must not get to the South. Full state of emergency should therefore be proclaimed in the three states of the North East, with the suspension of their legislative houses for the next six months. It will remove any likely sabotage or discouragement, or frustration of the efforts of the international forces now with us. If the State Houses of Assembly were not in synch with their Governors, they would have made it known to the world before now.
Second, all those who have made seditious comments and publications that threatened the unity and stability of this country must be prosecuted no matter how highly placed they may be. The full state of emergency will strip those who are serving Governors of their immunity so as to face the law of the land. Politicians and leaders must be deterred from making incendiary comments capable of undermining the stability of the country. If they are tired of Nigeria and begin to hate us, we should just be tired enough of them to send them to prison. No man should be above the law if we will move forward. Power should go to the systems and structures not individuals.
Third, GEJ must make round the clock electric power available to Nigerians to stimulate production and manufacturing which will create jobs, at all cost. It should be ‘a do or die’ matter to the presidency. Banks must be made to provide initial venture capital for agriculture, producers and manufacturers with lenient and generously low lending rates and conditions. The confusion in the banking sector created by SLS must be cleansed out. Sanity and bankers confidence must be restored. We must stop viewing and treating our bankers as thieves and untrust-worthy persons.
Fourth, GEJ must not allow his advisers to estrange his party from the voters by foisting increased hardship on them few months to elections through poorly timed and thought out policies that the opposition will capitalise on the during campaigns.
Such policies include the motor vehicle policy which will ban or increase the tariff on imported vehicles, the new plates policy and the driver’s license administration. Many motor companies are flooding back to Nigeria, attracted by the generous conditions created by the FG. Most of them have plans to build certain number of vehicles even though their plants and equipment are not here yet. Some are just acquiring land; it will take them a minimum of about 24 months to start production.
Yet government have increased tariffs on imported vehicles and may ban some out rightly in a few weeks or months time. This will only drive the market to our neighboring countries, increase smuggling and put more money into the pocket of Customs men and their contacts, while we groan under increased hardship. This policy should be dropped until we are sure of the quantity of vehicles we can and have produced over a period of time.
These companies seem to be building their factories on the pages of newspapers, positioning for importation for now. While the new number plate is a multi-billion naira scheme to extort money from Nigerians, as they bring no added value to users, the confusion in the issuance of driver’s license is a complete mess. It takes about six months to obtain a driver’s license from Lagos today, providing fertile grounds for fraud and extortion.
Fifth, GEJ cannot afford not to restrict the herdsmen to areas with large expanse of land in the North. This will reduce friction and violence associated with these men. The South, especially the South East, does not have the land, and this should be respected. The herdsmen palaver can be used by enemies to create avoidable schisms in the fragile unity of our country.
Finally, GEJ, must not allow the North, or anyone to make him not give the South East another state and a befitting sea port, not an inland Barges-Port like is being built at Onitsha. A seaport that has direct link and access to the ocean like in Apapa and Igbokoda.This is because the South East will ride with him all the way, and friendship with them is wisdom.
CLEMENT UDEGBE, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.
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