The euphoria and hullabaloo that characterized the past elections are already weeks behind us, gradually fading away into the annals of history. While aggrieved stakeholders wait on the tribunals to resume sitting at the end of May, the majority of the citizenry have simply continued with their daily routine, basically moving on. In a study of over 65 countries published in 2003 by the UK New Scientist magazine, Nigeria was named as the country with the happiest people on earth. The study confirmed that money does not buy happiness, and any Nigerian would agree to that. The Nigerian happiness is probably deduced from the resolute, optimistic and surviving mindset of the typical Nigerian. Against all odds, the Nigerian mind discovers the means to surmount, survive and still celebrate. This mind has learned to ‘move on’ over the years, but for how much longer?
The system of governance in Nigeria has been generally characterized by slow speed. Every issue births a new inquiry panel or implementation committee. It is almost rare to see projects implemented with a sense of urgency in mind. The overarching unfortunate impression observed is that we have a lot of time. The much touted ‘state of emergency’ phrase has become void of meaning. Much talk, with little or no action. The power sector has been in the process of ‘reform’ for many years now. So much time has gone into the development of a roadmap and initial implementation; the impact? Minimal. The stakeholders do not even appear to be working under any form of pressure, yet the power issue may be described as the most crucial hinge for economic growth in Nigeria. They emerge from each weekly ‘council’ rendezvous only to make press statements, with business continuing as usual. Emergency projects are never implemented casually, as the word implies. Where is the sense of urgency?
The president and his incoming cabinet need to embrace this reality – Nigeria’s economic development requires haste. It must not be business as usual. One of the first signals of Dr Jonathan’s seriousness of purpose and urgency of delivery will be the selection and appointment of federal ministers. Square pegs must not be found in round holes. Sound technocrats who have been seen to be swift and efficient in service delivery must be appointed to these positions. Time is not on our side. We cannot afford as a nation to appoint a bunch of clueless, pocket lining, conscience seared politicians into key national positions any longer. If he is to prove himself to be the true change agent who brings with him a breath of fresh air, then the president must set a 100 day goal for his cabinet. The goal must comprise of visible and achievable targets. Road repair and maintenance can be completed within a hundred days in each geopolitical zone. International airport luggage conveyor belts, air conditioning units can be overhauled within this time frame. Purchase orders for power generating turbines can be placed within a 100 days. Federal primary and secondary schools can be moderately refurbished within the same. Huge budget cuts, especially in the outrageous allowances of national senators and representatives can be achieved likewise. This is the definition of emergency.
Time waits for no man, so goes the saying. The clock is ticking, time is passing, people are waiting, and the future is calling. Who will catapult the nation away from the shackles of the past into its years of economic development and growth? Who will re-align our national priorities? Who will re-model the national assembly into a service centre and wipe out this embarrassing profit centre mode? Who will put his footprint in the sands of history as the trigger of change?