By Timi Babatunde
The history of Nigeria is one characterized by multiple fits, starts and staccatos. Ours is a chequered history with continual disruptions by both military and civilian administrations.
Successive military juntas, heralding a messianic dawn truncated whatever tranquil, stability and policy direction there was in a bid to ‘move’ the nation forward. Each one came to right some apparent ‘wrong’ perpetrated by the governments of the day.
A messianic zeal and desire for the elusive eldorado, reinforced by an internal restlessness, impatience and intolerance of the masses accounts for the constant impetuousness to see the back of successive governments. Such changes were usually attended by wild street jubilations, rejoicing and anticipation of the new dawn- Uhuru!
The history of fits and starts isn’t limited to the military administrations alone. A case in study was the Yar’Adua administration of 2007 -2011. A conniving, and vengeful administration not only put a stop to a lot of the momentum from the Obasanjo administration, but reversed most of her achievements including the sale of refineries, and halting the NIPP initiatives.
Ditto at the states and local government levels with successive administrations.
The Buhari military administration of 1983 truncated the nation’s second republic democratic experience in a bit to score some points. It in turn was toppled by the Babangida minded coup d’etat.
Does anyone still marvel at why we remain where we are?
Psychoanalytic psychology relies on innate and experiential factors to explain human behavior. Years of social, economic, political deprivation have shaped the Nigerian psyche into a tempestuous, temperamental, paranoid and cynical lot.
Our worldview is colored by the wounds of the past, and the failure of successive governments to achieve the much desired improvement in our socio economic milieu.
Consequently, most Nigerians have become cynical, impatient and suspicious of the motives of any government, no matter how well intentioned. This cynicism finds expression as outbursts of ineptitude about the government of the day, in this case, the Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Every step of this administration has been dogged by strong opposition, malice and doubts. Being in the eye of the storm, it continues to draw flak from all and sundry.
Beginning from the obvious constitutional crisis of succession, and conspiracy that surrounded late Yar’Adua’s illness, the post election crisis of 2011 preceded by uncharitable utterances of present day dramatis personae, the Boko Haram menace and the present day indecorous opposition personified by the All Progressives Congress.
The achievements of this administration has tended to pale into insignificance in light of the above hitches and challenges, unduly exaggerated by a blind opposition, but this in the mind of the undiscerning.
Challenges and difficulties are not necessarily and inherently evil. Rather, challenges are stepping stones for greatness, for individuals, groups and nations; which if successfully negotiated make us better, stronger and mature.
They are an opportunity for growth, as they impose changes on us, which though unpleasant, are necessary for progress.
Who said learning to crawl, walk, talk was easy for infants? What about adjusting to puberty for adolescents or the healing of surgical wounds? Yet, in each of these cases, represent challenges which if well negotiated births greatness, wholeness and joy.
The challenges we presently have are teething problems for the birth of a great and enduring nation, be it the perceived exposure of corruption, the mayhem of terrorism, general discontent and indecorous opposition.
These are a reflection of our maturational stage as a nation and are a call for patient continuance, and perseverance in doing good. That if we stay the course, we shall reap the benefits.
The temptation however is to short circuit this unpleasant process and phase, resorting to quick fixes represented as ‘change’. Our first instinct is to label this administration as clueless, incompetent and incapable of fixing the problems.
The natural and knee jerk reaction is also to fall for the dangle of “change” being echoed by the APC. This route is the very familiar one we’ve been through over the years. It offers little succor, and will be a throwback to another new beginning in the mould of successive truncations.
In any case, the APC has done little to justify her lust for power. It seems it is power for power’s sake, riding on popular sentiments for ‘change’ and general disenchantment. What APC seems most skillful at is the haulage of insults on the office and person of the Nigerian presidency and indecorous utterances.
What it is less skilled about is the provision of alternative answers, and the articulation of alternative policy directions (APC lawmakers have achieved nothing groundbreaking-they continue to collect the bogus and questionable constituency allowances etc).
The Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration has done veritable and creditably well. She will never meet all aspirations of Nigeria, as no single administration never will. But ours is a new vision, a new direction and a new spirit.
Former President Obasanjo echo my sentiments recently when he emphasized that what we needed was stability in government. Not the constant and haphazard change in administrations and policy flip-flops.
Below is a catalog of achievements of this government. It is credit to the intellectual approach to governance and perseverance of this administration. They are no mean feats. If given the chance, it is poised to do more and will consolidate on existing achievements.
1. Freedom of Information Bill
2. Local content Bill
3. Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority
4. National Health Bill
5. Petroleum Industry Bill (yet to be passed)
6. Resuscitation of Nigeria Railways
7. Independence of the Judiciary, and legislature
8. Rule of law
9. Massive employment generation through SURE P, You Win and the graduate internship scheme.
10. Road network rehabilitation and construction
11. Reorganization of security architecture and intelligence
12. National conference
13. Access to education (9 new federal Universities, Interventional grants to public universities of 1 trillion naira in the next 4 years, over 100 Almajiri schools built and operating etc).
14. A drive to see agricultural self sufficiency and policy support
15. Rebasing of the economy
16. Credible electoral processes
17. National Identity Card Management etc.
Suggested areas of improvement going forward include the following:
1. Introduction of a social security/ welfare scheme for all Nigerians
2. Greater access to justice through creation of specialized judicial divisions such as constitutional, civil and criminal courts; proliferation of courts, and creation of regional supreme courts.
3. A review of extant penal and criminal laws.
4. Implementation of recommendations of the 2014 National conference, among other things.