The kerfuffle in Northern Nigeria has abated and it appears the old order is coming to grip with the fact that perhaps it is morning on creation day in Nigeria. Now the agitpropists and the pot-boilers of the status quo and other self-seekers should give way and allow Mr. President to get back to work. Now it is the time to hit the ground running.
There is plenty on the president’s plate. Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has congratulated the new man in town; so are the retired generals and other local muckety-mucks and the rest; felicitations have been pouring in from across the land and world leaders have been sending congratulatory messages to the president-elect. Many of them will be in Abuja on Sunday May 29, 2011 to witness the inauguration of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as Nigeria’s 3rd executive president.
This is Jonathan’s Pax Nigeriana. Candidate Goodluck Jonathan promised he would be an impartial umpire in a contest he was a political magus; many Nigerians initially doubted him. Jonathan put his head on the chopping blocks even compared himself to the proverbial guinea pig and came out unscathed. This man must be sure-footed of his Divine Mission in Nigeria. Promise made, promise kept. He not only won but he won big. He cannot afford to fail. Expectations are high and among us Nigerians in the Diaspora, we wait with bated breath on how things will shape out in our fatherland. But make no mistake about it; no one should be in doubt right now that Nigeria is Jonathan’s Country as we say here in America. Nigeria is currently on the shoulders of Jonathan and he faces two forks on the road to 2015. His decision will make or mar Nigeria but he has all it takes to cross the Rubicon. The next four years under President Jonathan would be very critical indeed both for Nigeria as a nation and for the Nigerian people. Contrary to cynics, four years are long years in the history of a nation to jumpstart a revolution and take a new and different course for good. If a day in politics is like eternity as Winston Churchill once said, American Conservative writer, Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator must be right to say six months in politics are like infinity and beyond. When President Seretse Ian Khama of Botswana was elected in 2008; he decided to run an efficient and corrupt-free administration and within two years achieved a 10 percent growth rate. Last year Botswana boasted the highest per capital income of $13,000 of any nation in Africa –the highest in Africa more than South Africa and Egypt. President Paul Kigame of Rwanda is ahead of the curve in reviving a genocide nation by putting his country men and women to work and within four years increased his nation’s annual growth rate to 8 percent. Ghana under John Evans Atta Mills is becoming a success story.
First, fix Nigeria’s discombobulated energy sector. President Jonathan should not think that government is the answer to Nigeria’s epileptic power supply rather he should borrow the template of de-regulation as witnessed in the telecommunication sector. Thank God, Nigerians are now talking to one another and the world. He should allow private corporations to move into the power sector and let there be light. Between May 2011 and May 29, 2012, the Minister of Power can fast-track the approval of private applications from credible corporations interested in generating and distributing energy in Nigeria. His administration should quickly set the guidelines and get out of the way so that by this time next year, twenty million Nigerians who invested their hopes and aspirations on him in last month’s presidential election would thump chest and exult "See we told you!? Just as he crushed his opponents in the presidential elections, he has the will and popular support of all Nigerians to crush importers of generators and put them out of business for good once and for all.
Second, Nigeria’s chronic unemployment situation should be tackled headlong. Africa’s most populous nation is sitting on a keg of gun powder with nearly 50 million of her striplings roaming the streets. As Candidate Jonathan aptly acknowledged during the electioneering campaign, the only way he could put Boko Haram and their misanthropic bedfellows out of business is put these restless but energetic Nigerians into productive use. For a start, agricultural settlements should be established in all the 700 or thereabout local government areas in the country. The next batch of Nigerian youth corps members (corpres) should be posted to these farm settlements so that Nigerians can feed themselves. Each of the farm settlements in each of the local government should have a silo. Every political upheaval and revolution in history began with hunger. Americans threw out the Brits because of the price of tea; Louis XVI of France lost his throne and life because of the high price of bread in 1789; the rulers of Algeria and Tunisia were swept out of power because of food riots. History is littered with kings and presidents that were overthrown by popular uprising because their citizens were starving. As the Yoruba adage says, I ate yesterday does not concern hunger. Hunger and unemployment are the root causes of social dislocation.
Third, the president should consolidate on the gains of the just concluded general elections by instituting transparent electoral system in Nigeria forever. With a credible man at the helms, the INEC under Professor Attahiru Jega has demonstrated that election cheaters and vote pilferers can be punished by voters at the ballot box. The current electoral tsunami which swept a whole generation of politicians off their positions across the country has renewed the confidence of Nigerians in the power of their votes. This is the beginning of the so-called dividend of democracy. Nigerians now have the opportunity to periodically throw out venal politicians from elective offices. Now Nigeria’s ersatz democracy is gone and popular democracy is here. The days of "capturing" power by political bullies are gone and President Jonathan has set the standard.
Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo (Ph.d) writes.