Flag of nigeria waving with highly detailed textile texture pattern

By Austin Isikhuemen

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: We all crave good governance. That is why we opted for democracy and chased the army back to the barracks in 1999. Though a vestige of them remained till 2007, we were proud of what we achieved, and all the exiles returned home to breath free air without looking over their shoulders every minute. Nigeria that had become a pariah state under the dark goggled general began to have her President airborne across the Sahara so frequently that citizens began to complain. But he was opening closed doors and bringing Nigeria back to reckoning once more.

We needed good governance and badly craved it. Especially having experienced the whispered massive looting and direct loading from the national vault and storage abroad. Current repatriations from Switzerland, UK, Germany and America have authenticated those rumours despite a Presidential posthumous denial. But this is not the subject of today. I am rather concerned with giving due recognition to good achievement by those in government no matter how few those people are and how scanty the area where they did well. I genuinely feel that generalized condemnation is not only unscientific, but also patently unfair.

My reason for bringing this up is to point out the disservice that such a pattern creates by discouraging those that have the capacity to do well from seeking public office. They resign themselves to fate since, after all, those who clearly did well in certain aspects were still vilified as having done nothing. This Naysayers Brigade goes to town with ‘he did nothing’ singsong all the time and clearly discounts the good deeds and achievements of leaders who made positive marks in specific areas. That in my view is not in line with the expected positive reinforcement that will make successors strive for excellence.

Let us take the case of IBB for instance. You hear folks say he did nothing throughout his nine years in power. When that is repeated ad infinitum, it does create the impression of a total non-performer in the minds of some who experienced him and those who were too young or not born during his regime. But we know that is not true. Yes, he annulled June 12 elections, and yes, he tried self-succession and made the Abacha blight possible. But there are numerous achievements to his name. He opened up the banking sector – Zenith, GTB, STB that eventually swallowed the behemoth UBA and retained the name, and several others now called new generation banks were all products of his reforms. Before his time customers used to take mats to their banks – Union, FirstBank, NNB, Bank of the North, UBA, National Bank etc. IBB’s new banks and reforms created options that forced the dinosaurs to change their ways.


Some of us still remember that the only source of news was the government controlled NTA and Radio Nigeria and a few States Government owned radio stations before IBB liberalized the media with the registration of private radio stations. Ray Power FM led the pack. Ditto TV stations. This gave citizens alternative information sources that told exactly why countrymen were escaping to the East while NTA and Radio Nigeria were telling us they were going for new yam festival! So was the liberalization of the tertiary education sector with the licensing of the first private university – Igbinedion University Okada. Can we imagine what the education sector would have been without the private universities today? How many students would have had university education?

President Shehu Shagari of blessed memory is never accredited with the massive investments in Ajaokuta Steel Company, the Steel rolling mills in Oshogbo and Katsina and the iron mining and processing facilities in Itakpe. Yes, I do recall the corruption issues that got a loud mention in 1984 after he left office but a lot of work was done in that steel city that we turned to a massive failure. That these projects were mismanaged by successive governments cannot be blamed on the gentle, soft-spoken President. Didn’t that same leader conceive and build the rail line from Aladja to Itakpe to convey iron ore from the later to the former? Is that not the rail line that has now been completed by the current government and converted from the envisaged goods rail line to a passenger one that is serving Delta, Edo, and Kogi states?

When people, especially APC stalwarts talk today of 16 ‘wasted’ years of PDP, they conveniently discount, or pretend to forget for political gains, the massive achievements of President Obasanjo. That before him people were going to book and queue for days just to make a phone call to Europe or America. Nitel, may it rest in peace, and its workers were on the same pedestal as demigods – you had to have a friend in Nitel that you serviced with bribes in order to have a telephone line that even hardly worked. OBJ’s GSM resolution did change all that. He didn’t create the technology, but he made it available to us through a process that was adjudged very transparent worldwide. Does anyone credit him with the silent Armed Forces reforms that probably have helped to ensure we no longer have the periodic martial music and incoherent speeches that used to interrupt our political lives? Does anyone remember his yeoman’s job on the international stage that returned us from a pariah state to a major player that even got considered to run for UN Secretary General? Yes, there were missed opportunities in the power sector and elsewhere, but the achievements need not be discounted too.

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The current President recently scored himself high and wondered aloud why those who should mark the scripts and return an ‘A’ score have refused to do so! Mr President, the race is still on, and the tape is yet to be breasted. A student cannot play ASUU membership at the same time, so you may want to leave the marking of the scripts to those who have the marking schemes – we the people. That is not to say we can claim that you ‘did nothing’ as you and your party have claimed of the other party. We will be fair to ascribe the good deeds your government has done when the time is ripe. When people start driving on the 2nd Niger Bridge, no one would be able to deny that you finally actualized that dream for the people of the South East. Just like it will also be unfair to deny that President Jonathan commenced the construction of that bridge through his then Works Minister – Architect Dr. Mike Onolemehmen.

To rate a sitting President before the end of tenure without falling into the same generalizations of the Naysayers Brigade, or become a praise singing puppet, you would have to state the good, the bad and the ugly of his regime. Because of the dire situation of the country at the moment, I guess only folks like the loquacious Keyamo would give a preemptory, self-serving 100% pass mark, but it would not stand a thorough ‘UTME’ scrutiny. So, while mentioning the soon-to-be completed 2nd Niger Bridge and some completed rail projects, I would also remind my readers that even the rails are now under bandit management of sorts. Bandits have shut down the rails in some sections of the country. We await their approval to restart operations. Ditto the non-utilization of Jonathan’s Almajiri schools which looks like a deliberate ploy to keep almajiris perpetually almajerised. NANS and ASUU are not likely to score the government up to ‘average’ no matter how generous they decide to get.

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At Edo Central in the last few days till today, roads are being blocked by protesters due to their impassable states – at Ewu junction, Ekpoma, Uromi. These are all Federal Roads and if you go there today, all you would find are fallen trailers conveying goods to various parts of the country. Does that mean Fashola has ‘done nothing’? Far from it. He has put effort into the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, the Apapa ports from Oworoshonki, the Ore – Shagamu expressway to mention but a few. I am told he has worked on many roads in the North as well. But, pray, my fellow Uniben Alumnus, how can it be that after being hyped as a super-Minister with double ministry in your first term, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is not finished, neither is the Benin-Shagamu road which was already done from Benin City beyond Ore before you took over? Seven and a half years is a long time. Very long indeed. But you did something. After all, the ‘go-slow’ on the long bridge testifies to your hard work as the next elections approach.

I would like to complete this piece by pointing out to Peter Obi that we will rate him too. And he better get prepared to walk the talk. Because our verdict after his first term would be strict as we would not tolerate any reference to his predecessor’s shortcomings. We know those already. And now that he is going to have barbed opposition arrows streaming perpetually from two massive opponents rather than one at the present, he better get ready, as he has been saying he would, so that the ObiDatti scorecard can be preponderantly green rather than the many reds and ambers of the current government.

I am not dreaming. The Jos rally, the Ebonyi match, the planned Edo and Lagos independent rally’s, even the stopped Kaduna match, where no shishi is given and folks self-mobilize, are real for everyone to see. It is only Naysayers that will tell you now that it is ‘just 20 boys in a room’, it is only on social media or that I am dreaming. Oh, maybe it is actually giving them a nightmare – a frightening dream, if you like.


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