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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Opinion: General Buhari’s Change Mantra And President Jonathan’s Good Work

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by Emeka Nwagwuna

Although media commentaries are awash with interesting permutations of what Buhari’s victory portends for our politics, sufficient thoughts have not been committed to what this victory must not bring to Nigeria.

Buhari and his team should be reminded that Nigerians voted for change in the wrongs of the nation not change in areas already witnessing positive transformation.

This point is important at this time when one considers how some overzealous sympathizers of APC are carrying on with provocative comments across the length and breadth of the nation especially in Lagos.

Jonathan administration scores high in many respects and the incoming government must take note of this. For instance, this government is on record as the first in recent history of Nigeria that did not keep any political prisoner under any guise.

The change that Nigerians voted for must not alter this. Similarly, even though the administration of Freedom of Information Law has not resulted in the expected level of transparency in government, freedom to pursue contrary political views to the ones canvased by the government at the centre has not been challenged by any form of impunity or mystery deaths as was the case before now.

The change that we voted for therefore, must not obliterate the gains in this direction. The affirmative action in favour of women which this administration has vigorously pursued has given rise to the impressive number of women holding their own in leading positions of responsibility even in the federal cabinet.

This singular move has boosted the morale of our women and mothers and indeed served as catalyst to a robust women participation in politics. The change we voted for must not obfuscate this record.

Although successes recorded against Boko Haram insurgency came at the twilight of this administration, Nigerians accept that the success is majorly due to the investment in military hardware undertaken by this administration.

In the past, former presidents and heads of state were more interested in regime security than in national security hence the low votes for military hardware. The change we seek must not reverse the victory.

Before this administration, it was almost impossible for citizens from a section of the country to hold certain political offices deemed sensitive. This unwritten rule remains before now the instrument of marginalization which that part of the country endured. This is in spite of over forty years after a civil war regarded as producing no victor nor vanquished.

Today, that section of the country is proud to be associated with government at the centre in its little but genuine efforts in cleansing the sacrilege of several decades of marginalization.

This alienating sectional treatment which this government dared to challenge is arguably the single most important attempt at national integration since after the war. The change Nigerians have voiced should not include the undermining of this giant stride.

Although Nigeria still remains a mono-product economy, this government more than any other before it has committed more efforts at diversification of the economy. Jonathan administration has carried out commendable transformation in the oil sector.

Unlike what we had before now, the local content law in operation in the oil and gas sector of the economy has made it possible for more Nigerians to hold major investment concerns in this sector. The result, therefore, is increased jobs and capacity for our people. Before now, major oil and gas platforms were owned by non-Nigerians and few Nigerians from a particular elite constituency.

This courageous transformation must not be ruined on the altar of change. Major agitations that characterised informed activism for national development over the years hinged mainly on the need for a national conference.

This administration heeded to that informed call by creating a template for national conference. The conference is on record has having made over 600 resolutions by consensus.

These resolutions are sacrosanct and their implementation therefore will help resolve some age-long threats to our national unity. Common sense dictates these resolutions must not be altered in any form by the incoming government.

However, things to be changed are not in short supply. This incoming government must ensure that the quasi federation status of our nation is changed to reflect a true federation both in principles and in operations.

Nigerians will want to see change in the tension being frequently generated in the ritual of monthly pilgrimage to Abuja by finance commissioners just for funds sharing. In a nutshell, enough political will must be invested in favour of fiscal federalism or fiscal democracy.

Change should also be visible in how state governors handle the third tier of government. If the wind of positive change is to cascade down to the grassroots, the authority closest to them must be seen to work. In this wise, there must be change from a situation where no elections are conducted in the LGAs for years’ on-end to one with regular elections.

In other spheres, the incoming government must change the situation of constant power outages. Nigerians want to see change in the manner this government has been handling all reasons adduced for the unacceptable power outages like sabotage of our gas lines, defective distribution infrastructure etc.

The idea of engaging ex-militants and ethnic militias in surveillance jobs over gas pipelines is an anomaly that must be changed. Nigerians also expect that all corrupt cases of oil subsidy racketeering which this government has treated with kid-gloves should be prosecuted without further delay.

It must be noted that Jonathan is the main proponent of change in this episode. This is because were it not for the change which Jonathan allowed in the administration of INEC, the just concluded elections would have still gone in the way of 2003 and 2007 elections. Both elections by the way are adjudged as the worst in Nigeria’s history. By allowing the independence of INEC even to the point of his defeat, Jonathan has written his name in gold in the annals of Africa’s history.

Emeka Nwagwuna is a social commentator. 

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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