I must first confess that I am a great admirer of President Goodluck Jonathan. I also worked in my little way to support his campaign.
Coming from a small community on the banks of the Atlantic ocean with over one hundred thousand barrels of crude oil being extracted daily but nothing to show for it in terms of development, I was happy that a brother from Otueke who had no shoes like me when I was growing is able to make it to the top.
I believed him when he said ÔÇśIf I can make it you too can'. These words keep resonating in my head and mind whenever I read about his plans for the country.
The President recently confirmed the death of the seven-point agenda of his predecessor, the late Umaru Yar'Adua, saying that he never promised any agenda during electioneering campaign.
While giving his closing remarks at the presidential retreat for ministers, advisers and permanent secretaries inAbujahe insisted he only promised good governance. Yes good governance and that is what Nigerians want! But good governance is an indeterminate term. It can imply many different things in many different contexts.
Just a few weeks after his pronouncement of no specific agenda we heard of the single tenure bill being proposed. I believe Mr President that this is not his idea but that of a committee he headed during Yar'Adua's single tenure.
It would be recalled that the President had barely three days to his inauguration on May 29, 2011 at a presidential inaugural lecture, openly told Nigerians of the planned reform agenda titled "A Transformational Agenda for Accelerated National Development". He stressed the need to review the current four year two terms as provided in the 1999 Constitution because according to him, it is too short for the president or the governor and other elected public office holders to carry out any meaningful development.
The President went further to give his reason for his planned action as follows:
"I believe because if you are a new person and you are elected as a governor today, it will take one or one and half years for you to really stabilise, and you also know that some members of your cabinet are not good, and that is why, in most cases after one year or two, Mr. President reshuffles the cabinet and by the time you want to go for another two and half years, it will be another election and you are all busy about winning election"
This is why I am surprised at the uproar on the announcement that a bill will be sent to the national Assembly on the issue. Did we not hear him earlier? Or were we basking in the euphoria of his success?
There have been many discussions on the issue with antagonists wanting Nigerians to believe it is tenure elongation from the back and that the President has other motives. Supporters of the President have also been defending the proposal in various online fora telling Nigerians that it is term limitation into a single tenure and that it has its advantages. .
It appears the president is reform minded. It is common knowledge that the need and demand for reform can vary depending on the priorities of that country's society. As a village man, I don't understand all these "turunchi" being thrown at us. I would have liked Mr President to expatiate on his good governance agenda and also outline term specific objectives we can hold him to account if not achieved. This is because some of us who are his admirers are now getting confused.
I am afraid that if there are no specific agenda items to campaign on and implement after winning an election, then there is the tendency and temptation to drive the country or state in any direction. This is not only a problem at the presidential level; it permeates into all levels of governance vis-├á-vis states and local governments. I even believe this is why people appointed to occupy ministerial positions or to become state commissioners do not have ideas about what they are expected to achieve.
I have no problem with a single tenure whether 3 years, four years, five years or even six years or seven years. This is because I am convinced that most of the elected people have no specific targets to achieve no matter the years you give them. We do not have any yardstick to measure performance because we are not interested or may be because we do not care as nobody can do anything to us if we fail. And after all, it is not in our campaign manifestoes.
What we are interested in is how much we can get in terms of wealth on leaving the post. So do I care whether Presidents or governors are allowed six years at a go or eight years in two installments? Just like me from Kula, even those from Kaltungo or Kaura Namoda will not also care. Those who care are people who have their own political agenda.
What I care like my compatriots from Kaura Namoda to Kaltungo to Kula is how many years is needed to give us electricity for at least 20 hours of the day/night if not 24 hours? How many years is needed to build a road for me to be able to drive from Kaura Namoda to Kula? May be this is too much to ask, then how many years will it take to have a motorable road fromLagosthroughBenintoPort Harcourt? How many years will it take for there to be pipe-borne water for all Nigerians; how many years will it take for each Nigerian of voting age to vote and their votes to count? These are the issues I want term limits on and I would expect my President to send a bill to the National Assembly on the time limits for them. Don't think I am dreaming. I know it can happen.
I want to remind us that Good Governance is not a plan. It should be a way of life for any body seeking to occupy any elective post to lead. However, it does not appear to me that we can achieve it within our generation with the way we are going about it. There can not be good governance in the midst of massive self enrichment and corruption by office holders.
I have written in one of my articles that if you give elected leaders or other office holders six years in one go instead of two four year terms, you will be signaling rapid and massive single term corruption.
The single six year tenure would have made a meaning if we have a way of ensuring that any one found corrupting himself will be dealt with appropriately no matter how much time the person spends in power. I am not sure how long it took Bode George and company in NPA to do what they were jailed for. How long did it take Bankole and company to be involved in what they have been arraigned for? There have also been some of our past leaders who also spent little time (less than four years) but have become stupendously rich.
I do agree with Mr President that amount spent on elections is astronomical and having such amounts spent every four years is wasteful. But ask Lamido Sanusi where the majority ofNigeria's financial waste is coming from and he will reconfirm unless he has changed his mind.
Will there be a bill to make law making part time with a reduction in the amount expended on the law makers? We must look for all areas we spend too much on to reduce wastage and corruption.
We are all excessively corrupt inNigeria. The reason I say so is that there is no country in the world where there is no corruption. However, our level is beyond the understanding of the ordinary minds. It appears we enjoy it in all ramifications.
Is the timing of the proposal of the single tenure bill appropriate? I read that the Presidency has said no matter when it is brought up, Nigerians will complain. Of course that is true. Nigerians will complain because they do not see such a bill as a top priority. Nigerians were not aware that this is also a top priority for Mr President when he was campaigning.
I understand the President has said that the proposed amendment Bill is necessary to consolidate our democracy and allow elected Executives to concentrate on governance and service delivery for their full term, instead of running governments with re-election as their primary focus. The president believes that this single move, when actualised, will change the face of our politics and accelerate the overall development of our nation. Well this is Mr President's thoughts. I can't doubt his thoughts and he may be right after all.
But will a single tenure reduce corruption and herald good governance? Your guess is as good as mine. It is true that if we don't try it we wouldn't know. However the bottom line and overwhelming truth is unless we have the instruments to deal with corruption and deal with it without selection, fear or favour no matter how long we give our Nigerian leaders, they are bound to punish us with corruption with its associated underdevelopment.