If it is true that Nigerian politicians are representatives of their respective communities, how truly responsible and dynamic is their representation remain to be seen. Aside from the immediate past fifteen years of sustained military aggression, greed and outright looting, a period in which our men in uniform cast a murky image on the polity, the Nigerian public has been greatly worried by the incompetence, wickedness and lack of political will on the part of our politicians to deliver the good to the people since the past ten years of democratic rule.
Concern has grown to alarm as Nigerian politicians seem not only unable, but also unwilling to fulfill the expectations of the voters. If you decide to take a tour across the country, you will be privileged to witness underdevelopment in its true abjectness all over. It is unimaginable that almost five decades in a circuitous power game among Nigerian politicians in which the nation's till have been pillaged and her vast wealth frittered away abroad, the rot is peaking and the people are paying the colossal price.
At the moment, despite consistent hoopla about huge annual budgets and statutory allocations, the social services sector which more directly impugn on the people's lives is at the height of a complete systems collapse. The story of virtually every social responsibility of government to the people, of every area where government remain relevant to her subjects under the unwritten social contract code, has been rewritten on its head. Hospitals have graduated from mere prescription clinics into mortuaries, the public school system is in shambles, even hitherto smooth expressways are now deathtraps. If Nigerians get exasperated by increasingly parlous health-care delivery, erratic power supply which ensures that they enjoy more darkness than light completes the picture of a social system in disarray. Almost a century after electricity supply debuted in Nigeria, and despite huge revenues accrued from the sale of crude oil (Nigeria produces 2.03 million barrels of crude oil daily) most Nigerians still live in pre-historic times.
Over the years a fundamental element of distrust in public accountability has embedded itself in the psyche of the Nigerian people like a cankerworm. Repeatedly disappointed by extravagant promises and unfulfilled expectations, Nigerians have become cynical about government and the public morality of its agencies and agents. The worst is that government can no longer protect the citizens and their property from those too strong for them. Day in day out, Nigerians are being killed and their belongings looted with engaging impulsiveness while the few in positions of authority swim in affluence and under the best security system one can think of. What this means in essence is that Nigeria's capacity to develop is being undermined by the moral imbecility of her rulers who direct the nation's huge material resources to grandiose plans aimed at deifying their egoistic selves. In 1999, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came on board as civilian executive President, Nigerians did not expect much given his background and pedigree as former military dictator.
True to type, rather then seeing himself as an instrument in the hands of providence who must rebuild a giant nation destroyed by several decades of military rule, Obasanjo saw himself as one who had inherited a kingdom. The result of his eight year, two-term tenure is here for all to see! Nigerians had thought that with the imposition of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar'Adua on the nation by Obasanjo and given his background and pedigree as a university graduate and two-term civilian governor of a State, the country would experience rapid transformation. Alas, this is not to be, as Nigeria has experienced the worst form of misgovernance and underdevelopment never before recorded in her annals, under Yar'Adua. Hundreds of thousands of our graduates and school leavers still trudge the streets of our cities in search of jobs that are not in sight; and the communal bonds that once held our various nationalities together have been rendered taut by the forces of annihilating and devastating poverty. The people now keep a feeding regime that skips meals. And yet Nigeria is said to be one of the most endowed nations in the world.
It is against this backdrop that this column applauds last Wednesday's demolition of Yar'Adua's inefficient but rancorous cabinet by Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Yet, the euphoria must go beyond the mere sack of Yar'Adua's ministers. A time comes in the life of every nation when its people must summon the courage to tell the truth about themselves and take a stand. The truth about us today is that most Nigerians are fed up with incompetent, arrogant but unaccountable leadership. Any contrary view would mislead us to continue on the path of political and economic paralysis. In constituting a new cabinet, therefore, Jonathan must be careful to ensure that round pegs are put in round holes. In fact, given the devastation wrought on the nation by the military and their compatriots in agbada since the past twenty-six years, Nigeria is more or less like a country just emerging from the ashes of a fifty year civil war.
Consequently, Jonathan must put together a war cabinet: compact with at most ten ministers who must all be qualified and competent professionals and technocrats with the requisite drive and patriotic fervour to rebuild the country. The government must take an unflattering look at the corruption and squandermania of the outgoing executive if only to serve as a bulwark against any intention by future office holders to embark on yet another free-for-all loot of the national treasury. Even though liberal democracy can thrive only in a relatively prosperous national economy, the economy itself can only grow in a liberal and accountable atmosphere. Jonathan has no choice on these matters if the polity must be repositioned. One year is enough for a leader with the political will to make a difference.