31 October 2012

Nigeria: Wasteful Tour


The minister of information, Mr Labaran Maku, has been on what he describes as "Good Governance Tour" of the country. The intention is to advertise the "good" job governments, especially at the federal and state levels, have been doing.

There is nothing really outlandish about the thought of letting Nigerians know what is going on in government. But the "National Good Governance Tour" is ill-conceived and harmful to the governments, their programmes and policies, if any.

This is not the first time somebody in government is embarking on this kind of wasteful and baseless propaganda. However, this particular tour can only expose the depth of ineptitude in governance today. It happened under Professor Jerry Gana. The difference between what Gana did and Maku's version is that Gana had the sincerity to carry other stakeholders like civil society groups, journalists and other interest groups along.

In any case, the only people in a position to assess the quality of governance or lack of it are the people. They don't need an overzealous government official to remind them of negligence and betrayal of trust by politicians. If there were jobs for the unemployed, the jobseekers themselves would acknowledge it without waiting for any minister. If there were security in the land, the roads good, food available at a price that is affordable, health facilities available to those who need them, energy supply stable and corruption punished regardless of the status of the thief, then, no one would need governance tour. The people are not fools: they have ears, eyes and can reason.

With his "Good Governance Tour", Maku is like a king dancing naked at a village square; no one is amused. Indeed, the tour has no constitutional basis as the federal government and its officials are not in a position to play the senior prefect role over state governments even if they were of the same party. What is more, most people, including those in government, are complaining about the minister's meddlesomeness. Even the government itself is becoming embarrassed.

Needless to say, the tour is another evidence of profligacy on the part of government and its officials. When cash-strapped and on the brink of irrelevance, our leaders usually resort to projects that have nothing to do with either the government or those they govern. Such projects end up serving only the pecuniary interests of the officials concerned. President Jonathan should put a halt to these tendencies. The "Good Governance Tour" is one of them.

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