First, we must congratulate Nigerians for surviving a most trying and traumatic year, 2017, while wishing all Nigerians a new year of steadfastness and vigilance in the tasks of Nation building. It was also heartening seeing the President looking fit in his national new year broadcast.
However, NIM wishes to raise the following flashpoint observations in the President’s broadcast.
1. On the excruciating pains and hardship inflicted on the people by acute fuel scarcity foisted on Nigerians in this festive period, the President missed the point of empathy when instead of admitting and apologising for the deficit in governance arising from the internal contradictions of his administration, he blamed unnamed saboteurs for the malady. A pragmatic government ought to have seized the moment and inform Nigerians of the immediate plans of government to enhance local refining capacity, including the harnessing of the construction and operation of modular refineries to reduce dependence on product importation, while sanctioning the so called saboteurs
2. Thankfully, the President’s speech gave milestones and timelines on improving the national network of rail transportation system so Nigerians can hold his government accountable to this. Regrettably, we can not say same for the rehabilitation of the national road network where the President merely reeled out some roads to be rehabilitated without giving specific timelines on completion knowing that the rains will soon set, a usual ostensible excuse for non performance in this sub sector.
3. On the general clamour for restructuring of the polity and economy, it is not only surprising but most unfortunate that the President in his speech can dismiss this with a wave of the hand with such finality, without having to wait for the report of the committee commissioned by his own party, APC on the subject matter, thereby bringing his personal biases and prejudice to bear on a matter of fundamental national concern to Nigerians. This is an evidential proof that the President has lost touch with the mood and sensibilities of the Nation. NIM thinks It would be helpful to the continued unity of Nigeria for the President to immediately redress this as restructuring is not an event but a process, the President should invigorate the process timely before the clamour for democratic constitutional restructuring and advocacy for principles of self determination by Nigerian citizens get out of hand again
4. On security, outside the devastating and destabilising effect of boko haram, the rampaging forays of the deadly armed herdsmen is threatening national peace, cohesion, unity as well as food security. We are therefore at a complete loss as to why the President speech is so audibly silent on such a national menace, keeping the nation on edge. The President speech only cursorily mentioned boko haram as being beaten without telling the nation why he urgently requires one billion Naira of our common patrimony to engage an already beaten terrorist group. The President’s speech which only acknowledges the debilitating fear and effect of the increasing foray of kidnappings being experienced in the country, was as low on strategic steps of tackling this malady beyond the platitudes.
5. On the vexed issue of the cleanup of the Niger Delta environment heavily polluted from wanton oil exploration and exploitation, the President speech was rather lackadaisical, offering no timelines for the exercise which has been one major reason given for youth restiveness and militancy in the region.
6. The President completely left out the issue of generic unemployment which has engendered youth restiveness across the country and endangered our land, making no mention on how his government intends to tackle and tame this monster against the backdrop of the promise of his party, APC to create three million jobs within the first year of its administration. Given the revelation of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that four million jobs were lost in only 2017, Nigerians are expected to hear from their President how his government intended to reverse this ugly trend but unfortunately, non was forthcoming!
7. Given the uproar and controversy that greeted the recent release of Board Appointments just before Mr President’s new year broadcast, Nigerians expected a proactive President to roll out plans, in his speech, on how to reform a Civil Service that could not produce a clean list of Board appointees. It would have been useful for the President to Inform Nigerians on what he is doing with the numerous dusty reports on the reformation of the Federal Civil Service but alas, like other national issues, that was not important enough to attract Mr President’s attention in his National new year broadcast.
8. It is also intriguing that Mr President, in his speech, failed to inform Nigerians on what his administration is doing to punish those indicted for corruption within his administration beyond reluctantly relieving them of their appointments. This is very instructive but disturbing from an administration that rode to power on the popular mandate to wage a comprehensive battle against corruption.
NIM believes that a President who has largely been away from office in his near three years administration should have seized such an occasion of his new year broadcast to acquaint Nigerians of a verifiable roadmap to achieve his mandate within the remaining lifespan of his administration, regrettably that opportunity has been missed.
Mallam Naseer Kura
Head, National Publicity Bureau
NIM Secretariat, Abuja