OP-UNEDITED | Why Nigerians Miss Jonathan – By Charles Atega
By Charles Atega
As days run into weeks and weeks run into months, this administration makes governance looks so difficult.
To our present crop of leaders, governance is as difficult as rocket science or even nuclear physics. They can’t even accomplish the simplest tasks without a scandal or some form of national embarrassment.
An extremely humble and patriotic gentleman, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was a true democrat. As a beneficiary of a democratic process, he upheld the principles of rule of law, separation of powers and he understood the fact that he couldn’t always have his way in terms of who holds an elective position.
If there is one crucial area Nigerians are beginning to miss the administrative competence of Jonathan and his team, it is in the area of budget. This is because disagreement over figures between the executive and legislature is normal in a democracy but every nation needs a great, selfless and result-oriented leader like Jonathan.
Every year, Jonathan made it a matter of state policy to maintain a stable and perfect relationship with the National Assembly. So, each time the normal grey areas appeared, he proactively called a meeting between the leadership of the lawmakers and the Presidency and they ironed out their differences in a friendly and peaceful atmosphere as members of the same political party. And where and if the need arose, he called a larger meeting of all lawmakers from his party and party leaders in other to ensure that the interest of all Nigerians and concern of all stakeholders were addressed. That is why, never in the 5 years of Jonathan did we witness the kind of stalemate we are seeing today on the issue of budget.
The budget impasse and the way and manner the Presidency and the Senate are going about embarrassing themselves on the pages of newspaper only suggest one thing; that these people were only prepared for election. They are not ready for governance.
The problem we have in this country right now is that the internal contradictions within the ruling party are capable of truncating the national cause but no one seems to care.
We are approaching the 5th month of the year and there seems to be no budget in place because of this petty rivalry between two institutions which hold the key to the fate of 170 million people.
The whole drama had its foundation in the fact that the President and his people were not prepared for governance. He spent the first six months in office booting like computer. He found it difficult to put together a team to work with. How can such a leader supervise the documentation of a decent budget?
The incompetence in the administration was first brought to the fore when news broke that the budget documents were missing from the National Assembly. We even heard that agents of the President led by Ita Enang, stole the documents in order to secretly correct some obvious, embarrassing errors. Some senators also whispered to the press that the Presidency was playing a dishonest game with Nigerians on the issue of the budget. They said the figures read out to members in December last year was different from what Enang later submitted to the two chambers as proposed budget both in soft and hard copies.
One interesting part of the drama is that both the National Assembly and the Presidency never missed any opportunity to embarrass each other in the media over this issue of budget. In fact, the two institutions have been trying to outdo each other in the area of media propaganda. And who suffers? Nigerians.
The drama moved to the next scene when the National Assembly finally passed the budget and sent to the State House for Presidential assent. The Presidency rushed to the press again to accuse the lawmakers of playing politics with the budget procedure by sending only the draft of the passed budget instead of the details. The National Assembly fired back by accusing the Presidency of displaying ignorance of the traditional budget procedure. They actually claimed that former Presidents had signed budgets in the past without seeing the details. Enters the controversial Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was in the State House a few days later and told journalists that during his time he never signed budgets without seeing the details.
Then the whole show of shame became a scandal when the details were finally sent to the Presidency. The Presidency shouted that it won’t sign the budget because the Lagos-Calabar rail project and other critical infrastructure projects were left out by the lawmakers. The Senators fired back again by claiming that those projects were never part of the proposal sent to them.
It’s obvious that these people have turned governance which is supposed to be a serious business to a comedy show.
The Senators are seeing Saraki’s trial as a political witch-hunt and are therefore ready to frustrate any positive move made by the executive. The executive on its part is not helping matters by its refusal to call for or lead a process for truce.
The two elephants are flexing muscles while Nigerians continue to suffer. This battle will be mutually destructive… as Nigerians continue to miss a great leader, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Charles Atega, Political Writer, Delta State.
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