ADLAI Stevenson (1900-1965) was essentially right, when he said, “Even more important than winning the election is governing the nation. That is the test of a political party – the acid final test. When the tumult and the shoutings die; when the bands are gone; and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark reality of responsibility”.
We have followed your campaigns with keen interest and it has become incumbent on us to inform you from time to time how you are doing. From there, we shall attempt to chart a way forward and possibly point out some perceived challenges ahead.
You are doing well and you must continue undeterred. You have creditably earned yourself the title of “Mr. Statistics”. True, on the way to National development, statistics remain the best meal on the menu. To that extent, “Na statistics we go chop”. You are showing by happy illustration that the solutions you proffer have worked elsewhere and they will work in Nigeria. We salute you.
You have maintained, perhaps with monotonous regularity, that one of the low-hanging fruits will be an immediate reduction of the so-called fuel subsidy by 50 percent. The immediate saving of about N3 trillion from this single source while you keep looking for a permanent remedy to the total subsidy issue, is no mean achievement.
This will be properly supplemented by the tough fight you are planning against the twin evil of oil theft. As it were, this would provide enough white yam on our tables while we wait for the red yam to mature. Keep it up.
Your insistence on agriculture as one of the low-hanging fruits is good. A word of caution, though. While hoping for the best, you must also provide for the worst. The fruit in agriculture may not be as low-hanging as you think. That vast land in the North may not be yoursfor the asking. Since the Land Use Act of 1978, which has been promoted to the status of a superior law by being implanted into the nation’s constitution, ownership of land in states has been vested in the State Governor. You may have the best intention but a State Governor, particularly if he is not in the same party as you, can frustrate that intention by not making that land available.
Going by the lessons that history teaches, we remember that in the Second Republic, President Shehu Shagari had the best intention for the provision of housing in all the states. We also remember how that intention was frustrated in the then, LOBO States of the UPN administration. Let’s make an imaginary journey to the North-east region of the country.
If, for instance, you are offered the Sambisa forest – a vast area – for your purpose. It immediately occurs to you that the Sambisa forest has been the theatre of war for some 15 years now and the entire area is full of landmines. You call in the experts and they advise that you need some two years to demine the forest and make it safe for agriculture. It becomes clear to you that the fruit of agriculture is not low-hanging after all.
There are hurdles at the National Assembly end. Quite honestly, no matter how hard you work, we do not see the Labour Party being able to produce a comfortable majority at both Chambers of the National Assembly.
Admittedly, you have had the unpleasant experience of working with opposition legislators when you were Governor in Anambra. We still remember how you were impeached after six short months in office.
We also remember the Edo State gubernatorial contest of 2007, which spilled into 2008 because of the protracted court process that followed. Our candidate for that election was Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and during the electioneering campaign, the only song that proceeded out of Oshiomhole’s mouth wherever we went was “The End to Godfatherism”, in apparent reference to the late Chief Tony Anenih. To Oshiomhole, Godfatherism was dead and buried.
In the euphoria of our new conquest, we compiled a list of our commissionership nominees for onward transmission to the House of Assembly.
After one month, the first list died in our hands. As they say in the colloquial, no one was bold enough to remove the cloth hung in the sun by a witch. Oshiomhole could not present the list of commissioners to a PDP-dominated Assembly. Put point-blank, they were Anenih’s boys.
Incidentally, the clock never stopped. It was still ticking off and the state administration was suffering. Far into the second month, Oshiomhole decided that it was time to swallow his pride. On one fateful wet evening, he drove down to the Uromi Residence of Chief Anenih. Only God knows how many hours he spent at the gate before he was let into the compound.
I am sure he crawled on his stomach from the main door to the sitting room to beg Anenih to give him five nominees for appointment as Commissioners. Oshiomhole came home thinking that the dark days were over, but trouble had just started.
The Uromi Accord was to the utter consternation of some of us. Oshiomhole’s problem had now come to roost. Those of us whose children were stepped down to accommodate Anenih’s list went to war. The rest is now history.
Long story short, working with opposition legislators is not a walk in the park. More so, the higher you go, the hotter it becomes. Consequently at the national level, the Legislature is more of a cult-like institution, and more difficult to deal with. All the same, the good Lord who is sending you on this message will see you through. He has no abandoned projects.
The purpose of this letter, Your Excellency, is to inform you that you are doing well. This race is yours to win. There is one strong point in all of this: They will keep underrating you while you push towards the mark.
There are tough days ahead. The task of fixing Nigeria will not be by sprint but by a relay of sorts, involving thousands of separate steps – one day at a time!
Honestly, there is confusion in the land. In a manner of speaking, you have put a big basket in their hands to go to the river to fetch water. They will only return with the basket full of water. When will they return? They have a time frame. As enunciated by one of their own in a recent Senate Advice and Consent Procedure, they are looking at the “31st of April” by which time you will be winding up your second tenure in Aso Rock. So shall it be…Amen!
Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of contentment.
Omorotionmwan writes from Canada