By Tamuno Dagogo
Nigerians have heard so much about the transformation agenda of President Jonathan and the desire of the President to improve all aspects and every sector of the economy of the nation and life of our people. This writer thinks that the President deserves commendation for dreaming of transforming our country. In fact, it was for that purpose that he was elected and one thinks that it was for the same purpose that he sought the exalted office of President, and still seeks the latter.
However, the problem with the transformation agenda, looking at what is on ground in the country, is that it has no structure, no blueprint and no strategy of implementation and measurement. The agenda rather is left to the whims and caprices of Jonathan’s aides, especially those the President considers as whiz- kids or those who are able through their pro- Jonathan postulations ingratiate themselves to him. No serious leader leaves a development agenda to chance and a few bright stars.
So far, the agenda has not significantly transformed the nation in any way. All economic sectors are still in need of serious input and development while poverty is daily ravaging many Nigerians. Unemployment among all strata of the nation’s population is growing and solution is not in sight. Rather what we have are comical and fancy sounding programmes like YES, SURE- P which from media reports are conduit pipes for siphoning public money while it’s so- called participants roam about like refugees.
Another face of the transformation agenda is that while millions of naira are being spent without clear results, the same officials continue to frighten the citizenry by releasing mammoth figures of funds needed to improve the same sectors for which money is being spent. A case in point is the power sector. One commends the courage of President Jonathan for embarking on the power sector reforms though one is unclear whether the process will yield the desired result. Surprisingly again, we are told repeatedly, as in a sing- song, that the sector would require further infusion of about $900 billion before the nation can have adequate power! The question is: would this government and its western- certified expert’s drain the blood of Nigerians before the people can enjoy basic services taken for granted in other countries, some African countries inclusive? Nigerians are already paying too high a price for a transformation programme which has yet to lift majority of our people from unemployment and squalour.
We have heard so much about the plan of the government to transform the Nigeria Railways to improve general transportation in the country and relive the burden on the poor and over- burdened road network in the country. We heard of billions of dollars earmarked for rail transformation, including buying of new locomotives and general modernisation. We were also told that the Lagos- Kano railway line is in top shape and Nigerians in Lagos are already enjoying normal rail services. However, this writer was shocked recently to see a picture of a train in Lagos with commuters hanging from all parts of the train, including people sitting on the roof or top of the train!
A well- thought out and systematically executed programme of development cannot yield the scene described above. There is too much hype and exaggeration of work being done under the transformation agenda even when we cannot see the substance. In the area of road infrastructure, while much claim has been made about progress in this area, a well- known columnist and analyst recently revealed that only about 20 per cent of the 191,000 kilometre road network in Nigeria is motor able and yet there is a prevailing culture of frenzy that progress is being made in the country.
Tamuno Dagogo wrote from Jabi, Abuja.