Political gladiators in the country have expressed strong optimism that the current administration has the capacity and political will to lead the country out of its current economic and political doom. This according to them is despite the harsh economic condition presently confronting government institutions, small and medium businesses, corporate bodies, and households in the country.
However, other pundits opined that President Buhari’s led All Progressives Congress (APC) government’s inability to kick the ball rolling 11 months after assumption of office is largely responsible for the excruciating pains Nigerians are currently passing through.
But former Minister of Sports, Engr. Bala Kao’je said that it was too early to begin to evaluate the current administration. He however expressed confidence in the ability of the APC-led government to reposition the nation.
His words: “Well, I can say that this administration is barely one year in office, so as far as I am concerned, it is too early to begin to assess the performance of this administration because they have not even implemented one budget. Therefore, it is very difficult for one to rate the regime at this point in time.
“Moreso, I would have been able to measure the APC-led administration if they had implemented a budget, or if they had met a sound economy on assumption of office, but you and I know the state of the economy they inherited from PDP government. So, no sane individual will confidently heaped the whole blame on the new leadership.
“It is however, unfortunate that the new administration with change slogan met on assumption of office a bacterized economy, rotten political terrain and corrupt ridden institutions. It’s long that we faced this kind of economic hardship as a nation. We wouldn’t have faced these kinds of challenges if the PDP leadership had done what is expected of them. Nigerians need to be a little more patient with this administration, I am optimistic that they will deliver on their campaign promises”, he added.
On the level of corruption that took place under PDP administration, especially the Dasukigate, the former minister has this to say: “I am very much ashamed and concerned about the level of corruption that prospered under PDP. I would tell you one or two reasons why I said I am concerned. As a citizen, I pity Nigeria; pity, in the sense that what most Nigerians are suffering today, ought not to be if the successive leadership in the country had done what was expected of them, and not place much emphasis on politics and looting of nation’s treasury with reckless abandon.
“If successive governments from independent till date had invested in electricity generation, Nigeria would not be lamenting the epileptic power supply and industries would be thriving and that would in turn generate employment.
“Nigeria made billions of dollars during the oil boom and if that money were properly utilized in providing the basic social amenities and infrastructural facilities, we would not be lamenting over dwindling of oil revenue and economic crunches that is ravaging us today. A stitch in time they say, saves nine; but we decided as a nation not to stitch in time and the result is this multiple challenges confronting us as a nation”, he stressed.
He further observed that government need to deemphasize the issue of fuel importation if the incessant queue on our fueling will abate.
His words: “Nigeria had no need to import refined products if successive governments had invested in building or maintenance of existing refineries in the country. That is not to say that the previous administrations did not do anything to salvage the problem but the argument is that their best was not good enough to place us at the right position.
“We don’t have to import refined petroleum productd, but since we do not have the capacity to refine for now, we are left with no option but to import refined products. And in the process, export jobs that ordinarily would have been generated if we are to refine the crude in the country.
“This is in addition to other derivatives from the crude oil. It’s a very serious shortcoming on this nation and also there are too many vehicles on our roads, everybody is using vehicle, tricycle (Keke NAPEP) and motorcycle (Okada) because they are the major means of transportation and they all need fuel to move.
“Nigeria should not have been among the third world nations by the end of 20st century if our leaders from independent have focused attention in provision of critical infrastructure. It is unfortunate that in 2016, we still do not have functional rail track linking all the states of the federation. There are many of our children that have never seen a train. I don’t know when we would be able to achieve such feat, because we are now poor, we don’t have money anymore, to be able to provide these essential services without borrowing”, he added.
The former minister also observed that revamping of rail sector by government will assist in addressing the menace of perennial traffic gridlock on the nation’s roads.
His words: “When is the rail system going to come back on stream? Is Kaduna–Abuja route Nigeria? How many states do we have, there are 36 state plus FCT. When we are talking of rail system working in the country, then all the states must be linked up with the rail because rail transportation is the cheapest in the world today.
“That is why you see fewer vehicles on the roads of countries with effective rail transportation system. Citizens of such countries would prefer to keep vehicles at home and patronize rail transport to work.
“If such efficient system is in place in Abuja for instance, workers or business men who live around Kubwa, Mararaba or Gwagwalada can easily join the train to the city center in Abuja, and after close of work, they can as well join the train back home. It would be cheaper for them compared to the amount of money they need to spend to fuel their cars individually to and fro their offices, coupled with the traffic gridlock that will result from too many cars on the road”, he observed.
Ka’oje nonetheless proffered the foregoing solutions to the aforesaid debilitating conditions in government circle.
“There has to be a lot of sacrifice; government needs to cut down on luxury and focus more energy and attention on provision of critical infrastructure, and basic social amenities, especially primary health care; power, transportation and agriculture.
We need functional primary healthcare facilities, stable power supply, food security and effective transportation system to make live easy for Nigerians. Once we address these four key areas, of course other things will automatically fall in place”, he added.
The former National Treasurer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also gave insight into his reason for dumping the party.
“No, I am no longer in PDP, I have left the Party, but I am watching what is going on in APC, if I am fully convinced that things are done in the party, in accordance with democratic creed, then I can decide to join the fold. This is because I left PDP as a result of unbridled greed, impunity, injustice, lack of internal democracy and bad party administration. I wasn’t happy to continue to remain in PDP; after all, the party has no leadership.
“All those that surrounded the president then could not summon the courage to tell him the common truth due to their parochial interests. If you allow the president on his own he will miss road and that was what eventually happened to the immediate past president. Everybody was interested in how to make money and that was why some of us decided to leave the party”, he added.
When asked if APC is insulated against the aforesaid mistakes of PDP, he offered the following explanation and counsel to the ruling party.
“Of course, you cannot rule it out, but we expect that APC should look back and take corrective measures in order to provide better governance to move this nation forward. Therefore, people are expecting that if it does happen, then anything can happen again.
“But people are expecting that the leadership of APC would not behave the way the leadership of PDP behaved. That is the hope that people have and that is why you see people moving in their numbers to the APC because they believe APC would do things differently.
“PDP’s 16 years rule was a great opportunity from God and I don’t see any reason why PDP should not have ruled for many more years, the party was so formidable. It was just some mistakes by the leadership that made the party to crash, but I know that APC leaders cannot forget so quickly to commit the same error of PDP”, he said.
The sports administrator also berated Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for not qualifying the country for the continental competition while appealing to those at the helm of affairs of the nation’s sports to give coaches free hands to do their jobs.