Running a good government is not as difficult as President Goodluck Jonathan has made it seem. There is no magic to why nations succeed or fail. It’s all about the quality of the mind of the leader. And until President Jonathan does a mind transplant, he is guaranteed to fail.
Last week, the Ghanaian president, John Mahama, fired a minister, Victoria Hammah, who played a major role in his election as president. Her offence? She was caught on tape saying she would remain in politics until she made a million dollars. In Nigeria, that’s about N160 million. Note that Victoria Hammah was not yet guilty of corruption. So why should we be surprised that Ghana has done so well in the past few years so much so that we now send our children to schools in the country, troop to its hospitals for treatment, and those who can afford it are locating their holiday homes there?
Ghana is not even nearly as endowed as Nigeria. Yet, it has recorded an average of 8 per cent growth rate consistently for a very long time. It produces only 115,000 barrels of crude per day, which is less than a third of the total quantity stolen by oil thieves in Nigeria without repercussions whatsoever. Officially, Nigeria is supposed to be producing 2.5 million barrels per day; with a better president, we can produce up to 4 million barrels daily. No president in the world ever achieves anything if that president does not see corruption as a grievous crime. President Jonathan does not think that corruption is such a big deal and he does not even pretend about it.
As always, President Jonathan is currently in a rowdy corruption row. Stella Oduah, his very dear minister, has been caught red-handed with her fingers in the till. Nigerians everywhere, including several members of the president’s government and party, think Stella should resign, and, if she refuses, the president should sack her just like his Ghanaian counterpart did. Instead, what we hear filtering out of Jonathan’s villa is that Stella is being persecuted because she is Igbo. What has being Igbo got to do with stealing? Some of the fiercest advocates of “Stella must go” are Igbo. The truth is that it is not Stella that is on trial here; it is Jonathan himself. And if he insists on keeping her, it is he that should go.
During the latest media chat, someone asked the president what he thought about corruption in his government. Every other president, even the most thieving president in the world, would have pretended and talked tough about fighting corruption. But not our president! Instead, he started quoting a nebulous report which placed corruption as the fourth most serious problem facing Nigeria. It was not the first, second or third, he said, feeling very happy with himself. So what if corruption was placed fourth in the order of Nigeria’s problems? Does that mean it is not an issue?
It’s not only Stella’s aviation cars that do not mean anything to the president. The N1.6 trillion fuel subsidy heist also means absolutely nothing to the president; the N100 billion stolen police pension fund means nothing to the president. It was the Senate that was more concerned and the president was even accused of shielding the thief. The Nuhu Ribadu Report means nothing to the president. There are sundry others.
Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore and one credited with transforming his very tiny backward state into a First World nation, has proved that running a good government is not nuclear science. He said that the first thing he tackled as prime minister was the corruption issue. He made it very clear that no country can ever make progress if it is soft on corruption. Till today, Singapore remains harsh on corruption. President Jonathan would gladly say that Singapore is a small country compared to Nigeria; what about China? China moved from a very big, backward and messy country into the country with the second largest economy in the world today and on its way to becoming the biggest economy in the world in the coming years. Listen to the Chinese leaders speak on corruption and you know one of the reasons they are doing so well. China is one of the very few countries in the world where some types of corruption carry the death sentence.
But I know our president doesn’t care and doesn’t give a damn. That is why he will never succeed as president of Nigeria or even as chairman of a local government.
By Sam Nda-Isaiah