Nigerians are as familiar with government jamborees as they are with suffering inflicted by bad governance. The good governance tour (GGT) embarked on by Labaran Maku, the Honourable Minister of Information, is another example. Like the rest, it has a great value – one whole kobo value. Nothing more to add and calculated to cause a smokescreen to obscure poor governance from view.
Labaran Maku is eager to prove to Nigerians and the world that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the governors are working and Nigeria is indeed the fastest growing economy in the world. After all, an international economic evaluation index just listed Nigeria among the 6 fastest growing economies in the world that is set to upstage South Africa as the numero uno economy of Africa in less than 5 years.
The index that is making that wild prediction failed to see that unemployment figures in Nigeria have reached well beyond 50% and that translates to over 70 million Nigerians roaming the streets and feeding from hand to mouth and more not sure of the next meal. Public schools have not shown signs of recovery, the nation still generates mere 4 thousand megawatts of electricity, and insecurity driving some state economies aground and other critical indexes of growth are all showing negative. It is therefore strange that an economy that is recording such underdevelopment figures is equally said to be the fastest growing economy in the world.
To prove such crazy statistics Maku is now touring the 36 states of the federation and the FCT with 120 journalists and NTA other and TV crews that are beaming the good governance in Nigeria to who cars to read, watch and listen. So, Maku is on a great mission to show the world that Nigeria is truly undergoing the most unusual (or is it uncommon) transformation. Those who do not care to see or listen can then be compelled for good reason to do so and begin to change their warped perception of Mr. President as a nonperforming, uninspiring president.
From what we learned from the Maku’s band's request on Governor Adams Oshiomole, Governors are made to pay for the tour and favourable report which Maku has been reeling out round the country. All the governors are performing; even those popularly known to be doing practically nothing since they assumed office all received clean bill of health.
A tour of this nature can only valuable if it is objectively carried out by an independent organization such as the Nigerian Union of Journalists. In fact a media tour of this nature was once undertaken by the Nigerian Union of Journalists when Senator Smart Adeyemi was its National President. Even Senator Smart Adeyemi's media tour(as it was then called) was also funded by Governors and therefore not an objective assessment as well and therefore also left behind no real assessment.
The primary assignment of a federal minster of information has little or nothing to do with assessing performance of governors including those of the opposition parties. It is therefore way off the schedule of duty of the minister of information to show the works done at states and LGs and by opposition parties. It may be agreed that for external image of the nation which the minister also has in his duty purview, everything good about Nigeria can be projected but that is not the case here.
This tour is clearly outside the schedule of duty of the minister of information and therefore a distraction. The minister would have wasted un-appropriated billions of Naira by the time he completes the extravaganza. For teasers, to quarter 120 persons in a 5-star hotel in each state; feed them and provide for their out of station allowances (including ‘man no be wood’, whatever that means) cannot go for anything less 100 million naira per state. Simple computation of the number of states (even if only the 24 PDP states) gives billions in naira mark that can be better used to address some crucial issues in governance such a provision of social amenities in the states.
States have been forced to fund the jamboree and they do so to get favorable rating. This tends to defeat the real aim of objectivity, as the piper syndrome will never allow Maku and his team to return any unsavory verdict where it exists.
If Maku had actually wanted to do any objective assessment of how states are working and contributing to the transformation agenda of Mr. President, he would have simply asked the NTA that has its stations in all states of the federation to do a documentary and air. Maku chose this unproductive path in line with the pattern of governance in Nigeria, both in the states and at federal level. Almost every state has airtime with the NTA or AIT showcasing its achievements on their networks. You then wonder what the achievements of Seriaka Dickson as governor of Bayelsa has got to do with the man in Maiduguri where it is being beamed with funds that could be used to provide water, light and other critically lacking social amenities.
Maku also forgot that this is federal system of government and party democracy. He carries on with such pretensions that all states of the federation come under his sphere as information minister. For Maku to apply to Oshiomhole to visit and assess Edo state at the expense of the state was improper and imprudent. Edo is an AC state and not part of the PDP government. If Maku assesses Oshiomhole and returns a poor performance verdict, people will accuse him of bias; if he says AC is also performing, will he not be admitting that AC may be a better alternative to his PDP at the next polls?
In a federal system too, there is a shared sovereignty between the tiers of government. The three layers of government in Nigeria (Federal, states and LGs) are separate and not all under the federal government. That is why other political parties other than the PDP are running over a dozen states and some local governments in Nigeria. For Maku to invade all the states in his so-called governance tour is therefore lacking in both philosophy and impetus. This makes the tour valueless and blatant.
What is more, the fact that a mere documentary by the NTA or AIT could have achieved a better result makes the good governance tour more pathetic. The honourable thing for the Honourable minister of Information is to call it off and save himself and the nation further embarrassment.