Posted by Jerome-Mario Utomi | 5 January 2019 | 912 times
The first opinion that is formed of a leader’s intelligence, according to Niccolo Machiavelli, is based on the quality of men he has around him. When they are competent and loyal, he can always be considered wise because he has been able to recognise their competence, and to keep them loyal. But when they are otherwise, the ruler is always open to adverse criticism: because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.
As in most ideological debates, we cannot believe more. The statement remains as true as it was then, particularly as the country recently witnessed how the President, despite his “virtues and attributes”, was booed and jeered at during his presentation of the 2019 budget before members of the National Assembly.
While yours truly sympathises with the President on whose shoulder rests the weight of this awkward occurrence, it hardly needs to be said that it is not only our patriotic duty to condemn the actions of the lawmakers, it is both our moral and civic responsibility to do so: and we must rise to that responsibility.
However, nobody can deny that this avoidable incident could not have occurred if Mr President and his men had proactively explored facets of hidden politics (within the House): This revolves around strategy and tactics, leadership and power, as well as ability to present a budget/speech that is symmetrical in content and free of incongruities/innuendos.
The reasons for the above position, in the writer’s opinion, are bare-faced and double-fold.
First, yours truly had in a recent article – “Nigerian Democracy And The Fading Light of Integrity” – advised the government that the current instinct in the country reveals that jeers pervades the nation’s political sphere, while fears has displaced reason, resulting in an entirely separate set of consequences: irrational hatred and division, well-meaning Nigerians had also at different times and places emphasised the urgent need to arrest the roller-coaster relationship between the executive and the legislature, but to no avail.
Also, considering the season we are (electioneering period), in addition to the President’s refusal to sign the Electoral Bill 2018, as passed by the National Assembly for four straight times. This, of course, has created an underlying suspicion/acrimony between the executive and lawmakers. Wisdom borne from experience ought to have revealed to the President and his handlers that a visit to that same assembly dominated by men/women who play politics all the way will not be stormy-free. Having such fore-knowledge might have assisted in curbing the crisis.
This said, one thing we must not get twisted is that this human relations challenge call for urgent concern, as what we are experiencing – without doubt – is not the first half of a recurring circle but the beginning of something new.
And if nothing is done to arrest the situation, when the conflict subsides – and the national political space recovers – chances are that we may as a nation forget the lessons we ought to draw, particularly at this time of change and uncertainty; thereby setting the stage for another round of a similar occurrence in the nearest future.
From observation, it is not as if the present administration is not making effort to move the nation forward. However, going by the records as presented to the House, one will again find out that what set the table for treatment given to the President lies chiefly on the visible gaps that the lawmakers effortlessly discovered.
For example, the President, among other things, stated that the 2019 budget proposal, put at N8.83 trillion and tagged “Budget of continuity” is “intended to further place the economy on the path of inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth, as well as aimed at lifting the citizens out of poverty.”
Such a statement coming from the President, I believe, was shocking to the lawmakers, as well as the generality of Nigerians; because, as we know, the economy as it currently stands is neither on the path of growth nor have real consideration for reconnecting the poor to an appreciable living standard.
Interpretatively, telling the house that the Federal Government intends to further place/sustain an economy that currently lacks any appreciable record of growth was an unpalatable message the lawmakers could not comprehend; but rather see as vague, ungraspable and an assault on reason.
Undoubtedly, to the lawmakers, it must have been a bracing and tempting period listening to the President state that “pulling out an appreciable number of Nigerians out of poverty” is one of the budget’s major pillars.
Yet, this same budget, like the previous ones, marginalised the key development/growth drivers as well as failed to comply with the international community’s recommended benchmark for education and health sectors.
This state of affairs considered not just antithetical to the expectation of Nigerians - coupled with glowing contradictions/vibes about petroleum subsidy regime management which raised its ugly head in the budget - in my view is enough reason for the lawmakers to lose the fear of punishment and yield to the power of agitation/protest.
Viewed differently, even as we condemn the action, it will not in any appreciable way erase the fact that development is stimulated when people ask why or how? The Federal Government must, therefore, look beyond the ugly incident and draw a valid lesson from the situation. Such lessons, in the writer’s view, may include but not limited to the government learning how to creatively reveal their weaknesses to the masses. Such step, if taken, will not only offer the government sympathy/protection, but further portrays itself before the citizens as a body that is “genuine and approachable, human and humane.”
Conversely, as the nation approaches the February 2019 general election, the masses must develop moral elasticity to elect into various offices Nigerians that can demonstrate passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, lead with their hearts as well as their heads’ and, above all, those that Nigerians can trust.
•Jerome-Mario Utomi, of Springnewsng.com, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be reached on 08032725374 (SMS)
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