For an administration that in the past five years tended to look at critical national issues in bewildered stupefaction, the recent strings of energetic display of presidential action would come to many as a surprise.
This is particularly true when it is considered that the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration expires in just over a week. Unfortunately, such bursts of presidential energy have been wrongly directed. In a matter of weeks, the Federal Executive Council, over which Jonathan presides, has awarded contracts with huge financial implications that will surely hobble the incoming administration, have been signed as if they are for toilet paper. He has also engaged in a series of appointments to boards and statutory corporations, including of cronies of his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and approving the suspension and dismissal of others.
All these mean that President Jonathan has all but squandered the goodwill and instant fame he garnered when he overcame his fears and called his opponent to concede defeat just the presidential election tally was being made last month. Although governance is supposed to be continuous process regardless of the party in charge, the last-minute show-of-force in the deployment of presidential powers to make appointments and award of contracts is reckless, unwarranted and in bad taste.
President Jonathan claimed that the moves he had made would consolidate his achievements; it’s debatable what these are. What cannot be denied is that any properly constituted government winding down its operation for the next one to take over would be concerned with tying up loose ends and balancing the books, not making new debit entries.
The president’s motives do not look altruistic, because they will result to putting the new administration in a fix, to either roll them back, which would be within its right to do, or decide each case on its merit. The president’s recent approval of pipeline protection contracts to private individuals is a prime example. As a result of these contract awards the security forces which should be beefed up to carry out their statutory functions are being sidelined and Nigeria’s national assets are being “protected” by ethnic militias as political payoff.
The outgoing president has dismissed the Inspector General of Police, and named his successor in substantive capacity; suspended the Permanent secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaving the political head unscathed with a lame excuse that convinced no one, as well as terminating the appointments of the Executive secretaries of the Petroleum equalization Fund (PEF) and the Nigerian Content Management Development Board (NCDMB). In addition, Jonathan appointed a new PEF Executive Secretary, a new Managing director for Nigerian Ports Authority, a new Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and new chairmen of the governing councils of federal universities. Last-minute contract awards seem to enjoy a pride of place. In its penultimate meeting, the Federal Executive Council approved N31 billion contracts for roads in Delta, Bayelsa and Ondo states. Such skewed focus is obvious without being stated. FEC also ratified the anticipatory approval of the President Jonathan for the production of passport booklets. There is some element of nepotism too. President Jonathan also tried to relocate the $500 million oil and gas investment project form LADOL Free Trade Zone in Lagos to Agga in his Bayelsa State.
Such insensitive dispensing of political favours at the expense of national interests defiles civil ethics, legislative and judicial procedures and the national interest. Most of these actions cannot stand.
Jonathan complained the other day that 80 per cent of the counsel he gets from his advisers is ‘useless’. It would appear that he has not dispensed with their services.
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