From Madu Onuorah:
TWENTY-TWO days after the National Assembly proclaimed him Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan yesterday inaugurated the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) led by former Minister of Defence, Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), saying that the enthronement of good governance in Nigeria is the goal of all his actions.
And at the inauguration, Danjuma declared that “these are extra-ordinary times in Nigeria and the measures that need to be taken are not only urgent but extra-ordinary. Unless you (Dr Jonathan) take those measures quickly, the goodwill which you now enjoy may be lost.”
Saying that “there is no going back” on the struggle for good governance in Nigeria, Acting President Jonathan noted that “the best advertisement for good governance is its positive expressions of happiness in the lives of the governed.”
Jonathan said all elected and appointed leaders throughout the nation should embrace the fact that “the privilege and opportunity of service is a sacred trust that we must not betray. The authority to serve therefore must always be derived from the power of the people. It is in this regard that the loud but healthy clamour for good governance across our country cannot be ignored. We have gathered here this morning in the name of good governance and there is no going back.
“Although time is short, like a determined athlete, we need no more than hundred metres to make our mark on the sands of good governance. But we cannot do it alone. A people focused and beneficial variety of government is a bold and cooperative affair delivered by patriotic men and women who believe in the limitless possibilities for our country.
“I am convinced, therefore, that the best advertisement of good governance is its positive expressions of happiness in the lives of the governed. It is in pursuance of this goal and having due regard to the urgency of the moment, that I requested that a team of men and women of distinguished pedigree be called to service at this hour and in the interest of our nation.”
Jonathan told members of the Presidential Council that “your recommendations and suggestions will not be treated with levity. The Federal Executive Council and other key members of the Federal Government will pay attention to what you have to say on matters within the scope of this national assignment.”
He urged the council members to “come up with practical options that will enable this government improve the quality of life of all our citizens. This is beyond politics. It is the big call of our generation. Our citizens are expectant.”
Among the terms of reference of the council are:
- to provide alternative inputs into policy formation, promote good governance in the areas of power, economy, security, infrastructure, social sector, the electoral process, and the fight against corruption, among others; and
to evaluate policy implementation and advise on areas requiring adjustments
Other members of the Council include foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, who will serve as Deputy Chairman, Mr. Fola Adeola, Malam Abubakar Gimba, Mr. Basil Omiyi, Alhaji M. D. Yusufu, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Ambassador G. B. Preware, Prof. Bartholomew Nnaji; Mr. Kaase Lawal, Malam Muhammed Hayatuddeen, Mr Justice Alfa Belgore, Chibudom Nwuche, Mrs. Mobola Johnson, and Hajiya Halita Aliyu.
The others are Alhaji Magaji Danbatta, Prof. B. G. Bajoga, Dr. (Mrs.) Sally Bolujoko, Mrs. Mariam Uwais and Chief Kanu Agabi, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Ismaila Isa, Prof. Shehu Said Sarinwata, Dr. Simon C. Okolo and Dr Prof Dan Odebiyi.
The Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation serves as the Secretary.
Responding on behalf of the Council, Danjuma congratulated Jonathan, noting that “we do so without any reservations whatsoever, confident that the great hopes which have been invested in you by the nation, indeed the entire world shall not be disappointed.”
He described the constitution of the council and its current membership as a demonstration of “your own commitment to excellence and your determination to succeed. On our part we take this assignment to heart and look forward to all that we can do to make your administration a great success.”
He added: “This is a decisive moment in our history. At such moments, God always ensures that a nation possesses significant personalities who are to act as his agents for change. You, Mr. Acting President, are the significant personality that God has chosen at this time to take your place at the front in the struggle to save our country. Because the time is extra-ordinary, the measures that need to be taken are not only urgent but also extra-ordinary. Unless you take those measures quickly the goodwill which you now enjoy may be lost.
“Fortunately you have the required courage and vision. What you did not have in the past was the authority. Now that you have been invested with the authority the nation expects you to proceed quickly to effect the needed transformation. This is the right time for you to act- now when you can act quickly and aggressively, now when society can be trusted to be so generous as to credit you with your successes and to excuse your errors.”
Danjuma stated that though the administration has “barely 12 months to serve out its tenure”, “one day is a long time in politics. Mr. Acting President, you have sufficient time to make a difference.”
While commending President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua “for his effective use of sticks and carrots in the solution to the long-standing Niger Delta problem, he said his grant of general amnesty to the militants is most commendable. We now fervently urge you to implement all the measures that have been agreed upon in order to reconcile the people of that area to the nation. The absence of peace in the Niger Delta is a threat to peace in the nation as a whole.”
On the fight against corruption, Danjuma asked Jonathan to make it “pro-active rather than reactive because prevention is better than cure. There is a general feeling that the fight against corruption has slowed down and we urge that something be done to restore the momentum.”
The former Defence Minister also said that “side by side with the fight against corruption is the need to ensure that our elections are fair and transparent. The need for electoral reforms has already been acknowledged by your government and we commend the efforts made so far in that regard. We appeal to you to pursue that effort to its logical conclusion with all speed, determination and sincerity. If all you do, as acting president is to ensure that our elections are transparent, it shall be sufficient to endear you to the nation and you shall go down in history as one of our greatest leaders.
“Over the years, nothing has undermined government’s efforts at attaining self-reliance more than our lack of constant and reliable power supply. This is one factor discouraging foreign investment and local enterprise. We urge a comprehensive solution using not only the best experts of our country but also of other nations. No attention paid to this sector will be too great.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan has said that the Federal Government is taking the welfare of its employees seriously and will entertain no delays in service delivery from those who serve government.
At the kick off of the Group Life Insurance Scheme for federal public servants in Abuja, the acting president said that the scheme, which was inaugurated in 2004, would henceforth cover all employees of the Federal Government.
According to him, “government will not shirk its statutory responsibility of meeting the expectations of its workforce and their families will not be left to suffer in the event of unexpected and unfortunate departure of their bread-winners who are in the service of our nation.”
Also yesterday, Acting President Jonathan said the Federal Government is committed to the effective utilization of the nation’s resources for good governance.
Speaking while inaugurating two Committees – the Presidential Project Assessment Committee and the Presidential Monitoring Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) – at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said the need to assess the performance of the Federal Government’s projects necessitated the establishment of the committee to undertake a comprehensive inventory of all on-going projects across the nation and ascertain their level of funding, vis-�-vis their level of completion.
According to him, “the importance of assessing the current state of all Federal Government projects across the nation has become not only necessary but critical to national development. The Presidential Project Assessment Committee is to help government focus its attention on completion and effective utilization of resources for good governance.”
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