By Peter Claver Oparah
From our nasty experiences in the past two months, I don’t think the idea of keeping a regime that has lost power in stead for two or three more months after election is helpful. For a regime that reserves deep layers of mischief, it is fatal, as we are discovering with Jonathan’s. Perhaps, we had not been exposed to this reality before now because a regime or party that had been in power had never lost election but I believe the transition period is worth revisiting now so as to prevent such colossal brigandage as Nigerians have been made to undergo these past two months.
Given the harsh experiences Nigerians have been made to undergo for the period; March 28 when an incumbent government was defeated at the polls by an opposition candidate and May 29 when the new government will be inaugurated, there is urgent need to revisit the transition process to ensure that a newly elected government is immediately inaugurated to take over governance. The past two months have been the harshest and longest. Nigerians count the days and they are kept going by the expectation that a new Sherriff will come to town on May 29. Today, Nigeria is totally crippled because of the petty vindictiveness of the outgoing Jonathan regime. As I write, Nigerians are merely gasping to live as the Jonathan regime, perhaps in a bid to exert its importance after being snubbed at the polls, has brought the full weight of its mischief to bear on Nigeria. Every sector of the country has ground to a screeching halt and all manners of dubious acts brought to tear down the country before the historical departure of a failed and defeated regime on May 29.
As soon as the election was over and the shock dawned, the Jonathan regime has been trying so much to exert the fact that it is still in control and of course, create a lot of problems to hand Buhari a poisoned chalice on May 29. The government suddenly woke to the fact that the demands of the nebulous fuel importers, which it cultivated and nurtured for the most parts of its regime, are not genuine. The business of importing fuel has been seized by a notorious cabal that was raised and fed by Jonathan in his bid to ensure the oil sector remains a pliable platform to extort the Nigerian people. Because it has been made to believe it is above the law, this cabal has so manipulated the system that they often make dubious claims for importation of nonexistent fuel and gets paid by an indulging government that cared no hoot about corruption. It is just curious that, for the very first time, we are being inundated with the righteous feeling from a regime that the fuel importers are making dubious demands that must not be met. But these are the same fuel importers the Jonathan government has protected so jealously even to the point to imposing inordinate high price of fuel on Nigerians? So what went wrong in the past two months that the government suddenly shuts its ears and eyes to their usual demand? What has made the Jonathan regime to play deaf and dumb to the fact that the country and its economy have collapsed in the last two months because of the artificial scarcity of fuel that he supervises?
As I write, Nigeria is in its worst condition ever. The country has indeed degenerated to the Stone Age where life is brutish, short and nasty. The vicissitudes of regression have been unleashed to hobble life in Nigeria. As I write, the sixth largest producer of oil in the world is experiencing perhaps the worst energy crisis that has ever afflicted mankind. All the retail outlets for all manners of petroleum products have dried up and the unfortunate citizens of a country that has been burdened by bestial, petty and clueless leaders are presently ruing ever being born in a country like Nigeria. The power sector has completely gone under as the country has become one huge ball of pitch darkness. The service sector of the economy is threatened with a shut down; long after the industrial sector has collapsed due to dearth of power. Hunger, unemployment and want have complimented an acute state of poverty to make life in Nigeria a living nightmare. The afore-enumerated scenario is strange but very true and indeed, serves as a testimonial the departing Goodluck Jonathan regime is leaving behind after six wasteful years in power where Nigeria harvested enormous resources.
Today, Nigeria is in a state of closure. Business activities have been grounded. Banks have been forced to close down. Schools have closed shop. Airlines have cancelled flights. The noisy and ubiquitous generators that serve as principal source of power have all gone silent because there is no fuel to power them. Transport activities have collapsed. Food prices have skyrocketed beyond reach. Inflation has grown so tremendously. Darkness envelopes the land just because, in real fact, there is a vacuum. There is a lacuna as the outgoing government presses its mischief button to ensure that the country totally sinks to present an intractable option to the emerging Buhari government. Never has the country experienced this kind of situation in peace time. Even in war time, it is arguable if this kind of messy trajectory ever stared Nigeria in the face. What we are grappling with today is a man made crisis that could be prevented if we are much more circumspect in engineering our transition process.
The departing Jonathan regime is proliferating dubious appointments left, right and center. The dearth of activism and lack of bite, especially in firing erring and corrupt officials, which is one of the greatest undoing of Jonathan, has given way to a curious hyperactivity to fire and hire new men as a way of entrenching the rump of the men that worked for his regime in its six years in power. The idea behind these dubious appointments is to waylay the Buhari regime and present him with intractable options as he seeks to arrest the drift the Jonathan regime perpetrated in six awful years in power. The past two months has seen Jonathan at his mischievous best, doing what he ought not do and not doing what he ought to do and this has placed Nigeria today, firmly on the threshold of crisis. Very worrying is the barely disguised show of pettiness in the past two months by the Jonathan regime, which is only surpassed by the well known cluelessness and elevated corruption that marked his regime. Try as hard as it can, Jonathan cannot hide the fact that he is bitter, sore and inconsolable that he lost the last election and he is trying as much as he can to inflict severe injuries on Nigeria as his departure day draws close. States have been bankrupted and can hardly pay several months of salary arrears. This is due to the fiscal irresponsibility and profligate excesses of the out going Jonathan government which spared no second thought pouring in trillions of Naira to its quest for continuity in power while starving the states of needed funds to run critical services.
The crisis ravaging Nigeria today is so serious that many, with the benefits of this bad situation, are asking why we have to wait for long for a newly elected government to come on stream. Why do we have to wait for a lengthy two months or three months or more for a new government to take over governance when transition could be concluded in one or two weeks? Why do we have to give so many licenses for a departing government to maximize havoc on the system as we are seeing today? What could be achieved with such a lengthy interregnum that cannot be achieved in two weeks so as to minimize such collateral damage and preventable anomaly as we are having in Nigeria today? Is it not right to limit the transition period so as to prevent a malevolent outgoing government from wrecking the system, even if to ensure that its successor battles with critical damages as to frustrate it in power? Why wait for a whole three or two months before simply transiting from an outgoing government to a new one?
Methinks that the present crisis came about because a sitting government is defeated by an opposition party. This has never happened in Nigeria before so the horrible experiences Nigerians are being made to endure today is one of the novel implications that come from an opposition party besting an incumbent party in elections and adds to one of the numerous learning processes of our fledgling democracy. It introduces new challenges to our law makers. It raises the fundamental question of whether the period of transition from one government to the other is necessary since nothing very fundamental apart from the winding down process by the outgoing government, is achieved within this period. But why cant a government wind down a week to election day so it would be ready to hand over a week after election should it lose the election?
Let a sitting government round off its winding down process before election and either ship off if it loses an election or continue from where it stopped if it wins. Nigeria may not survive another of such blitzkrieg as we are seeing today; all in the name of allowing an outgoing government to ship out. It is preventable. Nigeria cannot afford such a calamitous experience as we had seen these past two months of transition between a departing Jonathan regime and an incoming Buhari regime. There should be no space for mischief, as we have today. There should be no lacuna to give a bitter outgoing government the chance to hit back at the country, as we are having today. So let us review our laws and statutes to see ways of ameliorating the calamity we are facing today by ensuring no such dangerous interval comes to let a hurting, mischievous outgoing regime wreck havoc on the system. Nigerians will always remain the primary targets of such vindictive actions, as they are at present.
Peter Claver Oparah
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