Jonathan’s Power Reform Brought Sorrow – Ogboghodo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jonathan’s Power Reform Brought Sorrow – Ogboghodo

Posted: May 29, 2015 at 1:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dr. Godwill Ogboghodo is a political scientist and former Commissioner in defunct Bendel State. He was also pioneer Special Adviser, Policies and Programmes/Principal Staff Officer to Governor Adams Oshiomhole. In this interview with FRANCIS ONOIRIBHOLO, he discusses current political issues, especially the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts…

Do you think it is feasible for Nigerians to imbibe innovation in their orientations as promised by Buhari and, if yes, how soon?

Dr. Godwill Ogboghodo

Dr. Godwill Ogboghodo

I have confidence, considerable confidence – I don’t want to say absolute confidence – that there will be innovation in their orientations, yes. The election was won on the promise of CHANGE and I think, because we are speaking today, I can tell you that the first change is that the President-elect has said he too will obey traffic laws. He will stop at traffic lights and all that – there are some reservations about that, remembering what happened to Murtala Mohammed. However, I think there is innovation already, yes, that is what change is all about. For the incoming APC government, the phrase “no more business as usual” couldn’t have been more apt. They cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past or to do things the PDP way which the Nigerian people have rejected at the polls. So, while he prioritizes what he wants to do for the majority of the people, he has to be very conscious of the fact that he cannot do things the way PDP did things for the past 16 years.

Expectations are very high, where would you want him to start from? Expectations are very high and they are justified. As for where he should start from, the priority of priorities for me is the Power Sector. Like they say in the Bible, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all others will be added unto you”. I think that if Buhari can deliver on electricity, apart from the fact that it catalyzes change, growth, development across the board, apart from that fact, Nigerians will forever remember him as the man who brought real change in their lives. The small scale industries, the artisans, the entrepreneurs, the medium scale industries, in fact the large scale industries as well as the huge industrialists are going to forever sing his praises, provided that the reform he would bring about, the reform as he will work it out, will not be a temporary relief. In other words, I don’t want to see a situation where, say, come June/July you will put something that will evaporate by December of this year. It should be a thorough-going approach to this whole question of power reform, if he needs to re-examine what has been done in the past, he should do that and get properly on track to solve the power problem. That is my priority of priorities. The second priority I will give him is Petroleum. Petroleum, Petroleum, and Petroleum. He has to go back to the refineries. It is clear that if we manage to get our refineries to work we would have reduced our dependency, if not totally eliminate our dependency on imported fuel, and we would be saving considerable money, a huge amount of money. So he should be able to go into the petroleum industry, look very closely at the NNPC and reverse this whole dependency on imported fuel. You see, dependence has its own debilitating effect. Nigerians are very despondent that we produce crude oil, we export crude oil and we are dependent on other people to refine and bring to us and we are paying through our noses, marketers and all that. Then it came to the point very ridiculously low of even after exporting our crude we were not going to be able to pay for the refined product, we are struggling to pay for the refined product. That is the bottom of the pit. Buhari must move away from all this. That is what change is all about. The third priority has to be Education because the human resource is the most catalyzing resource. All these changes we have been talking about in the Power Sector, Petroleum Sector, Agriculture, whatever sector you may look at, if the trained manpower is not there, we would have laboured in vain. So, he should take a fresh look and I think that a pointer has been given to him by the outgoing administration that is making hurried appointments into Governing Councils of Universities, that is changing Chancellorship of Universities. That should just simply tell Buhari that work in the Education sector is incomplete. So he should take a fresh look at how our universities are run and what can be done to make them better, policy and management and vice versa. He has to take a very fresh look at this and it is important who the Minister of Education is, very important.

Do you support the outgoing Federal Government asking the in-coming government not to tamper with the privatization of the power sector?

On a general level, an outgoing administration cannot bind the hands or tie the hands of an incoming administration. Beyond that, the reform has brought Nigerians no joy, it is all sorrow, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. So why do you want anybody to keep that? In fact, it is incongruous to contemplate that. I don’t support that the incoming administration should not look at the reforms in the Power Sector. He should set up a committee to look at what has gone on in the Power Sector and possibly reverse such agreements, be they agreements or whatever has been entered into.

On Petroleum Sector, were you not pained that the Minister of Finance paid over N200 billion for subsidy; an amount many people believe can establish two standard refineries?

I agree wholly with you and I think we should accept the fact that there is nothing like subsidy as such. I mean a thorough-going approach will reveal that we are just subsidizing marketers who are bringing in these products, we are not subsidizing the people who are refining; it is the franchise we are subsidizing. In fact, we are helping people do business better for themselves, for their private pockets, for profit motive. So the whole arrangement that puts profit in private pockets can be turned around to put the profit in the pocket of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the benefit of the Nigerian people. So, go back to the refineries, get them to work, refine and distribute your product, sell at an agreeable price and make money for the system and make NNPC run better than it has run in the past 16 years not just in the last 4 years, it is the past 16 years.

On discipline, do you think Buhari can still get it right this time like he did in those days?

In 1984, he devised War Against Indiscipline (WAI), people queued, everybody learned to imbibe the culture of queuing. Why not, you said you have been to America, your son lectures in one of the Universities there, did you not see people queuing, do you see any chaotic lineup, people queue patiently to do anything, post office, anything they queue. First come, first served even at the bank. But here, you go to any bank, you are waiting in the queue, some people are going through one corner at the back and forming parallel queues even at the Airport. So, Buhari then in the Military signaled the direction. He can still signal it as President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Personal example, exemplary leadership, examples are always better than precept and once Nigerians see good example I can tell you that their behavior will change. In effect, there is no difference between 1984/85 and now, all we need is personal example. Why we are doing what we do is because you and I, to be quite honest with you, expect from our neighbours what we don’t expect from ourselves. We want our leaders to do different from what we do. How can? They are just like us, but if the leadership points the way forward and you lag behind, then, of course, it will be clear.