By Constance Meju
As the Amazon Forest burned, environment experts alerted the world that 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen bank stored in that reserve has been depleted by the raging inferno even as fire fighters battled to put out the fire.
For Nigeria, information has always been a commodity that is hoarded by those in positions of authority. Left to them, all the people would be hearing of are alleged snippets of progress –“We have cleaned up the mess left by PDP”, “We have improved agriculture and now export yam to Europe,” “This Government has created 500 millionaires”, “We have Technically Defeated Boko-Haram”, Boko Haram Has Confined to Sambisa Forest”, Boko Haram Has Been Decimated,” “N billion Spent On School Feeding”, the lies go on and on.
It takes the international community to tell the people the truth. Thanks to them we know Nigeria is the new capital of world poverty, the fifth country on the open defecation list, country with… percent depressed youths, the country with the lowest life expectancy in West Africa at 53 years, among countries with the highest percentage of out of school kids, high infant and maternal mortality rate, etc. The negative reports just keep rolling in even as our government claims it is waking up the economy.
The messages from our leaders have repeatedly been proven to be filled with fabrications aimed at painting a failing government as fine in the eyes of the citizenry. And the culprits in this inglorious game are many-from the president, vice president, governors, ministers, commissioners, down to all grades of advisers and other appointees.
Unfortunately for them, the people have gone beyond the state of being told things as they are forever following up on events thanks to a deluge of information, thanks to globalization which, has made the flow of factual information very easy to track. Thanks to the internet and the numerous platforms it hosts.
Thus, when former Agriculture commissioner Prof Andrew Ogbeh celebrated the exportation of yams to Europe by the Buhari administration, Nigerians soon came to know that the yams arrived Europe as waste products due to poor packaging. When fire torched the Owerri Airport and government officials said there were no casualties, Facebook exposed the lie as dozens of badly burnt staff of the airport were captured being packed into a bus.
Nigerians have also been repeatedly made to understand from other sources, that the economy did not at any point swing up as it has been dangling on the tip of recession thanks to poor management and the twin evil of insecurity widespread in the country thus causing many youths to commit suicide this year.
They have also come to realize that rather than be tamed Boko Haram insurgency has been spreading its wings and even killing some military men along the line.
To prove the fallacy of the military claim, the Borno State governor and community leaders recently spoke up to tell President Buhari that Boko Haram has not been defeated.
While addressing Borno Government House correspondents on the matter some weeks back, the governor said, “The attempts by Boko Haram to intimidate and attack communities in the state and the actions of our soldiers in the frontline has made us lose confidence in the recent military’s performance in protecting not only the vulnerable citizens but even the territorial boundaries of the nation”.
Residents accused the military commanders of turning the war theatre into a milking cow, pointing out to the president that he is being fed with lies.
“You are either fed with false information, or raising hopes of technical defeat of the BH which is far from the truth,” an open letter to President MuhammaduBuhari signed by Hassan Boguma, a traditional ruler in BokoHaram ravaged Borno community stated.
Even Army chief,Gen Burutai, embarrassed by the state of affairs, visited the theatre of war for a face-face dialogue with the soldiers at the war zone to ascertain their real problems and how to address them.
Following the relentless attacks of the insurgents and continuous sacking of communities,today, the very military chief, Gen Burutai who sold the technical defeat story to Nigerians, is announcing that it needs a spiritual cure to end the insurgency.
And the Central Bank governor on his part, has been forced by unfolding economic events, to warn Nigerians that the country might be sliding back into recession though the president’s senior media spokesperson GarubaShehu has been announcing strides in the economic state for a nation thinking of borrowing to finance its 2019 budget. What a country!
Only a Nigerian president has four certificates for a single examination; the senior secondary school certificate-one from a Katsina principal, two purportedly from Cambridge, and from the West African Examination Council, a contentious attestation certificate that is making the Ghana headquarters to contemplate over a possible suspension of WAEC Nigeria for producing without authorization. Following on these lying tendencies, ministers and governors announce commissioning of projects that cannot be traced by supposed beneficiaries.
Last year the federal government was challenged by the people of OgwashiUku Community over claims that a dam in that community had been completed. True situation report of pictures and video put the government on the point. Governors host pictures of projects sometimes outside the country and claiming them as finished works within the country. Thankfully, the people now know better, knowing how to check to verify things for themselves.
All these false claims only help to destabilize the governance system and because it is almost becoming a part of our government’s culture, it has brought about a system collapse affecting every facet of our lives-schools, health institutions, offices, etc. Most affected has been the oil sector of our economy, our major source of revenue which has become so poorly managed that rather than bring wealth to the country, has brought her pains arising from the huge corruption it has welcomed into the system.
In an attempt to stem this drift, the Buhari administration in 2016, joined a global body dedicated to good governance, the Open Government Partnership.
The Open Government Partnership is an international initiative set up to encourage transparency in government and stop corruption. Over 70 countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico and Norway and Nigeria signed on in 2016.
*Nigeria opted for the OGP because the huge oil revenue accruing to the country due to lack of transparency and openness in governance, is not yielding correspondent dividend to citizen and OGP if well implemented, can make citizens the greatest beneficiaries of democracy.
*In line with OGP requirements, Nigeria has set up structures to promote openness, transparency and accountability as well as a National Action Plan.
Participants called for a review of the National Action Plan on OGP to include the interest of women and charged civil society organizations to constructively promote activities to bring about paradigm change in the country.
They charged government to demonstrate openness and transparency in the finance sector by streamlining taxes required of the informal sector where most women operate.
In line with the requirements of Open Government Partnership, OGP, the federal government should adopt measures that will expose citizens to information on new policies and opportunities so all, including women and girls can access them.
The onus is on all of us as citizens with interest in the restoration of this country to wake up, open our eyes and begin to help the three tiers of government obey the rules of Open Government so that the benefits of government can get to the people.
# Accountability and Anti-Corruption #
#Transparency For Good Governance#