• Monday, July 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Flashes of injury-time governance

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As the general elections draw closer, various political actors are engaging in various forms of what can be called injury-time-governance. In their respective ways, politicians on both sides of the divide are making eleventh-hour efforts to deliver good governance to the populace in their quest for votes.

This does not come as a surprise, essentially because governance is at the heart of any democratic project. Indeed, it is the quality of governance that determines voters’ attitudes towards politicians. This is why in the developed countries, governance is taken very seriously. And governments fail or thrive on the basis of whether or not they have been able to deliver good governance to their respective populace. Governance, or to use the more popular phrase democracy dividends, goes a long way to determine the tenure of regimes. In this respect, the electorates have the ultimate say on the fates of governments.

In a very limited way, very much the same can be said for developing social formations like Nigeria. This is why all of a sudden, the impression which comes across from every corner of the federation is that we have a caring government. Take the PDP-led Federal Government, for instance. At a recent news conference by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, pensioners were assured that the Federal Government cares for them and that their outstanding arrears since 2009 would soon be paid. One can almost yawn here if only because prior to these critical times of elections, the attention of the government had been brought to the palpable neglect of our long-suffering pensioners, but government functionaries were non-committal and even cavalier towards the pensioners’ plight, even at a time when oil prices were at an all-time high.

Meanwhile, the populace are also being regaled with the promise that the Lagos-Abuja rail-line would take off after the elections. And nine universities were approved at a recent Federal Executive Council meeting. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has similarly announced plans to grant car loans to Nigerians as part of its new automotive policy. And in what can easily be regarded as the icing on the goodies cake of good governance, previous National Youth Corps award winners from 2012 were feted by President Jonathan and garlanded with wholesome gifts like automatic jobs, cash prizes and scholarships.

And possibly not to be outdone, and in the pursuit of the same objective, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled government of Lagos State is currently busy repairing or tarring some bad roads which had been neglected for a long time as well as facilitated work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. Meanwhile, the dreaded and sometimes sadistic Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials are now very humane. All of a sudden, LASTMA officials appear to be taking seriously their original mandate, which is to direct traffic and ease gridlock on the roads in the context of courtesy which was alien to them in the past. And same scenario can be painted across the states.

At one level, it is possible to commend the political gladiators for these various efforts to make life better for the populace. On the other hand, it is also possible to detect a certain level of self-service in these various shades of injury-time governance.The situation can be likened to a student who had a year to prepare for an examination but chose to fritter away his time only to begin to make last-minute feverish preparations. Evidently, such a frenzied preparation will call into question his seriousness. The discerning teacher is likely to ask the student what he had been doing all along.

By the same token, it is a possible to pose a similar question to our politicians and public officeholders who in these electioneering times are busy making pledges, tarring roads and putting on a humane face as far as officialdom is concerned. On a wistful note, suppose the current and positive activities of the various governments had been initiated from day one, would Nigerians not have been enjoying a better quality of life by now?What the current situation amounts to, evidently, is the underrating of the electorates’ intelligence. However, we continue to draw some comfort from the fact that the average voter is not as naive as our cynical public officials are wont to think.

This is why we urge our politicians to do a serious re-think. Times like these are not meant for eye-service projects and promises. Ideally, this is the time for them to showcase their achievements in the quest for votes, if they had kept their eyes on the ball of good governance from the onset. If, therefore, our current democratic dispensation is to have any enduring and instrumental value, we are of the view that injury-time governance must be avoided. Let good governance begin from day one.