The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to lead by example in cutting the high cost of governance, which is eating deep into the country’s resources and leaving little or nothing for developmental projects.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the President has so far sent out conflicting signals over this issue, and urged him to be consistent and firm.
In one breath, President Jonathan is giving an impression that he wants to run a lean and effective government by asking his ministers to drastically cut the number of their aides to two, as widely reported in the media and so far unrefuted.
In another, the same President has raised the cost of governance by appointing a retinue of personal aides and at least 40 ministers, even when the constitution prescribes one minister per state which should have pegged the total number at 36, creating additional ministries when he could have streamlined the existing ones, and by also asking for higher pay for some of his aides.
A President who is seeking higher pay for his aides and creating additional ministries can definitely not have the moral authority to lead the ongoing campaign to get federal lawmakers to slash their jumbo pay in the interest of the country, ACN said. The party said, however, that it is not too late for the President to retrace his steps and show leadership, saying the achievements of any administration are not directly proportional to the number of ministers or presidential aides appointed by such administration.
It said the ‘transformational agenda’ of the present administration will remain a cliche, just like the seven-point agenda of his predecessor, unless the President can match his rhetoric with action, take hard decisions and stop pandering to the whims and caprices of his sponsors or his directionless party.
This week will mark the third month of the Jonathan administration, but Nigerians are yet to see any sign of the lofty ideals espoused by the President in his inauguration speech. But we are prepared to hold our fire and give the President the benefit of the doubt for now.
But if the saying that morning shows the day is anything to go by, then we are afraid that the signs so far are not promising,ACN said.
In the meantime, the party has advised the President to routinely look at himself in the mirror by monitoring what Nigerians are saying, through the independent media, instead of listening to fawning aides.
For example, the country’s ever-creative newspaper cartoonists are already having a field day: In place of the President’s lamentation that he went to school without shoes, Nigerian children are now crying they have no food on their tables; In response to the President’s statement that the youth should emulate him, all we see are more youth donning bowler (or is it fedora) hats and the president’s trademark attire; and whereas a few fat cat politicians and government appointees are savouring their new-found wealth, Nigerians are being crushed by rising costs of living. We hope the President is paying attention, the party said.