President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to prepare and confront those described as “the conspirators” who are bent on pulling his government down and making it look horrible before the public.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba in a letter he addressed to the President, and made available to newsmen in Lagos, said “the conspirators” are scared that the hard stance of the Buhari administration is taking governance away from the hands of the few who for decades have milked the country to incapacitation.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that though the government has been slow and unclear in its communication procedure, it has shown signs of making indiscriminate extravagance in governance a thing of the past.
Mr. Agbakoba highlighted an area of pressure coming from “the conspirators” to be the conflict of the Social and Economic interest in the Petrol Subsidy arrangement.
“I don’t accept the argument saying that subsidy should be removed because it is filled with corruption; that is a stupid one. A sincere thought would have been to eliminate corruption and deliver good governance to the people.”
The civil rights lawyer urged President Buhari to quickly resolve the Nigerian logjam. Mr. Agbakoba argued that the tension and agitations accross the country is the struggle for due recognition and accommodation within the scheme of things.
“Today it is Boko Haram, tomorrow it’s Biafra. They are all the question of ‘show me my room’. That is what the recent Biafra agitation is all about though it was highjacked by the same elite who are the real conspirators.”
Mr. Agbakoba proposed the review of the communication process of government in order to be more strategic in informing the public about the activities of government. He also charged the President to form an alliance with the masses in order to preserve his achievements, overcome and withstand the storm that will be thrown at him by those who are only interested in sustaining the ‘business as usual’ syndrome.
See the letter b elow:
My letter of 21 April, 2015 about ‘Giving Nigeria a New Deal’ refers. I drew a parallel between the American Great Depression of 1930s and the challenges faced in Nigeria in 2015. I am satisfied that you understand the challenges.
I write again to warn about the conspiracy of the elite and its resolve to frustrate your reform agenda. The ‘elite’, includes people in high position in the churches, traditional institutions, professions and businesses, etc.
They represent a small percent of Nigerians but exert tremendous influence, with a view to state capture. This class is very dissatisfied about the ideological change of your government. They see new agenda as a threat to their privileges. As set out below, they are the greatest roadblocks to your economic and political policy agenda.
Credit must be given to your government for what I consider an economic policy correction. Clearly, this government has created an ideological shift to the left (pro-people).I am not sure that this shift has been well communicated. Nigeria can now be classified as a country advancing towards social democracy. This is the first time in the history of our country that such a major shift has occurred. Evidence of this shift includes:
• Treasury Single Account (but needs redefinition)
• Quality of ministers, generally
• Blocking finance leaks
• Social regulations
• Benefits and stimulus strategy, like paying employment benefits
• keeping the oil subsidy, at least in the short term
• Zero tolerance to corruption
On political governance, it is clear that Nigeria’s political landscape is very problematic. We are still not a nation. Many Nigerians feel alienated and disconnected. The consequences are all too clear. The situation is made worse by the powerful elite class, controlling the system.
The Way Forward: Confronting the elite
Historically, the Nigerian elite have never been confronted. You need to do so, by entering into an alliance with Civil Society and the Nigerian people. There is, also an urgent need to develop strategic communication policies. Government must avoid communication lethargy in 2016. People need to be carried along to inspire hope, followership, confidence and patience.
I suggest that government create an Office for Strategic Communication to link government with the people. There is no need to have two Press Secretaries. One may be assigned to the Office of Strategic Communication.
On political governance, I suggest that you build a grand alliance of pro-people institutions, like CSOs and labor Unions.
I also suggest that you set up a small technical committee on National Order. The first and urgent task of this Committee is to work on a Bill for An Act of the Union of Peoples and Nationalities of Nigeria. The Bill must resolve the Nigerian fault lines and contradictions. We may consider adopting a new name the ‘Union of Nigeria’.
In conclusion, I endorse the change agenda represented by the ideological shift in creation of structures for Social Benefits and inclusive political architecture.
Wishing you the very best.
Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON