It is a seasonal ritual for rulers, be they monarchs, military and civilians to wish the people they govern well during Christmas and New Year festivities. President Goodluck Jonathan was not left out in the goodwill messages. In order to get his message down to as many Nigerians as possible, he posted it on his Facebook site.
He said he “personally” instructed government officials to make conditions favourable for Nigerians to celebrate the Yuletide. According to him, he made sure that the airports had been given a “facelift”, adding that the terminals were rehabilitated and the runways upgraded ahead of the festive season.
He wrote, “I want to seize this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas and a happy New Year in advance. I feel the pains of Nigerians and that is why in this Yuletide I have personally instructed that our roads be worked on to enable you and your loved ones to travel safely for the holidays.
Not done, the President said that he ensured that for the first time in decades, the cross country services (Lagos to Kano with stops in cities along the route) of the Nigerian Railway Corporation were revived just prior to the holidays to provide Nigerian masses with an inexpensive alternative to road and air transportation.
“This administration also took steps to increase power generation by remaining true to the Timelines of the Roadmap to Power Sector Reform, which has seen history made on Friday, December 21, when Nigeria’s power generation hit an all-time high of just over 4,500 MW.”
In the President’s Facebook post, four areas were deliberately touched (aviation, roads, railway and power supply) for the sake of Christmas.
We believe that government must not wait for Christmas or Id-el Fitri or Ramadan to fix roads. This should be a continuous process so that the roads that criss-cross the country will not remain death traps. Not a few Nigerians believed that the helicopter crash that killed the former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi and the immediate past Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, would not have happened if the East West Road, connecting Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital; Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, and others had been fixed.
Even the East West Coastal Road that is expected to run from Lagos to Calabar in Cross River State is still on the drawing board. The Lokoja-Abuja road is in such shape that with little crisis, traffic snarls trap commuters for hours.
That the Lagos-Kano rail service opened for Nigerians for Christmas (users paid N1,500 for the trip), should not be a big deal at all. By now, the President should spread the map of his country on his table; draw a spider’s web on it, to represent the new rail lines being built for fast trains to connect Sokoto with Maiduguri, Jalingo, Yola, and Calabar.
And the rail should run parallel to the East West coastal road or it can connect Calabar with Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom; Port Harcourt; Nembe in Bayelsa; Burutu, Delta; Ayetoro, Ondo; Iwopin, Ogun; and Lekki in Lagos. Part of the rail web in a big X form can link Lagos, Ekiti, Kogi, Abuja, Kaduna, Bauchi and Yobe states. The other part of this letter X could be a rail linking Cross River, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Federal Capital Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto. Rehabilitating a rail network built since the days of Lord Lugard should not be a thing that should make a government have a hard-on at all.
The other aspect of the President’s Facebook message was in the area of power supply. It should not be a matter for clinking of wine glasses that Nigeria achieved 4,500 MW during Christmas or any festive season. Given the key nature of power to the survival or expansion of the real sector, we advise that it will not be a bad idea if the President should make this one of his signature projects so much that in 2013, Nigeria should achieve 10,000 MW
Above all, it is our submission that it should not be only during major festivities that certain dividends of democracy are enjoyed by the people.