Tony Momoh
Prince Tony Momoh, the journalist par excellence, a bibliotherapist and cultural engineer is the 165th child of Momoh the first. He is the third of the four children his mother had for Momoh the first and his mother was the junior of the three groups into which the Momoh Household of 45 wives and 245 children were organised.

A Country without People…2

(Vanguard of Sunday, April 5, 2009)

We were saying before we ran out of space last week that we have been in love with instruments that entrench slavery, that produce Sauls rather than Pauls. They are many in our arrangement – a central government that has all the powers where what you need is a politically decongested  polity so that the economy is thereby automatically deregulated; an arrangement where those who should do part-time work and earn allowances are in office full time and pocket almost half of the budget in remunerations; an arrangement where the mode of choosing leaders is subverted and those who should call everybody to order are the very bodies and institutions moderating the evil? But in spite of the grim picture, in spite of the pessimism, there can be hope when a government, like ours, chooses “renewed commitment to the regeneration of our country”.

The in-thing now is the resort to the economic mantra which is the Seven-Point Agenda that no one seems able to meaningfully articulate.  The success of the new slogan must, therefore, be anchored not only on the performance of the economic promises made by the agenda, but there must also be a deliberate attempt to redo the institutions that have given us a bad name which no form of re-branding will redeem.

What happens to INEC and Iwu who seems to be its alter ego will make or mar the political aspect of what makes a good people and a great nation.  We should come to this Iwu thing soon but let us look at the Seven-Point Agenda in the re-branding scheme. But what is the agenda?

It reads like hieroglyphics: provision of critical infrastructure like electricity, transportation, telecommunications, waterways and national oil and gas; food security; national security and intelligence; provision of health, education and functional social safety nets; land tenure changes and home ownership under the Land Reform Act; Niger Delta Development; and wealth creation. More than two years after assuming office, what have we on the ground to produce or move us in the direction of producing, with the agenda as our economic guide, the good people that will build a great nation?

A friend at PHCN told me last week he could not say what was happening in the power sector because he did not know.  I arrived at Abuja at night two weeks ago and from the airport to the city, there was not one traffic light on.  And this is the gateway to our Federal Capital!  When I get to my office, the genset is on most of the day.

When I get back home from the office, the genset is on most of the night.  Money is not flowing in as much as it is flowing out to meet the basic things governments provide – water, power, food, heath care, security, jobs.  These are to be provided by the federal government, the state governments and the local councils.  I am in Lagos and I see Lagos State fast waking up from a long sleep of dirt and indiscipline.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu must be immortalized for a mindset that produced Babatunde Raji Fashola who has shown that given the opportunity, things can be made to work.  The people are there to do the work but do we look for them?  We politicize everything and leave those who can move this country forward to meet the dream of a good people in the cold.

A newspaper in the South South called me during the week and asked my opinion on the possibility of the managing director of NDDC and the chairman of the commission coming from the same Bayelsa State.  Timi Alaibe is the managing director and has been there for a long time.  The slot for chairman falls on Bayelsa after Akwa Ibom, in line with the Act setting up the body.  Why, he said should the MD and the chairman come from the same state?  For me, why not?

If one position is political and the other is not, why must you sacrifice the professional one on the alter of a political commitment! Why?  But that is what we look at when we insist on federal character, a policy of merely sharing a cake that we have no preoccupation with baking.

There can be no order in institutions that do not work for the good of the many, that are not even fashioned to work for the good of the many.  Look at what is happening in America.  Obama is through visible action, re-branding a nation that had been sold to private interests whose indiscretions are now causing the world sleepless nights.

And with his redeeming mission, he is doing what no American would have thought was possible a few months ago.  He is touching the giants, the financial giants and the auto industries asking their chief executive to resign or go without government bailout funding.  We have problems but we do not want to solve them, for personal gain, Iwu is a product of a flawed system which we want to rejuvenate, re-brand if you like.

Yet Iwu becomes the most visible stranger in the corridors of power to solve the problems he had been part of creating.  And he is all over the place boasting that nobody can remove him.  Is there really no one that can remove Iwu outside the provisions that he pegs off, resigns or is impeached by the national assembly?  Where is the power of government that Obasanjo used to remove Audu Ogbe and Okonjo-Iweala?

Who is there that does not know the ways of government?  If you want to deal with Iwu, for instance, why not announce his resignation and let’s see how he can deny it? Ask Don Etiebet how he abandoned the political party he spent a fortune building before he was forced to quit it and join the one that Gen Jeremiah Useni was promoting. The branding mission that our Dora has started must not be left with the ministry of information.

It must be a government-endorsed outing and the president must be seen to be the outward symbol of the project.  It is not going to be enough for Dora to prove a point by wearing branded caps and jerseys and getting school children to don these outward exhibits of a project.  The message is to the people and the people are the ones being re-branded so that their perception of themselves and their country can change.

You cannot change people by not putting something to replace what you want changed because change is a visible outcome of an executed programme that led to it.  The economic and political programmes of government are causing us more pain because of key areas of deliberate neglect to perhaps meet the tame dreams of a few.  Work for us to be free and we will be the good people that will make the great nation.

Some time ago, I was at Abuja to give a paper at the Second Timex Global Summit on Legislative & Public Communication. It was a forum full of public relations gurus in the country, and some came from Europe, the US, Ghana and South Africa.  If there is any branding or re-branding to be done, I believe that these image managers ought to have been fully in evidence.

They claim they were not there!  Better late than never!  They should be the first port of call, along with the advertising agencies. Campaigns cost money, whether they are political or economic or even image laundering.  They are handled by experts and there are hundreds of them in this country, in advertising, public relations, press, the arts et al.

They will advise on the segments of the Nigerian population that must create the image of the good people that many believe we had been before the incursion of divisive elements. But first things first, what you speak about must be fact, not fiction. And that is what many believe.  But I also believe you must   speak about what may now be fiction but can be fact tomorrow.

Tell me about roads and water and power and jobs and education and health and safety and general welfare, and if they are not there in South Ibie and Potiskum now, give me hope when they shall be there.  That is my perception of fact and fiction, of a promise made and a promise kept. But where the promise remains in yonder land, then we would have lost again the opportunity to bring out the greatness in our people, and their willingness to make a great nation.

(Pages 147-152 of Vol. 3 of Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary by Tony Momoh – OUT SOON).

(Vanguard of Sunday, April 5, 2009)

We were saying before we ran out of space last week that we have been in love with instruments that entrench slavery, that produce Sauls rather than Pauls. They are many in our arrangement – a central government that has all the powers where what you need is a politically decongested  polity so that the economy is thereby automatically deregulated; an arrangement where those who should do part-time work and earn allowances are in office full time and pocket almost half of the budget in remunerations; an arrangement where the mode of choosing leaders is subverted and those who should call everybody to order are the very bodies and institutions moderating the evil? But in spite of the grim picture, in spite of the pessimism, there can be hope when a government, like ours, chooses “renewed commitment to the regeneration of our country”.

The in-thing now is the resort to the economic mantra which is the Seven-Point Agenda that no one seems able to meaningfully articulate.  The success of the new slogan must, therefore, be anchored not only on the performance of the economic promises made by the agenda, but there must also be a deliberate attempt to redo the institutions that have given us a bad name which no form of re-branding will redeem.

What happens to INEC and Iwu who seems to be its alter ego will make or mar the political aspect of what makes a good people and a great nation.  We should come to this Iwu thing soon but let us look at the Seven-Point Agenda in the re-branding scheme. But what is the agenda?

It reads like hieroglyphics: provision of critical infrastructure like electricity, transportation, telecommunications, waterways and national oil and gas; food security; national security and intelligence; provision of health, education and functional social safety nets; land tenure changes and home ownership under the Land Reform Act; Niger Delta Development; and wealth creation. More than two years after assuming office, what have we on the ground to produce or move us in the direction of producing, with the agenda as our economic guide, the good people that will build a great nation?

A friend at PHCN told me last week he could not say what was happening in the power sector because he did not know.  I arrived at Abuja at night two weeks ago and from the airport to the city, there was not one traffic light on.  And this is the gateway to our Federal Capital!  When I get to my office, the genset is on most of the day.

When I get back home from the office, the genset is on most of the night.  Money is not flowing in as much as it is flowing out to meet the basic things governments provide – water, power, food, heath care, security, jobs.  These are to be provided by the federal government, the state governments and the local councils.  I am in Lagos and I see Lagos State fast waking up from a long sleep of dirt and indiscipline.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu must be immortalized for a mindset that produced Babatunde Raji Fashola who has shown that given the opportunity, things can be made to work.  The people are there to do the work but do we look for them?  We politicize everything and leave those who can move this country forward to meet the dream of a good people in the cold.

A newspaper in the South South called me during the week and asked my opinion on the possibility of the managing director of NDDC and the chairman of the commission coming from the same Bayelsa State.  Timi Alaibe is the managing director and has been there for a long time.  The slot for chairman falls on Bayelsa after Akwa Ibom, in line with the Act setting up the body.  Why, he said should the MD and the chairman come from the same state?  For me, why not?

If one position is political and the other is not, why must you sacrifice the professional one on the alter of a political commitment! Why?  But that is what we look at when we insist on federal character, a policy of merely sharing a cake that we have no preoccupation with baking.

There can be no order in institutions that do not work for the good of the many, that are not even fashioned to work for the good of the many.  Look at what is happening in America.  Obama is through visible action, re-branding a nation that had been sold to private interests whose indiscretions are now causing the world sleepless nights.

And with his redeeming mission, he is doing what no American would have thought was possible a few months ago.  He is touching the giants, the financial giants and the auto industries asking their chief executive to resign or go without government bailout funding.  We have problems but we do not want to solve them, for personal gain, Iwu is a product of a flawed system which we want to rejuvenate, re-brand if you like.

Yet Iwu becomes the most visible stranger in the corridors of power to solve the problems he had been part of creating.  And he is all over the place boasting that nobody can remove him.  Is there really no one that can remove Iwu outside the provisions that he pegs off, resigns or is impeached by the national assembly?  Where is the power of government that Obasanjo used to remove Audu Ogbe and Okonjo-Iweala?

Who is there that does not know the ways of government?  If you want to deal with Iwu, for instance, why not announce his resignation and let’s see how he can deny it? Ask Don Etiebet how he abandoned the political party he spent a fortune building before he was forced to quit it and join the one that Gen Jeremiah Useni was promoting. The branding mission that our Dora has started must not be left with the ministry of information.

It must be a government-endorsed outing and the president must be seen to be the outward symbol of the project.  It is not going to be enough for Dora to prove a point by wearing branded caps and jerseys and getting school children to don these outward exhibits of a project.  The message is to the people and the people are the ones being re-branded so that their perception of themselves and their country can change.

You cannot change people by not putting something to replace what you want changed because change is a visible outcome of an executed programme that led to it.  The economic and political programmes of government are causing us more pain because of key areas of deliberate neglect to perhaps meet the tame dreams of a few.  Work for us to be free and we will be the good people that will make the great nation.

Some time ago, I was at Abuja to give a paper at the Second Timex Global Summit on Legislative & Public Communication. It was a forum full of public relations gurus in the country, and some came from Europe, the US, Ghana and South Africa.  If there is any branding or re-branding to be done, I believe that these image managers ought to have been fully in evidence.

They claim they were not there!  Better late than never!  They should be the first port of call, along with the advertising agencies. Campaigns cost money, whether they are political or economic or even image laundering.  They are handled by experts and there are hundreds of them in this country, in advertising, public relations, press, the arts et al.

They will advise on the segments of the Nigerian population that must create the image of the good people that many believe we had been before the incursion of divisive elements. But first things first, what you speak about must be fact, not fiction. And that is what many believe.  But I also believe you must   speak about what may now be fiction but can be fact tomorrow.

Tell me about roads and water and power and jobs and education and health and safety and general welfare, and if they are not there in South Ibie and Potiskum now, give me hope when they shall be there.  That is my perception of fact and fiction, of a promise made and a promise kept. But where the promise remains in yonder land, then we would have lost again the opportunity to bring out the greatness in our people, and their willingness to make a great nation.

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