Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Agba Jalingo and the Template for 2019...

BY Vena Ikem

I just can't help but ponder at Agba Jalingos post of yesterday where he attempted to set an agenda or standards for the next governor of CRS. What I find curious in retrospect is that the agenda seems set only for the opposition contesting against the incumbent. To be specific the standard was set for Goddy Jedy Agba who he said is looking set to take a second shot at the governorship of our state, to prove that he can do better than the incumbent Ayade!

I am not a journalist. I am a politician. He says he is a journalist and not a politician. I don't know what established him as the authority to set such an agenda. If it is his professional calling, I thought such standards are usually set as a group. Otherwise of course he has a right to talk to the aspirant himself in person. I may be wrong.

It is interesting to me that Agba who works himself so hard to establish his "Progressive " credentials has for the better part of this administration been a very enthusiastic supporter of the mishap in the Cross River State government house, endorsing everything that spills out of the governor's mouth without question and instead acting often as a buffer between him and critics from the progressive opposition party. The excuses have bothered on support for development! Even when the governor has himself admitted failure, his "developmental strides" continue to attract unquestionable support. Lately, I have found it curious that Agba has shifted a bit to the left of Ayade and I know it is not for nothing. His punchy diagnosis off the abject security failure of the administration last week was legendary. The follow up was this Jedy questionnaire!

For instance no journalist has followed up on the very robust links provided by Ifere Paul to unravel the veracity or the allegations of diversion of our bailout funds. Nobody has reported about the non payment of workers' entitlements even after stupendous monies have been collected for that purpose beyond the social media effort of some left leaning upstarts. Nobody is reporting why IGR has dropped from above 1 bn monthly to about 500m naira monthly amidst allegations that most are being diverted by collecting banks into the private accounts of Frank Ayade. Nobody reports that the Local government allocation is being hijacked sometimes wholly while workers are pressurized to generate revenue even without imprest! Local Government staff go without salaries while the media reports the governor as the most labor friendly!

Yes, I did promise that we shall as a campaign bring up a "blue print " for the aspiration. And Ifere Paul , in attempting to give some indication of what to expect came under heavy attack by Agba Jalingo. It then occurred to me that there is more to this agenda setting. In fact I must confess that it was then I realized Agba Jalingo has set out an agenda almost exclusively for Goddy Jedy Agba! Is that how political agenda are set? Even if I concede that in doing so he is already seeing ahead that the Jedy machinery at work seems the most likely challenge to Ayade as incumbent, the question of objectivity still remains.

Agba dismissed some of Ifere's policy inputs because according to him, they had the personalized suggestions that showed they were Ifere 's personal opinion not Jedy 's! How absurd! Is the quest to test Jedy's capabilities in writing an agenda or his policy agenda itself, however put together!? I am not aware that many politicians ever write their own blueprints! Blueprints are a collection of policy initiatives that an aspirant believes reflect his direction If he succeeds to get into government. Yes, a few cerebral politicians have in some climes contributed a lot of inputs into their political agenda but it is inconceivable to imagine that one Aspirant can write his entire policy from Health, Agriculture, to employment, environment and whatever! A Governor or president is not elected because he knows everything. He is elected because he can provide leadership to bring forth the best policies to bear on his administration. The critical quality essential for leadership therefore. Is the ability to listen and and take informed decisions from competing policy approaches. Discernment is the watch word. Separating what works from what does not. An administration fails not because the leader is dull but because oftentimes lacks the ability to listen to advise. It is the chronic disease that has infested our state for two years! And you can see what we have at hand, despite a legendary coterie of Advisers and assistants, who never see the leader, except their schedule is of a domestic nature!

I am not making excuses for Goddy Jedy Agba but moving forward we must aspire to a fair system in which we are judged by some semblance of same standards. I am happy that Agba would agree that PMB has done reasonably well given his realities. But if you ask me what his policy profile was during the campaigns I will still shudder like I did each time he woke up to deliver his two minutes campaign addresses! Maybe I am even being very generous with the time he used. But that didn't mean that he didn't know what he wanted to do. In any case anxious for change , Nigerians gave him the benefits of the doubt. I believe that the very despicable performance of this administration in our state puts us on the same pedestal. We shall by all means produce a documentary guide to our policy intentions but I believe that for most Cross Riverians the fundamental issue of 2019 would be CHANGE Of leadership!

I have said elsewhere that I am impressed that the average politician in the state believes and understands the peculiar circumstances of the northern senatorial district and the imperative of fairness and are willing to give us another chance if we can give them a better candidate. And it is completely inconceivable for such a candidate to contemplate a second term given our well managed zoning arrangements.
These are the issues that will define the election of 2019! You can call me names and talk your long policy ideals. As a politician I understand the mood of the moment. But once again, we shall work out a concise policy framework.

Vena A. Ikem.  16/06/2017