By Bayo Fasunwon
In our area yesterday the sky looked misty and cloudy, and it seemed like the rain would fall on us (borrowing from Majek Fashek). Those who wanted to visit or for business stayed put, while those outside scampered home, not just for safety, but to collect rain water since the provision of potable drinking water from boreholes is not in the agenda of government. So, many activities were at a standstill, and people kept looking at the Sky with high expectations, and some with fear. The fear that the rain and storm may remove the roofs of many houses, whose renovations have been postponed due to lack of funds.
The fear that the lack of drainages or in some cases the lack of maintenance of the available ones, would bring with it floods that may make landlords homeless and tenants count their losses. For the wicked and daring, they waited, armed with their dirt, faeces and plastic bags for the rain to fall, so they can empty their abominable co-dwellers as sacrifices to the running water, to block the water ways and cause havoc far away from them. But, either for the good, the bad or the ugly, the rain refused to fall, and all hopes were aborted, each person counting their losses. Such is the situation in our socio-economic lives in Nigeria now, wherein all hopes have become hopeless. However, yours truly still went about the normal duties and activities, with all expectations met. The reason behind my ‘success’ was data. The weather forecast had revealed a cloudy, cold and rainless day. Data saved my day.
The new Ministers (the brides of their states, local governments, contractors, associations and their families) have been given portfolios and they are poised to hit the ground running, but many would ground the boat except they engage in data gathering, interpretation, analysis and implementation. Many of them would get to office and begin to read their riot act, wishing to surpass their predecessors and ‘revamp the economy’ with immediate effect. My advice – cool temper, and to quote a boy under distress, and not a mad man on the street of Aba, ‘you need to be calming down'(sic). Their first assignment should be data gathering for the first month or so. It is like sharpening your cutlass to cut down a tree. Seems time consuming, but at the end, it is more effective and efficient in attaining the great heights.
Data gathering would involve the diligent study of the handover notes of their predecessors (or are their outgone Ministers without a handover note?). Within those notes would be matters arising which would include goals, attainments, limitations, present state, and future projections. Data gathering would entail interactions with the Civil Servants to know the situation of things about the workforce, workplace and work demands.
Within the data gathering, especially in the Ministry of Education and Labour would be invitations to the various ‘recalcitrant groups’ for a firsthand information on demands, agreements, implementations and areas of neglect. Data gathering would also include the study of the terms of reference of every ministry, and the objectives set by the President for the various ministries. It would also include the assessment of the available staff, monetary and material resources, vis-à-vis those needed in order to achieve these goals. In the reality of paucity of resources, then strategies are to be developed in order to achieve the impossible with the available.
Lest one forgets. Congratulations to the Government and people of Ondo State, and the State House of Assembly in particular, on the successful creation of 33 Local Government Development Areas (LCDAs). By the name, these new creations are either to be used to develop the existing 18 Local Governments and or are the 33 areas that need development within the existing local governments. Yours truly wants to believe that these creations are however the outcomes of data, and not just for political settlement, revenue attraction and a preemptive move for Federal Government’s Local Government creation in the future.
When TETfund, a baby of ASUU’s unending strikes, agitation and innovation, began staff and infrastructural development in all public Universities, many State Governments abdicated their duty of funding and capital projects in their various Universities, and waited for TETfund to fund both infrastructural and academic endeavours. There are governments in power for more than four years which have not constructed even blocks of toilets in the various tertiary institutions. Rather, in order to increase their access to Federal Government’s TETfunds, had embarked on establishing more Universities as legal access to the national cake.
In creating LCDAs, the contribution of DATA should be 95%. Data would answer the questions of need, population, viability, availability of both human and natural resources; capacity to contribute to State and National Resources and the capacity for self-sustenance. If DATA has not reported all or most of these in the affirmative, then, LCDAs created on the basis of politics, demands, novelty, attraction of FGs largesse and or compensation to personalities are already set up for poverty, commensalism and ruins.
Every LCDA created in this era of globalization, attraction of foreign direct investment, self-induced growth and development must operate on the basis of comparative advantage. In other words, every LCDA must have something they are very good at producing than others, which would generate more capital to the State. It is the candid opinion that DATA played a larger role in this monumental achievement such that Ondo State is strategically positioned for a spontaneous and sporadic leap into development and greatness that would have a positive contribution in our quest for national development.
For the icing on the cake, States and residents are poised for a showdown over the gift of Five billion naira each to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal. However, one must not align with the perception that the 180billion naira to the State is a form or re-ordered subsidy, where the beneficiaries have changed from Oil Marketers to Public Officials, but rather it is the goodwill of a caring President. But, how did the Federal Government arrive at 5 billion naira per State? Which DATA or Statistics generated that sum. The doubt that it ever existed arise from the fact that same amount was given to each State.
Do they have the same population, equal number of the vulnerable? Are they contributing the same to the national purse or have the same number of local governments? To many, this is stirring the hornet’s nest. But if the national have rejected DATA, should the State reject it in the ‘equitable’ distribution of this huge sum of money? Use accurate data, and Nigeria would be the better for it.