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Herbert Daniels: Umahi and challenges of the Old Order

The Old Order signifies the usual ways of doing things. It often presents a bandwagon scenario that “as it was in the days of Elijah so shall it be today, tomorrow and forever more”. Whether or not such old order fits into the generational dynamics, it does not matter.

Most times, the protagonists and evangelists of such Old Order are the “key lockers” who undermine integrity, rule of law and decency in the running of public affairs so long as the “Plate of Porridge” is sumptuous and heavy.

The above scenario aptly captures the circumstances the Honourable Minister Of Works, Senator, Dr. Dave Umahi found himself in as he is set to confront the ” Old Order”. Upon his arrival at the Ministry of Works, Senator Umahi unveiled his plans to introduce a new technology in road construction which according to the Minister is capable of providing durable roads that can last for over fifty years across the six Geopolitical Zones of the country.

Unknown to Senator Umahi, he was “spoiling” a game for the protagonists of the Old Order. And what was the Old Order- it was the abandonment of contracts while payment of such jobs had been completed. The Old Order was also the execution of shoddy jobs and perpetuation of all forms of corruption, sacrificing the comfort of many Nigerians whose hard earnings constitute in great measure part of the national revenue.

The Old Order is “let’s do it as usual” where those who supervise the affairs of the public sector “submit their birth rights in exchange for a well oiled plate of Porridge”. Indeed, the Old Order is enormous.

Since the Minister of Works made himself clear and the signals were not in tandem with the dictates of the prophets of the Old Order, it became imminent that the unfortunate incident yesterday, Thursday, September 28, 2023 at the premises of the federal Ministry Of Works in Abuja may not afterall be a surprise. That the protesting workers locked up the gates of the Ministry and blackmailed the Honourable Minister of “high handedness” was not unexpected because he has marched the tails of both contractors and top government functionaries of the Ministry who have been the major beneficiaries of the Old Order largesse.

That show of shame by the induced protesters is expected and that is just a tip of the iceberg of what the protagonists of the Old Order have in stock for the Gentle David. The unwarranted protest was just a welcome song, their valedictory speech ranges from petition to the National Assembly to court actions and other forms of blackmail to ensure that the “cartridge is removed ”

Despite all these, it is most evident that Senator Umahi must have aligned himself with the words of John Paul Dejoria who once opined, “the biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start, be ready for it. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people do all things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. When ten doors are slammed in your face, go to door number eleven enthusiastically with a smile on your face.”

As a follower of John Paul Dejoria’s idea, Senator Umahi must have decided to do what unsuccessful people do not want to do. The unsuccessful people do not want a New Order in our dear country Nigeria where service delivery shall become the daily anthem and a compass to navigate even and qualitative development of our land. The unsuccessful people do not want to understand the strategic place of the Ministry of Works in the economy of Nigeria to the extent that effective Commerce and Agricultural activities can only thrive, fully successful and achievable through a good road network.

The protagonists of the Old Order may not be far fetched. They are here. But it is imperative to draw their attention to the words of J P Clark in his Poem, “The Casualties”. ln that literary work, John Pepper Clark declared that the Casualties are not only those who are wounded………. ln driving further J P Clark’s idea, the poet reminds us that in a situation of war that even those who are at home who may not be carrying bullet wounds or any other type of injuries are also casualties. So whether the champions of the Old Order believe it or not, the success or failure of our country Nigeria lies in our hands and only dynamic leaders.

Analysts believe strongly without doubt that the Thursday protest at the Ministry of Works is not unconnected with Senator Umahi’s resolve to sanitise the system and bring in genuinely a new technology which has been adjudged to compete favourably with global standards and since then, the contractors and their top government collaborators have been drumming on the streets, chanting songs of woes and clamouring to be allowed to take Nigeria back to the dark days , God forbid.

But like a builder who has the master plan of his proposed building, Senator Umahi didn’t waste time in rolling out his credible agenda to drive the noble dreams of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration in the Ministry of Works.

Upon his assumption of office, he being a professional Engineer embarked on a project tour across the country to acquaint himself with the state of federal roads, what has been done and what is yet to be done. During some of these tours, he was on the roads for over thirteen hours to feel the pains many Nigerians are going through as a result of the bad and deplorable state of federal roads across the country.

That singular exercise also availed the Minister ample opportunity to draw a template of a good road network across the thirty states of the federation. He didn’t hesitate to commend contractors who are doing creditably and on the other hand reprimand those who are under-performing.

What Nigerians expect from the Minister is to remain focused and cease to wear “Agbada” because he who is prepared to change the Old Order to bring in a new breeze of life must put in his armour 24 hours. Senator Dave Umahi is seen by many Nigerians as one of the best appointments of the present administration and with his pedigree and antecedents with excellent performance of developmental delivery as former Governor of Ebonyi State, the expectations and hopes are high. Nigerians expect and are behind him to surmount whatever cartel and not to be deterred by their blackmail, propaganda and other evil antics but to ensure that his Ministry makes a landmark under President Tinubu administration.

Herbert Daniels Jnr, a socio-political analyst wrote in from Abia.