Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who is still battling moral questions over his involvement in the war in Iraq on flimsy excuse of weapons of mass destruction, has urged the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari to spare no effort in ‘cracking’ the vested interest that has shrouded the nation’s oil sector with emphasis on Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) in 100 days of assumption of office as president.Blair, who was represented by Peter Mandelson, a British Labour politician, at the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) two-day policy dialogue on the implementation of the agenda for change in Abuja on Wednesday, implored the incoming government not to get entangled in the schemes of ‘vested interest’ in the nation’s oil sector , but do all it can to crack it.
Blair argued that the people could easily see through a government that was held captive by vested interest, hence the need for the Buhari government to take tough decisions in breaking the vested interest in different sectors of the country. ”What you do in the first 100 days is important, your vulnerability in Nigeria is corruption that is not new to you but particularly around the oil sector.
People in this country seem to do things with high level of impunity and beyond the reach of the rule of law or any sort of proper accountability let alone the judicial system. “You can crack the NNPC knot or at least make a start on it in your first one hundred days in office and if you do so, you will have built a very strong foundation for what you have to do in the next four years and beyond, that’s how important it is, “he said The former British prime minister also applauded Nigeria for its conduct of largely peaceful elections. “There were many people in the international community who doubted Nigeria, some believed that the elections would divide Nigeria and make her weaker, but you have proved them wrong”.
While he advised the incoming APC government to be true to its word and keep its promises to Nigerians, the former British Prime minister emphasized on the need to operate a single account for revenues generated by the government saying this will be vital to sustaining the country’s future. “Take advantage of the goodwill that comes with being elected and take difficult decisions. It is also important for your government to ensure that all government revenues are deposited into a single government account. Those revenues from your huge natural resources are so vital for your country and its future”.
He said his Labour party in Britain had kept the trust of the British people for 30 years, but lost control of the government in 2010 because it lost direction. “You will get more goodwill and authority to do difficult things at the beginning of your term than at the end,” he said. Blair advised against the discrimination of some sections of the country who did not vote for the APC in the presidential election. “You need to show the people who did not vote for you that you care about their interest,” he said. He further urged the incoming government to remain focused in the face of distractions. “Don’t get distracted your job is to make sure things don’t turn out as usual. Don’t keep compromising. Your job is to keep on track,” he advised.