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1035 views | Sanusi Muhammad | April 24, 2021
Nigeria gained independence and as a sovereign nation without shedding blood in 1960 when the Union Jack was lowered and the Green White Green flag was hoisted at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. It remains a day to remember and celebrate in Nigeria. But what are the benefits accrued from the independence? That is a topic for another day.
The British colonialists were boxed to the corner by the nationalists and journalists of that time for unconditional independence to Nigeria. The 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates was an exercise hurriedly executed for ‘selfish’ colonial interest so to say. Nevertheless, the fusion served the intended purpose and Nigeria is still crawling at adulthood. It is a country yet to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens despite its abundant human and material resources. It is a country on reverse auto-piloting with the unfit in government at all levels.
Politics is an important facet of human society that should not be allowed to remain in the grip of those poorly educated, inexperienced, merchants and rogues. It is not a traditional institution that can be accessed through inheritance. It is a serious business that deserves to be in the hands of the most qualified.
In about 5000 years ago from historical facts, members of the political class working closely with spiritualists were responsible for the day-day administration of each community. This was with a view to achieving equilibrium-the pillar of peace, equity and justice for progress on a sustainable scale. The ancient political system was tied to the apron strings of spirituality, so as to curb leadership excesses and managerial incompetence. This was the root of state formation in Nigeria as elsewhere in the West Coast of Africa.
Today’s leaders need a great deal of political education anchored to our rich indigenous epistemologies and/or value systems. Nigeria can only ignore this reality at its peril. Political leaders are ontologically the servants of members of a given community. This underscores the reason why certain benefits and privileges are attached to their offices. Therefore, political office holders become nuisance to society in the absence of good governance. Such leaders are an irritation to humanity and by extension, Providence. This is because of their lack of service, accountability, and probity. They are merely serving themselves, families, and business associates while pretending to have concern for the welfare of the people in the open. The Nigerian political rulers are exceedingly terrible parasites on the society. This is because their hedonistic mind-set even in the face of general material poverty is second to none.
The Nigerian political leaders (with a few exceptions) lack social conscience. For instance, at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the imposed lockdown, the federal government and some philanthropists, donated cash and food items for distribution to states. Unfortunately, most of the donations were either hoarded for a specific political reason, diverted or sold at open markets to the very people the donations were meant for. A look at the modus operandi of the Maiduguri based- North East Development Commission (NEDC) reveals volumes. A recent visit to one of the Commission’s warehouses in Bauchi, showed how donated grains and other items were allowed to rot while the needy sleep on empty stomach or forced to roam the streets begging. That is a clear case of leadership on the reverse. The essence of establishing the Commission is already defeated. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are denied the benefits.
Endemic corruption still remains a devil to wrestle to the ground in Nigeria. Thus, For example, the US 2020 Annual Report claimed that the manifestation of corrupt practices under the present Muhammadu Buhari administration is widespread and pervasive. The political class members are living in a different world constructed with blocks of recklessness and primitive self-indulgence. It is on record that the budgetary allocations for State House Clinic located within Aso Rock Presidential Villa, was a whooping N11.01billion from 2015-2017. On the hand, approximately N6.6billion what was budgeted within same period to the 16 Federal Teaching Hospitals across the country and with high expectation of performance while a single clinic got N11.01billion.
Despite the obnoxiously huge budget for the State House Clinic, there is little to show and justify the huge budgetary allocation in terms of medical facilities. Nigerians should not easily forget the lamentation of the First Lady, Dr. A’isha Buhari a couple of years back concerning the messy and rotten state of the clinic complex. I do not believe that anything substantial had happened since then. This may not be unconnected with the reason why the first family travels overseas for proper medical attention when the need arises. Sadly, none of the 16 Federal Teaching Hospitals can bail the first family out at the time of need. What a pity!
Nigerian medical doctors and paramedics like nurses and physiotherapists are working under the most appalling conditions of service while a semi or stark illiterate politician of no value who occupies a political office lives a comfortable life accompanied with security details and chauffeur driven official cars with a large entourage busy doing nothing. That is not what we know as luck as some may argue but pure madness at its best.
All these poor conditions coupled with miserable salaries and periodic allowances continue to create sufferings to society needed professionals, most especially those medical personnel. Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had to embark on industrial action recently as a result of unpaid salaries and allowances. The strike began on April 1, must have sent many patients to their early graves and yet, we claim to have leaders. Do the political leaders care a hoot? They have stolen much from the commonwealth to take care of their health needs in choice hospital around the globe. They own the private hospitals scattered in Nigeria. They have killed public schools to replace them with their private ones at exorbitant fees. They are now desperate to mortgage Nigeria to the Chinese and other super powers. Should we fold our arms as mere observers or resist the attempts?
Suffice it to say, that the Nigerian medical doctors and other professionals including journalists and broadcasters who migrated from the country to saner climes and cultures, are usually the very doctors that treat our so called leaders and the appendages whenever they go overseas for medical tourism.
This attitude of the political class smacks of leadership failure coupled with shamelessness of huge proportions. Government makes laws, but lacks the audacity and mental capacity to successfully implement same laws. In most cases, the government merely engages in nauseating mumblings. For instance, despite the recent orders to shoot on sight by the president, such violent crimes as banditry and kidnapping go on unabated. Has the central government become a completely disabled system? Before he was booted out of office, the former Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, had directed that all police personnel attached to self-styled influential individuals should report back to force headquarters for fresh postings to critical policing. The directed was trashed and not heard again. The newly appointed acting Inspector-General has now issued same directive. We wait to see.
Painfully, most of the assistants or aides to the political leaders have developed a penchant for brazenly defending managerial incompetence. Those guys, to say the least are neither helping matters nor their principals. They are just messing and cartooning themselves for public laughter and ridicule because political power in Nigeria can easily be accessed even by thugs and vandals. Nigerians are too sophisticated to be consigned to the scrap heap indefinitely. It is only a matter of time.
The government must urgently begin to address the all-important issues of unemployment, under-employment, and of course, insecurity. Food shortages and the corresponding galloping inflation are pushing up prices, thus making Nigeria an unliveable geo-polity for the ordinary people.
At this point, let me commend the ongoing laudable efforts of Sen. Bala Muhammed in transforming Bauchi State into an industrial giant. First, he never believes in the application of deceitful mechanism for cheap applause and commendations. He believes in reality and objectivity as a leader on test. Within his nearly two years in power, Bauchi State has witnessed giant strides in several sectors. He is setting the pace in roads construction and reconstruction, Primary Healthcare Delivery, steady portable water supply, improved environment for learning, social service and above all, security to lives and property. That is leadership worthy of emulation. He distributed tricycles (Keke Napep) as replacement to motorcycle mode of transportation (Achaba) to the needy but as a gift but loan. He does not subscribe to the foolery of crocodile gifts for political reasons.
Back to my discourse, as poor leadership continue to be our albatross, several marriages are crumbling away in the face of unprecedented economic hardships and the unmarried getting into prostitution, even as fake religious leaders are having field days under the guise of counseling and prayers. Government should stop blaming past administrations as the country is about to be reduced to ashes if severe measures are not applied.
According to some social media reports, abducted Chibok school girls and Leah Sharibu of Dapchi secondary school in the enclave of the daredevils Boko Haram insurgents are now mothers. Again, who knows the conditions of the female and male students of the School of Forestry Mechanization, Kaduna that were abducted few weeks ago by suspected Boko Haram insurgents loosely called bandits?
Honestly, from my perception of things, empathy for others has disappeared from the Nigerian leaders vocabularies of popular engagement. No more space for fellow feeling; one of our time-tested indigenous epistemologies. How can these abductees be proud of Nigeria as Nigerians and its uncaring political leadership?
All the above crises are the causes of more rigorous agitation for social reform and self-determination in recent times. I have a strong feeling that the agitations for the creation of Republics of Biafra, Oduduwa, Middle-belt etc would subside whenever a people-oriented government emerges. At the heat of the Plateau crisis, there were agitations from certain areas for merger with Bauchi State than to remain in Plateau State under serious threat of annihilation. The now imprisoned former governor Joshua Dariye, out of ignorance, introduced a divisive policy against the Hausa/Fulani in Plateau State called ‘Indigenous Muslims’. In Islam, there is no recognition of tribe. A Muslim is a fellow brother to another Muslim not minding the tribe. That was a foolish ethno-religious sentiment targeted against the so called settlers that are of more economic value to the state than most of those favored tribes.
In other words, the agitation is a direct consequence of a failed political leadership that should changed for better. That is to say, a leadership oozing mindless nepotism, insensitivity and cultural colonization in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious landscape christened Nigeria. As noted in some of my earlier published discourse, the struggle is between the upper-class and those they impoverished. This reality is not fundamentally crafted by geographies, ethnicities and/ or religions. Nigerians should not allow themselves to be fooled by the predatory political class members, who are merely trying to maintain the status quo at all costs. The ordinary people of this country are neither desperate about where their leaders come from nor their religious beliefs. All they need is good governance which has no room for religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism, two indices of a double standard of morality killing Nigeria steadily, although noticed but ignored at our own peril.
Lest I forget, I was reliably informed that a certain politician from Wase local government area of Plateau state now putting finishing touches to his 2023 political aspiration, has promised once elected to the office he aspires to occupy, within his first six months in office, to empower 1000 youth and women across his constituency from his personal saving. The said empowerment scheme according him is in cash not in kind and accompanied with rigorous training with allowances attached. Hear him: “Within the first six months of occupying the office I intend to contest, I shall kick-start a robust economic empowerment programme for the idling youth and women to show the difference in sincerity of purpose. I shall partner with the Industrial Training Fund in Jos to train the beneficiaries and acquire the necessary skills required for self-reliance. I shall liaise with domestic and foreign investors to invest in my constituency by establishing cottage agro-allied industries, poultry farms, sheep and goats and cattle ranches as well as exploration of mineral resources and tourism”.
Should we believe in the mouth-watering pledge from that determined aspirant or view it just as a mere campaign strategy for cheap votes and later to be disappointed? Although, we all know to implement those policies are easy with the right connections, zeal and determination. But we shall continue to watch as critical observers until when is ripe to say what we saw. I could have ordinarily mentioned the name of the aspirant and the platform he intends to explore but, he pleaded for anonymity for the time being. By that, I have respected his feeling by not exposing his identity today. Even to do so, may portray me to be part of his struggle which I’m not. After all, since I’m not his campaign manager and we operate on different pedestal, what bothers me for now? Cest finis!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues