- Post 01 August 2011
- Last Updated on 01 August 2011
- By Jon Chikadibie Okafo
As free citizens that belong to a socially structured society, our faith in Government ordinarily ought to be stout-this is because we are all stakeholders bound together in a social contract. A government elected by us is thus armed with the necessary resources required to provide an egalitarian society peopled by happy citizens. A government therefore exists for the people, and not the other way round.
We have an elected civilian government in Nigeria-it remains debatable whether this government is sincerely engaged in working for the masses or the masses being systematically starved to death while those in government live in splendour. This point of view remains inevitable since President Goodluck Jonathan announced his plans to make to be altered the tenure of elected government officials. It is apparent that most Nigerians are saddened by this development by the deafening cries calling for this move by Mr President to be chucked. In his defence, Mr Jonathan has argued that he was only trying to complete a move initiated by the late President Ya’ardua; and of course, he did not intend to benefit from it, etc. I am simply not impressed by Mr President’s argument in support of tampering with the tenure of our elected government officials.
There are so many reasons why I remain pathologically opposed to this gambit by the PDP-led federal government, but chief amongst them remains that tenure elongation by whatever name is not what the long-suffering people of Nigeria need at this point. Our politicians while remaining outrageously greedy have perfected the art of gaffe, insincerity of the worst order and comedy. All the reasons presented by our President to support his move for a constitutional amendment all point to one thing-that our politicians are the architects of all that is wrong with our politics. Included in the ills to be corrected by a tenure tampering is “god-fatherism, incumbency factor, thuggery…” This is rather comical since these evils are essentially the trade mark of the PDP; political evils chiefly employed by former President Obasanjo to further his rampaging fiefdom. Why are we not talking about making use of legal checks to eliminate the madness that takes over our politicians during election periods? When was the last time an election rigger was jailed in Nigeria? Maurice Iwu conducted elections that threw up spurious victories which were later upturned by the courts- those sacked for rigging elections walked away without any punishment and became “party stalwarts”-and very rich. Mr President should rather focus on setting in motion moves to make elective positions less financially attractive in our country- this will go a long way in reforming our politics, for good.
Our President did not sound convincing when he argued rather unimpressively that “…all major political parties in Nigeria…” came together to approve this particular constitutional amendment. I was able to mitigate my misery when I saw the names of Edwin Ume-Ezeoke and Chekwas Okorie in the list of those from “opposition political parties” that supported the move-my mitigation came in the form of a comic-relief. These two men, perfect representations of the insincerity and avarice of a typical Nigerian politician have proved so many times to be political-jobbers; Edwin Ume-Ezeoke was almost an extension of the PDP under Ya’ardua’s leadership [his son was made a federal minister] while Okorie left no one in doubt that he was playing out a well-crafted script to kill APGA, an Igbo party. Men like them should not be taken serious in any issue involving good governance because they have proved to be more interested in feathering their own nests rather than fight for the common good.
Moreover, it is my considered view that this move by our PDP-led government could be an attempt to protect the collective interest of the political class. A six year single term will make it a lot easier for the “national cake” to be rotated amongst the greedy men [and women] sitting round the table with very long/sharp knives. One suspects intensely that members of our political class may have decided to find a way around their constant often-bloody fights and rancour by deciding to find a more “peaceful” way of running the relay of government. The way this move is being organized and the timing of it make my suspicion more passionate. Again, one could churn out so many arguments against tampering with the tenure of those we elect to run our state by this government, it is however important that I walk the road of reminding President Jonathan what WE need as citizens of the Federal Republic.
What about reforming the Nigerian Police Force? It is a shame that a body as important as the police saddled with the job of protecting our lives and properties remains a glaring picture of all that is wrong with our country. Our police force is ill equipped to tackle the gory crimes of our time, our police officers are poorly trained and lack motivation, and the philosophy of the force is flawed and archaic. Modern day policing is intelligence-based; developed nations invest huge resources in ensuring that their police is adequately kitted with all the tools needed to carry out their functions effectively. The use of technology and constant training goes a long way in creating a friendly police force made up of friendly and dedicated officers. What we have in Nigeria remains a police force with a colonial mentality; a force made up of mostly poorly educated men and women whose misery is brutally directed at making live “short and brutish” for the citizens they swore to protect. Every government gets the police force it pays for and this could well explain why the failures of our government to re-organize the police force for the better remains why we have this rag-tag outfit. Armed robbers, kidnapers, religious zealots and similar rogue elements are fast turning Nigeria into a nasty place to live in and it is apparent that our police and other security outfits are not able to “serve and protect”
What about declaring that emergency in the power sector? It is unbelievable that with our wealth as a nation, Nigeria is unable to guarantee a regular power supply. It is equally shocking that while our government is unable to achieve these “feat”, agents of government and politicians become stupendously rich-pocketing our money budgeted for this very important reform. Our country may well be the highest importer of power generating sets from china [there is usually a budget provision for “plants and diesel” for Aso Rock”]. It is immoral for the government to be talking about changing the tenures of our elected government officials whose sole aim is to grab as much as possible of our patrimony while ignoring to bring to book those that stole our money. This is an example of economic sabotage because so many industries and businesses have collapsed due to lack of regular electric power supply.
Mr President and his team will bring about a brilliant reform in Nigeria if they succeed in giving us a sound healthcare system. Nigerian citizens continue to die daily of preventable diseases, our hospitals are mostly stone-aged clinics where people actually go to die. To our national shame [ we know no shame],our government officials continue to troop abroad to be treated in hospitals built by sane governments, politicians and bankers standing trial accused of stealing public funds continue to apply for bail to allow them travel abroad for “health reasons”. Nigerian citizens now resort to patronizing charlatan faith-healers who wickedly collect huge sums for “prayers and deliverance”; we have more faith in olive oil and similar “anointing oil” as replacements for drugs for our sickness. Nigeria is really a very wealthy nation but those elected to run our affairs continue to cart away our money to foreign lands. We need a functional healthcare system to take care of our health needs; we are tired of hearing of billions allocated to the “Ministry of Health” without seeing any meaningful contribution from this waste-pipe. What exactly do they do in that bloody ministry?
What about “reforming” our roads in Nigeria? For the avoidance of doubt, I genuinely believe that the state of roads in our country is enough to bring about a revolution in Nigeria. It is wicked for government to continue to talk of billions spent on road rehabilitation while the fact remains that our roads are all gone. All across the country, Nigerian citizens are subjected to the horrors of travelling on roads that are both treacherous and hellish; the South East of Nigeria takes the biscuit here. We continue to see the horrible deaths on our dilapidated roads while government continue to blow hot air about “bringing the dividends of democracy”. Will the heavens come down on us if government works towards building new roads and maintaining existing ones? Why is it impossible for government to come out openly and apologize to Nigerians for failing them and take those that rob us to stand before a Judge? Whatever happened under Mr Tony Anenih as the Minister for Works? When will this man be called to account for the hundreds of billions of Naira allocated to his ministry with nothing to show for it? I continue to feel the horrible pains of ulcer whenever I see the closeness of this man to the corridors of power.
It is depressing seeing Dr Reuben Abati struggling to explain to Nigerians the rationale behind this unholy tenure elongation gambit. The constant repetition that President Jonathan will not benefit from this change if actualized makes it the more questionable. Our cynicism is well justified because we scratch our heads and remember the ways of old; soon after getting the desired tenure tampering, a group of deluded “party faithful” will come together under one evil name and start “pressurizing” the President to please run again. Bill boards, newspaper pages filled with adverts and similar nonsense will be massively employed by these morons to “convince” him not to “abandon Nigeria at this critical stage”, the PDP and some PDP-funded opposition political parties will come together and announce to the glory of God that the President was God sent, they will remind us that he had no shoes as a youngster and trekked to school, women leaders will join the foray and start threatening to place an embargo on an aspect of matrimonial bliss that sprouts behind closed doors if Jonathan did not continue in power, who else to benefit from the new arrangement if not a man clearly blessed? The Niger Delta gangs will start shooting into the air with threats of going back to the creeks to continue doing what they really do well, the Boko Harams will add their dissenting voice, shouts of Allah Akbar will become deafening. The polity will be “heated” thereby making the demand for our President to “run” again more appealing-so that he can “stabilize” the nation, etc.
Please, will the PDP-led federal government concentrate on attempting to run a government that will cater for the hungry citizens of Nigeria? It is absolute nonsense and smacks of insensitivity for Mr President to be so fast in playing this tenure elongation gambit; Nigerians who voted for “Jonathan and not the PDP” must be gnashing their teeth now. I continue to argue that the PDP is a cabal [apologies to Dora Akunyili] who are passionate about remaining in power till thy kingdom, under-developing Nigeria while developing their pockets. I have this feeling that President Jonathan Goodluck is a clear picture of a car crash in slow motion-he is fast displaying all the traits of double-faced dictator. Nigerians might not really care how long an elected person stays in office, but we still feel the pangs of all the hardship the government throws at us. Life is hard in Nigeria and the government is rather too slow in finding a clue to how to better our lot; however the Presidency is too quick in the day to be championing calls for a tenure elongation.
Rome is burning while the Emperor fiddles…?