FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeWednesday, April 9, 2014
eoeke@aol.com


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NIGERIA, THE ROT JUST GOT WORSE

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t a time many countries are reforming their democracies, learning to do more with less, ensuring more accountability and reducing the cost of government. The Nigerian government, which is spending about 80% of its recurrent expenditure on government, is taking measure to further increase the cost of government, making it more difficult to scrutinise government, and hold politicians accountable for the way and manner they excercise power. The president has remained adamant about his over bloated and oversized cabinet, stating the need for every state to be represented in the cabinet as excuse for operating the largest cabinet in the world. He maintains a presidential fleet, when countries like Italy are salling off government vehicles and the Queen of Britain has given up her royal plane, train and ship. He has refused to declare his assests, and the EFCC remains unable to hold politicians accountable for allegation of corruption and those charged are harrassed, the case bungled in court and are set free to enjoy their proceed of crime. The latest is Demiji Bankole, elstwhile speaker of house of representative. The legislators have paid no attention to the concerns raised about their excessive pay, the deep involvement of its members in corruption and politics of self-interest, and how it threatens the continuing existence of Nigeria as a united country. Yet there are Nigerian who in the name of patrotism and love for one's country believe that Nigeria is heaven, simply because their parents and or themselves have either benefited or currently benefiting from the rot. As Lord Acton said, there is no error no so monstruous that it fails to find defenders among the elblest of men.

The questions Nigerians have failed to ask about the over bloated cabinet of president Jonathan are; what in particular does a state gain by being represented in the cabinet? How can this gain be maintained in a smaller cabinet? What is the reasonable amount legislators should be paid in view of our of economic realities, stage of political evolution and the amount of work they do? The simple and practical solution would have been to organise Nigeria on the basis of any of the following; three or , six regions , or twelve states, Which are really the most economical way of administering the country . In this way each region can be asked to contribute at most one to three ministers given Nigeria a cabinet of no more than 15 ministers. The savings in cost would be huge and can be invested in social, educational and Health services.

The Nigerian national Assembly is considering bills to create more state and an addition level of government; traditional rulersí council. All these are being done without a detailed plan of how they would be paid for and a wider national debate and referendum, and in spite if it not being in the ruling partyís manifesto before the election. It is very obvious that Nigeria is run on the whims and the current crop of politicians are either wilfully unscrupulous or ignorant of the way and manner true democracies work and countries are run. If not, how can one explain many things this government has done, which border on idiocy or lunacy and the constant attempt by the national assembly to take over the work of the police through its investigation of members accused of corruption and obstruction of police investigation of legislators. Nigeriaís democracy appears to be a democracy that has mutated into a kind of autocracy or tyranny of a few. If not, how can one explain the abuse of power my governors who order arrest and harassment of opponents, the disregard of due processes and constant attempt by politicians and police to intimidate and prevail by force.

I do not enjoy criticising the government. However, this government has been characterised by spectacular naivety, arbitrariness, corruption, incompetence and lack of vision. It is as if the president thinks it is the turn of his people to loot the country and must placate the north to do so. A look at the number and composition of the presidentís entourage on foreign trips and the type of regular visitors to Aso rock will give a glimpse of the thinking and direction of the administration.

Our leaders need to realise that the use of power to enrich one's relatives or give them undeserved and undue advantage is misuse of power. Power, when used to amass wealth in a corrupt and dishonest manner is wasted. It is misuse of one of the opportunities to do good. When we understand the true meaning and essence of power, we will see the evil of the ways and manners it is abused, misused and misapplied in Nigeria.

When a president or governor uses power to alter the economic equation in favour of a people for the reason that they share the same ancestral origin, he undermines the unity and cohesiveness of the country he is elected to unit. He acts in a dishonourable and unfair manner. His action undermines his integrity and he loses respect of those who have been treated unfairly. With the loss of respect, comes contempt and loss of civility. This is the way corruption damages the society.

I weep and fear for my dear country. The mind bugging question is why do politicians in charge of affairs in Nigeria think that they can make irrational, irresponsible and woeful political and economic decisions without consequences? Why do they think that their jumbo salaries and corruption will not have long term social, economic and political consequences for the country, their families, friends and relatives? And why does the president think that his indecisiveness and inability to pursue the war against corruption with conviction and honesty and passion will not cost Nigeria dear?

Why do Nigerian leaders believe that they can take fire into their bosom and not get burnt? Why should our president, senators. Governors and Judges delude themselves that their corrupt, selfish and unjust actions will not have long term repercussions for the viability of the country. How can they believe that continuing polices that take away money from the country can ever lead to development? How can they believe that Nigeria can develop in spite of their corruption, simply because they have hidden it from the people? These man travel to England, America and Dubai and see what the leaders of these countries have done for their people and return to Nigeria to continue business as usual without any awareness and sense of responsibility to do the same for Nigeria.

My writing is perhaps my way of coping with the trauma and shock of the realisation of the dreadful future which Nigeria faces as a result of the wrong, ignorant and criminal way the politician have governed, and continue to administer its affairs. It is my attempt to deal with the realisation that I may never see the Nigeria I dreamed of as a boy. Why should a few corrupt and criminal minded people steal and destroy the future and dreams of a country and generations unborn?

Very little makes sense, when one subjects some of the utterances, decisions, behaviours and conduct of the government of Nigeria to the same indices on which similar decisions are made in developed countries. Why would a government protect those who are acting against the economic and political interest of the country, if it is not benefiting from it in some selfish and personal way and manner? Why should the government of Goodluck Jonathan be silent on oil pollution in Niger Delta area, the murderous rampage of Fulani herdsmen in the muddle belt, restricted access to education for the poor, lack of access to good quality health care, and the widening inequality in the country, if he is working in the best interest of the nation? The world saw how president Obama acted when there was oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. How come no Nigerian leader has acted in such manner to compel Shell or any of the other oil companies operating in Nigeria to clean up the oil pollution in Niger Delta region? Why are no organisations asking the president to explain his involvement with Dan Etete in view of the allegation that he the president is involved in the corruption of diverting proceeds of oil revenue for private use?

Why are Nigerian leaders continuing to protect those involved in oil bunkering and refuse to advance Good governance in Nigeria? Why is it impossible to trace those behind oil bunkering even when the oil tanker and crew have been arrested? Why is it easier for a camel to pass through the eye if a needle in Nigeria, than for a politician in good terms with the president to be brought to justice for corruption? These unanswered questions are evidence of the complicity of people in government in organised crimes and corruption in Nigeria. We have to answer these questions and then take concerted effort to stop the type of people who currently hold power in Nigeria from doing so. Our country needs change of the type of people who take control of its affairs. A country is as good, moral, enlightened and just, as those who hold power in it.

At a time fundamentalist Islam is being used to achieve ethnic political objectives in Nigeria and hundreds of Nigerians are killed in the north, the government cannot afford to be involved in any activities that could erode the confidence of the people in its ability to govern. At a time innocent Nigerians are being killed daily by Fulani Herdsmen, armed Robbers and kidnappers, the government should be seen to be doing all in its power to arrest the situation and reassuring and compensating the victims and their families. Instead, the government has not demonstrated that it understands what the people expect from it. When I listen to western leaders, they constantly talk about, equality, social justice, education, providing health care to all, caring for people in old age, looking after the vulnerable members of the society, making life better for the people, creating jobs and making their country a place people would like to visit, do business and live happily with their fundamental human rights protected. However, one seldom hears Nigeria leader s talk about any of these things with conviction vigour and honesty.

I suppose it is time for the government of the federal Republic of Nigeria to consider some radical solutions to the many ills of the country like:

  1. Arming its responsible citizens to defend its security, democracy and unity. Nigerians can no longer remain unarmed in a war in which their unseen enemies are armed and can pick and choose their targets and strike at will. Responsible people in the villages which are being constantly attacked by Fulani herdsmen should be armed with assault rifles and provided with ammunitions to protect their lives and properties. The government should consider arming every professional with a job in Nigeria, by issuing them should with licence to bear arms.

  2. Every graduate should now do two years military service instead of NYSC. This is the one way Nigeria can prevent terrorists and criminals from destroying the country. This will not worsen the situation. The bad people are already armed and arming good men and women can only bring peace. When the war is over, the weapons should be collected. If the government fails to arm the victims of this heinous crime and good Nigerians, they will arm themselves and the government would not be able to control what they do with it.

  3. The government should also radically alter its military tactics. The continued use of conventional military tactics in an unconventional war is not smart. Unconventional wars require unconventional tactics. A man who is fighting an unseen enemy must make himself invisible.

  4. The security forces should adopt invisible policing. This will involve the abolition of manned police check points and replacing them with remote controlled check points which would require the occupants of Vehicles to dismount and the contents of any suspected vehicle examined from a safe distance with the help of cameras. In this way, the terrorists would be denied their sitting targets and would not know where the police pursuing them are.

  5. Police should stop wearing uniform, but carry identity badges which they would be obliged to show any member of the public they are involved with. At the same time, it should be made easier for members of the public to compliant about police corruption and brutality in order to bring he offending police officers to justice.

  6. Our armed forces and members of the police force should reorganise to operate in small, well-armed groups of about ten to twenty members, which can travel in two or more different Vehicles at any point in time, in addition to their current practice. This will enable them to have enough fire power to overcome any ambush and bring element of surprise to their operations.

  7. The government should educate the people on how to live with an insurgent group in the various ways they can help the security forces to succeed.

All these measures will sow paranoia in the mind of the terrorists and criminals, forcing them to panic and make mistake. Time is fast running out for Nigeria. Many reasonable people have given up on Nigeria and are now seeking ways to actualise their different ethnic nations. The longer the government delays to do the right thing, the more likely it becomes that Nigeria will not recover from the wound, Boko Haram, years of social underinvestment , corruption and using federal power to pursue sectarian interests have inflicted on her. I hope that Nigerians will take ownership of these problems, contribute to their solutions and use their votes in 2015 to elect honest, sincere and patriotic good men to take charge of her affairs. This is our only hope of avoiding either disintegration or violent bloody revolution.

Long live Nigeria.

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