Impunity and complacency in Nigeria
By Donald Ikenna Ofoegbu
How functional is faith in the absence of work? Of what use is the struggle for peace and love in the absence of truth and justice? How possible can security and happiness be guaranteed in the mist of wide inequality and the absence of rule of law? What is the use of democracy, if the rights of citizens are trampled upon with such insolences by security operative?
Why do leaders bother to pledge an oat crowned with a religious ‘So Help Me God’, if intensions are neither to serve Our Father’s Land with Love, Strength and Faith, nor ensure a Nation Bound in Freedom? Why border sign an FOI bill, if the freedom of expression and association, cannot be guaranteed to facilitate the flow of information; that is, if the FOI request are honoured at the first instance; when records are neither kept, nor realised; if not frustrated by a broken judicial system upon request?
Of what use is a clamorous declaration of economic growth and rising GDP, when the plates of the average Nigerian is running out of meal? What is the essence of celebrating a single digit inflation rate, when ‘high price’ crowd the Nigerian market as lower denominations of N5, N10, N20, N100 and even N200 notes are running out of circulation. N500 and N1000 notes are losing their money feature of general acceptability, as the common taxi and market greeting has become – ‘u get change’?, and our popular response is now ‘i no get change o’; shrinking trade and commerce; as trust and goodwill are limited by the boundary of neighbourliness? Where is the sense in forcing the gains of cashless society in a nation where banks enjoy
‘No/Poor Network Service’, ATMs are more than often temporary out of service or not dispensing, while the telecommunication service is yet to attain sustainable and reliable service delivery to facilitate mobile banking? Why the noise of the government creating over 200,000 employments for the youths with neither offices, processing plants nor factories to show? Every toothpick in the county is made in China; where is the sustainability, where is the truth as unemployed youths roam the streets of Abuja and Lagos in search of jobs?
Where is the pride of having the richest man in Africa, and possibly the poorest man in the same country? Where is the justice of purchasing two bulletproof BMW cars at a combined sum of N255m ($1.6m) for sacred individuals, while thousands of Nigerians on a daily basis waste hours, cloths and energy struggling at urban bus stops fighting to board the few buses, only to stand-hands up for miles to get to their sub-urban home; as they cannot afford decent houses in the metropolis or rely on the housing schemes that too few an average class and elite Jones, can hardly afford?
Not only do these add to the frustration of our already dipping poverty experience, it rages the hate, and anxiety in the over 80 percent poor Nigerians towards the thin nonchalant average class and the elite; soon, if not already now would the ‘Have’, be the meal of the ‘Have Not’. Little wonder why most elites and middle class find it hard to return to their deserted rural villages’ void of social amenities and basic necessities- a voluntary exile to foreign land becomes the popular choice after the loot and negligence.
The ruts of politics have infested all our institutions, morality and human dignity that we no longer hear the sound of our heart beat- where lies our humanity and obligation of being our brother’s keeper? Have our leaders sold their conscience to the devil, that they fail to see the smiles disappearing from the faces of the Nigerian citizens, or have their tinted convoys become so dark they just can see through? Do we all not sense the fear, caution and tension around our streets or have we become so cold and self centred that all we care about is ourselves?
The educated middle class; with a cars, an average apartment, managing to afford three square meal; seem most unconcern to see the danger; even when he is most vulnerable to the spill-over and rage of the ‘Have-not’? Those that seem to know; the so-called enlightened and educated are not educated enough to care as they close heart and ears to surrounding issues. What’s the importance of education if you lack the ability to shine the light of knowledge to those that lack it?
Now we a talking of privatising our refineries when we are yet to see the gains of the just-concludedprivatisation of the PHCN. Does this imply that the government does not have the capacity to manage anything effectively or are they just trying to share the Nigerian economy to a few? Does this privatization wave imply that the Nigerian ministries and agencies are full of nut heads, who does nothing all day than play computer games, and enjoy the satellite TV under the comfort of Cool Air conditioner as they await salaries and allowances they neither deserve nor are capable of working for? Does this imply that the annual millions and billions appropriated for training of our public officers are a waste? If so much inefficiency crawl our government ministries and agencies, maybe we should privatise our entire government, including us- citizens.
Mr President the baton has been passed to you by some to decide the faith of your appointed officers on the count of mismanagement. You have openly said we all encourage corruption; prove to the world we can be better, prove to us that we can break the chains of corruption, impunity and hypocrisy. Prove to us all that good would always triumph over evil. We dare you to break the shackles of political godfatherism, political party syndrome and ethnicity. We Nigerians voted you because we believe in you; make us believe again!
They are two kinds of people in this world; the talkers and the doers; most people are just talkers, all they do is just talk, but when all is said and done, it’s the doers who change this world; and when they do that, they change us. And that’s why we never forget them. So which one are you – Nigerians?
Ofoegbu is Program Officer (Public Finance Management) For the Centre for Social Justice, Abuja. 08030840041