By Doyin Odebowale
It is becoming increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to join the bandwagon of social media uncritical, jaundiced and, sometimes, unintelligent critics of the present regime. I shall continue to observe, keenly, before I take a position.
This option appears the most reasonable to me for now. I have had moments of serious disappointment emanating from the seemingly tardy moves of this administration. I have always had my doubts concerning the shady characters who masquerade as progressives and none of them have failed to live up to their notorious reputation. I believe that the presidency does not need two media spokespersons.
I am equally disturbed that Jeun Jeun activists such as Yinka Odumakin as well as others who made considerable fortunes under Jonathan are being emboldened to gloat over the recent happenings in the National Assembly as if any person of average intelligence ever placed any serious hope in Saraki and his gang, nay the whole of the legislature.
I see commercial pastors pontificating on the best way forward after receiving humongous endorsement fees from the immediate past profligate administration. Restitution is not part of their spiritual lexicon. I have read so many posts which are truly reflective of the pervasive ignorance reigning supreme among Nigerians, especially our youths.
I am amused by the omniscient posturing of some internet activists who predicate achievements of an administration mainly on the quality of its appointees and not programmes. I have even been reminded by some irredeemable irredentists from all ethnic divides that the current “lopsided” appointments of this regime confirms their fears and justifies why Jonathan should spend over N7 billion on a talk shop where Yinka and his wife, as well as other “Come-raids”, earned N16 million and above to deliberate on behalf of their betters.
I note that nobody is willing to accept the reality of the dysfunctional status of the polity. Those who pretend to agitate for their own brand of federalism struggle for political relevance. They want the status quo to remain for as long as their ambitions to become senators, governors and representatives at both local and national levels become realizable.
Or better still, they want to be seen as objective analysts whose possession of omnibus understanding on all matters must be respected, even if simplistic. The fact that most of the so called states solely depend on federal allocations and the few viable ones, which, by virtue of their location, are heavily indebted, means nothing to our activists. Some state governors even boast of not owing salaries as if that should be part of their achievements as politicians.
Those who owe throw up their corrupt and incompetent hands in supplication to the rest of us as if we dragged them out of their fathers’ compounds to come and inflict pains on us. Contractors get paid promptly for obvious reasons. Political appointees get estacodes as at when due. Governors budget for their severance allowances and implement same with murderous efficiency as most of them retire into the senate. Some demented ones among them, including our “progressive potentates” spent billions on state Houses and count this profligacy as part of their service to the people.
If we are unable to see the tragic dimension which the current insolvency indicates, how can we begin to imagine the possibility of having a civil service that truly serves the people? In whose interest or on whose behalf is a bureaucracy that is virtually corrupt and incompetent? What has been the impact of the parasitic civil service on the populace that should warrant their gobbling a disproportionate percentage of our commonwealth? Why has it been easy for criminals in politics to steal the country blind if the civil service has been worth all the efforts required for its establishment?
The fatal orchestra has resumed. The symphony created by the organised confusion in the North East leaves no one in doubt that the agents of darkness who operated freely under Jonathan are back. The ease with which the last administration was able to subdue Boko Haram in its last six weeks compels the belief that major functionaries of that defunct regime, many of whom are still in this current administration, know more than what they are prepared to tell Nigerians.
The strategy is to overwhelm the government with a view to distracting it from asking Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Stella Oduah, “princess and distinguished senator”, and even Jonathan himself, to account for the unprecedented pillage which took place under them. A government this distracted cannot curb oil theft.
A lot has been said and written concerning the slow pace of Buhari. Many want to see what he will achieve in 100 days. Not a few are also getting impatient with him for not appointing ministers as if those to be appointed are not Nigerians. Some hypocritical elements whose names have been dropped by the same governors who cannot pay salaries are sponsoring media attacks on Buhari as if governance is all about the appointment of ministers.
The government came out clearly to assert that Jonathan’s kleptocrats and their profligate tendencies remain unrivalled in the annals of Nigerian history of looting. Some funny elements want him to “hit the ground running”, like a confused lizard which fell off an Iroko tree.
Ahmed Joda’s committee recommends that many of the so called ministries should be wiped out. Internet activists want Buhari to appoint ministers all the same. Virtually all states are bankrupt. Most public institutions are in a comatose state. No serious questions are being asked regarding what happened to our oil revenue. Nobody is asking the commercial pastors, who are busy erecting prayer ministries while major industries have disappeared and a few which exist operate on the fringe, to justify the fraud they term miracle on prosperity in ambience patent devoid of production. These spiritual criminals thrive on the current putrescent realities of the polity.
How will Buhari deal with many of these professional politicians? Will the appointment of ministers without a proper stock-taking assist him in combating the menace of corruption and ethnicity? How best or fast can the president move in a field of land mines deviously planted by members of his party and those still smarting from their rejection from the people? If the ruling party does not have any clear cut programme of mass education and re-orientation of the masses, does it not behoove us to set one for the government and insist on it? Do we want the subsidy thieves to continue or we want our refineries to work? Is it necessary for the president to dismantle the corruption behemoth called NNPC or he should keep running to nowhere?
Nigerians must decide whether it is expedient to own the process and dictate the pace of development realistically or slip into delusion of measuring Buhari’s performance in terms of 100 days, the number of female ministers and directors of moribund agencies or the extent to which non-productive jobs are created through fraudulent contraptions like SURE P, OMPADEC, NDDC and other pet projects of the illiterate spouses and paramours of political appointees. We can even continue to applaud them when they purchase grinding pepper machines, hair-dressing equipment and “keke Marwa” to justify the “constituency allowance”, a euphemism for organised crime. We can join the less perspicacious in lulling ourselves into a state of deliberate amnesia, longing for the era of Jonathan.
Until and unless we demand, with certitude, the itinerary of the government, setting the agenda and following every step with realistic expectation, we shall be unwittingly empowering the criminals who are now aggregating in the polity. The consequence is better imagined than experienced.
Dr. Doyin Odebowale is a lecturer with the Department of Classics, University of Ibadan and legal practitioner.
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