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OPINION: ‘They don’t really care about us’

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OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

THE government can, and should be, a force for good. But it has not always been. Whenever it is, the people rejoice and there is societal harmony. Governance is not a walk in the park or a piece of cake. But it is also not a rocket science, the unimaginable, the impossible. Good governance has happened in the past in parts of the world and it is still happening today. But if the truth be told it would appear that bad governance has been the dominant issue especially in the so-called third world countries such as Nigeria. Nothing highlights the dominance of bad governance more than the deepening trust deficits between those in government positions and the regular folks. It’s no longer uncommon to read and hear about calls in some countries, especially the developed ones, for less government. The calls are usually borne out of frustrations with the apparent and obvious failings of governments to properly and diligently minister to the basic needs of citizens. Those who insist on the imperatives for less government may be unaware of the final destination of such demands and the possible consequences of getting our wishes.

Some things don’t happen just on their own. At times there are unseen human forces pushing certain agenda for their own self fish ends. Those who coral us into chorusing less government could actually be heading towards the goal of no government at all and then the reign of anarchy. It could be far-fetched and possibly scare-mongering but for whatever it is worth, let us soak in this imaginary progression of the outcome of the desires of advocates of less government. Their advocacy starts with less government because the government is not delivering; it is not a force for good for the majority of the people; rulers are wasteful and out of touch with the reality; they are corrupt; and, that the government through its actions and inactions is stifling the creativity of the ordinary folk. When the proponents achieve this stage and the people feel good about the outcome, then the progression could be the claims that government is actually the enemy of the people. From there agitations for the scrapping of government completely will gather steam. At that stage it will be difficult to have a choice between an inefficient and corrupt government and living in a Hobbesian state where life is short, brutal and nasty. Unfortunately, and because of successive regimes of bad rulers, the scenario we have painted above appears to be where Nigeria is headed . Everything that can go wrong in Nigeria’s leadership recruitment processes and governance models appear to be going wrong. The headline of our intervention today was borrowed from a music icon who operated in a different environment at a different time. He was bemoaning a failing society which showed incapacity or indifference or unwillingness to protect the weak and the vulnerable in that society.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Lessons from the Supreme Court

That icon was Micheal Jackson who in one of his songs said ‘They [rulers] don’t care about us’. How prescient. He might as well have been singing about the Nigeria of today. The delivery of the lyrics of ‘They don’t [really] care about us’ was racy. He sang like a man who suspected that he was racing against time and that if he did not quickly let it out he would be choked and his voice muffled and even silenced for life. And that was exactly what happened because the man died not long after that desperate song/cry for help. Part of the lyrics of that epic song goes like this: ‘All I want to say is that they don’t really care about us. Don’t worry what people say, we know the truth…Enough is enough of this garbage… Beat me, hate me. You can never break me. Will me, thrill me. You can never kill me. Jew me, sue me. Everybody, do me, Kick me, kike me. Don’t you black or white me. All l wanna say is that they don’t really care about us… Tell me what has become of my rights. Am l invisible ‘cause you ignore me? Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame. They are throwing me in a class with bad name. I can’t believe this is the land from which I came. You know I really do hate to say it… Skinhead, deadhead. Everybody, gone bad. Situation, speculation. Everybody, litigation. Beat me, bash me. You can never trash me. Hit me, kick me. You can never get me… All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us’. The summary in fact is that the song was about the ‘pain of prejudice and hate and [was] a way to draw attention to social and political problems’. Jackson was singing that he was ‘the voice of the accused and the attacked’. The voice of everyone. He was the skinhead. He was the Jew. He was the black man. He was the white man. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, aged 50. Our own gadfly, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a lot more angrier, acerbic and trenchant in calling out bad rulers in Nigeria and Africa. But in spite of decades of naming and shaming of Nigeria’s rulers, they get worse by the day. They are irredeemable. Many Nigerians thought they had seen the worst in terms of misrule, insensitivity, nepotism, brazen pillaging of the public till, bungling of the economy and the exhibition of lavish lifestyle by the rulers led by the former President, Maj.- Gen.[rtd] Muhammadu Buhari [the affliction], but they were wrong. Dead wrong. There is no doubt that one tenth of the perfidy committed by Buhari and his gang is yet to be made public. And may never be revealed because he was succeeded by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his party man and enabler.

In fairness, Buhari’s thieving team was not that brazen and daring. They deployed the subterfuge of budget-padding to loot the treasury. Under Tinubu, it’s a different ballgame. No pretenses. Put the money to be stolen into the budget and its subheads and dare Nigerians to challenge you? Get the President to spend over 500,000 USD under one week in a New York hotel and ignore the uproar. Take about 500 persons at government’s expense to a climate summit-COP28- in Dubai and rationalize it. Vote billions of Naira for sport utility vehicles [SUVs] for the Presidency, the national assembly members and the illegal office of the first lady and dare Nigerians to complain. In fact the national assembly insisted on buying imported SUVs instead of buying from local manufacturers because, wait for it, Nigerian roads are dead traps. We should make no mistake about it. The profligacy-read looting- at the sub national levels rivals and perhaps surpasses the buccaneering in Abuja. Some states vote and expend billions in months for the governors and their praise singers to gorge themselves with foods and drinks and to indulge in sundry revelries in government houses. They also vote billions to purchase rechargeable lamps, fans, fragrances, among others, publish same and dare us to do our worst. The monies we are squandering as if money is going out of fashion are mostly borrowed from domestic and international lenders. Our debt stock is pushing N80 trillion as at the last count. In 63 years Nigeria has ‘spent’ an estimated $30 billion and yet has been unable to ensure and assure a steady and reliable public power supply, something that far less endowed countries in terms of human and natural resources have since taken for granted.

Indications of treating governance with levity stare us in the face everyday since the advent of the All Progressives Congress [APC] in 2015. And it is getting worse. Senate President Godwin Akpabio is still in a birthday celebratory mode. The man who sends ‘prayer points’- read bribe- to the inboxes of his fellow senators was reported to be at the receiving end this time from his colleagues so he could throw a befitting party to mark his 61st birth anniversary. Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Minister, Nysom Wike, a lawyer, projects ministering to Nigerians as a circus show- the weirder the better. There have been two viral videos from, and about him, in as many weeks. In the first, he was seen supposedly at home in company of other political hacks posing as a celebratory chef and stirring a pot of well appointed soup. He made no pretenses of mocking starving Nigerians. Then another video of him surfaced supposedly in the office of the chief of staff to the president singing and dancing to Tinubu’s ‘on your mandate’ song. Wike is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. It’s possible, however, that reality is dawning on some of our rulers.

Last weekend, the Vice President Kashim Shettima spoke about the frustrations of Nigerians with their rulers, and their growing cynicism for this regime. And the danger that something could snap. But can the same man who said in another breath that we should forget the tragedy of the drone killings in Kaduna and move on be trusted? The lack of empathy is rankling. Where are the bright spots in Nigeria’s journey to … wherever.

AUTHOR: UGO ONUOHA


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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