Leaders must be committed
Nigerian leaders are not committed per se, but they are disparate elements who are out to loot the treasuries. If they are described as wolves in sheep’s skins, the description is not a misnomer; it is a befitting epithet. Since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015, Nigerians have witnessed catalogues of unprecedented revelations of corruption. The ugly situation is not confined to official government circle alone; but it permeates through all the strata of our society. The age of corrupt individuals does not matter.Corrupt practices are not peculiar to certain age brackets-young and old generations indulge in these malpractices. Therefore, there is no need to precisely delineate. However, it is predominant among politicians.Besides, our politicians are bereft of all social welfare programmes.
A welfare state is a system by which the government provides a range of free services to citizens who need them. For example, medical care, money for people without job or care for the old people. Nigeria is yet to be a welfare state. State must be committed to ensuring, for all citizens, at least some minimum standard of living, including housing, education, and medical services. Welfare state is equitable and also efficient. The absence of these provisions leads to crime, poor public health, and the failure to become employable. Welfarism is the enjoyment of the necessary resources of a worth-while life. The welfare state is the attempt to organise a society so that at least, the minimum income and public services necessary for this are available to all of country’s inhabitants. Our leaders must be committed.
It is true that the tallest tree in the forest is most troubled by the storm. This, notwithstanding, to consistently single out the President for castigation, is a tacit exoneration of the corrupt governors, and the connivance at All Progressives Congress’s ill-preparedness for governance. They did not do their home work, like the old Action Group and the Unity Party of Nigeria. Our politicians must learn from the politics of the past to enhance national development. In the old Western Nigeria, the then ruling Action Group blazed the trail and showed the light in welfarism. At electioneering campaign rallies, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola consistently informed Nigerian’s: “Those farmers who walk or ride bicycles on tarred roads to their farms will not fail to vote for the Action Group at elections. Ditto to the parents whose children can write or read letter’s, because of free education.” With generations of politicians in the country, political leaders are expected to follow suit. But this is not so. Later, the Unity Party of Nigeria attempted to establish welfarism that prevailed in Western Nigeria through its four cardinal programmes, free health services; free and qualitative education; low cost housing programme and rural integration.
How did the party achieve these? It entailed months of nocturnal and diurnal meetings, particularly to brainstorm on the sources of financial wherewithal to fund the programmes. An example of the home work was when, in 1979, the elected Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef ‘Kayode Jakande, instructed parents of students to withhold payments of school-fees, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd) was the incumbent governor, then, and ordered the prospective civilian UPN governor to tarry a while until his assumption of office for the implementation of the party’s policy. It portrayed the party’s policy. The civilian Governor’s anxiety indicated the party’s readiness, unlike any party’s un-preparedness for services. This is saying that preparation is half of any battle, characteristic of the former Action Group and its subsequent off-shoots. The present generations of politicians are unprepared for governance, because of their greed and intellectual indolence.
The hot pursuit of filthy lucre is their objective. The erstwhile British Prime Minister, Lady Margret Thatcher, was in the habit of saying: “We are not in politics to ignore people’s worries. We are in politics to deal with them”. Poverty is the greatest enemy of democracy. The reason is that when people are poor, they can be manipulated. When people are hungry, they can be easily diverted; a small amount of money can buy the conscience of hungry people. Playing politics with the welfare of the masses lowers productivity. Our politicians often make promises, like pie-crusts, are made and broken. Empty promises dampen enthusiasm, emasculate patriotism and lower productivity. If we truly desire enduring democracy in this country, our politicians must opt for qualitative governance to generate tremendous growth in the national economy. Unfortunately, our leaders are playing with the welfare of the masses.
The policy of monetizing the policy is horrific and terrifying. Because of the huge finance of participating in politics, most patriots detest it. This writer completely agrees with Chief Olu. Falae as he some years ago reasoned: “I am not intimated, but what is going on is that tons and tons of millions of naira are used to buy elections. If I am going to spend N250 million to win an election, how much am I going to earn as a governor in four years? It is clear that I am going there to steal.”
In this country, politics is an open sesame to wealth. A platonic friend asked me why I did not take to politics. I replied that I was interested only in being an observer. She probed me further with the questions: “Are you not interested in the affluence and influence in which politics is cocooned?” Again, I curtly answered: “This is the glamour of politics. It is ephemeral. There are other avenues to wealth, besides politics.” Corruption cannot be divested from Nigerian politics. It is the hyphen and buckle that connects influence with affluence. Politics is analogue to corruption. Corruption is a key element in economic under-performance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development. It is one of the greatest obstacle to development, undermining a government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discourage foreign investments.
This is where President Muhammadu Buhari comes in. I am inclined to reason that the anti-corruption crusade is his personal determination and not of the APC. His efforts to reduce or extirpate corruption are commendable. I doff my hat for him. His administration appears committed to confront headlong the social malady. The judiciary is not spared. It is unfortunate that Nigerians do not appreciate his efforts. Without him, the huge sums of money and other fortunes stashed abroad might be impossible to account for, only made productive to those foreign countries. Most of our state governors who fail to pay their workers for several months are glorified, whilst Buhari is pilloried, despite his releases of two tranches from the Paris Club. Those privileged Nigerians who take the advantages of the Church pulpits and the minarets of their Mosques to castigate well-meaning President Buhari, are complete ignoramus. Why must a well-meaning President be made to carry the can for the misdeeds of state governors? The consolation of many clear-headed and right-thinking Nigerians is that he shall be richly compensated with the much-desired second term opportunities to accomplish unfinished parts of the national assignments. So, help him God. Insha Allahu.
Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.
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