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June 12 and mealticket democrats

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MKO Abiola

Buhari it was, who truncated the democratic government of the Second Republic in 1983.

He has since become a democrat and after the fourth attempt, became the President at a time we needed a change to stabilize the economy and stem the tidal wave of corruption that’s sweeping the entire nation into the deep blue sea.

And now, history has afforded him a golden opportunity to stand on the right side of the people by officially recognizing the symbolic significance of June 12, a historic moment that happened ten years after he overthrew Shagari’s Second Republic Government.

We will never know whether Abiola’s “Farewell to Poverty” agenda would have delivered the masses from the strangulating grip of poverty, but his vision and message resonated with the people across ethnic and religious lines.

We cannot forget the democrats of those times.

When I think of the quality of leadership we had in the Second Republic, I wonder what has gone wrong with our democracy.

I remember some of the governors. Bola Ige, Michael Ajasin, Lateef Jakande and Olabisi Onabanjo.

These governors kept faith with Awolowo’s agenda of free education under the Unity Part of Nigeria.

As a secondary school student during that republic, I cherish being a beneficiary of the free education program.

Although, those of us in boarding school had to pay for feeding and accommodation, Day Students paid nothing.

Tuition and books were completely free. And the schools were good. We had good teachers.

I remember that at different times, my Maths teacher was Ghanaian and my Biology teacher was Indian.

In those days, good teachers came from outside the country to seek jobs in Nigeria.

The idea that teachers were being owed salaries was unheard of. As young students we saw our political leaders as intellectually sound people. We could identify their political philosophy and they worked in the interest of the people.

Today, our political space is dominated by meal ticket democrats. These are people who see democracy as their ticket to riches. They belong to the class described by the ancient Greeks as “Idiots”.

They lack the nobility to think beyond their narrow selfish interest. Completely bereft of altruism, they lack the mental capacity to comprehend the meaning of citizenship and patriotism.

These are the sort of people who weekly gather in the so called upper and lower chambers to preside over the lives of more than 180 million hapless Nigerians.

We have governors who are so bereft of ideas and diligence they cannot pay teachers’ salaries. Yet we have senators and legislators who are never owed salaries.

And it is even more absurd that these senators sit on the nation’s budget for six months, padding it for their selfish gains, before finally passing it!

The people who made the provision that Government can spend up to 50% of the proposed budget before it is passed have done incalculable damage to this country.

This is one of the reasons for the scandalous mismanagement of which we ordinary citizens are victims. This obnoxious and retrogressive provision must be expunged by all means.

It is this useless provision that makes it possible for civil servants and political office holders including our overpaid senators and legislators to collect their salaries and allowances while the budget for the year has not been passed.

What kind of nonsense is this? Under normal, sane circumstances, the budget must be passed before any spending for that year (including salaries).

If this was the case, the budget proposal presented in November would have been passed before December!

How can we have proper planning and implementation when the budget for 2018 is passed in May 2018?

And to add pepper to our already gaping wounds, the Senate President took to twitter and asked us to clap for him and his indolent colleagues! If their salaries depend on the passage of the budget, which is how it should be, we won’t have to live with this nonsense.

The predominance of meal ticket democrats in our political sphere is the reason every noble action is often condemned, not for the action itself but for speculated motives.

These sort of people have condemned Buhari’s action on June 12, notwithstanding the fact that the man did the right thing.

They say he is doing it for the wrong reasons.

They are gifted with such immense spiritual powers they have seen into the deepest recesses of Buhari’s mind to read his real motives.

Their selfish mentality prevents them from seeing the big picture and appreciating things of value to the general public.

We live in a nation that has often failed to honour its true heroes. This is why our younger generation have no role models in the political space.

This is extremely tragic. Looking for role models in our political arena is akin to looking for a needle in the Atlantic Ocean.

It is simply a mission impossible.

Because the meal ticket democrats have institutionalized mediocrity and sycophancy.

The same people who would never risk a finger for the sake of democracy are now reaping selfish material benefits from the sacrifices of the true heroes of democracy.

Yet these are the same people who condemn Buhari’s action for all kinds of silly reasons.

Our political space desperately requires thorough fumigation because we must eliminate these pests and parasites, whose only purpose in politics is graft and gluttony.

The national greed has reached asphyxiating levels and through democratic means we must accelerate the process of cleansing.

In just a few months we have another opportunity to move that process forward. Using our power to choose, we must frustrate the class of political leeches.

We need people in politics who are worthy of being immortalized. Our nation needs leaders who are ready to pay the supreme price for democracy and devote their lives to the service of our people. We must stop celebrating brigandage and political hooliganism.

When the Offa robbery suspects mentioned the Senate President as their benefactor, I heard many people say ‘all politicians have thugs’, as if that should be the norm.

Why should we accept criminal abnormality as an integral element of our democracy? The time to stop this madness is now. Let us sanitize the system and put more people in government who deserve to be there.

• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding.

Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.


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