Are there only three jobs in Nigeria?
I HAVE always wondered why Nigerian politicians always believe that in their lifetime, they have to, at all cost, ensure they become Governor, Minister or Senator. It does not matter the order in which they attain the positions but they must satisfy themselves, at the expense of the masses! We are talking about 180 million Nigerians, yet a minuscule number of people believe it is their birthright to attain these positions on a rotational basis!
What do the rest of Nigerians do? We all watch and as usual, console ourselves with religious idioms – either praying for their nemesis and/or expiration of their tenure. It beggars belief that this is a country of educated people but most of the so-called Legislators behave like hooligans! Some found to be extremely corrupt hang onto power as if their lives depend on it. Actually, it surely does, because they do not have any clue of what to do next. They amass so much wealth that it is nauseating by any human comprehension, it is surprising that their conscience do not appeal to them that their fellow Nigerians – tens of millions – are suffering. Pensioners are denied their benefits and teachers who spend their lifetime teaching those who have now become ‘goliaths’ in their lives, are living in penury. The list goes on.
A Public Servant can be described as a ‘person employed by the public to perform duties in a devoted and helpful manner. In the constitution of any country, a Public Servant is an elected or appointed public holder of office who serves for a period of time.
I am, therefore, astounded why very few Nigerians believe that the country belongs to them, their lineage and so would not take a bow from the stage after playing their part. It would have been laudable if they do, but no, they have to keep on walking around the corridors of power, begging for favours to be on another round of lucrative legislative positions. Why do Nigerian politicians (majority) believe it is their right to remain in power forever? Why can they not spend their tenure judiciously, serving the public, instead of looting the public purse for their unborn descendants?
Do they not see hungry people on the streets begging? Do they not see children of school age on the streets either playing truancy or hawking to feed their families? How many graduates do we have driving taxis or buses, even commercial motorcycles, (with all due respect to those diligently doing these jobs), instead of utiliszing their skills and knowledge to facilitate the economic growth of the nation? What about university female students turning into prostitution and their male counterparts, gigolos?
The irony is that during the current ministerial screening, one of the legislators was reported to have mentioned the moral decadence amongst university undergraduates. What is the government (State or Federal) doing about eradicating this epidemic that is destroying our youths? Why can’t the government use the brilliance of the so-called ‘yahoo boys’ (internet fraudsters) positively by engaging them in various IT programmes? If they are left to fend for themselves with no other legitimate means of livelihood, they will continue to cause misery to Nigerians both at home and abroad – destroying the image of the country. What about the upsurge of kidnappings, robberies and killings?
It is really high time that some Nigerian politicians faced up to the fact that their ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the masses will continue to impoverish the nation. It is unbelievable to think these politicians fail to realise that a good name is better than the silver and gold in this world. The last time I looked inside the grave, it was the same six feet down under, which is and will always be the same size for everyone else. It is one grave per person, irrespective of the deceased’s status in the society or the number of cars or houses amassed or vast amount of foreign currencies in various bank accounts across the world!
The so-called politicians will be the first to announce that they are ‘Harvard graduates’ from the prestigious American institution. Graduates? Further probing will reveal that they only attended a few weeks course! The name of the course? ‘Executive Leadership Training’ which was, is not and never will be evident in their lives. The reason majority opts for foreign courses, seminars or events is to collect estacode (travel allowance given to public servants) and junket around the world, holidaying – undeserved, might I add.
Can these politicians not emulate their foreign counterparts in terms of responsibility, accountability and transparency in discharging their public duties? Can they not replicate other aspects of good governance? Do they not know the meaning of resigning honourably when their integrity has been questioned? Do they not know what conflict of interest is? Do they not know how to leave a good legacy? Can they not share their knowledge and experiences once they vacate public office, by lecturing at universities?
Many of these public servants do not merit the positions they hold and so cannot embark on public speaking engagements like their foreign counterparts after leaving public office. Why? They spend most of their time looting public funds and strategising on how to attain their next ambitious position.
It is really sad that Nigeria is a wealthy nation in terms of natural and human resources, yet there is a constant recycle of politicians. There have been various reasons given for this trend – one of which is that other people will never put themselves forward. How can you have ‘new kids on the block’ with fresh ideas and competencies when the old dragons (no reference to age) will never leave or vacate the scene?
Unfortunately, people expected to change the face of Nigerian politics for good, join the band of looters once they get to positions of power. Surprising to note that some of them benefited from Western education by attending ivy-league institutions, but their mindsets are distorted. The belief is once they are in powerful positions; it is a one-time opportunity for self-enrichment. Insane climes, politicians resign honourably; they do not send emissaries to plead with ‘godfathers’. So why is Nigeria different?
Nigeria is suffering from the ‘brain drain’ syndrome and will continue to do so to the western world because of the environment. For instance, in the UK, the government promotes the Voluntary Sector, where graduates are encouraged to contribute their time, skills and experiences and paid subsistence. Subsequently increasing their scope of employment. At least, they do not spend their time doing illegal or criminal acts. Children studying for entrance examinations to universities are on various government initiatives, in partnership with private organisations, where they learn employability and social skills. Experiences gained from these programmes count towards their entry grades to the university. Why can the Nigerian government not replicate the same initiatives? Some of the unemployed are encouraged to establish social initiatives similar to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations). However, NGOs mean something else in Nigeria. Majority of them are created to syphon funds!
Some of these politicians also promote the economy of other nations with their stolen wealth. Inasmuch as no reasonable person would acquiesce with this malpractice, it would help if their loot were invested in Nigeria, employing fellow Nigerians in different sectors. Regrettably, this will not happen because there is the fear that the source of their wealth would be scrutinised. The final analysis is for the Buhari government to amend the constitution and put a stop to recycling politicians. Politicians are meant to serve the public, not hold the public to ransom with their antics. The President should be able to choose who he or she wants to work with but there must be a limit on the same people holding the positions of Senators, Governors and Ministers at various times. Political positions must not be perceived as job rotation.
• Anne-Funmi Fatusin is a freelance writer and Convener of Renewing African Mindset (RAM) – a forum for discussing social issues – based in the UK.