Buhari: I’m coming back home
As a throwback, let me quickly point out that I got the job through the civil service commission on merit, that is, without the influence of any godfather.
Then you didn’t need a godfather to get employed or get anything you qualified for. Everything was by merit because the duo of Buhari and Idiagbon, in power, ensured so.
Things, however, changed with IBB ascending to power. He took the IMF loan after subjecting Nigerians to a debate that actually was a hoax.
Seeing the free fall of the Naira and other economic indexes running counter to decent living, all as fallout of the IMF loan, I advised myself to seek a better life outside the shores of Nigeria, just like several others did at the time.
Subsequent governments ever since then, starting from the IBB government, to Abacha, to OBJ, to Yar’Adua and down to Jonathan, took Nigeria as their private property. They bled the nation dry.
Nothing they did gave us the ‘runaway’ any attraction to return home. The scandalous money squandered to improve NEPA via GE (General Electric) cannot easily escape one’s memory. Till the present moment, the state of the power sector remains dismay.
However, the one credit one can give to IBB is that he has come to realise that the people of Nigeria are not happy with him, especially for his ignoble action of nullifying an election that till date remains the fairest and freest in the history of Nigeria. As a result he has learnt not to be too forward in commenting on Nigeria’s political issues. But not so with OBJ.
I must confess that on each occasion I visit home I’m not only disappointed but disheartened and depressed about the lack of human and material progress in the country. I’ll say, largely out of greed, we have been unable to manage our own affair in a civilised way.
We seem to be inconsiderate towards the next generation of Nigerians. Despite our huge oil revenues, sometimes coming with ‘windfall’, how do we explain the lack of institutions like good schools, hospitals, transportation, and power supply after 19 years of uninterrupted democracy? Nigeria is the only country that I know with cities of five million plus population without a railway system; the only one (I know) with over 80 per cent of its budget going for recurrent expenditure (salaries and emolument) while leaving out the rest pittance for capital expenditure.
Above all, Nigeria boasts of being the largest economy in Africa yet without a middle class! The ‘war’ within is mainly a class ‘war’, pure and simple! So, as a country, we require a meaningful development, but that cannot take place unless we are prepared to reduce our consumption levels.
Our current consumption pattern, like acquiring state-of-the art cars, very expensive electrical gadgets, or building exotic houses patterned after those found in Europe and North America, etc., is telling much on our level of development.
We cannot continue to import all these luxurious consumable items without producing any form of goods and services as export in the international market.
The elephant in the china shop is corruption, and unless we learn to conduct business here without paying bribes, I’m afraid, we can’t make headway or move forward.
Unfortunately, to compound the problem, the judiciary that should be at the vanguard in the war against corruption, has itself been enmeshed in the rot! As a result justice in Nigeria is now for the highest bidder.
Otherwise how do you explain the fact that, despite the obvious looting going on in government circles both at the state and the federal levels all these 16 years of our return to democracy, no single politician has been convicted of corrupt practices? The case of Governor Ibori readily comes to mind here.
While the courts in Nigeria granted Ibori a clean bill of ‘health’, as it were, the court in London for the same offence sentenced the ex-governor to 10-years in prison! That singular case alone tells of the despicable level of justice we have here in the land.
You cannot fight corruption without going after those who have betrayed the public trust (if people like, let them call that witch-hunting. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that).
Corrupt politicians must be asked to explain the source of their wealth and how much tax they have paid in relation to their wealth.
We do not lack wealth in this country as such, but what we lack is equitable wealth distribution. The wealth in Nigeria is concentrated in the hands of only about 5% of the population while the rest 95% live in abject poverty.
For too long the Nigerian electorate have unwittingly surrendered their sovereign right to their representatives in government. More often than not, these so-called reps come into offices through rigged elections. Once they get to their positions they forget those on whose backs they have climbed to stardom.
They cheat the people. They turn the money voted by government to develop their various constituencies into their private pockets. They soon become super rich at the expense of the poor electorate. They ply the streets in exotic jeeps with police escorts primed to wave off poor natives off their reach!
Mr. President, I have known your antecedents; I have studied the manifesto of your party and listened to your speeches. Your coming to power has rekindled my hope that Nigeria is worth returning back to.
The belief of the founding fathers that “Nigeria will be great” has also been rekindled by your coming. I know full well that the road to the promise land will be rough but my faith and my belief in your ability is what is making me to make a return journey to the land I left 25 years ago. Mr. President, I must advise right from this very onset that you should be wary of ‘yes men’.
These are aides that never see anything wrong with any government policy. Their report is always flowering. They do so to keep their job but not knowing that by shielding you from the reality on ground they are doing you more harm than good.
Sir, Nigerians are in a hurry to see what difference you can make to ensure them a better life. You should not be afraid to make any decision that you know is for the common good of the generality of Nigerian people even if that decision would mean stepping on the toes of a few fat cats.
So, sir, bearing in mind that Nigeria is a conglomerate of peoples that do not have to agree always, you go ahead and serve your people in the best of your ability. Maintain your sweet line: “I’m for everybody and I belong to no one.”
What else can I wish you order than the very best.
• Pee Akahome (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote from Chicago, Illinois USA.