Change begins with me as alibi for failure
The promise of change which bore all the accoutrement of seriousness and single-minded devotion is fast turning into a burlesque or awada kerikeri, if its campaigners or exponents may be alerted. The responsibility of changing Nigeria which the APC held out as its forte and its reason for seeking the votes of the people is being farcically shifted to the poor hapless masses. The people’s “poor” attitude to their country is being alleged to be the reason for the parlous state of things in the country. So there is the ostensible requirement of a sacerdotal campaign to help instill in the people the culture of integrity, accountability, devotion to duty, and such other sociable or society-propelling values which even those in authority themselves critically lack. The Government has, without interrogating the pallid history of previous similar exercises, launched the “Change Begins With Me” campaign. This writer has identified elsewhere the critical lack of a profound sense of history among us as a fundamental Nigerian faultline.
This is one such example.
Many futile or failed attempts have been made in the past to “re-orientate” the Nigerian people towards “positive” attitudinal direction. With the benefit of hindsight, we easily recall Buhari’s pugnacious “War Against Indiscipline”, Obasanjo’s ill-fated “Heart of Africa” razzmatazz and Dora Akunyili’s poorly-packaged or ill-branded “Rebranding Nigeria.” The campaigns failed because the fundamental basis for their conception was flawed. A country that abuses its own fundamental rules; for which the virtues of fairness, morality or good conscience are mere catch-call phrases cannot command the respect of her citizens to obey the statutes or preachments which she herself smugly violates. A people that are starving, not because there is lack of abundance but because the rules conducing to sustainable prosperity are skewed against them, may not be expected to “wait for their turn.” The all-pervasive culture of poverty and insufficiency is itself the raison d’etre for the much touted corruption ailment afflicting the country which the latest campaign purports to extirpate or eliminate through the ludicrous medium of a Change Begins With Me campaign.
This government has unwittingly declared itself unwilling or reluctant to remove the root cause[s] of the underlying failure of governance or of the dearth of the ennobling values of integrity, propriety, accountability, etc. All over the country, there is general restiveness regarding livelihood even as there are plaintive or mournful calls for the political restructuring of the country. The main cause of the respective agitations in Nigeria today is the invidious official abandonment of the ethos, values or practice of true federalism. A true and sustained federal structure is as desirable as it is imperative.
The militant agitations in many parts of the country must be understood as natural human responses to a perceived unfair or unjust political or social order even as they are a stark reflection of how remiss successive administrations have been regarding the requirement to resolve the contradictions inherent in the Nigerian pastiche. A truly federal state reserves for its constituent units the prerogative to develop at their own pace. The major indices of a federal state are patently missing in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. Subjects such as derivation, resource control, mining, minerals, oil fields, local government establishment and control, policing, etc. are unfairly listed as exclusive federal matters. The Constitution is a continuing unmitigated embarrassment and an implacable reproach to the objective sub-national or social relations condition of the people of Nigeria in their geo-social and economic circumstances. But the Buhari government has sworn to repudiate the pan-Nigeria recommendations contained in the report of the 2014 National Conference which thrusts are patriotically positioned to relieve the nation’s perennial governance tension.
The responsibility for the care of the sick, the education of the young, the provision of employment, the relief or reduction of poverty, the amelioration of the frightening consequences of old age, etc. undertaken both by private charity and public provision is a veritable tenet of the philosophy of good governance. It is the main reason why people surrender their individual or private predilections. The natural or moral corollary of the abundance created for us Nigeria by nature is that the spread thereof should be wider and the level progressively higher. The state, through its ingenuity and the efforts of those who are in work, the adult who is in good health, etc. must necessarily bear the burden of the welfare of all. The product of our collective industry, superintended by an organised state, should be able to attend to our basic needs. Painfully however, the Nigerian state manifests intolerable indifference to the plight of her people even as the people are consequently provoked to question the legitimacy or appropriateness of those who have been put in authority over them for resolving the crises of the status of their stake-holding in the Nigerian project.
Avuncular Mr. Lai Mohammed, who is given to much sophistry, roadshow and talkativeness, appears to be struggling with himself just to make a mark or carve a niche for himself in his tenure as Minister of Information. He squirms with discomfort most times. He has, on this occasion, chosen a most in-appropriate theme for plodding his Goebbellian agenda. He sounds hoarse and coarse even as he labours under the guilt of numerous unfulfilled promises made to the people by the APC in the full glare of electioneering. The party promised “Change!” but has today invidiously changed the goal post and is now pushing the responsibility of changing Nigeria to the poor people. Put plainly, the party has lost the steam and momentum it generated for galvanising the people to vote massively for it in the 2015 presidential poll. How so soon! In the one year of its government, the APC has manifested poor co-ordination in policy initiation, enunciation and execution all of which have, in turn, produced a prostrate social and economic panoply. The people are no longer impressed with its oft-chorused refrain: “we inherited a bastardised economy from the previous administration.
They elected the APC to fix the economy even as everyone was aware that things were not alright and there was a requirement of change. A replication of the Obama-type elixir which was applied in the wake of the economic meltdown in the U.S. was promised the people.
• Rotimi-John, a lawyer and public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja via email@example.com