Good government and bad people
I woke up to the news about the government response to citing the Twitter African hub in Ghana the other day. In order not to misbehave in my response, I went back to bed. As I gazed on the blank ceiling, my mind went to the teenage years when due to disobedience or ‘shakara’ or both, we missed dinner only to have a long night counting rafters or the squares of the ceiling board. The rafters’ counting was more profound to count than the ceiling boards. But quite unfortunate in this instance, there are no rafters to count, but pains and agonies of a statement that is not only insensitive but a complete abdication of responsibility.
So, it took a whole President of Ghana, out of his ‘busy schedule’ to negotiate the deal with Jack, what a super Permanent Secretary will delegate to an assistant Director or a loyal personal assistant (PA) and just sign the dotted lines. After signing the dotted line, but not before the credit alert is confirmed, and a press conference is called for the Minister in charge to display the agreement that no one has read, neither the bold nor small prints, but has been signed. Then follow by long and loud ovations by wailers, how the government has done another thing considered impossible. The same exercise is what a whole President will pick up a phone or connect perhaps on secured Zoom to do. Our African neighbour is demeaning what governance should be.
We were told we Nigerians are bad people by our government! So, the good government produced the bad Nigerians? Abi na good Nigerians dey produce bad government? I am even confused now. Okay, just take anyone and run with it. Just make sure there is a bad and a good and distribute it as you like.
In terms of market sizes and economic strength, Ghana compares fairly well with Lagos state. This is no disrespect to Ghana, and it is far from being exaggerated. Michelin and Dunlop relocated to Ghana years back but still sell their products to the Nigerian market. The Nigerian market, of course, may be responsible for up to 60%, if not more, of their product sales. In the same manner, the 8 million Twitter users overshadowed the over 21 million users in Nigeria for the location of the African hub. Out of the 21 million users, nothing less than 12 million will be from Lagos. Defiling the basic economics factor of nearness to market, Michelin, Dunlop, and now Twitter disregards our bubbling market because we have a bad (or is it good) government that allows Ghana to take away our lunch (apologies to Bamidele). Now we are not even sure of dinner either. We might as well brace for rafters counting expedition because it is going to be a long night if we continue this way.
But Lagos can bail us out? But it will not. If Lagos, just Lagos only will boycott the products of Michelin and Dunlop for only a month, we may get our mojo back. After that, we can deal squarely with Twitter. However, in the spirit of owambe, Lagos is never primed for such ‘luxury.’ It is the same reason that strikes of any kind can only be effective for two days in Lagos. The exception being the #ENDSARS protest last year.
Here is the reason why. As you know, Lagos weekend begins on Thursday, so anything that will jeopardise the preparation for the weekend jollof rice is vehemently resisted. Jollof rice holds the key to the social cohesion of Lagos. Asides from that, two days without the danfos working will subject the drivers, the conductors, and his Excellency Oluomo to rafters counting. They will not allow that to happen. By noon on Wednesday, markets must open for Thursday ingredients purchase, and returns must be rendered to H.E Oluomo. The reason the #ENDSARS organizers who understood Lagos very generously took the jollof rice to the venue of protest, and hence it lasted more than three days to the consternation of our self-proclaimed good government.
With no hope of Lagos leading the boycott, nothing will happen; the ‘bad’ people of Nigeria will continue to produce good governments who in turn will create enabling environment for continuous rafters counting at night. Furthermore, perhaps because uncle Lielai is a proper Lagosian who learned about shifting cultivation in Agric. Science class, but did not experience farming, he may be justified. Remember, in Lagos, ‘ parming is not our fride’ (in the voice of Ex-Governor Yerima of Zamfara state); he thought it might also mean ‘shifting responsibility.’ He, therefore, has successfully shifted the responsibility of Michelin, Dunlop relocating to Ghana, and now Twitter to the bad people who are demarketing their good government.
Yet the more this trend continues, the less the opportunity for survival for our teeming populace and the more our ‘good’ government is strengthened to continue in the oppression of the people by faulty negotiation capabilities. Deluding in the self-importance of size and shaky fundamentals, even if nonexistent, that Nigeria is a ‘beautiful bride’ of Africa that must always attract the first choice of courting. The reality is, unfortunately, quite the opposite. Even economics postulators always add the caveat “all things being equal.” Can anything be equal if bad people are producing a good government?
Maybe, we should reason together. If our government think that things will always be in our favour no matter what, because of our size and appetite for consumption, perhaps they may take a look at not only Michelin, Dunlop, and Twitter, but so many other opportunities we have been losing and may continue to lose to Ghana. But can a good government do wrong to her people?
Are rafters counting a bad ‘somtin’ because of lack of dinners for people who deliberately ‘demarket’ their good government? After all, we cannot be working in Daily Times and be collecting money from Guardian or Vanguard! Na wia we work we go chop.
Bolutife is a chartered accountant and public policy scholar based in Canada. He is the author of “Thoughts of A Village Boy”.
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