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Nigeria and hegemony of saboteurs      

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(Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

It remains to be seen how Nigeria will ever or if it will ever wriggle out of its present quagmire where almost all government’s professional bodies are up in arms against their employer owing to its inability to address some of their nagging demands. The federal government is confronted by a debilitating predicament occasioned by paucity of funds for developmental purposes necessitating the continuous borrowings to fund national budgets. Yet, the monstrous social-economic malaise plaguing the nation has led to a situation where various and varying agitations dominate the entire landscape each with a resolve to take a pound’s flesh.

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Again, while the cries of the masses in respect of escalating cost of food items have remained dominant, the spate of insecurity across the land has also assumed a completely alarming and extremely frightening dimension as each new day hatches new confounding and dastardly horrors leaving several sudden casualties in its trail. In the midst of all of these, a reality no one can run away from is that the entire nation is dominated by saboteurs of various and varying degrees. The reason for this is not farfetched. From the top echelon of leadership to the lowest rung occupied by the downtrodden market women, the same noticeable character of sabotage is constant because while most of those occupying top positions in the society work more for their individual pockets and other citizens are left in the lurch, those at the lower level realizing what is happening also respond with zero commitment to any cause and with endemic acts of sabotage as a form of protest.

Environmental laws are for instance shunned with impunity as every available space, even the drainage, are turned to a refuse dump and each heavy downpour throws the entire nation into pandemonium of flooding. Part of the reason for inadequate funds for developmental projects in Nigeria is the controversial issue of subsidy. With claims of staggering billions of naira going in such direction, the federal government has continually faced a dilemma of how to handle the issue in such a manner that would not set the entire country ablaze. Even without subsidy removal, almost everyone is groaning in pains, how much more if subsidy is removed? Yet many leaders of thought have continually explained that the subsidy regime apart from  being unsustainable will also only continue to cripple and paralyze every government.

The federal governments is thus confronted by a  brickwall at which taking a precise decision is utterly difficult Yet, almost all professional bodies working for the government and watching the profligacy of political office holders have always searched for ways to have their own peace of the action through industrial actions. As a matter of fact, the extravagance of political office holders, a great contradiction of claims of paucity of funds, does more damage to the Nigerian psyche than anyone can ever imagine. Everyone watches various display of ill-gotten wealth at various social functions, and then decides to follow suit by sitting on whatever funds was earmarked for any project.

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Where ever anyone turns, acts of sabotage has therefore become an established and cherished culture. The pilfering perpetrated by civil servants most of which go unnoticed due to decades of absence of inventory taking has rendered most government offices without any working tools. In the same vein, most of equipment procured by schools under the Eko project, an arrangement facilitated by foreign loans, are now nowhere to be found in the schools. Moreover, some private companies in the past came to the aid of many schools under the social responsibility channels and equipped them with whatever they felt would promote the teaching and learning processes. However, rather than put the items donated to good use, most were either stolen or placed under lock and key.

Whenever medical doctors embark on strike, most citizens sympathize with them and continually accuse the government of insensitivity.

But if the same citizens are asked to comment on the services rendered by medical professionals in government hospitals, it is doubtful if anyone can ever give them a pass mark. A visit to any government hospital usually exposes doctors’ lackadaisical attitudes toward the patients. Unless one is strongly connected, getting the attention of medical personnel in government hospitals will only end up as a wild goose chase. Some years back, there was free medical services for the citizens. But the drugs bought by the government to be given freely to patients were stolen thereby forcing the government to stop such policy and instead open pharmacy stores in all its hospitals where drugs are sold. In spite of the skeletal services rendered by medical professionals who pay more attention to their private practices at the expense of their official commitment, they are ever insatiable in their demands for higher remuneration from the government.

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The same sad tale is applicable to the nation’s tertiary institutions. The corruption and racketeering perpetrated in most universities are unimaginable. The Nigerian public universities today have become the sole prerogative of the highest bidders in the society. While brilliant children of the poor are shoved aside, the affluent choose wherever they want their kids to attend. When ASUU keeps insisting on stabilization fund for the tertiary institutions, it is always silent about how most of the grants given to it by the federal government for research purposes are either mismanaged or outrightly embezzled while the facilities in the various campuses deteriorate without any form of attention.

Nigeria’s markets today are flooded with fake products mostly from China all because of the unproductive nature of the tertiary institutions which the nation relies on in order to achieve industrial breakthrough that can lead to the manufacturing of most of the products now being imported. Yet in spite of all the shortfall in performance traceable to the higher institutions, regular strikes for increased emoluments are what the nation is inundated with every time. How on earth will a nation dominated by saboteurs record any progress?

Oyewusi, the coordinator of Ethics Watch International wrote from Lagos.

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