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The blame game and buck-passing

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
11 November 2020   |   3:04 am
It is hard to imagine how government shifted from being a continuum and a collective responsibility of every organ of the ruling government to work as a team to achieve maximum success in delivering dividends of democracy to the people. But nothing can excuse the shameful scenes where political office holders pass blame always with…


It is hard to imagine how government shifted from being a continuum and a collective responsibility of every organ of the ruling government to work as a team to achieve maximum success in delivering dividends of democracy to the people. But nothing can excuse the shameful scenes where political office holders pass blame always with the presupposition of self that is an exemption.

The growing habit of individual, institution, or ministry to self-extrication by the method of shifting blame from the concrete particular to the intangible general could best be described as disgraceful.

Of late, it has become an ingenious political style of allowing core responsibility that affects the lives of the people to evaporate into thin air after the blame game without anybody being held responsible. Indeed, nothing is more frustrating than having mediocres as leaders who lack the capacity to apply solutions to simple problems. Perhaps that is why some school of thought argues that God so blessed Nigeria with an abundance of mineral resources but cursed the nation to have poor leadership. Hence, the majority if not all our rulers operate beyond the confines of mediocrity. It has become a tradition that political leaders in Nigeria prefer to dump the refuse of their failure at the doorsteps of perceived enemies and in most cases the opposition parties.

Judging by the excellent performance of the minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola while he was the governor, Lagos state, many Nigerians thought that by now roads in the country would be as smooth as an egg. Just as most Nigerians could not believe their eyes that our roads have moved from bad to worse under his watch. However, given the scale of challenges facing Nigeria over road infrastructure and Fashola’s unique position in being saddled with fixing it, He is obviously overwhelmed. Fashola’s capacity to do a good job is not in doubt, but it seems from his recent confession that, some forces among his friends in the good old days as governor might be working to bring him down. Yes, those in high places and hallowed Chambers are to blame for the deplorable state of the roads in the country.

In a time that facts and falsehoods are proving increasingly difficult to separate, the Senate, however, tried to fault remarks credited to the minister of works and housing, Fashola, wherein he was reported to have blamed the National Assembly for the deplorable state of federal roads in the country during a courtesy visit by leaders of thought from Benue south, led by Air Vice Marshal Morgan in Abuja. After over five years in office, President Muhammadu Buhari government that promised a whirlwind of transformation and development in the country if it clinches power is consumed in a blame game since its inauguration. The ruling government ironically has been the greatest challenge facing Nigerians and Nigeria as a nation in terms of poor governance. Road infrastructure is very crucial to effective and productive socio-economic activities in the country. The state of federal or roads generally in the country is disgraceful. Aside from the Boko Haram insurgents’ activities in recent times, there have been no greater killing fields than the roads as many citizens have lost their lives due to the dilapidated conditions of the roads. Also, in no small measure have the nation’s economic and productive business activities been significantly frustrated as a result of bad roads. A case in point is the Lagos Apapa-Wharf road that has caused, still causing the nation’s economy immeasurable loss is a critical economic and national security asset. But who cares?

The Red Chamber through its spokesman, chairman, Senate Committee on media, and public affairs, Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru emphatically exonerated the Senate of blame by saying the National Assembly cannot be held responsible for the deplorable state of roads in Benue state or anywhere in the country. He literally turned Nigerians into judges in presenting the Senate side of the crux before the people. He revealed that the 2020 capital expenditure proposed by the executive is N265 billion, later revised to N256 billion, and was passed by the Senate. While the 2021 Appropriation Bill being considered currently by the Senate is N363 billion, therefore, the ball is back in Fashola’s court to explain how he got his figure of N600 billion that was allegedly not approved by the National Assembly. Indeed, this game of passing blame or washing one’s hands like Pontius Pilate before the people is quite frustrating to Nigerians who suffer daily on these roads. Of course, some questions will need to be answered in this concept of responsibility.

Why choose to split the hair in public over obvious realities?
Nigeria owes its existence to the spirit and letters of the Constitution. However, the Constitution has been consistently blamed as one of the problems facing the nation. The other day, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, through a statement issued by his special adviser on media and publicity Lanre Lasisi at the Young Parliamentarians Forum’s National Strategy Meeting and Retreat in Abuja, argued that it has become necessary to review the extant definition of federal character in the Nigerian Constitution. This is because the federal character as presently defined in the Constitution is at variance with the country’s realities. However, it should be noted that the phrase federal character was first used by the late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed in his address to the opening session of the Constitutional Drafting Committee on Saturday, October 18, 1975. Federal Character of Nigeria according to the CDC’s report of 1977, refers to the distinctive desire of the peoples of Nigeria to promote national unity, foster national loyalty, and give every citizen of Nigeria a sense of belonging to the nation notwithstanding the diversities of ethnic origin, culture, language or religion which may exist and which it is their desire to harness to enrich the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In his argument, the Speaker said, “…when we talk of federal character within the contest of appointments, infrastructure and the rest of it in the Constitution; federal character, as it is, is limited to where you are from, like your ethnicity… I think it is time that we expand the definition of federal character because the character of a nation is not just based on your tribe. It is based on religion, where you are from, your sex and your age…”. One hopes that the Speaker’s analogy does not help to justify the alleged contumacy of the spirit and letters of the Constitution by the Buhari administration in his lopsided composition of appointments. Nonetheless, the task cannot be ducked for much longer. As the buck stops on President Buhari’s desk, he should do everything within his powers to command the respect of all and earn the good judgment of history by restructuring the country and producing a new Constitution for the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians and development of the country.