Two easiest jobs in Nigeria
Despite the varied perfidy that sullied the recent elections, they are not irredeemably impaired after all. They have provided us with some vital lessons to navigate our labyrinthine political space. Clearly, they have once again jarred us into the consciousness of our seemingly indissoluble deficit in political enlightenment. It is such a societal malaise that propels the citizens to cast their votes without knowing the explicit reason they are doing this. In their minds, these remain unresolved posers: Is it really for the vote-buying lucre that is transacted far from the prying eyes of other citizens? Is it on account of the candidate’s past performance either in private or public offices that redounded to the well-being of the citizens?
The above may be clear to all keen observers of the recent political developments. But for this column, there is a more important lesson. It is the fact that the elections have unveiled the two easiest but very lucrative jobs in the country. Yes, political thuggery could turn you into a billionaire. It could launch you into the inner sanctum of the political class where you would no longer feed off the crumbs from the table of the power hegemons in our nation. Or have we not been seeing how politicians cosy up to political thugs during elections? But we are not interested in political thuggery here. After all, the job of a political thug requires a dose of imagination and risks. Nor are these two jobs on the familiar list of plenitude-siring employments such as those in an oil company.
For you to get either of these jobs we are interested in here, you may not necessarily need a long curriculum vitae. You may not need to be a rare-bred product of the IVY League. But even if you secure these jobs because of your long CV, you don’t need it to work. Consider this: Those who are hired as our national electoral umpires usually come with long CVs. For this job, you may be required to possess a long CV to get it. You may require a public perception as a person of integrity. But once you get it, these are not necessary. The operations in this job are so auto-piloted that you would realise that even a barely literate school dropout could do your job. The overarching demand of your job is to conduct transparent elections. But you just stay in your office. You have no stake. It is circumstances that would determine the outcome of the elections. You do not need to be bothered about how the results of an election get to you. All you need do once you get the results is to append your signature.
Those politicians who feel cheated are then free to prosecute their grievances in a law court. You need five years to prepare for the nation’s periodic elections. But you could hold the elections when it is convenient for you to do so. You could give any excuse why the time you have earlier fixed for elections is no longer feasible. Your employers are the people, the citizens whose tax money you spend. But they are not the ones who would determine whether you should remain in their employ for another five years. So, you do not care about your performance on the job.
As the electoral umpire, you preside over the disbursement of taxpayers’ billions. You do not care whether you have justified the expenditure of these billions on elections. Even if you feel that the billions that were voted for you are insufficient, you enjoy the latitude of asking for more. Your request would be granted because the nation must hold its elections.
The second job is easier than the first. Here you preside over the disbursement of more funds than those of the electoral umpire. In fact, the nation’s founding fathers knew that your job is a very easy one. They did not pretend about it. That was why they said that for you to hold this job, you do not need many certificates. You do not even need a university degree. All you need is a school certificate. Or a letter from the principal of your former school indicating that you were once his pupil. For you to secure the job of the president you would regale the citizens with what you would do for them. But once you are in office, you do not need to cudgel your brain as regards how you can make good your promises.
You may not do anything in the first four years you would be in office before your term is renewed. You do not need to solve any problem. You might have been a military general. In your military days, you knew the importance of ruthlessly dealing with obstacles to your success in a battle. But you do not need such ruthlessness as the president. You could watch as the obstacles to the citizens’ well-being fester. No, to you a lack of an efficient electricity system, an anaemic educational system and a shrunk employment space are not obstacles that require ruthless obliteration. Even if the citizens remind you that these are debilitating obstacles you may only ignore them. Let them tell you that killings by Fulani herdsmen are lethal obstacles that urgently demand your ruthless response, you just ignore them.
As far as you are concerned, the citizens are free to delude themselves that as a president you have before you a table full of files you bury your head in everyday on their behalf in order to understand their problems. Yes, the table can be full of such files. Let the issues require urgent attention. You would take your time to get to them. After all, you do not see anything wrong with being referred to as Baba go slow. And then, when you feel that your health requires you to go overseas, you can go and spend months outside the country. Even while you are in the country, your jobs do not require you to plan for today let alone planning for tomorrow, the next years, decades and centuries as it is the tradition in other parts of the world. Why should you bother about the opportunities on the moon when you do not even see the need to be worried about a post-oil era of your county? The things you need to do to make the citizens happy require little or no imagination – just send your deputy to dole out N10, 000 in the market. And because your job is so easy, the citizens would not be bothered about your performance before they give you another four years.
In these climes, the ease of doing the job of the president is not a secret. It is now public knowledge. This is why the wise citizens among us now keep on wondering why they should bother themselves to think of how to get a job or create a business. In fact, because the job of the president is so easy, the citizens, would not hire you if you are brimming with ideas. They would not hire you if you have demonstrated your fecund imagination by creating big businesses. The citizens would wonder why they should hire you when no imagination is needed to do the job of a president. This simply was why over 70 people showed interest in becoming the president in the last election. Now, the ease of doing the job of the nation’s president has democratised a quest for the office. Thus, next time when the nation wants to hire a president one should not rule out the possibility of the list of applicants rising to a thousand and more.
In the same vein, when the nation is about hiring another electoral umpire, we should expect a madding lobby. After all, however the elections turn, the electoral umpire loses nothing. And since it has become clear that those who hold these two top and very prestigious positions do not need so much exertion to do their jobs why should the citizens apply themselves in any endeavour in which they are engaged? Why should students study hard when one can fail as the president or electoral umpire and there would not be baleful consequences? Or why should the youths be creative in getting employed when it does not take any imagination to hold the highest office in the land? And since a sterling academic pedigree of the electoral umpire is not brought to bear on the execution of his job, we do not need a professor, doctor or justice next time to conduct our elections. Let these citizens face their jobs and contribute to the society in their different professional ways. Let the office of an electoral umpire go to a school certificate holder. Or is it not contradictory to be hiring a professor with goggles, which are sometimes considered as a mark of erudition, to conduct an election for an office a school certificate holder would occupy?