By Gabriel Ikese
“The Parliament” is the title of a programme produced by Silver Bird Radio 93.7 Rhythm FM in Jos every Friday morning at 9.00am. it s a hilarious comedy which mimics the Nigerian Senate with David King as the mock Senate president, Brabisco, Osama, Terso, Pam, Maduka and Ajalenkoko as Senators respectively. Today’s episode got me thinking. The discussion was the reduction in cost of JAMB and NECO examination fees, and the increase in salaries of the Police by the Federal government.
The plenary was rowdy and thunderous as Senators argued rashly along political lines. That was a reflection of how Nigerians reacted to the issue in most public forums. Why would the President reduce Jamb and NECO fees and increase Police salaries now that elections are at the corner? Some say it was for political reason; others argued it was a deliberate action to galvanize votes for the President and the All Progressive Congress Party in the coming elections. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party saw it as outright rigging of the elections in advance. Those were argument that greeted the announcement and I asked, what is wrong with us?
Many of us are good at exasperating our President. We are masters at demotivating the ambitious, frustrating the industrious, and demoralizing our leaders. Nigerians, which have long struggled with governance issues, are in urgent need of mental reorientation and transformation to be able to overcome the multiple challenges and explore opportunities that lie ahead on our path to growth and development.
The focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is to bring change that reflect the ideals most Nigerians hold dear; mutual respect and understanding among peoples, economic growth and prosperity that is shared by all; and inclusion, transparency and accountability in management of public affairs. It is in line with these noble ideals that the government effects the reduction in JAMB and NECO fees and also increase salaries of Police.
President Buhari and his mode of governance are targeted at impacting public policies on the welfare of citizens throughout the length and breadth of the country. The School feeding, N-Power, Traders Money programmes are all aimed at enhancing the welfare of indigent Nigerians. The President promised change and he is determine to deliver the desired change and even poised to take it to the next level.
PMB is providing a model of how to be a reformist leader in today’s highly complex world. He is therefore applying policy solutions that maximize beneficial outcomes for the greatest number of Nigerians. In his inaugural address, he said “I belong to nobody, and I belong to everybody”. It is a mantra he is prepared to live for without compromise.
Where Nigerians are gathered – two, three or in multiples, we are busy denigrating our country and government. We all seem to know exactly what is wrong with Nigeria. We are all experts at identifying our problems, but are too lazy to proffer sustainable solutions. What is wrong with Nigeria is precisely what is wrong with us as a people.
Now, we are singing a new song. It is titled “Restructuring”. They blame the existing constitution as the cause of our constipation. We probably thought that the constitution we operate is the culprit and they, politicians are the victims. That is story for the gods. We are often quick to blame the constitution and forgetting that the status book on its own can only be as effective to the extent at which it is implemented.
First, we blamed the parliamentary model we inherited at independence. We abandoned it and rushed to America and borrowed its presidential model, and in satisfaction, we shouted eureka. We are very good at copy and paste. We planted the seed from America and were deluded in our rash thinking that it will translate to growth. We were damn wrong; the specie refused to germinate or grow out rightly. And if there was any kind of growth at all, it was a crooked growth.
Like Moses Rod in the land of Pharoh, the Whiteman’s presidential system was quickly swallowed by our twisted home grown model which has become the honey pot and cash cow for people in high places and cronies who managed by hook or crook to acquire political power. The vampires at the corridor of power and the few that seated on the throne are being cunningly clever. They manipulated with criminal oratory to remain relevant in any government in power. They are the shoddy politicians who have mastered the art of recycling to extreme perfection.
We ignored the fact that the constitution will not smile if institutions are not strengthened. When we cajoled and manipulated the systems for selfish interests in order to truncate justice, it never bothered us that such criminal act could be cancerous to the constitution. In our self deceit, we forgot that America’s presidential model still works for the Americans. We only adopted the nomenclature but left the “how” it works aspect behind. We are being lazy or dubiously illusional.
If we will knock some senses into our heads, we will see the cause of our constipation here has been leadership – bad and selfish leadership without direction, focus and vision. Our leaders at all strata, politicians, armed forces, everybody in and out of office have been selfish – so selfish to the point of scandal and palpitations.
Nigerians do not care much to ask why things or rather the system worked well or relatively well for Nigerians in colonial times, and why is it that they are not working now that we are presumed free. The soul of our country is bleeding and all we do is play politics – dirty politics.
The problem with us is that we politicize every issues and policies in the country. The desired changed may continue to elude us if we continue in our negative line of thoughts against every government policies that is aimed at enhancing our progress as a nation. Yes, leadership may have failed us in time past, but we should begin to cultivate trust on our leaders and do constructive criticism that would constantly remind those in power of the onerous responsibilities bestowed on them.
Most importantly, we should have regards for our constitution and respect for each other as a people. It is imperative that we desist from any form of prejudice and abstain from flying fake news and rumours that is capable of destroying the fabric of our unity. It is better we live together in love and unity than to perish as fools.