By Kasim Afegbua
Very little things have the capacity to undo us as human beings who occupy this plane called mother earth. We are just the way we are because of greed and crass opportunism. We want to swallow what we cannot chew, and chew that which we cannot swallow.
We are very creative people especially when it comes to appropriating to ourselves what will benefit us in the short term. We end up building empires without heroes and heroines. We create an artificial environment to add undeserving value to our bloated ego. We end up in the process, acquiring what we will never need in our excursion through life’s bramble forest.
In the process of that grand acquisition to swell our inanities and forgo anything decent, we create very bizarre scenarios that make countries laugh at our historical direction and orientation.
I magine, how it would have sounded in the sheer hollowness of the ears of our august audience at the African First Ladies Peace Mission event, if Dame Patience Jonathan was being recognised and introduced as Perm. Sec. to a nameless Ministry in Bayelsa State.
I am sure her fellow First Ladies would have expressed utter disbelief. But such odium is the manifest reality in Nigeria today.
I have tried to search my mind since this news broke out, to know what could be the rationale for the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, to appoint the First Lady as his own subordinate in Bayelsa State? We cannot possibly understand this latest comedy of making her a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State.That to me is the dissertation thesis.
Talking very seriously, I think we are just faced with a situation that exposes our lack of vision and mission for our dear country. We are just parading comedians in government, thus reducing the whole essence of governance to very ridiculous level.
Whether our First Lady had been a civil servant in Rivers State or not is to me, not an issue that should occupy our sensibilities in an era when there is some kind of public inertia about this present administration.
Flying down to Bayelsa State with all our paraphernalia of office to attend her swearing-in ceremony is to me the height of comical showmanship.
Her position as Perm. Sec. has simply made Seriake Dickson her eternal boss in the State. Whether she has been performing her function as a civil servant in the State is not just the question but also whether she had written several promotional examinations that would qualify her for the promotion. Has she been treating memos and responding to the day to day running of the office under the supervision of a Commissioner?
What is the motivation for this promotion? Has she stopped playing the role of First Lady even though we are all aware that it is unconstitutional? Is it permissible under our laws for an individual to be holding two public positions? And won’t her inability to perform her functions as Permanent Secretary attract query from the Governor or Commissioner? We are aware that the First Lady is usually in Abuja, what happens to memos that she should ordinarily react to with dispatch? Is she running her Ministry online? Or her position as Perm. Sec. is now more powerful than that of a Commissioner?
Does it now mean that her Commissioner will be taking instructions from her or the other way round? Too many questions begging for answers, but that essentially is the reason why we are where we are; motion without movement.
We are simply not well governed.
No matter what anyone would say, especially those who are supporters of this on-going comedy of errors, we are simply not well governed.
The country is experiencing one of its low moments in terms of service delivery and visionary leadership. We are being fed with circuitous policy pronouncements that have proved to be ineffective in tackling the parlous state of our economy. Government spokespersons have told us several times about the performance of the government but the people cannot see through their presentation.
The domestic debt is still increasing day by day, infrastructures are collapsing, unemployment is still rife while hope for the future appears bleak. We are in an era of committees playing the roles of the Ministries.
The President will set up a committee, after submission of report to the President, another committee will be set up to study the report. After that, another committee will be set up to execute the report. At the end, no committee can claim ownership of the issues being canvassed and most times, the reports are made to gather dust on the shelves. End of story. For how long are we going to continue in this fashion?
A nation in search of leadership.
When I hear lessons in leadership especially about defining the direction which a country like ours should take to get its mission and vision right, I feel a sense of loss about our country and its present orientation.
Nigeria is trying to wriggle itself out of a precarious situation that it finds itself by no ordinary design of its own. A nation gets what it deserves, so says the old rhyme. A nation that reduces her coastal security to the level of Tompolo, Boyloaf and others, is surely not a nation that is interested in building institutions that will outlive the regime of a particular President or the other.
You wake up in the morning and labour through the rigours of the day without a defining purpose to achieve other than to eke a living for that day. As much as you expect to hear soothing pronouncements from government to at least offer some cushioning, what you hear is a fait accompli; “it is not possible for us to implement 100 percent of our budget.
It is not done anywhere in the world”. What is wrong in creating a record? Where is it done anywhere in the world that a First Lady would also be sworn-in as a PermanentSecretary?
We really do need policy direction and focus. When you appoint those who do not merit it as members of your economic team, then you know what we are talking about. When you see corruption walking on two legs and smiling at our follies, then you know we are doomed for now.
When a government pallies with persons it suspects and accuses of corruption,then one wonders at the morality of that government. A government that promises to fight corruption is the chief protagonist of corruption? Under such atmosphere of ridiculous and benumbing drama, who do you turn to for succour? This is the Nigerian story.
We all are Permanent Secretaries.
Majority of Nigerians are permanent secretaries of poverty and corruption. Our Ministry is the Nigerian nation itself. While Dame Patience Jonathan is enjoying the spoils of two offices, we all are languishing in penury, as confirmed candidates of poverty.
Politics has reminded us that in a nation of inequalities like ours, the rich will always get richer while the poor will always get poorer by the day.
The absence of institutions makes the thought very painful. We hope someday, we will discover our compass to lead us to the desired destination of reduced poverty, reduced corruption, reduced unemployment, and effective infrastructural development. We look forward to that day.