By Douglas Anele
When Obama was elected in 2008, his scalp was covered with black hair and there were few lines on his forehead. Now, four years later, Obama has aged somewhat. Although the American President still retains his lean boyish handsomeness, his scalp is greyer and there are more lines on his face.
Obviously, Obama is working and thinking hard for America, because he understands the enormity of the problems of governance and is prepared to lead by example. Now consider our own President, Goodluck Jonathan. He looks much more opulent now than when he was the Vice President, not to talk of the period before he became Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
Nowadays our President exudes such an aura of no-shakingness that nothing about his visage projects the seriousness of the challenges of his office and the belt-tightening exhortations he and his aides have been sending to Nigerians. In short, judging by his physical appearance, President Jonathan is disconnected completely from the sufferings of our people.
The same applies to those parasites parading themselves as Ministers and federal legislators. Just as microscopic parasites live in or on other organisms and obtain sustenance from them without any benefit to the latter, political office holders in the executive and legislative arms of the three tiers of government, representing less than five percent of the entire population of Nigeria, appropriate about eighty percent of the resources for themselves. Political leadership in the country is appears to be dominated largely by psychologically unbalanced individuals.
Like those suffering from bulimia, they are preoccupied with pathological acquisition of wealth they do not really need, which they spend on frivolities such as mansions, cars, private jets, expensive jewelries, courtesans and gigolos (as the case may be); resources that could have been used to provide basic necessities of life for Nigerians.
The vicious circle of primitive accumulation and reckless spending continues every year, with devastating consequences for the economy and wellbeing of the masses. To underscore the bulimic character of Jonathan’s administration, the Federal Executive Council recently approved N2.2 billion for the construction of a bigger banquet hall for the Presidential villa.
President Jonathan, following in the footsteps of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has spent over N3 billion on foreign trips since he became president over two years ago, while the federal government has earmarked N2 billion for a new house for the Vice President.
Of course, financial owambe continues unabated: N300 million will be spent on residences for the Senate President, the Speaker, House of Representatives, and their deputies. Now, if you add the funds other government functionaries nationwide have been wasting on things that have no demonstrable relevance to the welfare of Nigerians, the troubling conclusion which follows is that the current ruling elite is a huge joke.
To be candid, it is appalling that at this time in our history when the existential condition of our people is deteriorating daily, political office holders are still behaving like children in a merry-go-round. Nigerians expected that President Jonathan, since he considers himself a transformational leader, should lead by example, first, by declaring his assets publicly and, second, by drastically reducing the cost of governance through elimination of reckless spending.
On both counts the President has failed, and is in danger of becoming the most profligate Nigerian President ever. Does the President really need an over-bloated, inefficient cabinet, new banquet hall, and presidential jets to perform his job well, when the fundamentals of Nigeria’s economy are weak and his less privileged compatriots are suffering?
Can the culture of excess and profligacy in Aso Rock, the National Assembly etc. revive our ailing industries and create jobs for the growing number of unemployed youths? Is it morally justified that top government officials, members of their families and cronies spend money as if naira, pounds sterling, dollars and euro are printed in their bedrooms?
Why is the federal government complaining about the economic meltdown and lack of funds to provide stable electricity, good roads, portable water, affordable housing, heavy industries, educational and health infrastructure, whereas the same government is recklessly spending available scarce resources on irrelevancies? The irony is that many of the ‘oppressors’ in government right now, were from poor families.
Now that they are extremely rich and powerful, pathological fear of a relapse into poverty makes them financially bulimic. Instead of working to alleviate poverty across the country, most of them are preoccupied with satisfying their own insatiable appetite for comfort at the expense of Nigerians.
It follows that one can emerge from poverty and still remain very poor where it matters most – spiritually. I maintain that under Jonathan’s watch we are witnessing further entrenchment of agbata ekee democracy in which politicians from the dominant parties collaborate to despoil the people, a political Russian roulette of the rich, by the rich against the poor.
The difference between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and others is simply that the former controls the federal government and, as a result, has a greater opportunity and scope to loot the treasury. But I know that indiscipline, corruption and debauchery in the portals of power cannot continue indefinitely – something drastic will surely happen one day.
Sometimes I ask myself: where did our political leaders get the audacity to steal so much from our people? Perhaps the problem is with Nigerians themselves, for manifesting incredible capacity to absorb all the nonsense, all the suffering, from political office holders.
When Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, declared that the National Assembly spends 25 percent of federal government’s budget on overheads, thousands of Abuja residents and its environs should have peacefully occupied the place.
The fuel subsidy protests in different parts of the country did not succeed totally just because Nigerians do not have the stamina to stand up to government on issues of vital concern. Well organised peaceful disobedience is universally accepted as part and parcel of genuine democracy through which the citizens register their dissatisfaction with bad government.
I believe that time is ripe now for the consciousness of Nigerians to be raised concerning the dangers of torpidity and acquiescence to incompetent leadership, because fear and lack of genuine social consciousness are preventing them from engaging government through peaceful protests.
I submit that the audacity of indiscipline, fickleness and corruption at the topmost echelons of power is a function of the torpidity and lethargy of the average Nigerian. Shamelessly, an increasing number of Christian and Muslim clerics shield corrupt politicians by preaching the gospel of relying on supernatural intervention and “breakthrough,” rather than asking believers to stand up for their rights.
Religious preachers should preach liberation theology, and stop the silly exhortation that we should continue to pray for “our leaders.” President Jonathan and co., we are tired of hoping and waiting. Concluded.