By John Amoda
THE most flagrant display of the conqueror’s attitude to the wealth of the people is the case of the Police Pension Funds.
The context of this event is the attitude of government officials. The distinction between being in power and being in office is completely obliterated in their treatment of office as a spoil. We are not discussing hyperinflation of contract but the outright stealing of pension funds.
The treating of pensioners as “non-beings”. This attitude to power turns the Constitution to mere piece of paper. The result is a Government Nigeria without Nigerian citizenry and the People Nigeria consisting of the subjugated.
The implication of this fact is the issue. Nigeria without Nigerian citizenry ultimately will depend on mercenaries for its defence. From the Military-in-Power to the Civilians-in-Power care has been taken by all governments to keep the Armed Forces satisfied, if not happy. Governments have seen that they cannot call upon The People to rise and defend them in the case of unconstitutional change of government. The Boko Harams have also shown that government is not protected by The People.
Mr. Gabriel Zowam in his “Democracy and its porous economy” in Vanguard, Friday, February 8, 2013 spells out the consequence of elite economic predatory behaviour. His contrasts of what Government did with the gross oil revenue in the 29 years from 1970 to 1999 and what Government has not done with the gross oil revenue from 2000 to 2006 defines a government under the rule of the John Yakubu Yusufu.
Government had available to it from 1970 to 1999 N3trillion. From 2000 to 2006 Government coffers contained N20.8trillion. Zowam provides a partial itemisation of what Government procured with N3 trillion.
“There is no doubt about what we achieved with N3 trillion of the first (mostly military) 29 years; the massive post-war infrastructure development, including the extensive network of federal roads, numerous power plants and water dams; various airports across the country; seaports built in Lagos, Sapele, Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne and Calabar; various telephone exchanges across the country; the Lagos “flyovers” and bridges, including the Third Mainland Bridge; the Ikoyi Federal Secretariat; the massive Ajaokuta and Delta steel companies, and various steel rolling mills; our various oil refineries; the petrochemical plants; the paper mills and fertilizer companies; various vehicle assembly plants in Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu, etc; all those federal universities, colleges of education, and unity schools; the building of modern capital Abuja (including Aso Rock, the Abuja road network, federal secretariats, the Three-Arm Zone, various governmental edifices, the massive Gwarinpa Housing Estate (also estate in Karu, Lugbe Wuye etc) and so on. All these were carried out from the N3trillion in the 29 years up to 1999. What on earth did we do with the unprecedented N20.8trillion that poured into the country in the next seven years? Where on earth did the money go?”
While we need another itemization of the past seven years achievements, we know where the money did not go. It did not go into poverty alleviation or the reductions of poverty in the people Nigeria. Zowam asks and answers his question thus:
“But most importantly, how did that wealth impact on ordinary Nigerians? This was perhaps, the most tragic aspect of that windfull. Our population in poverty (as published by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS) increased nationwide, from 67million in 1996, to 69million 2004! It has continued to get worse, such that by 2010, the number of Nigerians in poverty had hit 112million”.
Life for the working poor, the trading poor, the small scale traders have been oppressive. Government has its own projects and the people theirs. These stories by Obuh Providence in the Vanguard, Monday, February 4, 2013 show one instance of how the people contrived to earn a living for themselves and for their dependents and how Government deals with the people.
“Small scale traders selling wares under the bridge at the popular trade-fair complex, have lamented over the demolition of their kiosk. The demolition was carried out penultimate week by officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, at “under the bridge” bus stop.
A trader, Mr. Francis Onyekachi—with a wife and five children said that he was not against the demolition, but that the government should make provision for shops for the poor masses before taking such steps… Another woman in her late fifties, identified as Mrs. Rachael appealed to the government to allow them, owing to the fact that they earn their living with the shops. “The government should allow us because this is where we get our daily bread, we do not have any other place, many of us here are widows, no husbands and this is the last hope of many people”.
Measured against the lofty ideals of the Preamble to the 1999 Constitution, the relationship between these people trading under the bridges and the Government in total territorial control of The Peoples Nigeria is not one of representatives and the represented, but one of lords and serfs. Such under the bridge traders have no democratic relationship to Government and so government cannot count on The People for their defence.
Nigeria deprived of its citizenry is an estate and a spoil given a semblance of a country by the people’s tenacity to earn their living where they presently call their country and their place- even when this place is under the bridge, and it is maintained as a society by the Armed and Security Forces. Scatter the Armed Forces and the country scatters. This is how tenous our security presently is.