The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. – Section 14, 2 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

IT is difficult to convince Nigerians that governments are for the people. Long ago, it was established in these parts that governments are not by the people, as election results tend not to reflect the wishes of the people.

These concerns are not new. What is newer and more worrisome is governments’ distance from the people. Governments are essentially self-serving. The people are on the fringes.

In the midst of the global economic upheavals that have thrown the people into deeper poverty, none of our governments have fashioned out any policies to ameliorate their anguish.

Our governments seem unaware of the provisions of Section 14, 2 (b) of the 1999 Constitution which they all lustfully swore to uphold. They are more interested in laying their hands on power and the accesses it provides to plunder the country than doing anything for the people.

When this government came into power in 2007, Ministers moved into new villas, renovated to their tastes. The strongest argument for throwing away the millions of Naira spent only months ago on the same items was that tastes of Ministers vary.

More millions were splurged on furniture for offices, residences, guest houses and vehicles fit enough for our Ministers, who derisively called themselves our servants.

Nigerians just live on hope. Government officials have substituted their own comfort for the welfare of the people. Hunger, poverty, diseases, injustice and concerted efforts at multiplying illiteracy show in government policies. These hurt the people, and make them mere watchers, without a future. In the boom days, they suffered the deprivations.

Maybe if governments respected the Constitution they could improve the lives of long suffering, ordinary Nigerians.

Last year, Cote d’Ivoire cut salaries of political and public office holders to subsidise fuel prices. Nigeria pays the same people more for doing virtually nothing.

At the same time last year, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC recommended 100 per cent  pay raise for these public officers because, “In general, the economy has been highly inflationary since the last remuneration package came into effect. In 1999, the rate of inflation was 6.6 per cent. Up to the end of 2005, the rate of inflation (17.9 per cent) never went back to a single digit”. It is possible RMAFC wanted us to reward these officials for keeping inflation up!

The economic realities halted that move, yet there are no thoughts about the welfare of the people, the very people who the Constitution says governments serve.

Our government officials are busy re-aligning to keep their places after the 2011 elections. The people remain unimportant. Governments are not about them, and the much trumpeted poverty alleviation programmes have elevated poverty to new heights.

Governments must serve the people, it is the essence of governments, especially if they are democratic.


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