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Democracy as lootocracy: the Nigerian example (2)

By Douglass Anele
The propensity with which “respected” Nigerians acclamatise and adapt to the dangerous ecology of corruption is truly amazing. There is too much wastage of public funds by officials of the federal government, a trend that is replicated at the  state and local goverment levels.

The situation is so bad now that five out of the thirty-six states in Nigeria, one of which is an oil-producing state, are on financial life support. According to media reports, the financial position of these states is precarious, to the extent that they have failed to pay their workers’ salaries in the last three months. I sympathise with the affected workers, considering the hardships they and their dependants are experiencing at the moment.

The governors and members of the state legislatures concerned should be ashamed of themselves for their inability to harness available resources prudently. Given the immature attitude of most Nigerian politicians to public office and their tendency towards primitive accumulation, it should not be surprising that top public functionaries in the states concerned have continued to receive outrageously huge emoluments despite the poor financial standing of their states.

The irresponsible financial rascality of political office holders since 1999 casts serious aspersion on the popular belief that the worst democratic government is better than the best military government. Many Nigerians still remember the exepmlary disciplined leadership of Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon, inspite of the errors of judgement committed by both men.

Since 1999, the philosophy of governance by civilians seems to be “anything goes”, so long as it serves  the selfish interests of a few powerful people. In terms of intelligent and prudent management of resources, President Goodluck Jonathan has continued the “business as usual” approach of his predecessors. News report allege that his government has set aside about N10 billion for the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of our independence. If the report is true, then Nigerians hoping that the new president will provide quality result-oriented leadership should prepare their minds for disappointment.

There are justifiable reasons for celebrating the country’s independence. Nigeria has survived a bloody civil war and many inter-and-intra ethnic conflicts and religious violence. Annulment of the June 12 presidential election did not lead to civil war, as some pessimists had predicted. There have been some development in all areas of our national life. Nigerians are fully in charge of the country’s political affairs (or so it seems), and she has taken its position in the comity of nations as a responsible member of the international community.

Yet, our country has failed abysmally to live up to the lofty aspirations of the founding fathers of independent Nigeria. Our fundamental problem is the persistent phenomenon of agbata ekee leadership which has crippled everything. Corruption,  ineptitude, hypocrisy, absence of accountability and transparency in governance, and lack of compassion for the less privileged etc have impeded the realisation of our developmental aspirations.

Therefore, although on October 1, 1960, Nigeria became independent from Britain. nevertheless, economically, politically, diplomatically and culturally the country is still dependent on Europe and her cultural offsprings or colonies in North America. Our rulers still take dictations from London and Washington. On the surface Nigeria is a self-governing entity; however, the reality is she is dependently independent, which implies that the process of independence is yet to be completed.

At the moment, all the standard criteria used in evaluating different aspects of national development indicate that, on the whole, the ccountry is stymied. Nigeria is in a condition of arrested development. Consequently, a reasonable or thinking government, even if it decides to commemorate the country’s independence, must make it low-keyed, because of the widening eddies of suffering in the land.

There is absolutely no rationale for spending N10 billion at a time when the economy is tottering, when there are critical needs that require urgent attention  from government. If President Jonathan plans to waste that amount of money on vain-glorious independence celebrations, he should shelve the idea. Millions of suffering Nigerians are too busy trying to eke out a living to indulge in lavish parties for remembering when the Union Jack was lowered and the Green-White-Green hoisted.

On a general note, the irresponsible manner top givernment officials spend public funds is getting to the omega point when Nigerians will rise up and actively challenge the lootocrats pretending to be democrats. Imagine a situation whereby over N523 billion had been spent by the National Assembly to enact 532 laws, which implies that each bill passed between 1999 and 2009 gulped about N1 billion!

The absurdity of this situation stands out in prominent relief if one considers the fact that Nigeria, one of the countries with the lowest per capita income in the world, enacts the most expensive laws in the world! Behind the shameless behaviour of the so-called lawmakers and top political office holders is the assumption that Nigerians will continue to put up indefinitely with the squandermania of government at all levels.

That may or may not be true; but I believe that one day, people will discard their inhibitions and fears to take their destinies in their own hands. There is a limit to the amount of suffering people can endure without exploding. The ruling elite must stop taking Nigerians for granted, snap out of its sybaritic complacency and work for the people. Or else, anything can happen at any time!  CONCLUDED.


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