By Kunle Oyatomi
The realities of our times are becoming so spark that Nigerians (who have a notoriety for being docile) have developedÂ â€œiron skinâ€ to disturbing news of unpatriotic conduct of their leaders.
Especially so when it relates to the immorality of self-enrichment by public officers. Today one of the norms of this society is to perceive public service as the easiest avenues to easyÂ wealth. Those who frown at this conduct or disparage the perception are â€œidealistsâ€ who are becoming ever more strident with their criticisms; but sadly enough the more they scream the worse the situation gets.
Look around you; from the local government chairman to the apex of political office holders, the majority of them have risen from relatively â€œpoorerâ€conditions to a new status of wealth which they couldnâ€™t have attained but for their ascendancy into public office. Usually, it takes less than 12 months for you to notice the â€œnew personâ€ of a public office-holder, who has suddenly become a member of the â€œsuper-classâ€. This phenomenon has become cancerous and debilitating to the Nigeria nation.
Political office – whether elected or by appointment – has become a goldmine for the beneficiaries. And at the apex of the hierarchy of these office-holders, a new dimension has been added which can only be described as vampirism. This is a blood-sucking propensity by those in position of power to drain the life force of the nation, to make themselves wealthy and immorally comfortable.
NigeriaÂ is being drained of its life-blood by those who run it while tens of millions of Nigerians wallow in the most degrading form of poverty and misery they obviously do not deserve, if the political leadership had been a lot more responsible.
Revelations in the last week from the seat of power in Abuja as to what is spent to make public officers comfortable are earth-shaking.
But as mentioned above, they are not particularly new except that they have the potential of a vampire on the rampage, in a society that has virtually lost its soul. The billions of naira spent on National Assembly members, and their insistence on getting more is clear evidence of contempt and disregard for the millions of people who will suffer as the â€œopportunity costâ€ of the pleasure and comfort of the rampaging public office-holders in this country.
A class look at the details of the 2010 budget made public early in the week tells a monstrous story of the mentality of public office-holders (certainly not members of the National Assembly alone).
By the time you calculate all the allowances, travel and entertainment, including â€œcolanutâ€allowance, you have enough money to reduce poverty and unemployment by half in this country. And mind you, one is talking about the federal budget only. If we now add those of the 36 states of the federation (including the Federal Capital Territory) I bet we will have enough money on our hands to significantly improve our collapsed and deteriorating infrastructures.
The current political eliteÂ in positions of power and authority seem not to have the ability of critical thinking; or if they have it they have only succeeded in putting it to negative use for their selfish interest. Otherwise, it would have occurred to them, that the best way to stay in public office with dignity, is to champion causes that would improve public welfare and raise the standard of living of the peopleÂ of this country.
However, whatâ€™s paramount in their thought (and which has become a trite with some of them) is the so-called â€œ dividends of democracy.â€And it is all so obvious what that means in real terms:
Public office is becoming a symbol of immoral wealth. We used to think that it was the hallowed assignment for dignified individuals who crave for service to their fellow men. These days, public office albeit appears to have the stigma of the immoral, easy path to unearned and undeserved wealth. But worse still, it seems also to be an undignified avenue to creating mass poverty and misery for a docile, spineless and soul less millions of Nigerians who would prefer to suffer in silence while they are being raped by those who claim to represent them in the institutions of authority.
What is going on is wrong from any way you look at it. There is something immoral for anybody in political office to make a purely commercial use of it. But it becomes even unethical and culpable for anybody to ask for N42 million naira a quarter in allowances and refuse the demand of labour for a N52,000 monthly minimum wage!! The former is â€œdemocracy dividendsâ€ while the latter is the â€œdocilityâ€ dividends.
That is a rip off; and anybody involved in this shameless inequity; rape and vampirism should be the least welcome into politics and public office. The misuse to which these two critical aspects of our lives have been put is largely responsible for our misfortunes as a country.
The volume of funds made available or is being budgeted for allowances and entertainment of public office holders is scandalous and unpatriotic. Those who thought about it did not think critically. Those who are bent on having more of it are not thinking at all. But those who sit back and endorse the rape are the sick ones who need the greatest help.
However those who benefit from this rape shall be ultimately held accountable. It may all appear so convenient at the moment, but the law of physics (which ultimately is the law of God)- that every action has a reaction – remains immutable. There certainly is a time to sow and a time to reap. The more conscious of this law we are the better for all of us.