By Josef Omorotionmwan
NIGERIA today is fast drifting toward Plato’s definition of a degenerating society; a society that permits the voice of the mob to determine the affairs of government. By accepting unbridled protests as a way of life, we have tacitly suggested that the great issues of our time are best decided by posturing and shouting matches on the streets.
The other day, the Senate invited Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina to shed some light on aspects of the Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pensions Fund, which he was overseeing. Not only did he refuse to honour the invitation, but just about when he was expected to appear at the Senate Chambers, his rented crowd was at the entrance of the National Assembly, pouring invectives on the senators for daring to invite their principal.
You can also imagine the ease with which students these days embark on the destruction of government property. More amazing still is the ease with which these lawbreakers are let off the hook. Sometimes they are asked, in a most palliative way, to pay the cost of replacing the damaged property. This merely begs the question.
We must learn to develop zero-tolerance for lawlessness. Once an individual has deliberately violated the criminal law, such should be removed from the academic community, which in the first place, is not equipped to deal with the argument of force; and placed in the larger society, which has both the aptitude and determination for the task. A crime is no less a crime simply because it has been committed by a student. No lawbreaker should be treated with kid gloves.
Students who relish in the destruction of the Comrade Buses and those Red Roof School Buildings, which are acknowledged all over as unprecedented revolution, will learn the correct lessons after they spend time at Kirikiri or Oko Prison.
The penultimate week, Edo State finally got to the point of doing what various other states have done – the partial ban on commercial motorcycle operators – in Oredo, Ikpoba Okha and Egor local government areas.
The day after the ban, there was the mother of all demonstrations at the Oba Ovonramwen Square, Benin City, bringing traffic and all commercial activities to a halt.
The era of appeasement must end! When peace comes through appeasement and capitulation to the likes of the Okada riders by trading away sound security principles, the peace thus purchased cannot be worth the price.
If we may ask, how is all this different from the present exercise in which the Oga at the top is personally writing his own testimonial? Certainly, Nigerians are gullible and most times, easy to please. In the unfolding theatricals, the President suddenly starts to speak of marking scheme, which is understandable, knowing where he is coming from as a former lecturer.
He goes on national television to accuse everyone of not giving him a marking scheme. He suddenly throws up what looks more like a report card (and so variously described), which is available only to him and some members of his kitchen cabinet, and proclaims: “Here is my marking scheme”. By any standard of academic judgement, that which he calls a marking scheme can, at best, only pass for an examination script.
Based on the wrong marking scheme, he proceeds to rate himself an A++ Student and his administration, most excellent; in the tradition of the lizard which falls from a great height and seeing that nobody is appreciating it, nods approvingly: “If no one praises me, I must praise myself”.
But who says we have not given the President a marking scheme? Should he, in fact, be marking his own scripts, based on his own scheme? How can he be the examiner and the examinee? We are the examiners and we are aware of at least a thousand marking schemes in our hands.
If nothing else, the annual Appropriation Act given to the President is one bold scheme on which the evaluation of his administration can be based. For all we know, under a scheme in which, year after year, the recurrent budget performs at close to 100 percent while the capital budget hovers around the 20 percent level, there is an abysmal failure!
It gets even worse as we approach the sectoral levels. The Federal Government may have given up in some areas. One such surrender is in the area of roads. Our President was at the requiem mass for General Andrew Azazi, the former National Security Adviser, NSA, in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.
The officiating minister, Bishop Hyacinth Egbebor, accused the Federal Government of neglecting roads, which is responsible for the number of accidents and death of many Nigerians. But our President retorted that accidents occur more on good roads than on bad ones. What a clever design to abdicate one’s responsibility!
There can be no better marking scheme here than what millions of Nigerian road users have permanently in their hands and they mark the scripts on a daily basis. Those citizens who ply the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and most other highways throughout the Federation cannot award you a pass mark after the day’s ordeal on those death traps.
In the energy sector, no one is expecting every Nigerian to become an electrical engineer but a man expects that when he return home at the end of a day’s hard work, at the touch of a button, light goes on and when he is going to bed, he touches the same button and light goes off; he will award you a pass mark but if the situation is such that he is perpetually sentenced to darkness; to the extent that on festive occasions, neighborhoods have turned mortuaries because of the absence of power supply; the cottage industries he once knew have moved to neighbouring countries, he must grade you poorly. That is where we are now.
Jonathan’s marking scheme is his latest exercise in self-delusion, which carries him nowhere. Neither can it change this reverse-gear!