IT is said that to whom much is given, much is also expected. So much has been given to our successive elected and appointed government officials in Nigeria over the years.
Our politicians who have controlled the wealth of the nation can hardly point to many tangible things they have done with our money other than self-enrichment.
The National Assembly has consumed trillions of naira since 1999, yet our democracy and governance processes which they were elected to reform and uphold remain almost on the same template hurriedly abandoned by the military class at hand-over 21 years ago.
Our infrastructure, housing, power, education, health and other deficits have worsened. We have become the poverty capital of the world, with 15 million Nigerian children out of school.
The country is constantly threatened by insecurity, and citizens have lost faith and a sense of belonging in this country because the politicians are not interested in real governance. They are only interested in taking for themselves as much as they can from the public till.
Even in this gloomy atmosphere of coronavirus pandemic, members of the National Assembly and other government appointees still insist on living their self-granted lives of opulence which is totally at variance with the situation those they purport to represent face every day.
Our double jeopardy is that besides the pandemic, our economy is going back into recession as the Minister of Finance said last week. The days of our oil mainstay are all but over. The pandemic itself does not appear to have an expiry date any time soon. So, there is absolutely no ground for top government officials to insist on living the high life.
A non-governmental organisation, NGO, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, captured the mood of the nation in its recent call on President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an Executive Order suspending routine purchase of official vehicles for all categories of political officeholders for the rest of their tenure.
SERAP asked President Buhari to borrow a leaf from Namibia’s President, Hage Geingobon, who recently imposed a five-year ban on the buying of new cars for top politicians and government officials in order to redirect the funds to fight COVID-19 in his country.
According to the rights group: “Imposing a ban on new cars by the Presidency on ministers and encouraging the National Assembly and Governors to do the same would serve the public interest, and contribute to cutting the cost of governance”.
As we wait for the full reopening of the economy, we expect government to be more sobre and strategic in pushing funds towards comprehensive stimulus packages and bailouts of economic sectors crippled by the government-ordered lockdowns.
This way, we can save jobs and create wealth.