Nigeria: A Hub Of Opportunity Stalled By Her Leaders` Greed By Ogundana Michael Rotimi
Nigeria is the only place we can call our home; we have not another one to brag about if it fails.
The success achieved from the just concluded elections and the level of maturity displayed by the masses, have clearly shown, that Nigerians are on the move. They are ready to match up globally with the league of patriotic nations. The people went to the polls, conducted themselves in a decent manner, cast their votes and remained peaceful even after the declaration of the winners.
No longer can conversations about African democratic stability by the world stable democratic heavyweights be discussed without mentioning Nigeria. Nigeria is a nation on the move with a hub of opportunity. If nations are not looking towards Nigeria, they are missing out an opportunity to be part of and invest in something potentially great.
However, while the masses are tired of delay, and are no longer comfortable standing at a point with no appreciable growth and development, their leaders have been on the contrary. They prefer to keep the nation at a point as long as their greed is satisfied.
They elevate their own will above the democratic will of the people at the expense of the masses. Before they get elected, they make loads of airy promises and present themselves like the messiah. But immediately they get what they want, they turn around and say something different.
The truth is, the National Assembly`s (NASS) budgets over the years have revealed a huge growing divide between the leaders and the masses. You cannot talk about a caring government when about 25% of the national budget is being spent by just 469 of its citizens. A fraction that`s infinitesimal in a country of approximately 170 million people. (Sanusi Lamido, the Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a speech titled, The Future of Nigeria’s Economy’, at the eighth convocation ceremony of the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, pointed out that the bulk of government spending in Nigeria is on recurrent expenditure, with 25 percent of the Federal Government`s annual expenditure spent on allowances and salaries of National Assembly members). Also, you cannot talk about change when just 469 people are being reported to dress themselves with a whooping sum of N8.64 billion while millions of Nigerians are hungry and naked.
They have their salaries – and their annual increases which exceed inflation and which are never linked to productivity. They have their sittings and conferences with lots of packages. They are a club within a club, very secretive and insulated from the very world they are employed to engage with and service. To them, they believe they are working but how could they have been working since it is at the last minutes they pass bills.
No doubts, this largely explains why nothing is ever done. Apparently, they arrive at their various positions not for the good of the people, but for the good of their pockets. And as the years have gone by, it has been increasingly unclear which ideological or policy framework the government is working from.
When the resources in the land are shared among a few golden calves that are fortunate to grab power but are not used for the good of all and sundry, we cannot legitimately talk about our successes on the economic and political world stage. When foreign aids and direct investments enrich the elites and the politically connected, but does not lift the burdens, pains and sufferings of the poor, there is a problem in the land.
Imagine the possibilities that abound, if we get our house in order, put ourselves to work and get our leaders to drop their greed. Just imagine!
We cannot in good conscience brag about being the largest economy in Africa with global political standing, when internally only a very few benefit from all these.
We need to be honest about the state of our democracy, coupled with the high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment that threaten our internal stability. Nigeria is a nation that has the potential to be great. Nonetheless, we need to be fully aware of the factors that keep us away from greatness, one of which is greed.
At this crucial financial crisis and period of austerity when workers from about 18 states out of the 36 states in the country cannot pay the salary of their workers, it amounts to gross wickedness if those that are meant to lead us cannot sacrifice their wardrobe allowance and other unwarranted allowances for the good of the people.
Leadership demands sacrifice(s). Sometimes it demands huge sacrifice(s). It comes with responsibilities that`s beyond mere making promises but actions. It is time for our leaders to match up their words with actions and drop their greed. They need to kill their greed before their greed kills us all.
However, as patriotic Nigerians we also have a role to play; if Nigeria is to become worthy of the democracy that so many gave their lives for, we cannot retreat into elective ignorance, of choosing not to know what government does and does not do.
We cannot retreat into elective ignorance of choosing not to know of the crimes perpetrated by those who are supposed to protect us and of the crimes perpetrated on those who are entitled to the protection of the state.
We cannot retreat into elective ignorance, of choosing not to know where the money really goes, how it`s being spent and of the deals being done with it.
We cannot abdicate to others the responsibility expected of all citizens. We owe it to Nigeria to extend the protest against the over bloated NASS to all forms of extortion and greed perpetrated by our leaders in all sectors.
Until we do so, we simply fuel the system. We pay protection money to keep the enforcers away and watch helplessly as the festering business of state, the mafias we have empowered, continues their evil works.
For Nigeria to reach its true economic potential, it is incumbent upon the electorate to make the government accountable and expected of the government to make the will of the people prevail so that we ensure freedom, fairness and opportunity reign tremendously.
With Democracy, we will build a better nation, through hard work and commitment but our leaders must first of all drop their greed.
God Bless Nigeria
Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny