The Transformation Propaganda; By Damola Olatunji
In recent years we’ve heard a certain group of the political class throw the word “transformation” around in such a distasteful and unsavoury manner. The said word was used in so many contexts and advertorials that I became confused, confused as to whether the authors of these assertions and I live in the same country. I started paying more attention to the News to find out about the “transformation” that only a few could see. During political arguments (which I engage in a lot), I would often take time out and ask “please tell me what has been transformed” and often times the response is always rather unsatisfactory, sometimes even ridiculous. The responses never answered my questions as to achievements of the Federal Government that were befitting of the word “transformation”, I remember always thinking that I felt better during the period of my supposed ignorance of the transformation works as I always looked forward to quenching my thirst of knowledge and finding out what they knew and I didn’t, only to get responses that dashed my hopes.
In my quest for finding answers, I took a long break from cable TV channels and focused on the News on various terrestrial TV channels, on the 14th of July while watching the evening News I came across a report on the visit of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), to the Apapa – Oshodi Expressway and the Ports. Apparently the visit was to find a lasting solution to the heavy traffic gridlock often experienced on the road caused by its deplorable state and the oil tankers parked on both sides of the expressway, and that was His Excellency’s third visit to that area that month alone. Speaking to reporters after the inspection His Excellency said from the briefings he got from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Taskforce on Environment and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit) and The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, these agencies lack the required coordination to bring needed efficiency in the operations of both the tank farm owners and their tanker drivers, he however stated that in spite of the seeming nonchalance on the part of the Federal Government which owns the Ports, his administration would continue to engage the problem with other stakeholders.
The Governor frowned at the deplorable state of the road and the area, he declared, “The Federal Government should understand that the concessioning and management of the Port requires more than just signing agreements”. He added “Our land has been desecrated; you can see the destruction, people living on the road simply because the Federal Government cannot manage the distribution of fuel”. He stated further “Residents must know this is a Federal problem, it is not the State’s problem; the distribution of fuel is a Federal problem. The Federal Government must get up now and change the game and live up to its responsibility”. I remember he made a statement about how the hauling of fuel products by road is obviously not working and an alternative must be found, he ended by saying “the Federal Government should focus on real transformation and not propaganda transformation”.
There is a famous quote by Joseph Goebbels, a German politician and the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, it goes thus; “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. I had heard a big lie been told over and over again, I got confused at a point, I clarified my confusion and upon clarification I was even more irked than I was when I initially heard the lie . On that day, as I watched the News I saw the same aggravation and frustration on the face of the Governor of Lagos State, I recognised it immediately as I myself experienced it almost every day.
This was a genuine criticism from the ruling class of one tier on the inadequacy of the ruling class of the apex tier of government, although the Government of Lagos State and the Federal Government are divided by party lines and the criticism of the former on the policies of the latter can be downplayed as yet another criticism by the opposition to undermine the efforts of the Federal Government, but I believe there is a difference between criticisms to gain political points and simply stating the plain truth as it should be told, or does the simple fact that a statement was made by a Governor in the opposition party make it less true?
The Federal Government has a responsibility to the citizenry irrespective of the region, ethnic group, tribe, whether a state is governed by the opposition or not, and considering the huge funds at its disposal as it gets 56% of the Federation’s revenue compared to 24% that all 36 states of the Federation get to share, the duty the Federal Government owes to the citizenry cannot be overemphasized and as stated by the Governor of Lagos State, it must live up to its responsibility.
The foremost form of responsibility the Government owes the citizenry is Security, as without security every other sector would not strive, citizens would live in fear, investors would be scared away from the country and with the recent threat we face, infrastructures worth billions of Naira would be destroyed by detonated bombs, and so therefore the Government must be prepared to protect the lives of citizens and expatriates from any form of security threat, whether internal or external. Since the emergence of the current security threat the nation faces, the Federal Government has allocated to the Defence sector a huge portion of the annual budgets, this year out of a budget of N4.962 trillion, the allocation to the Defence sector took about 20%, totalling N968.127 billion. Ordinarily these figures should be lauded as we all know the growing insecurity in the country needs urgent attention, but then again when we think that in the past 3 years that the budget for the Defence sector has been increased to fight terrorism, the same terrorist group that is responsible for the acts of terrorism on our nation has become stronger and even seems more emboldened during this period, as is often the case in our beloved country, we are not sure of what to think anymore.
The recent disclosure of the alleged sponsors of the terrorist group and the exchange of accusations and counter-accusations between the ruling party and the opposition party on such a sensitive issue that poses the greatest threat to the nation’s security in recent times did not surprise me as that has been the trend in recent years, unfortunately an issue as sensitive as this was not spared.
This write-up would not promote any particular theory, as we do not know and may never know the real truth, and no concrete evidence has been released to prove the allegations against the alleged sponsors, everybody has an opinion or theory and it might remain so till proper intelligence is obtained, thorough investigations are carried out by security agencies and those Implicated face the law for the evil atrocities they have aided. Till then we have to deal with facts and be objective in our assertions so as not to join them in their scheme of propagandas.
The fact is that to contest and win the Presidential Elections of our beloved country, one has accepted the huge task of leading and serving the most populated black nation in the world and as such must be ready to shoulder the huge responsibility that comes with the job and should live up to it. The security threat we face, might be new to our clime, but after years and trillions of Naira expended, it still seems the Government is not making any progress on the war on terrorism. It is safe to say the Government has failed in the foremost duty of providing security for its citizens so far, despite the huge sum budgeted for Defence every year.
The failure of the Government in protecting the lives and properties of citizens in the North-Eastern part of the country is a complete failure of the duty it owes all Nigerians to protect us from security threats. The blame cannot be placed anywhere but at the doorsteps of the Federal Government and it must accept the blame, the trading of blames is shameful, the opposition party is the opposition because it was not voted for to rule and it will criticise the ruling party because that is what opposition parties do all over the world. The ruling party is ruling because it was voted for and the Federal Government alone owes the citizens duties stated in the Executive List as provided for in Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Nothing can relieve the Federal Government of such duties, the fact that the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition party releases statements on the Federal Government to gain political points does not make the points raised less true and does not make the issues raised less important. Although such statements are released in their numbers almost every single week, i find it hard to blame the opposition, where the Government of the day is one with so many flaws, one that makes a goof almost every week, what choice does the opposition have but to criticise and release statements on a weekly basis too, it has to keep up with their pace.
The Insensitive and indifferent stance it sometimes takes through its actions or inactions and utterances is the most baffling of all, the most recent of them is the parody of the #BringBackOurGirls that is used in campaigning for the rescue of the Chibok girls, as a campaign to #BringBackJonathan2015. This affirmed what I had concluded a long time ago, that our Government is rather more concerned about spreading its transformation propaganda and winning another term based on this propaganda, and is less concerned about the almost concluded tenure it was voted in for in 2011.
As a concerned citizen, I believe we deserve a Government that would genuinely transform this nation, not one that whose achievements can be compared with some state Governments in spite of the huge resources at its disposal. Nigeria deserves a proactive Government, the country as it is has too many problems that cut across various sectors, the Government must be able to solve existing problems expeditiously and nip impending problems in the bud before it escalates and even put up preventive measures so such issues do not reoccur in the future. The kind Government described sounds like that which can only be found in an Utopian nation and not Nigeria, but it is possible to have such a Government at the Federal level as some State Governors have shown some of this traits, although I must enunciate that ruling a State is different from ruling the nation, but a leader should be able to think out of the box and not follow the norm in order to transform a nation, that I have not seen in this Government.
Finally, we must not forget those that have been directly affected by the current spate of insecurity in the country, the Chibok girls, their parents, the people of Chibok town, Bama town and Banki town in Borno State, also the people of Madagali town and Gulak town in Adamawa State, and the people of Bara town in Yobe state, may God give them the fortitude to endure all they are going through and we pray it all ends soon. We must also remember those that have lost their lives fighting for the nation and those that are still at the battle front fighting, their efforts must be deeply appreciated.
By Damola Olatunji
Damola is a LL.B Holder, Political Commentator and a concerned citizen
Twitter Handle: @damie_ski
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