Guest Writer: Olanrewaju Lawal
facebook: Lawal Olanrewaju Lee Emeritus
It is true that when a man stays in the dark for too long, he begins to see clearly and this is the case with many Nigerians living in poverty. It is no news that quite a percent of Nigeria’s population leave in abject poverty but painfully a lot have accepted it as a way of life to the extent that they regard wealth as the prerogative of a selected few or more like ritual and blood money.
Take a look at the last election; I found it ludicrous seeing Nigerians struggle for face caps and T-shirts especially the youths. Some political contestants shared tin-tomatoes, rice and other items but I must admit that these petty items successfully bought the conscience of some electorates. It is in this country politicians claim heroic status by customizing sachet toothpaste and with guts throw biscuits to people on the streets while they wave two fingers in the air from their open roof stretched cars and in excitement people fall over each other to pick biscuits from the floor. In appreciation, the people chant songs in local dialects to celebrate a man who has virtually done nothing for them but has temporarily solved their hunger problem.
Unemployed youths and other low income earners are not exempted as they would do anything to spread a false gospel of a thieving politician as long as they are compensated with data bundles and little cash to feed for the moment. It was just two weeks ago one of the popular internet warriors confessed to me that during the period of the election, he was given 5GB weekly and N20,000 each month he participated in responding to messages that will affect the credibility of his candidate.
Poverty is like a plague and its endless manifestation on our people gets so scary that one is forced to believe that the present economic reality is a deliberate attempt by the ruling class to sustain the gap between the poor and the rich for selfish motives.
How do you describe the Kaduna State Beggars Association who recently threatened to pull down the government of Gov. El-Rufai? It indeed goes a long way to show you the danger of poverty and when begging has become an unofficially registered profession and they find dignity in begging. How do you describe the large crowd that come out in protest when the EFCC arrest public officers? How do you describe the shameless display by the women who came out Unclad to protest the arrest of a former governor of Delta State in 2010 despite poverty ravaging the land? How do you describe the protest by some Igbo youths in Enugu to prevent the sack of Stella Oduah despite the miracle she performed with the huge amount spent on purchasing bullet proof vehicles or even the shameless Bayelsa youths warning the EFCC against prosecuting Sylva? In all of these, politicians enjoy the loot alone but when called for interrogation, they are quick to give as little as N500 each to the poor who carry placards with warnings in attempts to stop the EFCC from doing its job. The people are mentally imprisoned and the politicians capitalize on this fact by depriving them of basic necessities.
Last week there were fears over cholera outbreak in Udu Local Government of Delta State and with special thanks to God, our fears were allayed when the Delta state government debunked the claims but the reality on ground is the fact that despite the huge allocation received by Delta State, many communities do not have portable water. Residents of Udu Local Government fetch water to drink from the well while some go to the stream to get water to drink but these are the same people who come out to sing praises of their representatives and stage massive protests at any mention of probe. A probe is simply a thorough investigation into a matter and even though former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is an itsekiri man like me, I’ll be most delighted to see him probed. I have not accused him of anything but Nigerians must stop ethnic bigotry and demand for good governance.
As Nigerians we must ask ourselves, how has the government impacted on the common man on the street? Has the government made life easy for me by providing basic amenities like portable water, accessible roads and hospitals among others? Do I have value for the taxes I pay? If your answer to any of these questions is negative, your governor can be considered a failure. You will agree with me that it certainly calls for deliverance when youths lacking access to these basic amenities spit fire over social media in defense of the same governors or representatives who have stolen from common patrimony.
Let me use this opportunity to remind the bigots and the poor men used as touts during elections that these political thieves they defend fall sick and are flown abroad for immediate treatment. Let me also remind these bigots and poor men used as touts that the children of our public office holders attend Foreign Universities where the academic calendar is uninterrupted but the poor men can only see pictures of these foreign universities on blogs. Let me also remind them that the life in developed countries and life in Nigeria can be described as day and night. It is deliberate wickedness on the part of our leaders who tour developed countries and find it difficult to replicate what is seen abroad in Nigeria.
It is time to demand that children of public office holders school in Nigeria maybe then Nigerian Universities will get the needed attention from the government. It is also time to demand that public office holders receive treatment in Nigeria maybe then the government will focus on building a state of the art facility that will measure up with foreign standards and issues of striking medical workers will become history.
We must remind ourselves that the effect of bad leadership is not necessarily felt by the leader but the citizens and this explains the rising insecurity. Painfully that poor policeman who cannot fend for his family is given arms to protect the overfed politician. Painfully that poor policeman who resides in the barracks with dilapidated structures is made to beat up poor men in the name of protecting his Oga. We must remember that people who died in the last elections were all children of the poor.
You must remember that the peanut received from politicians will take care of a meal for a short period but the gains of good governance are everlasting and this explains why politicians will bid you farewell after the expiration of their tenure to relax in countries that are properly planned by sincere leaders.
As I open your eyes to the truth, kindly pray that the Former Petroleum Minister recovers fully and God should give her strength so that she can hurriedly come back home to account for her years in the Petroleum Ministry.