By: Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh
Recall that the said exotic cars had been purchased and awaiting delivery before the Covid-19 pandemic barreled its way onto the political scene. Four hundred units of Toyota Camry 2020 was on February 5th, 2020 agreed to be purchased and distributed to the 360 members of the Green chamber of the national assembly. So far, about one hundred units have arrived and awaiting distribution. Information about the unit cost of one of these ‘official cars’ has pegged it at about $29,000 to $35,000 USD.
It is unfortunate if not unpardonable, that this lifestyle of lavish and reckless abandon that characterized our democracy has become the norm to the point that everything and everyone must become a part of remaking the life of the average political leader to be at par with those of their counterpart in countries that enjoyed economic stability. That the idea of making the personalities of our representatives bold and civil was trendy does not mean it must cost the whole budget of the federation to finance.
The mention of the word: democracy in today’s political parlance as far as Nigeria is concerned is like alluding to waste or unproductivity or even synonymous to the politician’s paradise; prompting the timed question Is Democracy still a government of the people…? For amid a limping economy, crass corruption in public service, a greatly misinformed citizenry divided against self and a parasitic political class, the idea of spending billions of borrowed monies on exotic cars smacks of anachronism!
And in the face of all these, the average tax payer continues to labor to give to the government but with nothing tangible to point to as benefit. The other day, former Senator Dino Melaye (SDM) in his post about a certain F-Virus; released a picture of himself around his power-bike, smiling. And that got me thinking of how much his constituency really benefitted during his stay in the national assembly and how much of the executed projects are still being enjoyed as at the time of writing this piece.
For most of us know and will agree that the cost of one power-bike alone could finance at least 15 motorized boreholes (from start to finish per unit cost of #800,000 naira) for his people and that the cost of all his exotic cars (some of which is public knowledge) could give the entire constituencies within Kogi state of Nigeria at least 5 motorized boreholes each! This is not to suggest that SDM may not have positively impacted his people but to bring us to the point of asking ourselves critical questions about what these dividends should be.
Dividends of democracy. Exactly what does this mean? Is it about the sinking of motorized boreholes? Is it about building or renovating of classroom blocks? Is it about giving out farm implement to the youths and aged for the purposes of farming? Is it about creating awareness on some epidemics or giving of free medical outreach? Is it appointing former thugs into juicy positions as reward for loyalty? Is it about doling out cash sums to the ‘poorest of the poor’ as they are so said?
For me, the dividend of democracy should be about transforming the lives of the citizens from a dependent population to creators of wealth. To achieve this, the right kind of education must be put in place. Never has it occurred to our political gladiators – both today and yester years – that the current educational curriculum is hopelessly incapable of transforming the mindset of Nigerians from Third world perspective to one of First world. The consciousness of time is neither there nor is the spirit of competition.
Graduates are churned out of school every year and most of them go without gainful employment until they are confused or above the employment age bracket. But these are our realities because these group of persons we called our leaders cared nothing about turning their masses into usefulness. They are neither ready to put a stop to epileptic power supply nor are they ready to reward the virtues of sincerity, hard work and merit.
While you spent time preparing yourself for better prospects, they are lining up their lazy relatives and ill-qualified friends for the top-job! Life has become three times more difficult to live in Nigeria than in any part of the world. Folks preferred to risk their luck by traveling through the deserts to Europe and Asia. The citizens cannot hold their leaders to account because they are a part and a parcel of the rot in the system. The religious system is now in the pockets of the political class and so is the judiciary.
The only way that democracy could become a government of the people as in other climes is for the political class to realize the enormity of the work load at their door step. Imagine, that Nigeria is yet to fix electricity in this age and time when the world talked about going electric cars. Imagine that while countries spent millions on fumigating against the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigeria cared more about conserving monies like they’ve given too much to the masses before now.
Imagine that while leaders of the world were open about their Covid-19 status, leaders in Nigeria thought about arresting the likes of Omoyele Sowore for publicly disclosing their Covid-19 status. The lockdown – occasioned by the pandemic – as witnessed the world over, followed a pattern. World leaders doled out welfare packages to help cushion the economic hardship of the pandemic on her citizens but Nigeria’s lockdown is proudly supported by a mean and brutal taskforce that ensured compliance.
For a richly endowed country like Nigeria to have mismanaged her patrimony to the extent of relying on borrowed monies from China, other world powers and donor/philanthropic organizations to run her democracy is enough evidence that pointed to a mentally unstable and kleptomaniac ruling class. Every day, since the discovery that democracy in Nigeria is about the ruling; the citizens grappled with hard choices of either surviving in a legitimate way or joining the select majority who are corrupt and lawless.
Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh; an advocate for attitudinal change writes from Abuja. 08062577718.