Work More, Talk Less About Feeble Achievements By Moses Okpogode

Work More, Talk Less About Feeble Achievements By Moses Okpogode
February 09 23:53 2016

At the weekend, I was in Edo state for a funeral. The trip from Abuja took us approximately six hours. We traversed two states and the Federal Capital Territory on a distance of over 450 kilometers of largely incomplete and abandoned road projects, from the Gwagwalada end of the cadastral Trunk ‘A’ road to Uromi in Edo.

It was a trip of woes evident by worn-out and congested roads littered with crashed vehicles alongside and even on the main expressway. Sights of wailing passengers standing by casualties of fatal car crashes, victims who a few hours earlier were co-passengers were the main features. The absence of rapid emergency operations for survivors made the scenes more depressing.

This scenario was particularly common between Lokoja and Okene. On the busy single-carriage way road shared by cars, buses and trucks, the road was mostly partially or permanently blocked by cement ferrying trucks from the nearby Dangote Cement factory in Obajana and from Okpella in Edo State. A few kilometers before Okpella, a new town is coming up. A fast growing settlement from where limestone are ferried to the Okpella cement factory.

I learnt that the sprawling settlement will also accommodate a new cement manufacturing plant under construction by one of Nigeria’s leading manufacturers. Sadly, there was no noticeable presence of any form of government in sight. No law enforcement agents, no town planners and no sanitary inspectors. All you find are poor, struggling and desperate Nigerians who have built shacks to display wares for sale and huts, probably to house truck drivers who may wish to make use of such makeshifts structures as temporary abodes in the settlement. One could count over 300 trucks on the crudely excavated land on the left hand side of the road from Okene in Kogi State, which is only a few dozen kilometers north of Okpella.

I’m sure the ever knowing Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is already aware of the development or he is playing blind to it now until it has grown out of proportion just ready for tax collections then it will be recognized. At that time it would have grown from a small community into a small cosmopolitan town, probably providing hideout for all kinds of criminal elements.

That settlement is akin to the sorry state of Nigeria today. This is a country that provides for a few who then lord it over all and still label them criminals. If you observe very carefully, in the past 55 years, the Nigerian budget has been developed to service only about three million living and dead public servants who served and are still serving in different capacity. Their children and those of their cousins, the traditional rulers are sponsored abroad on scholarships. Others attend military academies, intelligent services trainings and foreign services to remain within the realm of government and circle of affluence. The government has never been for the poor and the have nots. There has been no social security programme for poor and vulnerable amongst us since the beginning of time. None championed by past administrations in this country just for the masses. None! What you hear and see are superficial programme especially after coups and during campaigns geared at enriching the already rich elite, party faithfuls and conduit pipes for exploitations of resources.

It’s 2016 and it hasn’t stopped. A nation of more than 170 million people yet unable to accurately register its citizens and have no clue who they are or what they do. It’s laughable that such an administration is pretending to formulate a policy on providing social benefits for its one million poorest citizens. Who are the 1 million poorest of the poor? Anyways, that’s one for another day.

The Nigerian people have been so plundered and exploited by those that stole it’s mandate since the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta and the oil boom that followed in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Those who held sway in military uniforms when their counterparts in East Asian countries like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia were building economies are today named political fathers. Others are using the new opportunities they have to make amends by just curbing corruption in the form of arrests, detentions and court trials when other developing nations are moving on, building vibrant economies and transparent institutions that make the incidences of corruption minimal, easily traced with culprits apprehended and punished appropriately.

At every given time the country wants to leapfrog into growth it is denied that opportunity out of selfishness and sectional greed. We are down to the basis again 101 years after the formation of Nigeria. The only countries in which you can’t walk up to a bank as an ordinary citizen to access soft loans except you are a politician or civil servant. Or being amongst the other privilege few. You pay taxes despite building your own community schools, educating yourselves, sheltering yourselves, providing borehole water for yourselves and even providing yourselves access paths to and within your neighborhoods. It’s your duty to pay dues to the police officers detailed to a division near you to effect regular patrol of your neighborhood against common criminals.

You are at the mercy and favour of the government and its officials who swore to an oath to be faithful, fair and sincere but drum it on you that they are cleaning Augean stables that the over 170 million Nigerians made dirty when the government is seen not to be working. Employing us to clap for them when an alleged corrupt official is under investigation and hail them for mopping up funds into a channel from all the numerous banks where they were being held. Forgetting that, that is why they are voted and are paid to do. Every flimsy thing is an achievement that overrides the true definitions of success.

Achievement is getting something from nothing. Using skills and applying courage and not getting something from something. It is therefore embarrassing when a government and its headship get on the cup in hand begging mode from one country to the other drench in self pity to arouse international sympathy in asking for assistance in a world that most country’s economy is crippling. With all regional divides, north to south and east to west seriously affected but a few exemptions.

No desperations at going into the drawing board to see how it can make a change or turn things around for the people. But making inconclusive pronouncements as to what it will do and what’s doing and who it will undo. The administrations do not need all of that. The government has been voted in to provide the social developmental deficits it identified in its campaigns. Now it has the floor and the opportunity, it should design its visions, make them missions, build on them and recreate them where necessary. Since the government doesn’t also want to consolidate on past achievements, if there are any, then they should build new things like roads on new paths so we can stop using the ones built over the years by the Peoples Democratic Party administration and are now wearing away.

There is no time for these window dressing we see every day on televisions and read in the newspapers. Oil prices have fallen. That is a fact! So, plan according to what you have. Various taxes have been introduced into an economy that is reeling from the impact of fallen oil prices with no complains about what they are losing because we all have faith in the administration. Use those taxes for the works you want to embark upon. They are not funds for savings and no one is going to praise you for keeping a depreciating naira. There is no value in it. Make use of them. Complete road, rails and housing projects. Provide good policies for the private sector to thrive in the provision of electricity, water and industrialization.

Not giving opportunity to noise makers and government workers who must do their works whether in good or bad fate. The president knows that these set of people are always the major beneficiaries of a failing state. Their counterparts, the civil servants, work with all administrations and administrators. Sometime when people say some civil servants made their money through corrupt means I laugh at their ignorance because you could be a multi millionaire without stealing a dime for just being a privileged public servant. There was a case of a photographer who received a call from his bank manager for managing very huge accounts. Making monthly multiple deposits without single withdrawals and showing no physical presence in banking halls to demand anything during the Obasanjo era.

That has not changed today. Anyone who works with the President, Vice President and any other of the officials amongst equals and is permanently on the foreign trip of the President, governors and ministers collecting estacodes (in scarce dollars) and still getting his accommodation paid for by the government can never feel the economic pinch. He will be growing richer while his contemporaries are experiencing a quick lean. He will see everything good about the administrations’ non economic direction and the absolute stasis in the provision of infrastructures. Because he is returning from foreign and local trips to bank his naira or change his dollars to naira in the hands of Zone 4 money changers who the President has however labeled as dubious not knowing that his staff could also be providing them with foreign exchange at parallel market rates. That is the reality that you wouldn’t hear from the supposed army of change. Only the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had gotten the President conscientized about it just yesterday.

Alas we are still in it together. When the country suffers degradation and its people are disparaged because of the deed and pronouncements of its leaders, it’s not just the people that suffers it but everyone of us including the children of such leaders if not now but after their days in office. We don’t have any other country but NIGERIA. If we have to build it we must and do it now. There is no reason to being political, regional and sectional or playing lip service about it. There is no gain at disapproving that we are retrogressive disgraceful. However we can be better criminals who would want to be known to better the lot of their people like the fairy tales hero, Robin Hood than gambling on our last chances to make impact in the era of global economic competitions and internal growth and development.

Twitter @MOkpogode