By kingsley Ogbeide-Ihama
Explaining why his former boss, a past governor in one of the Southern states did nothing to address the infrastructural decay during his tenure, the aide said it was strategic for the roads to be left in such deplorable condition in order not to encourage faster escape route for fleeing armed bandits, who were ravaging the state at that time.
I believe you would consider such remedy to security concerns as provocative and ridiculous. For the aide as a Senior Special Assistant to the governor at that time; he was simply relying on the pattern of governance in Nigeria being a matter of personal discretion; and of course where any political excuse becomes tenable when there are no precepts to abide by, and the public equally lacking a standard gauge to measure performance: A case of every student having a personal example to follow; and the teacher having his personal marking scheme to use. Just as my Benin people would say of a situation where the outcome does not lead to any person being questioned, reprimanded or imprisoned; the narrative is handled with levity.
The lessons I have been receiving from my friend’s tenant, a mechanic with whom I struck acquaintanceship when I accompanied the friend to demand a pending 8 month’s rent from him, have really gotten me wondering about how people assess government’s performance.
For pleading to his landlord (my friend) to allow him some more time to pay up the debt, the mechanic presumed on my understanding of his plight and the economic realities to foster a cordiality, culminating in regular calls each time naira gained a fraction over the dollar.”Sir, did I not tell you that Nigeria will get better … Just today; my radio announced that naira has defeated the dollar again…So you can see that President Buhari is working…everything will get better soon” closing every telephone conversation with an affirming laughter from his end.
Whether such information about the naira rocking up and down against the dollar should become the only criteria for assessing a government’s performance, or the mechanic views it as a ploy to keep our relationship frequently refreshed and undoubtedly enlisted to do his bidding of persuading the landlord about his keen interest in having the situation improve and a debt redemption effected; for me, the mechanic is only emphasizing the state of limbo I find nauseating about our current federal government which has tied all its actions and inactions to the performance of the foreign exchange rate, and a rising and falling oil revenue earnings. Such, making the bigger picture across the entire landscape of Nigeria to reveal so many hue and cries in a matter that ought to take the matrix of global political and economic situations to determine, while Nigeria is apparently lagging in concentrating and maximizing the gains of what it could control as a nation. knowing fully, that the growth of any nation depends on what it is doing internally rather than what is happening externally around it.
How would the daily watching of an eternal melee between the dollar and naira translate to the mechanic paying off his debt or improving his skills for better quality and cost effective services? On a practical note, how does the ding-dong of oil price becloud a national agricultural project to jumpstart the process of mitigating soaring cost of agricultural produce, create jobs and arrest capital flight?
Yes, the lamentation has been all about allowing our economy to slide massively towards import dependent. The regret has been about a profound leaching culture ushered in through Hydra-headed corrupt patterns. We have also identified stunted or even declining political development which has failed to rake in the much needed political and economic emancipation from the clutches of imperialism to the awakening of altruistic self-determination.
A Chinese proverb says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Are we just going to keep mouthing our desires as a nation? Is the summation of all we desire only fitting as letters well enshrined in our constitution and not actions? Do we need to tell ourselves that developing a nation is not just about watching the dwell between the naira and foreign exchange? Or is it all about blaming who and what has poured oil on the economic surface which has been making the price of petroleum products keep slipping to a crash?
Very easily, some fortuitous economists have been telling Nigerians that the parlous state of the nation’s economy is caused by a current global recession. But as a matter of fact; to what effect is such knowledge of global issues to Nigerians if not emulous to that former governor’s aide and his supposedly well-founded excuse to tranquilize societal opprobrium against governmental lollygaging? Why are such politically-minded economists not flaunting their solutions than mainly the excuse-based knowledge?
Right now, it cannot be said enough that Nigeria does not need the set of leaders who would put the excuses before the solutions. Nigeria certainly need rulers who are not brilliantly watching when external conditions are favourable or not; but who are tactfully doing what are internally needful when conditions are favourable or not? Nigeria does not need leaders who would see the population spread and begin to think of how to induce more votes from each region; but how to inspire each region into a robust production field and increase the outcome of national ingathering. Nigeria does not now need leaders who would look at its teeming youths and begin to consider the huge number of action-packed thugs that could be moulded from their unemployment crisis; but leaders that would see the teeming youths as veritable assets in priming a strong and healthy nation. Today and for all time, Nigeria needs leaders who have the standard gauge in their hearts minds and actions; and not just in their campaigns and excuses, because it is absolutely dangerous to keep compromising the standard gauge.