NIGERIA: THREE ARMS OF GOVERNMENT OR THREE ARMS OF COMEDY?

Abayomi G. Omotayo



It was Otunba Gadaffi, the brain behind Dignified Mobile Toilets that said ‘shit business is serious business’. I agree. If you have ever been cornered at an inconvenient location by this call of nature then you are also likely to agree with that statement. Yes real shit happens and it is serious but government business is serious business too, a more serious business.
Unfortunately since independence Nigeria has had and continues to have largely comedic leaders at all levels. This explains why there hasn’t been any serious governance and development after fifty six years of independence. We were once touted as one of the happiest people on the earth. This is no surprise considering all the laughter from the comedy called Nigeria besides Fela Anikulapo Kuti frankly described us as a suffering and smiling people.

I do not believe in crying over spilt milk, it is pointless anyway besides I will rather bother about not letting another one spill. In the light of this, I will not dwell on the period between 1960 and 2015 especially from 2011 to May 28, 2015. Nigerians got tired of the endless comedy and unseriousness. They decided to change that. Enters the APC government headed by President Buhari. It now appears that the change we have is an increase in comedy and not a total deviation from unseriousness that Nigerians asked for with their voters’ card. Let’s now examine some out of the numerous comedy skits that have been produced by the present administration.

Skit One
Customs boss and the Senate. Please do not be distracted by all the drama. The senate is only interested in the man appearing in his official uniform to the senate. They have made it clear and stressed this enough. They do not care what he wears after that. Are they more concerned about taming the man and proving to him that they are bigger than him or are they really interested in seeing that he conforms at all times if the law compels him to do so anyway. Now that the case is in court and for God knows when, maybe till the end of the tenure of this present government, it means he will not appear before the senate. Even if he does, what will transpire having suspended the policy which made them invite him in the first place? Imagine this conversation;

Senate (I imagine senator Dino speaking): can you explain to us in clear terms why you brought this draconian policy of burdening the people who voted us in to ameliorate their sufferings (never mind that it is the senators’ suffering instead of the masses that have been abundantly ameliorated. This is validated by the display of opulence on social media while the senate’s finances remain as dark as the devil’s heart)? How can you ask the people to come and pay duties on cars they bought years ago? This is not only wrong but exceedingly wicked.

Customs boss: (clears throat) distinguished senators; the law gives me the power to do that so I am acting within the ambit of the law (he confidently quotes the relevant section of the Customs and Excise Management Act – CEMA). However, this policy has been suspended pending wider consultation.

Senate: (loud chorus) ooookay. The senate president cuts in, thank you for honouring this invitation, we now understand. You may now take your leave (bangs gavel).
Customs boss: thank you for having me.

This is less than ten minutes interaction yet we have had and still continue to have days of unnecessary noise by the parties involved. At the end of the day, the senators will get their sitting allowance for doing their job and the retired Colonel will continue to be the customs boss. The call for his removal is mere noise making and our leaders have learnt that art. It works on us like magic, makes it seem like they are working. Case closed.

Skit Two
The secretary to the government of the federation, David Babachir Lawal and the senate. Mr. Lawal is in the eye of the storm allegedly for his role in the two hundred million naira grass cutting contract in Yobe state. In case you are surprised by this figure, please do not be. It is normal. We are talking about ‘invasive plant species’ so therefore the amount needed to do the job must be massive. He has now gone to court (did I hear someone shout ‘judiciary again’?) to challenge that invitation therefore he will not be appearing. Okay let’s break this down; the senate accuses you, a whole you! of cornering two hundred million naira in an unethical way but you believe that you have done nothing wrong. Now the senate is giving you an opportunity to explain yourself and possibly clear your name but instead of honouring that invitation you resort to going to court to challenge that invitation. Is this not comedy?

Skit Three
2016 budget padding scandal. Not to go over stale gist (this is now stale because Nigerians have short memory and attention span therefore revolution worthy scandals are easily forgotten), here is just the summary. It was alleged that the budget was padded. The president was furious and he spoke. This is golden because even with is preference for foreign media, he rarely speaks. He vowed to deal with the perpetrators of the padded budget. These are not my words though but according to the dailies. Nigerians were furious. The man at the center of the scandal, speaker Dogara of the house of representatives went to Aso Rock (our own version of White House or 10 Downing Street), had a meeting with the same president that was furious over the padded budget, came out of the meeting, accosted by the press while still inside Aso Rock and boldly declared that budget padding is not an offence anywhere in the world. He reminded us that he is a lawyer to validate his claim and that he knows what he is talking about. Months after, the angry president has not dealt with anybody, and Mr. Jibrin, the man who blew the whistle has been suspended for one legislative year. We have all now forgotten about this serious issue. Is this not comedy?

Until we get serious as a nation, we will never be taken serious by other governments (for example South Africa and the Unites States of America treating Nigerians as jokes either at the point of entry and particular to South Africa, inside the country) neither are we ever going to witness any serious development. Here goes my advice to this present administration; you have two years left, make a sharp u-turn from being comedic and get to the business of governance because government business is serious business.

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