In a statement released by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to…
By Kurtis Adigba
Years ago, I stumbled on a prayer by a man. He said” Lord show me my friends, for my enemies I know”. What a prayer! It is possible to see, or perceive enemies as friends.
The Nigerian political elites, are enemies of the people posing as their friends- frenemies. The political elites are selfish, and calculatingly manipulative. They are clever at wiping up sentiments at the expense of the real issues affecting the masses. The truth, the simple truth is: they don’t care. They don’t give a damn about the people. When they see the people, they are seeing votes, not people. They talk so much of the people in high sounding words, but it is all empty words. No substance, no concrete intentions and actions. They are experts at weaponizing poverty and religion to divide and rule the people.
The typical elites, equates their personal interest with the interests of their communities, States, and even religion. If they are in power, the benefits go to them, their families and associates. If they are not in power, it is their communities, States, and religions that are being treated unfairly by the power that be. Then you hear stories like’ this government hate our people’ there is nepotism’ the government is pro Islam or Christianity ‘ and so on. How many communities and states can truly say that they benefited from their daughters or sons being in power?
Obasanjo, was President for 8 years, what did he do for the Yorubas in concrete terms? He couldn’t even do the Lagos-Ibadan Road nor the Ota road leading to his farm. Jonathan was President for 5 years plus, what did he do for the Ijaws beyond empowering some few friends and associates? He didn’t do the road leading to his state. For 8 years, the Southeast occupied the office of the president of the senate, what did they do? The Southeast, have the worst roads and infrastructure in Nigeria. For 8 years, David Mark, was president of the senate, how did that impact positively the living standards of the Idomas? What about governors, ministers, representatives and senators? Nothing. The people, are only pawns on the political chessboards of the political elites.
The political elites are fixated on the political objectives as contained in sections 14 & 15 of the Constitution, and never on section 16 that deals with the economic goals for the people. Section 14(3)provides” The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”. S14(4) provides” The composition of the Government of a State, a Local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the Federation”. How many States, Councils, Agencies, and organizations( government) are observing or complying with these provisions? But all we hear is about federal appointments! Even in States, Councils, and Agencies, where appointments are heavily lopsided in favor of a few, you find leaders of such bodies pillorying the federal government for not observing the same provisions. There are States in this country that people from certain parts of the states can never be governor, speaker or chief judge.
Recently, I was a guest at a radio Programme. Our conversation veered off into the politics of domination by some ethnic groups in Nigeria. The other guest was vehement in his view that democracy, is a game of numbers, and as such, it was okay for his people to dominate the politics of the state to the near exclusion of other groups. But then in a sudden twist, he posited that the domination of political power by the Northern part of the country, was totally unjustifiable. I remanded him that he said democracy is a game of numbers, and he said” democracy is also about fairness”. You see the hypocrisy of the elites, they approbate and reprobate at the same time so long as it is in their interests. Ethnic oppressors and champions, are posing as national leaders for selfish interests. And even when the positions are fairly distributed, who gets them? The same political elites. How many new faces have you seen in government in the last 18 years plus? It is the same people moving from one place to another. When they can’t get what they want, then the people are the ones being cheated and not the political elites who are the ultimate beneficiaries.
Section 16(1) provides” The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution -
(a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy; and,
(b)control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
16(2) provides” The State shall direct it’s policy towards ensuring-
(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good:
(c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group; and
(d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age, care and pensions, and unemployment , sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens”.
Do you hear the political elites talk about suitable and adequate shelter, and food for the people? What about minimum living wage and pensions for the retired? Do they care about the welfare of the sick, aged, and the disabled in our midst? No. In fact, the only time you hear about these things are during campaigns. All that the elites are concerned about, is the fair distribution of political opportunities, not economic equality or adequacy for the people. Did you know that these things are in the Constitution?
The political elites, are just out to use the people and gain power for their selfish interests. And that is why, we the people, must be sober and vigilant. We must ask ourselves: is this about us? Is he or she our champion? What has he or she done for us in the past? What can he or she do now? And is he or she sincere?
God, please help the people to know their friends. God bless Nigeria.
Kurtis Adigba is the Principal Partner at Kurtis Adigba and Company