Friday, July 25, 2008

Nigeria As Private Estate

ONE of the growing nuisances of our politics is the tendency for people in authority to personalise their offices. The dangers in these moves include the collapse of all activities related to that office if the individual so dictates. The commonest rights are awarded at the pleasure of the superintending officials who make a song of their least efforts - they are doing the people a favour.

All over the country, State Houses of Assembly, with few exceptions, are eager to do the bidding of their Governors. If they act in the interest of the people, there would have been an acceptable reason for their actions. The National Assembly is not different.

Usually, there are compromises that only become public when class fights start. Governors treat the state treasury as their private accounts, so long as legislators get their constituency projects budgets. It is uncertain what these projects are. If there have been constituency projects since 1999 where were they executed across Nigeria ’s 774 local government councils?

Who will conduct public hearings on constituency projects? Who applies over sight functions to the conduct of legislators? Have Committee Chairmen of legislative houses not been known to run the Committees as their private affairs?

Fights ensue over sharing of available resources. The collective greed of those in authority saves the public from complete exclusion from resources.

Reasons for these despoliations of the polity are located in the mood of our politics. Public office holders make massive investments to get power. Some sell their assets, borrow money, accept donations from all types of characters, kill, and set whole communities against each other. In the search for power, all standards are acceptable, so long as they result in success.

The executive arm of government has assumed powers that diminish democratic growth. It decides when to release funds for other arms of government. These days it is the practice to thank Governors and the President when they do basic things like awarding contracts or approving the release of funds.

In most States, the judiciary thanks the Governor for refurbishing its offices or if the Governor buys cars (not the State) for judicial officers. When a road is fixed, signboards are mounted at public expensive to praise the Governors, without whose sagacity, potholes on the road would not have been filled.

These days it is a common sight for delegations to visit government officials to express appreciation for execution of projects. Some buy spaces in the media to register their gratitude. The obscenity continues.

Practices that engender the craving for self-importance make public officers to exceed their powers. These various constitutional abuses are the subject of circuitous public hearings. The underdevelopment of the country is the ultimate witness to the legacies of those who sworn by the Constitution to place the interests of Nigerians above theirs.

All Nigerians who have interests in the survival of the country must work for the restoration of constitutional conducts, for the authorities realise that Nigeria is not their private estate