Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrate political mundane, remain in hole

I HAVE always wondered how and why we accept so much blatant wastage from public figures and elected officials. Why we are so complacent about this irritating wastage it's become a part of us and we don't see the wisdom in neither questioning nor attempting to stop them.
Please tell me, what is the rationale behind a state government advertising its "so called" achievements in the four pages of a major newspaper on Independence Day or any other day for that matter? Why the propaganda? If the achievements truly exist, are we so blind we can't see or harebrained we can't comprehend? Who needs to be schooled or better still fooled?
The propaganda said "pictures don't lie" and outlined four full pages of mundane feats of "Gov. Alao-Akala's indisputable achievements" of the past two years. At least N800,000 wastage of public funds that could have been best spent providing a much needed service to a school, hospital or any other public institution.
While it is true that pictures don't lie, it is also true that empty barrels make the most sound. Mundane achievements as chronicled in the propaganda included repairing and constructing new roads, providing security, equipping and renovating schools and hospitals, providing transportation, resuscitating environmental sanitation projects, distribution of welfare packages and promoting agriculture - aren't these a given of any responsible administration? Should any governor worth his/her salt expect exhalation for improving the lives of the state citizens?
For what other reason would the citizens of any state vote in their governor (that's assuming he was voted and not rigged in)? Could it possibly be to expose its citizens to armed robbers and leave them at the mercy of a health epidemic? Could it also be so our children go to schools that have neither blackboards nor chalk? I very much doubt these are the likely reason we cast (or attempt) to cast our votes.
So why then are we expected to exalt this routine task of our politicians? Perhaps it is because we don't know our self worth - individually and collectively? This is actually my pain - we have accepted to be a people of such empty contentment, we are beginning to drown in our own lack of awareness and self-worth. We must begin to learn to have expectations from our voted and/or self-appointment leaders.
We should ask Gov. Akala and his drum rolling colleagues to defend his four-page propaganda. He should be asked the graduating ratio of its citizens, what the child mortality rate is, how many beggars have been rehabilitated, how many of these recent road constructions already have potholes? Or even simply, how many of these publicised fire trucks came with engines and are there available and trained personnel to man them? Or are all these a replica of Baba Iyabo's strategy of commissioning health equipment with missing essential components? It should take more than photo tricks to satisfy us.
For a start, we should start judging by substance and not the superficial. We should judge by the quality of roads we ply daily, the medical service we get at the public hospitals, the help we get from the fire brigade, etc and not self-celebrating photos.
We tend to think our votes and voices don't count, I dare to say that's a wrong premise. Our votes might seem not count as much as they should because we find ourselves in a society of ballot hijackers, but it won't always be like this if we all make an effort and get up and about in the issues of our time. My hairdresser mentioned to me a while ago that although she has never voted before, she couldn't wait to vote in 2011. She was full of praises for what Fashola had done in her neighborhood and said she'll certainly vote him to keep in office another term. This could have played out the other way round if only most of us will bother. If Fashola hadn't lived to her expectation, it should be just as important to her (and each of us) to vote him out of office in 2011.
I must admit I was actually shocked only Oyo State had such embarrassing self-aggrandising chatter in the one paper I read that day. The governors of Enugu and Ebonyi, and the management of NNPC thought it wise to waste part of its budget on a congratulatory message to the president and some private sycophant companies did same for some governors - nothing compare to the babble of past years. Thinking of Oyo's four pages of waste again, we should ask how come Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Gombe and the few other state governors who have made measurable differences in their respective states choose not to think like Oyo State. Again, empty vessels make most sound.
Another very nauseating observation is the retention of national streets and monuments in the names of established "good for nothing" past leaders. Leaders whose only legacies are documented corruption, human right abuses, and decadence. Isn't it ironic we keep reading and talking about all the loot and ills of Abacha, 10 years after his death, and we still have streets named after him in almost every major city in the country? Nigerians, please let's start being sincere to our acts and ourselves.