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Our Circus Enters Senate

If the president looks within our governance cycles, he will see why some Nigerians are unruly

By the turn of the day, the circus would have run its course. We all would have been very well entertained and life, as they say, would go on in eternal motion but achieving not much movement. We like entertain­ment and that seems to be reason we were once described as the happiest people on mother earth, and later, as the most Champagne-consuming people. In all, we love entertainment. And in the frenzy of it, we lose focus on seriousness. Once in a while, we pretend to be serious but end up the same way we started.

As I watched the senate ‘screen’ nominee “noisemakers”, my thoughts fell back on the circus, the puppets and the puppet masters. I see our “ministers”, some with impec­cable qualifications and records of delivery appearing, one after another, to gladly, and without recourse to the bastardization of their image and quality, accept the tag “noisemaker”. Most of the names on the 36-man list do not qualify as noisemakers. They do not deserve, nor desire, that char­acterization. But they have been so characterized and it has stuck as no one had made any effort to disabuse minds that they are not indeed noise- makers as the president had present­ed them in Paris recently.

But again, give it to the president. He is a master of tact. As a soldier, he understands tactical humiliation of the other. By tactically branding those men and women as noisemakers, and later on October 1, tell the world that Nigerians (me, you, him), including those he nominated to lead with him, are “unruly”, he tactically subjects them to some form of mental and physical instrumentation. Once cleared and assigned to offices, they become instruments of noisemaking for his administration. Real faith will be on the civil servants, who as en­gine room of government, are also, the basic foundational problem of good governance delivery.

No doubt, within the civil service is found technocrats. But they have become masters of bureaucratism. As they say, soldier go, soldier come barracks remain: The minister comes and goes but the civil service re­mains. Eventually, we shall come to realize, like I had done long ago, that the major hurdle in our develop­ment journey is not about finding an A-list of human capital, who deliver fantastic and world class speeches laced with moving ideas at screening sessions in the senate, but in having a civil service that is propped up, willing, ready and prepared to move with the trend and at the same speed a minister intends. That has always been a problem. I believe, it was for this reason that most ministers, in the past, who had made success of their outings, preferred to work with consultants hired from the private sector instead of wasting time with civil servants. Fortunately, our presi­dent believes that his ministers, who would be expected to translate his programmes into concrete delivera­bles, are the noisemakers and not the civil servants who seek to know what is in a file for them before it is moved to the next office.

Those who had travelled to places like Dubai, understand, and accept that there is urgent and sacred need to change the development history of our nation. In doing that, we all look forward to having some of our best and brightest, come on board, to help navigate Nigeria out of 55 years of a rudderless journey. Those who acknowledge this need feel disap­pointed with some of the names on Buhari’s list of 21. This is basically because of the roles some of such names had played in the past. But when we understand that the trum­peter also needs to wipe his nose, we begin to see the need for an ad­mixture of the sacred and the profane in governance. Surely, some will do the work. Some others will make the noise. That is the mix which is also necessary to drum home the fact that government is working.

However, someone around the president needs to whisper some truths into his ear. Just one of them! His continued negative characteriza­tion of the Nigerian is illogic. In his first outing as military dictator, he sang the same lyrics. Nigerians are corrupt. Nigerians are undisciplined. For this, he launched WAI and un­leashed soldiers on Nigerians. With Koboko, soldiers whipped Nigerians into queues. Back after three decades, he sings the same song. Unbeknown to the president, his position has be­come a generalized fallacy which does not exclude him.

I don’t accept that Nigerians are unruly for the sake of being unruly. If the president looks within our governance cycles, he will see why some Nigerians are unruly. If Nige­rians no longer queue at bus stops to catch a molue, it is because our leaders, since 55 years ago, includ­ing him, failed to provide adequate transportation for the population. If there is always traffic snarl on the road, could it be because govern­ment, and not the people, failed to provide alternative means of trans­portation or even expand road in­frastructure? I am yet to see the Nigerian who is happy sitting in traffic for several hours while his or her job suffers. Does anyone enjoy struggling for passage on the road? Certainly, that is not the fault of the one who pays tax for services that should be provided by government.

In a city like Lagos, with aquatic endowments, a visionary govern­ment would have developed marine transport long ago and supported that with monorail. Rather, the existing roads infrastructure, like the Ikorodu Road, is reduced to two lanes by fact of the existence of BRT. Imagine the population that is forced, by govern­ment, to squeeze through those two lanes. In our clime therefore, gov­ernment forces people to behave in ways that are not no socially accept­able. This is unlike a place like Dubai where people won’t rush to join a moving bus because they know there are alternatives.





–  ACHILLEUS-CHUD UCHEGBU          e-mail: achilleus.uchegbu@theunion.com.ng

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