Toxic Politics In Our Future

What is responsible for the current cash squeeze in the country? Everywhere you go and wherever you turn, everyone is moaning. Not just the poor and the impoverished. Even the legislators who get paid N15-20m per month for spending weeks on vacation or shouting “aye” and “nay” once a week are scratching their soup-pots in search of lumps of meat.
Money is not circulating because the amount shared by the three tiers of government has reduced significantly. The anti-terror war is taking a very large chunk; oil thieves are enjoying the best of times; and government agencies are conserving money with which to fight the 2015 elections. Treasury thieves are everywhere trying to get money for politics. Karl Marx said that economics determines politics. In Nigeria, it’s the other way: politics determines economics. Nigerian politics has become toxic and so has the Nigerian economy. Do I need to explain?
You need to converse with heads of government agencies to understand how Nigeria is plundered. To get the allocation meant for an agency, the head or heads have to bribe both lawmakers on “oversight functions” and civil servants in the relevant offices. It is one reason the agencies are currently overstaffed: senators, honourable members, directors and perm secs are constantly sending lists of people that must be employed.
And how does one get appointed to offices in government agencies? The primary condition is for them to “deliver” hundreds of millions of naira to their godfathers when the politics race begins. Competence is never considered; the ability to steal undetected is what matters. Former and future thugs have worked as commissioners in many states. Knowing that government business is “lucrative”, politicians fight hard to get into the business. The red flag here is opposition politics – only those in the ruling party need apply.
Reading the treatise delivered recently by Chief Tom Ikimi to explain why he was leaving the APC [to the PDP, of course], you would understand the character of the average Nigerian politician. He was the national chairman of the NRC in the stillborn Third Republic; so it’s his birth-right to become the national chairman of the APC. And when he could not get it, the only option is to quit the party and return to the PDP he had derided in the past. I have learned, also, that oil blocks are being dispensed to political heavyweights who are expected to ditch their parties at the eleventh hour. Political conditions determine the basis of existence or economic conditions.
In a way, therefore, the 2015 elections have been concluded already. What is left is to fool the masses into believing that their votes matter. And I ask the leaders of Nigeria: why do you take us through this mire every four years? The hundreds of billions that will soon be shifted to INEC for conduct of the elections can put this country in a positive trajectory. Besides, the men and women that the “elections” will produce are not going to be productive. Why do we have this obsession with waste?
All fingers now point at politicians as the originators of “Boko Haram” that has killed almost 20, 000 people and driven millions from their homes to makeshift camps on mountains and in dangerous forests. Have we forgotten those 219 girls? And several other women hijacked by the dirty dogs and dehumanised in evil forests? The politicians who opened the nation’s doors to terrorists have not been touched by the “insurgents” because they still have stolen funds for sponsoring them. Consequently, the children and spouses of the poor keep getting kidnapped, killed or sacked from their homes.
But nobody should hope to escape from this toxic politics. Sooner than later, all of the government’s revenues may be directed to the Boko Haram war. “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be accomplished.” It was said that Nigeria did not borrow to prosecute the war against Biafra. It must now borrow to fight this second civil war; the $1billion requested by the president last month is just a tiny drop in the ocean of what is needed to prosecute a war. And, whether the war is lost or won, the economy won’t fail to respond.
It is already responding through the reduced allocations. Since almost every economic activity in Nigeria revolves around government, everybody now feels the pinch. It is the reason jobs have disappeared and several private firms cannot increase workers’ salaries. Contractors cannot be paid and traders cannot sell. It is the same reason the schools cannot function effectively: teachers are not willing to teach and pupils are not ready to learn, because everyone worries over how to make ends meet.
The ultimate nightmare is not far ahead. As John Kennedy said, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” War kills the rich as well as the poor. And, under such state of emergency, everyone can afford to be lawless. Seeking refuge in better managed countries won’t help our thieving leaders.
I have not hidden my dislike for the course Nigerian politics is taking. Almost everyone seems to be lamenting the deeds of politicians in this Fourth Republic, yet few are recommending a radical departure from the past. If I were President Jonathan, I would not have run for president even in 2011. But now he has a right to seek re-election in 2015, because none of the people asking him to step down would have done so if they were in his shoes.
Those who midwifed the Fourth Republic got it all wrong at conception by transporting Obasanjo from jail to the presidency.  At the Jos convention of the PDP, our “democrats” preferred Obasanjo to Dr Alex Ekwueme. But they later got what they deserved! Obasanjo seized the party, diminished the APP and was set to make Nigeria a one-party state. When his third term gambit failed, he forced a sick Yar’Adua on the nation; and, with Yar’Adua’s death, he abandoned the rotation agreement of his party. Obasanjo brought us to where we are today: no peace, no love, no unity – no “unity and faith, peace and progress”.  This same Obasanjo, who as head of state told us when he visited our school in 1978 that we were the leaders of tomorrow, is still pacing up and down the corridors of power and trying to direct the politics of 2015.
So, in suggesting what we should do, I am not writing anybody’s script: Because of the polluted political atmosphere and the inevitable economic collapse, President Jonathan should be helped to take bold decisions. The report of the National Conference should be implemented between now and September 30, 2015, so that a new dispensation that would exclude all the current officeholders could take off on October 1. To legitimise the four-month tenure extension, May 29 to September 30, 2015, should be a period of emergency during which we would reform our politics. After then, there would no longer be a bicameral legislature and idle officeholders guzzling a third of our resources. The 36-state structure would give way, as would the 774 local governments. Thus, the cost of governance would be cut drastically. There would be funds for solving the power problem and supporting productive ventures. There would be peace when people are put back to work.

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