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Political Appointments: “politics of Recycling Hands” Will Lead Nigeria to Nowhere

There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian political system unlike most of us assume, have you bothered to cogitate on why many countries of the world do not bother to find out whether there is anything in the wrong with their constitutional provisions or not, yet these countries are doing buoyantly well  economically and politically?

I am not writing to justify the Nigerian constitution, but rather to glaringly state that there are in many ways, areas we have continued to consciously maintain that the country should remain in her present situation of underdevelopment. Nigeria’s problems are too numerous to account, but let us try to mention the ones which glaringly occur.

We are all aware of the country’s problems, even our governmental people cannot claim ignorance of this, and I also know that these problems are not insolvent as we can solve them but because we shy away from doing so for the fear of losing out in amassing a lot more wealth from the country’s economy. This urge amassing indefinable proportion of wealth from the country’s purse is the beginning of corruption which today is growing bigger than its perpetuators.

 For the benefit of strangers to Nigeria’s problems, I shall possibly highlight the pressing problems confronting us today as a nation, as I do, bear in mind that Nigeria’s problems by far surpass those I shall highlight here because Nigeria is a country where nothing is just right from constant power failure to death traps called bad roads. The Nigerian people have never seen the good side of life and its beauties, we all are simply inured to sufferings crowned with smile.  A friend, who traveled out of the country to Sweden, called back after precisely 2 weeks to scream to friends here that the country was like it was rugged.

Nigeria’s problems no matter how much of them I will highlight still find its grouping under bad leadership and corruption. Whereas these two vices exist side by side, bad leadership begat corruption and corruption begat underdevelopment, so obviously, underdevelopment is the grandchild of bad leadership, parented by the nation’s selfish political office holders and passed down to the generality of Nigerian children who think nothing but how to make money. Today, very many of Nigerians can resist reading Nigerian dailies because no good news ever emanates from the country, what you consider juicy is trade of blames among the big politicians in our land, accusations of corruption, electoral judgments, neglect of certain parts of the country, trials of ex-governors, predicaments of ex EFCC Boss, just mention them.

So we have bad leadership, corruption, denial of right to qualitative education through poorly organized admission processes, denial of right to qualitative health services and facilities through unattainable imposition of medical fees and expenses (Lagos State falls under this category), lack of infrastructures in the country, imposition of increasing of increasing taxes on traders especially Lagos State, which sends even ordinary “pure water sellers” back to far more worst situations. All of these problems have worsened the plight of the people of Nigeria and has grossly subjugated more than 82% of Nigerians to poverty.   

One problem which by far I thought the Yar’ Adua administration could correct for good was governance with old and tired recycled hands which since independence has led the country to where. I feel disappointingly surprised that our government has failed to learn that this very tradition has ensured that the nation does not see improvement even when defined from any perspective of what “development” should mean. Why will a country with group of few people in the society that have run it since decades without improvement and fresh ideas record developments in any sphere of life. It is a sad situation for the country and her citizens, because we have lost any hope that improvement will come our way with same people who have ruled us since independence and lacking in potent ideas.

Nigeria with a population of 250 million people with more than 500 ethnic groups and hundreds of languages and dialects, it is the same old song and story for leadership hands. This is something most people do not talk about but it is like worms eating off our heads. In reference to Orji Kalu’s comment, while he was still a secondary school student, Olusegun Obasanjo as the then Head of State, paid his school an official visit, and in his speech pointed out that the they as the youth were the leaders of tomorrow, yet Orji Kalu would turn a full blown man decades later with Obasanjo’s return as the President of Nigeria, so what opportunity does Kalu have as the potential leader of tomorrow?

I do not know what qualifications it takes to win political appointments in Nigeria’s governmental system; qualifications do not exist in determining what political appointment anyone can get, except that it is an avenue of compensation, simply put. It is as a result of this that capable hands are never employed to work for the country’s good, and we the ordinary masses are at the losing end because when health facilities are lacking, like all al university teaching hospitals in Nigeria lack modern health facilities. Modern diagnostic equipment cannot be found in most parts of the country. I hope you still recall that no Nigerian university is ranked among the 500 universities in the world.

Obasanjo ruled Nigeria twice, but his return was disastrous to the African continent as a whole, unknown to Buhari and Atiku, talks in the Nigerian streets especially in the southern part of the nation negatively centres on what it would seem like returning Buhari or Atiku after the experiences drawn from Obasanjo’s return as the country’s president and his failed third term extension bid. Nigerians are obviously tired of hearing same names in the political arena of the country, appearing, disappearing and reappearing. The people would prefer to vote in an unknown character because we think that unknown individuals are preferable to tried hands. Return of past government officials when the country has not improved are like putting a new wine in an old bottle.  

Once you find yourself in Nigeria’s corridor of power, you have probably won for yourself and family a lifetime contract, because it is only death that can do you apart with you newfound journey. Even death is incapable of separating your family from political appointment in Nigeria, because at your death, your children, children have inherited a gift of appointment. Two things are basically wrong with the assignment of political appointments in Nigeria. Firstly, as stated here once in power, one expectedly remains in power until he is no more courtesy of death, even he is considers to have failed by one administration, another administration that comes to power finds him useful again. His is one identifiable system of granting political appointments in Nigeria.

Today, Rilwan Lukeman, a man in his 70s has returned as the country’s Minster of finance, and the Nigerian people are wondering what again he owes us with the Minitry’s portfolio, are there no more capable hands that can deliver to the country? For Christ’s sake, Nigeria cannot be lacking of brains that can positively better the petroleum sector that can effectively run the industry. Will Rilwan Lukeman construct more refineries for the country? Will he even repair the non-functional ones, something he did not consider doing for ages as the Minister of that very sector? The moment I noticed the name of Lukeman on list of ministerial nominees as presented to the senate, I surmised he was to return to his former home which is the petroleum ministry. Was your guess as good as mine? Her perhaps needed to continue from he left-off several years ago.

We also have a system, which sees individuals winning political appointments in Nigeria where criteria are lacking. A man who read Arabic or Christian Religious Studies in our University system could head our “Science and Technology Ministry”. Is this not interesting? Dora Akunyili, a medical Doctor who contributed so much to the war against substandard drugs in the country lost her job in other to head Information Ministry. Imagine the relationship between these two Ministries? An anti fake drug crusader will now take up the responsibility of protecting the image of the Federal Government through publicities and unnecessary press conferences whenever the State appears challengers by a personality like Wole Soyinka whose views against the government cannot be ignored for any reason at all. Was Sam Egwu, an ex Governor of Ebonyi State compensated with the Education ministry? 

Save your laughter for Abba Sayyadi Ruma, a PhD holder in International Relations, who now carries the portfolio of Agriculture Ministry, Was baba ever taught how hoes and cutlasses are held? Ironically Mustapha Shettima, a PhD holder in Agriculture, a very learned man, will be defending the territorial integrity of the nation as the nation’s Minister of Defence. Does this erudite agriculturalist know how a gun is held? The federal government of Nigeria at long last decided to replace is knowledge of growing and harvesting with attacking and defending diplomacies. A pharmacist, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio will head the transport Ministry. Dr. I. Y. Lame, an educationist and former principal in a secondary school will head Police Affairs Ministry, where he will be tackling insecurity. He has been promoted beyond his field of knowledge; he is obviously replacing his cane with a tear gas. Are these men who are accomplishments in their various field not square “giant” pegs in round holes? The world may be laughingly waiting on how this men will function will record successes in their assignments.

The situation as seen above is not strange to Nigerians, where a graduate in Yoruba Literature works as a cashier in a Nigerian Bank, and a graduate in Laboratory Technology works with Power Holding Company of Nigeria. But I choose to remind our politicians and political appointees that a Professor in Medicine could become an illiterate in History, and a graduate of Estate Management could become an illiterate in Electrical electronics, consequently, a Mathematics professor may just turn out to be an Illiterate where it concerns Igbo Language as a discipline. So they should not complain or pass the buck when they fail to succeed since the impression is that our politicians are more concerned about wealth than making societal achievements.

It is on this note that I leave you with the question of “can this country benefit from their services when politics is always triumphing over competence and experience? (Saturday Punch, December 20, 2008)

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