Nigeria--Understanding The Politics Of Palliatives 101

The war that the two-eyed person saw and fled is the same the one-eyed person vows he will join.

I will start this admonition by asking, what is really wrong with Nigeria, is it the people, her leaders, the political structure, or maybe there is nothing wrong, we are actually supposed to be this way?

In the heat of the subsidy induced strike, the president had promised that civil servants would be paid on the 20th of every month. First no one was sure that he was referring to all civil servants.

He must have meant federal civil servants because as he spoke many state civil servants were being owed December salaries and off course I know a for a fact that many federal civil servants were being owed too and no one bothers about the private sector workers, in many a private sector that depends on the public sector.

As I write this, it is already the 51st of the month if you take into cognisance that its already 20th of February and 31 days of January gone and salaries have not been paid.

How the payment of salaries for work legitimately done translates to palliatives remains a mystery.

The president promised that he was going to cut a percentage of his salary and that of the executive arm. I can say that for sure the executive arm of government, in this case Ministers are not being owed January salaries and no one can say for sure that their salaries were short any percent.

In the heat of pressure not only were buses promised, but some of us had the privilege of electricity on that day and were treated to the launch of some of the diesel-powered-smoking buses.

While I do not want to court controversy on the sources, and condition, and terms associated with those buses. The irrevocably truth is that many Nigerians after almost eight weeks are yet to see the buses anywhere. They were simply launched and sent back to where they were taken from.

Governing and steering the ship of state in a nation as complex as Nigeria n itself is no mean task, but when we are saddled with a leadership that suffers acute shortage in integrity and a followership that remains docile and is beset by its own acute poverty of the mind, this is what we get...failed promises.

In the next few months, the possibility or rather reality of another round of strikes looms as one wonders how an unpaid N18,000 would take one home, when indeed it cannot take one to the bus stop.

When PMS was N65, and the 'subsidians' were calling the shots, there were was fuel everywhere, while we sat at home protesting the fuel at N141, it was everywhere, when it became N97, it simply disappeared in many states of the federation and still is available everywhere at black-market prices.

The above tells you the complexity of the Nigerian state. The removal of subsidy whether real or imagined, the dramatics of the probe by the National Assembly: does not remove the fact that palliatives cannot rule out the economic problems created by removal of subsidy.

Off course one needs to understand all the promises of palliatives from the standpoint of a person who one hand promises what he does not have, while on the other, and even if he had it, does not intend to deliver it.

It's almost becoming an old record harping on the apparent woeful failure of government in meeting its responsibilities but we cannot stop stating that which is obvious, for fear of the possibility that government's failure may be due to its limited knowledge--When a Sanusi, or Ngozi, a Labaran Maku, or Wogu does not buy fuel or need palliatives to survive, how do they understand?

A plethora of committees are daily being set up, inaugurated and reports in different colours, white, blue and black papers submitted but the ordinary Nigerian does not feel the impact of governance even at the lowest level.

Palliatives remains the politics of borehole and gutter culverts, one for which in a particular local government a governor, local government chairman, senator, representative at state and national level will battle to achieve.

Sometimes, those at the helm of affairs say and talk sense, the only problem is their actions never make sense. Lamido of Jigawa, over the week after meeting with the president had stated in a conversation with journalists that "far from introducing palliatives, what government ought to do was to strengthen national institutions to create a feeling of self worth in citizens who should be prepared to pay for the services they enjoyed".

In concluding, I have a son in the house who clocked 5 years. He is a product of a private education so far, he was born in a private hospital, the water he drinks one buys, he has never had the privilege of a public park, he is growing up in an environment of ethnic hate, religious divide, and a search for political correctness, one for which politicians promises haircuts for men that are bald and talk of bridges were no rivers exists.

As a citizen, one battles daily to stay patriotic, raise these kids in an era of palliatives, in a system that suffers from systemic failure as a result of both the governor and the governed.

As it was in the days of SAP, so it is today, we go the same circle, commentators are literally given a free gift of prophecy, because nothing new is in the offing, an increase in price, a strike, a negotiation, a slight reduction, promises made, sufferings increase, the populace adjust, many hope, and wait, believing it will be their turn to steal--and the palliatives pale away and we continue to tell kids like my five-year-old stories of a golden past.

The Yorubas say 'Ohun méjì ló yẹ Ẹ̀ṣọ́: Ẹ̀ṣọ́ jà, ó lé ogun; Ẹ̀ṣọ́ jà ó kú sógun', meaning that only two things are proper for a warrior: the warrior goes to war and drives the enemy off; the warrior goes to war and dies in battle. What we want as Nigerians, how we want it, when we want it, we win or lose, time will tell.

Prince Charles Dickson

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Articles by Prince Charles Dickson