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Habitual Overseas Jamboree: God Punish The Wasters

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The day my meditations on the routine madness in public life succeed in driving me psycho, someone should kindly take up the responsibility of leading a delegation to sympathize with my people at our family-house in Igbesa, Ogun State.

I am one of the patriotic Nigerians who regularly chafe inwardly about daily issues of our dear country. While some are simply for grins, others makes your heart bleed.

I read with utter disgust the report that the senior management of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is on an expensive week-long executive retreat in South Africa. Another madness deserving an minute (an hour I mean) of national silence.

I was so infuriated that the words that came out of my mouth were: Ojo ti Olorun pin itiju, pupo ninu awon ara ilu yi o si ni be. Meaning: The day God shared shame, most of the people of this country were not present.

We are shamelessly shameless that we leave our country to merry in other countries at the expense of the economy and detriment of the tourism sector and if not checked, this ugly trend I predict will continue until hell freezes over - which of course is 'impossicant'!

I started showing addictive interest in national issues since the time of Ernest Shonekan's Interim National Government. And by 1999, when democracy returned, little did we (the poor and a section of the middle class) know that we had just submitted our credentials for verification to career beggary.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo redefined the culture of foreign trips. I don't have the details, but he must have visited two-thirds of the the countries recognised by the United Nations. Cummulatively, of his eight-year reign, he was out of Aso Rock for over a year.

This made him an enemy of the late legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi, who constantly chastised him. In fact he challenged OBJ in court over the matter. Gani's argument was that as a developing nation, the president's frequents trips, over-bloated hangers-on and the associated cost was not the best for economy of such country which in many instances fluctuates.

Government officials in the three tiers of government are culpable. The president and his wife, governors, national and state assembly members, judges, ministers, commissioners, local government chairmen, even coucillors jets out to choice countries hiding under whatever title they choose to name their revelries. The commonest appellations we hear are; Retreat and Conference.

Are we saying that with all the deluxe venues we boast of, none is suitable to host events held abroad? 'Abi which kain nonsense be dis?' We make so much noise about making Nigeria tourists' destination of choice which will earn us foreign exchange in the process, yet we foolishly sell out our pride boosting the economy of other countries.

I pity the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, it is perhaps the most obsolete of all; ditto National Orientation Agency, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation and other parastatals in charge of promoting tourism. Aside going about bearing official titles, living in officials residences and riding in chauffered-driven official cars, what else do they do? Rather than boldly come out and denounce such trips, they act like a jellyfish, as if they will die if they are sacked for speaking the truth. Where did integrity go?

I believe there is a bill being considered to ban foreign medical treatment. The type is needed here. Foreign voyages code-named "retreats and conferences" that do not add to the well-being of the people or have any effect on good governance should be banned. But who will get the ball rolling; They all are beneficiaries.

Many of the people in government today visited the whiteman land for the first time after they entered public office; 'This no be sweet-talk, na fact! We all have them within our respective localities.

I am not so bothered about Mr president's trips but his superfluous entourage. He travels with scores of aides, some of whom I presume engage prayer warriors in order to make such expedition. I advice him to lead by example by holding his promise of cutting costs and keeping expenditure to the barest minimum.

It is only when he does this his ethicalness can be taken seriously. Until then, he should refrain from cautioning others against wasteful spendings.

To our leaders: Whether you let up or continue to enjoy luxuries while the masses languish and get killed daily due to your ineptitude, God will punish those of you using our collective wealth on 'wuru-wuru' style of living. And remember, Vanity plus Vanity equals Vanity.

By Wale Odunsi
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Articles by Wale Odunsi