Some days ago I had course to visit a farm somewhere in Chukuku area of the Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. Along the road I noticed a pool of women ,some with their babies loosely strapped to their backs and others with suckling babies hanging on to their body, pumping water excitedly from a bore hole. I was just about to congratulate which ever government –local, FCT administration or even the Federal government- it was that thought it wise to provide these villagers who by the way are no less as Nigerian as President Yar’adua himself with the most basic need for life, water, when my company informed me in a tone laden with so much disappointment and disgust that the bore hole as well as a few others scattered along that route were sank by the Chinese Government.
In his words spoken with so much bitterness, we had to wait for Chinese to fly all the way from Asia to come here to inform us that our own people do not have assess to clean drinking water and that a simple bore hole sank properly was all that was needed to bring life to these people. Think of it, sinking a bore hole would not cost more than five hundred thousand naira but it is next to impossible for us to do, yet daily we here about Billions missing their routes and ending up in private pockets.
So had the Chinese not been so generous, these people would have been scrapping the bottom of a stream somewhere around for water.
Some days after, precisely on Tuesday 1st July 2008 virtually every news paper in Nigeria carried the front cover story of the arrest by the EFCC of two former ministers of aviation in the Obasanjo Administration. Reason? Allegations that contracts were inflated and that some millions sorry billions (it hardly makes any difference this days) seem to have literarily grown wings and vamoosed from under their watch.
Now, stories of embezzled billions no more shock me, if anything, it has come to help me better appreciate the reason why we are where we are as a nation, so reading about this one made little difference but some thing touched me about this. My thought went back to the borehole issue of the other day. I couldn’t help but imagine the number of bore holes the Aviation Ministry scam money would have been able to sink in various needy communities all over , the number of mothers and their children that would have been saved long trips to fetch water from streams, the number of typhoid and Guinea worm cases that would not have been and the number of Nigerian lives we would have saved if only a quarter of the amount Minister Borishade and Fani Kayode simply cannot account for was devoted to sinking bore holes. My thought almost got me to tears.
What kind of a nation is this? Is there any thing intrinsic in us that seem to make it certain that we never get any thing right? When shall this nonsense stop? Only Last week we were treated to the Nyako thievery allegations in Adamawa. Today as I write, it’s in the news that all the- ‘not so weighty’ by PDP standards- impeachment allegations against the man have been dropped. I stopped to ask myself ,was it that Governor Nyako never stole money or that his children are no more special appointees of Government? Or was it just that our country was now so synonymous with corruption that brazen cases of it should be handled as normal legitimate occurrences?
A witch cries at night and the baby dies in the Morning, do we need to engage the services of a diviner to know the cause of the death? When first of all Ogbulafor the PDP Commander with a vault face and I dare say impunity dismissed the allegations as shallow I immediately knew where this was leading. Then the meeting sessions began at the villa. Agenda? To negotiate fraud, with our integrity preaching ultra-slow President presiding. When perhaps the Honourable members were proving stubborn, the Inspector general of Police summoned their ring leaders to Abuja on a God knows where it came from allegation of having bought a stolen property. The next thing we are hearing is that all allegations have been dropped and that in Adamawa its now business as usual again. Who is fooling who?
It would amount to approbating and reprobating if we claim we are fighting corruption and we not only allow such allegations to be swept under the carpet, but actually supervise the sweeping. If Governor Nyako is innocent, what does it take him to come forward and defend himself? Does the millions of Adamawa indigenes and indeed the rest of Nigeria not reserve the right to know the facts of the issue? How and why should fraud in government office be so easy to erase, as easily as visiting a confessional and asking a Priest to forgive your sins?
Ours is perhaps one of the few countries where the leaders are perpetually in a hurry to create and promote a bad impression about them and give no hoot about what those they lead feel about them. In the first place, they were never elected by the people so they naturally do not feel answerable to the people and by extension, the people’s opinion does not matter. How else do you explain the insistence of Aso Rock that Prof Gambari must head the proposed Niger Delta summit even when inanimate objects have joined in saying no. What do we have in place here, a democracy or what?
While the argument for or against Prof Gambari continues, the gas flaring, oil pollution, militancy and confusion continues in the Niger Delta. The common people remain the biggest victims which erver way we look at it.
Currently primary and secondary education is grounded in the country because the teachers have downed tools. If this bothers the Government, they are simply not showing because they have maintained that they cannot meet the teachers’ demands for pay rise. People not conversant with the plight of teachers in this country might begin to see the teachers as purely greedy and insensitive people, but those of us who are both informed and know what is on ground will attest to the fact that this is a long over due battle. It is an indictment on us as a nation that in this age, our teachers, the molders of character and custodians of our much cherished Human Resources without which we can never advance as a nation are not only the least paid in the country, but also suffer the worst working condition in the country. All they demand is a modest pay rise (the approved TSS which I hear has actually been approved in the budget) just like the Doctors, nurses and University lecturers have demanded and succeeded on several occasions in the past. The way Government has treated this demand so far tells the tale of a government that does not in any way care about the future of her youths and by extension not sensitive in any to the needs of her people.
We have no money to pay teachers a modest pay yet every day we hear of figures that read like telephone numbers being discovered to have been stolen or shared around among a few people who are perhaps more Nigerian than the rest of us. Our leaders are too busy grabbing that we have to rely on Chinese to travel great distances to our own villages right in the heart of Abuja , to provide the people with water. What manner of nation is this?
Ifedigbo Nze Sylva