An Igbo adage loosely translated to English says that once the hired hand contracted to cut down palm oil fruit heads from the oil palm tree is tired, he suddenly becomes very concerned about the chicks picking at the heads already on the ground.
A world of meaning is lost in this translation; but it is just apt in describing the efforts of our political leaders to leave off confronting the meat of the matter at hand and instead blame their inability to fulfill the tenants of their office on ‘political detractors’ (real or imagined).
The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organisational life; and blame avoidance pervades government and public organisations at every level. In Nigeria today, political and bureaucratic blame games are simply the other of the day. It is a sorry situation that finds root in our tendency to, under the guidance of one traditional witch doctor or a ‘man of God’, quickly blame a neighbour or a relative for any of our misfortunes in life, from the absurd to the downright ridiculous.
So when some video appeared online of five men raping a helpless girl and the available evidence pointed to ABSU as the theatre of that absurdity, the Abia State Government made a quick dash to the defense, insisting that the said rape did not happen in the state and blaming the orchestration of the incidence online on political detractors. Instead of condemning the act, investigating it on its merit, helping the effort to unmask the perpetrators of the crime and showing himself as a responsible leader, Governor Theodore Orji chose to look for enemies to blame in what has remained a most illogical comment.
Enter Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos who until recently was perhaps the most loved governor in the country until his recent string of unpopular actions; top among which includes the astronomical increase in the fees to be paid by students of the state owned university, LASU and the mismanagement of the Lekki toll collection issue. Last Saturday, residents of Lekki who are affected by the issues surrounding the toll collection by the LCC on the Lekki Expressway came out in a peaceful protest.
The protesters were attacked and assaulted by both police and thugs, who beat them up and damaged gadgets used by the media. Many of the protesters were even arrested. It was so laughable and completely unbelievable to hear the state government blame the incidence on political detractors in a desperate effort to shift the discussion away from the shameful actions it superintended.
One wonders, in both incidences above, what would have informed the involvement of the said political enemies in the matter, how within the realms of logic the so called political enemies could have pulled off such feats, and how their carrying out such actions would have helped them score any political points against the state government in the first place.
When I listen to such childish and banal excuses from government officials, I feel the urge to tell the person to shut up. We are certainly not illiterates, nor are we fools as their lame talk suggests. We keep seeking for the source of our problems in the wrong places, instead of owning up to the realities of our inadequacies and taking responsibilities for them.
We must remember the famous line from Walk Kelly’s 1972 Pogo Comic: We have met the enemy and he is us. Until we accept responsibility and take action, no authentic progress is possible in this country.