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Of Hate Speech, Criticism and Restructuring

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Buhari again snobs Electoral Act Amendment Bill

When President Muhammadu Buhari was returned back from London and resumed to work after 104 days in diaspora seeking for his medical attention, many Nigerians opted and believed that Mr. President will apologise to over 180 million Nigerians for staying too long out of service to humanity, but the reverse was the case. An employee who goes on an extended medical leave and resumes after 104 days should be sober, remorse and apologise to Nigerians. Mind you, Mr. President is our employee NOT employer, we need to get that right. The President, though referred to as father of the Nation, does not own the citizens. The citizens own him. He owes the citizens who gave him their mandate and surrendered their right to rule each other to him.

Addressing Nigerians as My Dear Citizens was suggestive of an owner-owned relationship. There is nothing more to it. We are all citizens, posts and positions notwithstanding. Besides, away from duty post that long, was there no other thing that is troubling the nation worthy of mention other than “hate speech” and “irresponsible and criminal elements” that must be ruthlessly dealt with? Remind me of the “disgruntled elements” in coup speeches that must be dealt with those better forgotten days. Indeed, we really have some burning issues to be addressed by Mr. President when he was back from his sojourn in London instead it was hate speeches and lesser threaten we heard in his five to six minutes broadcast.

Even though he tried to add a few other things, it was obvious that the focus of the Mr. President’s speech was a warning to those agitating for secession, resources control, followed by those agitating for the restructuring of the nation. Also note that even though Fulani herdsmen have killed more Nigerians in that last year than Boko Haram or any other group, Mr. President called it “farmers versus herdsmen clashes”. This indicates that in the eyes of Mr. President, the issue of the killings and burning of villages by herdsmen is a minor matter of misunderstanding between two groups. And by mentioning the farmers first before the herdsmen, the implication is that the farmers are the aggressors while the herdsmen are the poor victims that merely trying to defend themselves.

More so, the contemplation of re-arrest of leader of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal government is like putting the cart before the horse. When the Arewa Youth leader was issuing ultimatum to the Igbo people living in the North to leave their territory, with that huge threat and hate speech which could lead to civil war, till date nobody is arrested for this threat, so, the issue of re-arresting Nnamdi Kanu will only overheat the polity, more so when youths in the north that issued a notice to quit (against Igbo) were not arrested. Even after the Kaduna State Governor and the Vice President ordered their arrest, till date the police did nothing. So, Nigerians generally need to be very careful in their utterance as the unity of this country suppose to be people’s priority in order to remain in one entity.

And from what Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba said, that his principal would not function from his office for three months because rodents had taken residence of the apartment in the President’s absence. Every one with a modicum of intelligence would wonder what this is all about. Is the President’s office at the Aso Rock Villa part of huge deserted space that no one has visited since Buhari travelled in May? Where did his Chief of Staff and ancillary staff; which includes Garba himself, ply the comedy that they regard as Presidential spokemanship when the “big man” was away? Did they share the space with these rodents or were the rodents big enough to have taken over from men of Mr. President.

Even if the rodents took over, what happened to those who had foreknowledge of Buhari’s return that they could not quickly prepare the office ahead? Why in the world does it take three good months to clear rodents from President’s office? That infantile proposition, which suggests that those who were listening were incapable of fathoming the awkwardness of it all it came from the same place from which they told us half-truths and insulted our sensibilities in the past two years or so. Obvious incompetence that Nigerians have condoned and justified all this while. But we don’t need to be fooling at all times, though Nigerians are gullible but not everyone us, we might not talk or respond at all your lies and deceit but need to patiently wait and observe your deeds, actions and reactions.

Indeed, this country is severely stressed because the structures to make it function are faulty. There is too much government. Government is a national bakery where those who work in it must share the bread they refuse to help bake. In government, there are massive programmes of deliberate theft of public funds. The people themselves are severely stressed. The more welfare they expect, the less they get. The more they are told about peace and security, the more they are harassed both by the private armies of the powerful few and hoodlums who are the products of inequities, deprivation and urban denials. Our law-enforcement agencies are few, ill-equipped and inadequately motivated. The society itself has not been trained to ask questions from those who make it by the simple procedure of joining the political class, understandably, because government is a stronger to the people, and is a place where taking what is not yours is an achievement to be celebrated, and for which national can be conferred.

The provisions on corruption were prohibitive enough to discourage infringing them before the present anti-corruption and related crimes law was passed. By everyone laughs at the latest political scenes and provisions, as they did the ones preceding them. We are a federation, and we must operate as a federation. The 36 states are too weak to constitute the federating units. We need another buffer between the states and the federal, and that is the present Zones that have naturally emerged. They are six, and should constitute the federating units. The powers at the centre are too many. The power of the National Assembly as the de facto law-maker for everything, both on the legislative and concurrent lists, is not healthy for the federation.

Government is too involved in businesses, and this promotes corruption. Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution even entrenches the place of government in running the economy of the nation. There is no doubt that when government is decongested, the economy will automatically be degregulated. Political deregulation must precede economic deregulation. The people must be brought together as a nation, and this can better be done through integrative programmes. We should use what we have to get what we we want. The sky is in political deregulation through restructuring, and the acceptance of informal and cost effective governance through active use of the traditional institutions.

There is one central government that is headed by an elected President who has a constitutional responsibility of appointing at least a Minister from each of the federation. At present, there are about 50 Ministers. There is also a large army of presidential advisers and assistants who themselves have personal assistants. There are hundreds of parastatals which have hundreds of party men who are board members and constitute a heavy charge on the mean resources of the parastatals. There is an elected National Assembly made up of the Senate and House of Representatives. Members of the National Assembly have a large army of personal staff paid for by the government. They also are entitled to funds for opening and running constituency offices.

If there is restructuring and the political arm of government is restructured, we would have a federal government with more time to plan for a powerful country, a central government that would be more efficient and less corrupt, a regional government that would be a buffer between the state and centre, ‎and that would be more handy to settle problems of the region and plan the development and growth of the region.

Orunbon, a public affairs analyst, writes in from Oke-Posu, Epe, Lagos State

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