THE TRUTH ABOUT POLITICAL POSTS - Welcome to Soul 2 Soul Mates Blog


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Indeed, true is the aphorism that change is the only permanent thing in this life. I remember clearly that as recently as the 1970s, if you had a government job, you could not be considered to have been gainfully employed. You were there ‘just for the time being… until you could find your feet’. A job with any government agency was not expected to enrich anyone who had just graduated from school. So, job seekers preferred to direct their feet towards manufacturing companies all around the country. That was where the real work was then, and the realer money. Government jobs only taught people to push papers; for that, you did not need to be paid much. Did I mention that unemployment was also low?

Then something changed. From the eighties through to the nineties, I guess the government began to get so big it thought it could turn all powers to itself and still have a country. So, it broke the back of manufacturing companies, turned the job-seeking boys’ feet in the direction of the government agencies and parastatals, thinking to … I don’t know. What was it thinking?

Alas! Many years down that lane of thoughtlessness, what do we have? We now have a people conditioned to believe that unless you are employed by the government, you do not have a job yet. This is why a fresh graduate employed in a privately funded school to nurture young minds does not consider himself employed until he can struggle to be absorbed in some local government where he goes to push papers and be paid much. How times change. I remember Lyte’s song of 1847 — change and decay in all around I see. Now, how many nurses are working in private hospitals? Few: most prefer to be paid by the government for sitting down and doing … well, not much. How many certified teachers are not in local, state or national schools? Again, few.

Yes indeed o. Every Nigerian knows that government is the biggest employer now, and also the least fussy about making sure its job is done well. As a matter of fact, many government workers do not have to report daily at work to be paid. Just look at your MGAs – they scream job abuse to the heavens.

Talking of job abusers, no group is guiltier than politicians. We have been told that the Nigerian assembly parades the highest paid group of politicians in the world. The Nigerian populace has screamed enough blue murder over that fact till we are all hoarse. Yet the group concerned has not flinched from continuing to collect their illicit gains. But, it is even more illicit when we remember that many of the members are not regular at work and even less regular in the country. We now know where they go: they go to Dubai to read newspapers.

Government politics, like government jobs, obviously pays the highest and no one asks you for results, except godfathers who only ask for returns. This is why it is possible for people to be desperate about government positions. Sadly, the many stories of politicians killing off their political rivals stem from no other cause but the excessively lucrative nature of those positions. Yet, we all look on.

In a small town somewhere in a foreign country, someone won an election into the mayoral seat. As he walked to his car on the road the next day, someone called out a congratulatory greeting to him, and hoped that he would have a good term. He graciously accepted the greeting but took pains to point out that the mayoral seat of the town is not won so much as taken in turns to serve their little town.

Sadly again, that word ‘serve’ has been given various connotations in Nigerian politics. It is only in Nigeria that a politician can campaign for a position claiming to want to ‘serve’ and all along he means to ‘occupy’ the position like an occupation force and ‘serve up’ the people to the god of his palates. Perhaps indeed, the said politicians mean to go and serve the public. Who is to say what someone’s real intention is? Perhaps, somewhere along the line, this plentiful government money becomes a distraction. Who is to say?

I have often asked myself this question: why are so many people struggling to get into politics, and be elected into some position or the other? I have some answers but I seek a better one of you, dear reader, if you are minded to give it. Basically, it appears to be on account of the ‘free money’ being doled out by the government as so-called allowances and emoluments.  Now, everybody wants their share.

But how did it come to this? I think one of the reasons appears to be the rather lazy disposition of the Nigerian mentality: as a people, they just love the line of least resistance – to wealth-making, educational pursuit or keeping the law. Nigerians have been known to offer up their mothers, fathers, spouses, children or relatives (in short, their nearests and dearests) as sacrifices at the altar of wealth creation. The relatives are not only cheaper, they do not need to be searched for from the Far East, Far West and Far Indies. They are ready made by the creator, sometimes just for that purpose,

if you get what I mean. Worse, on account of this national malaise of slothfulness, it appears even the country’s earlier vaunted quality education is in great peril. And the law? The less said about the people’s attitude to the law, the better. Let’s just say it’s easier for Nigerians to break the law than to keep it.
Anyway, quite another reason for how all these came to be is that the government has effectively killed private enterprise and made itself the only worthwhile venture for any serious mind in the land. Many factories are closed down; many are working at half or less capacity; many more are groaning under the weight of the costs of doing business in a hostile environment such as this. The only ones not groaning in the land are the government-employed, and it’s theirs not to reason why. But then, some of them have begun to moan under salary failure. So, when you get a situation where a government pays higher emoluments than the private sector of a country, that country is effectively dead. Sooner than later, it is bound to come crashing down under the weight of its own excessive kindness: it finds itself too expensive to run.

Right now, the people have stopped struggling for themselves, only waiting to get into political posts. Like someone said just today, a political jobber who sets out with nothing begins to construct gargantuan edifices within three months of assuming duty. Yep, that’s only in Nigeria. Why should that be? Naturally, people are ready to maim, gorge or kill anyone who gets in the way of their edifices. Can you blame them? I blame the conditions that breed their actions.

It is important to act now; we can begin by having a charter. The government must, as a matter of urgency, re-empower the private sector again. In a capitalist economy, the government can only act in a regulatory capacity, a sort of controller, not the one doling out, except in defence, internal affairs and education.

It is also important to find a way to truly discourage people from going into politics to rip the nation off. For a start, we can begin to insist that anyone seeking political office must be gainfully employed and must show it. Let us chew the fat on these ones for a while.

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