By Bilal Adamu Halilu
There is a sudden realization that most of our problems lie in the type of leadership we have. Yet little emphasis is laid on the fact that our leaders are a reflection of us.
The failure of government to invest appropriately on education over the years has directly and indirectly created negative vices like Boko haram, kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes fueled by unemployment.
A consistent budget of 7% and 8% on education and health care respectively is unacceptable and unfair, while over 20% of our National budget funds our cost of governance, most of which goes for frivolities such as wardrobe allowance, newspaper allowance, recess allowance an so on.
Little surprise why politics is now the most lucrative job in Nigeria and many prefer the title “politician” and the win-at-all-cost syndrome.
Youths between the ages of 25-40 years (going by African standard in defining youths), in Organizations such as National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) amongst other youth associations, have suddenly become relevant in the political realm and are now political tools for the highest bidder.
Vibrant young men and women are wooed with money and material things, such things desired by the heart which makes one give in to their whims and caprices.
Greed has replaced equity, justice, integrity and compassion. This can easily be deduced by the fact that a post graduate student in his 40s is currently the President of NANS.
This will never have happened in our days, when Aluta Continua was about service not self.
NOW, EVERYONE HAS A PRICE!
These organizations, built on justice, fairness and equity are now organizations which come with so much fame and benefits to the detriment of other youths and the country at large.
Why do we seek office?
This rhetorical question has often gone unanswered. The only sensible answer is TO SERVE HUMANITY.
Angela Dorothea Merkel, German Chancellor from 2005 to 2021. During her 16-year stay in office, paid her electricity bills, gas bills, did her grocery shopping, and was a wife.
Germany had a GDP of 3.8$ million in 2020 and a foreign reserve of over $38bn and annual domestic export of over $5bn, yet, they do not see it fit to provide their leaders with cars, car allowance, newspaper allowance, entertainment allowance, car maintenance allowance, recess allowance, personal staff and other allowances at tax payers’ expense like we do in Nigeria. Not to mention retirement benefits and outrageous pensions for past governors and their deputies.
THIS IS SO BECAUSE SHE IS THERE TO SERVE!
No wonder Angela Merkel is revered and respected by the world. She had an applause that lasted for over 6 minutes while stepping aside as party leader and, thus, ushering a new German chancellor.
Mike Pence, the immediate past Vice President of the United States, is currently squatting with friends and family because they are a yet to get a home of theirs.
Boris Johnson, the Prime minister of United Kingdom, goes shopping on a bicycle.
Most members of parliament use public transport with no official vehicle.
I can’t imagine a Local Government Chairman in any part of Nigeria who doesn’t own a Mansion, not to mention fleet of cars. Items that were absent before he/she got elected.
I leave you with this question: “Why do you want to serve?”
I am yet to see a member of House of Representatives of Assembly who has rejected the luxury cars and homes awarded to them as privilege that comes with office.
We are yet to have them raise important discussions like:
Why not electronic voting, which will go a long way in checkmating rigging, electoral voilence and reduce the number of disenfranchised youths who end up volunteering for INEC jobs and polling agents?
Why not reduce the cost of governance?
Why is our budget on health and education inadequate?
While most are eager to get their hands on the National cake as we call it, it is important to ask; What sort of country are we creating for our children to inherit?
Our parents (in the 50s, 60s and 70s) had free education and I dare say our today public schools can’t provide the quality they had back then. There was no need for private schools. They inherited meal vouchers and were paid school allowance.
They had safe farms and roads, as well as trust amongst each other.
There were no segregation like we have in some states like Kaduna, Plateau and so on.
Words like religious bigotry, nepotism and ethnocentrism were absent and could only be found in dictionaries.
I ask again, as we face the awakening with many willing to participate and offer themselves for service; Why do you want to serve?
I have been blessed with a Fulani father and an Igbo mother, a Unity school (FGC Kaduna) and a golden generation who has witnessed it while it was good and made comparison to what we have now. These gifts and Pro Unitate has shaped me to be open minded and help in constructive criticism.
I pray for a Nigeria where round pegs are placed in round holes; where patriots are allowed to serve; a country where religious bigotry, ethnocentrism and nepotism is absent.
We need people of courage and substance because we are forgetting that, except when the least of us are taken care of, the best of us cannot survive.
May God bless Nigeria.
May Nigeria succeed.