Sunday, 9 March 2014
Giving Government A Human Face By Charles Ofoji
One of the secrets of the success of the German society is that the constitution and government put the people first. And no one, no matter how weakly placed, is left behind. The result is that Germans are ready to give their all for their country. They also work tirelessly in contribution to the commonwealth, quite aware that it is for allgemein gut (common good). Little wonder, there is no where in the world today where the sky is bluer than in Germany – talking about good life.
Unfortunately, the case of Nigeria, as always, is dissimilar. Government is not about the people and the common good, rather it has derailed into a big business for the benefit of a few. A plutocracy of sorts. One of the stable problems in Nigeria is that those in power think that life begins and ends in England and America. And they copy most of the anti-people policies from those climes, where government is mainly for the benefit of Wall Street and employers of labour. Nobody cares to know how things are done in more flourishing places like Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Canada, France etc.
Perhaps, at the moment, there is no where in Nigeria where governance is more inhuman than in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. I have said many times before that Abuja can never be like Berlin, Paris or Tokyo overnight. And that it is useless putting a city ahead of the people. A metropolis will always reflect the station in life of the people. If you develop the people, it will rob off on the city, but if you abandon the people and develop only the municipality, the miseries it would create would eventually tear down that city.
As I have said before, Abuja is a grotesque city, where the ordinary man has no place. He is only allowed to come in for work and leave at the end of the day. Abuja is not for him. It is for the rich and mighty. But the question is: for how long? For how long will the ruling class be successful in shielding poor Nigerians from the lure of a city built with the commonwealth, but designed to be enjoyed by a few?
The FCT administration under Senator Bala Mohammed is currently fighting a war it can never win. The FCT wants to purge Abuja of hawkers and shanty towns. It wants to drive away mainstream Nigerians from Abuja. How could this be possible? If you live in Abuja, you must have seen the taskforce against hawking and street trading. They prowl the city in Toyota Hiace mini buses as they selectively haunt for hawkers.
Once one is caught, his wares would be confiscated. This is the height of irresponsible and insensitive governance. Government in Nigeria has failed the citizens in every way. And when a mother of children, who has no employment because the government was not able to create one, resorts to self-help by way of petty street trading, the same government still turns round to fight her. Have those hiding in the corridors of power ever asked themselves how the unemployed, without unemployment benefits, fend for themselves? If they don’t engage in trade, does the government want them to join Boko Haram or armed robbery? It is only sick leaders that would value a city more than the people. What about those hawking foreign currency near Sheraton and in Zone 4, Wuse? Why are they not harassed? Is it not the same street trading?
One of the enduring symbols and the foundation on which injustice and oppression is entrenched is that the poor are always unleashed on the poor. But, as I once told those who chase hawkers for a monthly pittance, they are in the same boat with the people they are being used as tools to harass. Just like those poorly paid police men who would be used to eject the many deprived families that have settled in Mpape.
It is only in a mad country that thousands of families will be rendered homeless through executive fiat. Obviously, those in charge want to reallocate the Mpape land to the highest bidder, but they could give the thing a human face by resettling the people first in a decent area.
But wait a minute, is it not the responsibility of the FCDA to build mass houses and rent it out to low income workers? If Senator Bala Mohammed is ashamed of Mpape shackles, which in any case is representative of the condition of impoverished Nigerians, can’t his administration build high rise buildings at Mpape in phases and sell or rent it out to these low income earners? Is he not aware that the FCDA will be more viable if it makes more money by engaging in business in this way?
Looking at those in government, I fail to see anyone with an aristocratic background. They are mostly children of poor parents, including a president who once even had no shoes. But now that they have been bought shoes by the people, they have so soon forgotten where they are coming from. They are now fighting the same people who made their lives better.
In any case, I will encourage those affected to seek redress in a court of law. Alternatively, they could resort to civil disobedience. It is a crime against humanity to attempt to wipe out a community just like that, without providing the people who inhabit that community with a dignified alternative. I expect the people to resist this. No body owns this country; it belongs to us, the People. Those in government are our servants and not more! And they are bound to do the bidding of the people, whom they claim entrusted them with leadership.
Nigeria, as it is today, is a poor country by all indices. There is no need for the elite to be ashamed of the poverty they have artificially created. Therefore, they should stop adding more agonies to the life of a people, who are already traumatized by atrocious governance. The primary aim of government is to uplift the people. Therefore, I implore those who temporarily find themselves in power to give governance the essential human face. Mr President, the Mpape people are looking up to you to call your exuberant FCT minister to order.