Wednesday, 1 May 2013

In Depth With Ademola Adeeko: In Nigeria, Sleeping Dogs Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Lie

In Nigeria, Sleeping Dogs Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Lie

Ademola Adeeko
It’s a proverb I still remember like yesterday; back when I was a teenager. It used to pop up in several English language examination questions back in primary school. It’s a question I’ve never failed.
“Allow The Sleeping Dog Lie” might actually be a wise saying but it doesn’t fit into just any context especially NOT Nigeria nor its budding democracy.
This is the case study of the Vice-President of Nigeria who has since his swearing-in into office, faded into oblivion. I’m actually not angry or displeased about Dr. Namadi Sambo’s ghost-mode as it has become a norm in the Nigerian civil service. In as much as I will love to discuss the Vice-President’s apparent absence from office, I’m forced to address the complacence of Nigerians in this national embarrassment of a government. The assertion that deputies of public office holders shouldn’t be seen and heard is nothing but a fallacy which we should do away with.
The world has evolved. If we truly want the deputies of presidents to be oblivious to the public, why then do we allocate offices and money to them? The constitution does not provide an office, salary/allowances, political recognition for the Vice-President to be idle. He’s paid to do some work and offer assistance (where necessary) to the President.
During the campaign period that ushered in the 2011 elections, Dr. Namadi Sambo was seen everywhere adorning glossy pages of magazines and newspapers. Even posters and leaflets were not spared as their photo-shopped smiling faces flooded our streets, house fences, street lights and electricity poles. He was well decorated as the man who will complement Goodluck Jonathan as Vice to form a strong and formidable team of the Transformation Agenda otherwise known as The Breath Of Fresh Air. We were deceived, or should I rather say we deceived ourselves into believing this men will bring about a turn around in the situation of the country. As they both evaded political debates and interviews, their fan base waxed stronger with the help of Indomie noodles, recharge cards, ankara, rice and groundnut oil.
While some hungry elites drummed support for them, most kept quiet leaving a few of the experienced Children Of Anger warning against an imminent destruction. How could the voices of a very tiny minority reach 160 million people when money was already exchanging hands? The long and short of it is, the same man who could not hide his ’32′ during election campaigns is the same man we hardly hear of these days. Even VP Biden is seen taking up responsibilities despite Barack Obama’s ‘up and doing’ attitude to his work.
Nigerians can actually tolerate the presence of the absence of the vice-president of Nigeria because even Mr. President himself is nowhere to be found when it comes to discharging his duties as the country’s number one man. How do we explain a country that has more than 32 ministers whose absenteeisms are majorly felt as they contribute to further the woes of Nigerians? Most of these ministries are either defunct or heavily redundant while the ones that are seemingly active have nothing to offer. For instance, the aviation ministry is well known for releasing press statements and condolence messages whenever there’s a flight mishap. A few weeks after the mishap, nothing is heard of them any more. We cannot always ask for the head of Mr. President every now and again when the ministries are lying fallow doing absolutely nothing. What has happened to the ministry of women affairs? The ministry of sports and youthdevelopment only comes alive when there’s an upcoming international tournament involving Nigeria.
I bet they are only interested in the sporting aspect of the ministry in which they even perform far below expectations. What has happened to the development of youths? What do Nigerians remember about the ministry of internal affairs? Now that the MEND boys are back in their trenches, what has the ministry of Niger-Delta done about it?
Nigeria is running an excessively large government which makes it easy for certain ministries and parastatals to go moribund without the notice of the people and even those in government. We cannot keep running a government as large as this when we cannot even hold half of it accountable. It’s no use when we have redundant ministries which receive billions of Naira as monthly allocations to do nothing. We’ll be better off if the Nigerian government will go on a scrapping spree of some ministries and also merging some of them as their functions are just duplicitous.
The larger the size of a government, the easier it is for tentacles of same government to sink into oblivion without notice from the head of government and even the citizens. It’s high time the federal government and Nigerians as a whole wake up to the responsibility of making sure every dime that goes into government ministries and parastatals is accounted for. These redundant tentacles of government are the reasons the budget of the federation doesn’t seem to reach the people. We cannot have the federal government prepare budgets worth trillions of Naira every year only for the funds to be choked up in one redundant ministry or the other; stopping the flow from reaching the grass root.
In a corrupt government like Goodluck Jonathan’s, the fight for transparency and accountability shouldn’t be left to him alone. Well meaning and patriotic Nigerians should go back to their grassroot government to demand for accountability using the FOI bill. Its our call to make sure those in government are up to the responsibilities they’ve been ‘elected’ to carry. Its time to ask questions and keep them on their toes. The ‘Siddon-Look’ attitude of Nigerians has added the much needed ‘Valium-5′ to the sleep-mode of most government offices. The Standard Organization of Nigeria is nowhere to be found while NAFDAC seems to be very generous with their registration licences these days. Ever visited the Local Government Health Centre in your locality before? You’ll be irritated. Its time to go back to your Local Government Ward to ask questions. Go back to your Constituency Office and hold your representatives responsible. Demand for evidence of what has been done with your constituency allowance. Agree with me or not, the silence of you and I has majorly contributed to the rot in public offices and has helped this trend become a landmark.
2015 is fast approaching, some things have to give way to development. It is our collective duty as citizens to make sure we are lead properly. God bless you as you discharge your civic duties but remember, “Never Allow Sleeping Dogs Lie”.

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