Blessed People, Reluctant (Political) Will, Little Direction

Nigeria is indeed an interesting place to live in and to observe. The expression “never a dull moment,” is hardly more aptly descriptive of the antecedents of any other country. Even amidst the current global economic meltdown and a concomitant urgency by governments and other corporate institutions in different countries to keep their countries or institutions going in the right direction, all we seem to, in our characteristic comical manner, demonstrate is that we cannot be bothered to change the status quo, however unbeneficial it may be to us. What with the likes of grand old Rilwanu Lukman back in power as petroleum minister more than 20 years after he first held the same position while Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili positions the horse right behind the cart as we run into a blind alley chanting “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation.” I have picked bellow, three current/recent issues in the country, to encapsulate my meaning.

Iwu, INEC and the rest of us
Thirty-six state election results, 12 nullifications on first instance or appellate proceedings, five partial or full re-run; and so far, two unseating without re-run. By all accounts this represents the outcome of a shoddy and shambolic process. And these are figures from the election conducted by the Maurice Iwu-led Independent(?) National Electoral Commission, INEC, in 2007. Statistically put; 12 out of 36 is exactly 33.3 percent of the total number of governorship elections that took place in 2007; five re-run means that approximately 40 percent of the 12 nullification so far has led to the preventable sacrificing of voters’ precious time and scarce government resources.

In saner climes whoever oversees such a shoddy process would throw in the towel or be shown the exit as soon as tongues start wagging about inconsistencies in the process. But Nigeria is an appalling exception on such issues. Any wonder then that rather than throw in the towel as more dirt is daily being unearthed about the elections, Maurice Iwu, the man who oversaw the elections has remained as steadfast in his resolve to remain in office as he and his cohorts had been about holding those mock elections in 2007 in the first place. He has even decided to rub it in on us by blatantly calling our bluff and only just coming short of declaring us all outright simpletons. Little wonder also that those who should show him the way out have decided that, as tainted and culpable as Iwu’s INEC is in the mortgaging of our political soul the man is still morally and intellectually fit to continue in office as Nigeria’s principal electoral umpire.

The tragedy of it is that we have reduced a serious social, moral and economic subject matter to a mere legal issue in which no one seems to be interested in the fact that precious resources of the masses are being wasted in the electoral trials and re-runs that have been and will be the game until 2011. No one is paying attention to what should happen to the likes of Olusegun Agagu and Osarheimen Osunbor who, for two years, wasted public resources while occupring office wrongfully. As we are all engrossed with legalese, the job of prescribing what punishment for those who put these men in office wrongfully is left to a politically maligned vocal few. Few are saying anything about what this mess could do to the attitude of the electorate during futures elections in this country.

Once again, therefore, we are inexorably setting the stage for another round of political simulation come 2011. And from there, of course, another manic rush to election petition tribunals across the land until 2015 and then we start again. What a circus!

Siasia, the Messiah of Nigerian football
Talking about circuses, that the powers that be in Nigerian football, in their wretched wisdom, have decided that Samson Siaisia is the solution to our pathological planlessness and acute lack of knowledge of modern football business surely qualifies as one.

Since the last FIFA U-17 World Championship in 2007, youngsters like Bojan Krkij (Barcelona and Spain); Dan Gosling (Everton) and Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), both of England; and Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich and Germany), to name a few, have continued to rise to football prominence, playing for some of the biggest football teams in the world. Our supposed equivalents to these players from the same tournament – the likes of Ganiyu Oseni, Chrisantus Macaulay, Rabiu Ibrahim and Lukman Haruna – have continued to move in the opposite direction, football career-wise. And there are no prizes for guessing the reason this is so.

However, if you argue that the problem does not begin with our players’ ‘certificated’ age and you try to tell me that others cheat also, I will feign agreeing with you and tell you in plain George Orwell Napoleonese that: ‘all national cadet football teams have over-age players, but some teams are more over-age than others,’ fin.

Given his coaching antecedents, Siasia could go on to win the U-20 Championship for Nigeria in Egypt later this year. After that we may also require him to handle the Super Falcons or any of the female national teams. In the same breath, we shall await the fortuitous discovery of the hidden talent of the next footballer anywhere in the world, with the minutest amount of Nigerian blood in his veins, to try to convince into wearing the Nigerian colours in international football. After all, because Siasia is that good, because we have perpetually failed to plan, because we must win at all costs, because we lose our moral footing once a few wads of whatever currency are involved and because we cannot separate priorities from everything else, we may well never have any discernible sports policy. We may as well also never have proper football academies or train our coaches and respect those who have what it takes to do a decent job of coaching any of our national teams in any sports whatsoever. Let serendipity continue to rule in our sports.

Moral/Spiritual Guides and Obscenity
As for priorities, how do you caution a father who has seemingly fallen foul of the moral rule? This is about the reported private jet recently acquired by Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at a reported cost of N4 billion. To sit in an armchair and place a value on anybody for following their heart’s desire is the most difficult pastime I can ever hope to indulge in for there aren’t many out there who are more impulsive than me. But faced with having to call a spade a fork, I’ll rather sit in that armchair.

Considering our fanatical attitude towards religion in Nigeria one would expect us to know that obscenity in and around places of worship, does not start and end with indecent dressing, indecent body contact, foul language and the whole gamut. And buying a jet for the head of a church in Nigeria – a country where more than 80 per cent of the people live below the global poverty line – whereas even the Pope hasn’t got one, certainly classifies as obscenity. A clergyman spending a monstrous N4 billion (or whatever billion) on a jet is as obscene as it is oppressive of the members of the congregation with whose money the aircraft was bought. There can hardly be a greater obscenity than having a clergyman’s aircraft, just by sitting idle in a hangar at an airport, gulp millions of worshipers’ money every month while the worshipers are supposed to subsist on the whole package of faith, the Holy Spirit, etc.

When I was younger, missionary schools in this country were the most affordable, economically. Fast forward a few years on and the picture you get is of religious organisation-owned schools where educating your child cos

ts an arm and a leg, schools at which only a negligible fraction of members of the parent religious organisation can afford the financial cost of educating their children. The eternal excuse for the obscene cost of getting an education in a Nigerian church-run university or any other grade of such institutions is that education generally, is expensive these days. But I dare say that education has always been expensive in this country. The difference with now, perhaps, is that evangelism or missionary work answered truer to its name and calling in those days.

Those days were before religion lost its innocence in these shores. But then that seems to fit religion in with the other pieces, isn’t it? Our religious buffoonery sure fits in with the lack of direction and sense of priority in our economic, sports, political life and so on. And for these shortfalls, Dora Akunyili, like others before her, is now in Sokoto in search of that which is right inside our sokoto.

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