The federal government is not just in Abuja .Actually, the federal government is a gigantic tapeworm with its mouth and brain in Abuja, and the rest of its innumerable segments curled through much of the land. Federal government departments, bureaus, ministries and agencies have offices in thousands of communities across the country.
Does this leadership think Nigerians are stupid or crazy? Despite the hardships of daily life, the absence of a free utilities or common government presence, most Nigerians understand that our leaders built these public services but denied us the access. Moreover, they will tell any visitor that the revolution put Nigeria on the historical map. Hundreds of thousands served in military actions that changed the course of southern African history. Until the Nigerian revolution, Africa nations didn’t dare vote contrary to colonial desires in the African Union, AU.
Naturally, Nigeria’s electricity and water supplies continued to enter individual homes and workplaces and people went to work on crowded busses, just as they did before Abacha demise. Successful take-offs and landings don’t make news! Several news reports noted “more police presence in certain neighbourhoods.” But no reporter actually counted the cops or compared numbers of actual police on patrol before and after Abacha’s indictment. Two weeks after his death, Nigerians report that all seems normal after the temporary formal passing of state power by the man who has held it tightly for 67-plus years.
Not exactly a surprise, one would think. I mean, who expects press secretaries to tell the truth anyway? To put it mildly: they are paid to make their government look good; they are not paid to tell the truth. As Olusegun Adeniyi, the Federal government spokesperson in the early-last week, when asked at a briefing by a journalist if he was telling the truth, replied: “Is this the first time you’ve ever been to a press conference?”
What was the vision of the founder of this nation and how far we have drifted in the opposite direction is clearly visible in the following excerpts of his speeches. Those days had gone when the country was ruled by the bureaucracy. It was now the peoples’ Government, responsible to the people more or less on democratic lines and parliamentary practices. “Whatever community, cast or creed you belong to you are now the servants of Nigeria. Servants can only do their duties and discharge their responsibilities by serving.”
He advised them to do their duties as servants and not be concerned with any political party; that was not their business. They should not be influenced by any political pressure, by any political force or individual politician. If they want to raise the prestige and greatness of Nigerian, they must not fall a victim to any pressure but do their duties as servants to the people and the State, fearlessly and honestly.
Service is the backbone of the State. Governments are formed, Governments are defeated, President come and go, Ministers come and go, but you stay on, and therefore, there is a very great responsibility placed on your shoulders. You should have no hand in supporting this political party or that political leader – this is not your business.
Whichever Government is formed according to the constitution, it is the duty of the civil officers, to serve the Government loyally and faithfully and at the same time, fearlessly, maintaining their high reputation, their prestige, their honour and the integrity of their service.
This determination will make a great contribution to the building up of Nigeria as a glorious State and one of the greatest nations in the world. It is the business of politicians to fight out their case under the constitution therefore they should not involve themselves in politics and it is their duty to serve the government that gets the majority and forms the government.
The government in power must also realize and understand their responsibilities that civil servants are not to be used by any party. Our leaders and politicians should not try to interfere with the civil officers and try to bring political pressure to bear upon them.
This leads to nothing but corruption, bribery and nepotism. Interfering in this way, the politicians are doing nothing but disservice to Nigeria. This terrible evil demoralizes the service. Influencing departments, officers, putting pressure and influence are a very common fault of politicians.
They should refrain from doing so. I know we are saddled with old legacy, old mentality, old psychology and it haunts our footsteps, but it is up to you now to act as true servants even at the risk of any Minister or Ministry trying to interfere with you in the discharge of your duties as civil servants.
Some officers may fall victims for not satisfying the whims of Ministers and put to trouble because they are not doing anything wrong but because they are doing something right. These officers should come forward and face the position of being put on the black list. The Law-makers assured them that their sacrifice will not keep them on the black list for long if they discharge their duties and responsibilities honestly, sincerely and loyally to the State.
He hoped that it would not be so but even if some of the civil servants had to suffer as victims, he expected them to do so readily. He promised them security and safeguards and told them that anything found prejudicial to their interest would be attended to. It is you who can give us the opportunity to create powerful machinery which will give you a complete sense of security.
The conduct and dealings with the people in various departments must be fair. They should try to create an atmosphere and work in such a spirit that everybody gets a fair deal, and justice is done to everybody. Not merely should justice be done but people should feel that justice has been done to them. He told them to wipe off the past reputation of being rulers.
You do not belong to the ruling class; you belong to the servants. Make the people feel that you are their servants and friends, maintain the highest of honour, integrity, justice and fair play. If you do that, people will have confidence and trust in you and will look upon you as friends and well-wishers.
In the past, there were men who did their duties according to their lights; in the service they were placed. As administrators they did do justice but the people did not feel that justice was done because there was an order of superiority and the people were held at a distance; Instead of feeling, the warmth they felt a freezing atmosphere dealing with the officials. Now that freezing atmosphere must go and you must do your best with all courtesy and kindness and try to understand the people.
Sometimes it’s trying and provoking when a man goes on talking and repeating something over and over again but having patience and showing patience makes the people feel that justice has been done to them. Talking about his personal experience a law-maker said that he kept on getting representations and memorials containing grievances of the people on all sorts of matters.
Even if there was no justification and no foundation for the grievance and the people were under wrong impressions and had been misled. He followed one practice for many years which was: Whether I agree with anyone or not, whether I think that he has any imaginary grievances, whether I think that he does not understand but I always show patience.
He advised the civil servants, to do the same in their dealings with an individual, any association or any organization; they will ultimately stand to gain. They might not agree with the people but they should not allow them to go with the feeling that the officials have been offensive or that they have been discourteous. If as civil servants they followed this rule they would win the respect of the people. Let not people leave you with this bearing that you hate, that you are offensive, that you have insulted or that you are rude to them. Not one percent who comes in contact with you should be left in that state of mind.
There are some selfish people who think of immediate advantages, and work or act for better prospects and promotions, they create difficulties and start slogans about outsiders such as “i dey kampe”, “ebeano” or “strongman of Oyo politics”: “All such things are a hindrance and an obstruction in the way of galvanizing the people and welding them together as the great nation.
The sons of any geo-political zone, fit for high jobs would not escape notice and would be given their proper place to flourish, prosper and progress. At times it is difficult to find the right type of man for the right post. But with time the field for service would not be confined to one geo-political zone but will be extended to the whole of Nigeria.
Since Nigeria’s inception, we were constantly faced with an organized plan to crush and to sabotage Nigeria. The services have warded off and withstood all machinations. There is plenty of room for improvement; we have to learn a lot and adjust to new developments and new issues facing us. So, we should play our part well.
It’s high time the nation shows a personal commitment to democracy, his vision and his ideals. That would be the greatest tribute paid to the man who fought for the inherent rights and independence of his people and worked himself to death accomplishing his mission—Nigeria.