We Pray for Them, They Prey on Us

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SATURDAY POLSCOPE 

with Eddy Odivwri; eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com 08053069356

In the Anglican Church where I worship and belong, there is a standing liturgical practice that requires the members of the church, during intercession, to always pray for our leaders, ranging from those who “exercise authority over us” at the local government through the state governors down to state and national legislators up to the presidency. Some meticulous priests go the extra mile of mentioning the various names of the said leaders. I think it is a biblical doctrine that commands the faithful to pray for their leaders. In those days, I writhe in some anger that well up in me, whenever the priests mentioned the name of late Head of State, Sani Abacha , urging us to pray for him to take wise decisions in the governance of the country.

As a political reporter at the time, I knew perhaps deeper than the average Nigerian, that there was no good whatsoever in the man called Abacha. Therefore praying for him, I thought, was a mere ecclesiastical ritual which I refused to participate in. How could we be praying for those who are preying on us, I reasoned. I have been proven right with the events that have followed. Till today, 19 years after his demise, succeeding governments in Nigeria have been struggling to recover the unfathomable loot he stashed away in far away countries, while Nigeria and Nigerians reeled in poverty.
Sadly however, long after the Abacha menace, we have continued to have sets of leaders who spare little thought for the masses. Yet we continue to pray for them. I am not certain those prayers are being answered as we keep having leaders who end up degrading our lifestyles.

Sourcing and getting selfless leaders has been our major challenge in Nigeria.
Even when a selfless leader is seldom found, the array of selfish contingent of aides and other appointees of the selfless leader, plus other arms of government, dwarf and even derail the altruistic disposition of the said selfless leader. That is why it seems most times that the fight for a better Nigeria is unpopular and often lost, forcing us to keep yearning for halcyon days.

That also explains why the struggle for political power is high keeled.
Were it not so, the buzzing talk about the 2019 election right now will not be necessary. But even as we are still grappling with the challenges of this first term, from the federal to state governments, the swan song about the 2019 elections is already hitting a fever pitch.
The Buhari support groups, for instance, have been firing shots meant to endorse the recuperating president for a second term, just as some state governors are positioning themselves to unseat Mr President.

They forget that second term is usually a reward for a glorious and rewarding first term.
Indeed, many state governments who have received the second tranche of Paris Club refund (N243.7 Billion) are yet owing their workers, even when the funds are meant to clear the backlog of salaries owed state workers. Many people suspect that the said state governors have diverted the funds received to some other issues, including stockpiling funds for the 2019 election… at the expense of the present welfare of the people. These same workers are expected to pray(?) for these raiders, masquerading as leaders who are preying mercilessly on them!

Recently, the ululation of Mrs Aisha Al Hassan alias Mama Taraba, the Minister of Women Affairs’ endorsement of her godfather, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election, seized the airspace. There is no plan to solve the problems of incessant strike actions by almost all sectors of the economy. Their interest is how they will strategise for 2019.
One other sore pointer to the political predators is the ungodly salaries of our National lawmakers. This had been a source of national complaint for years now. Recently, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, refused to reveal how much a senator earns.

This is against the backdrop of the rising public grumbling on the huge sum purportedly earned by our senators.
Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay had said each of the senators earns N29m a month and over N3bn a year. Most of the salaries come as non-taxable allowances.
“From the information I have gathered, a Nigerian Senator earns about N29 million a month and over N3 billion a year,” the professor said.

He broke it down: “Basic salary N2,484,245.50; hardship allowance, 1,242, 122.70; constituency allowance N4, 968, 509.00; furniture allowance N7, 452, 736.50; newspaper allowance N1, 242, 122.70.
“Wardrobe allowance N621,061.37; recess allowance N248, 424.55; accommodation 4,968,509.00; utilities N828,081.83; domestic staff N1,863,184.12; entertainment N828,081.83; personal assistant N621,061.37; vehicle maintenance allowance N1,863,184.12; leave allowance N248,424.55; severance gratuity N7, 425,736.50; and motor vehicle allowance N9, 936,982.00,” Sagay said.
But despite the figures released, Senator Abdullahi refused to disclose what a senator earns, forgetting that there is Freedom of Information law in this country. Independent investigation reveals that a senator earns as much as N14m per month and House of Representatives members N8m each per month, recession or no recession. Their salaries are never owed. But not of those who voted them into office. Former CBN governor, and now Emir of Kano, Emir Sanusi II had once said the nation’s lawmakers earn a quarter of the nation’s budget.

It had been said that the Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world. They even earn more than the United States of America’s president. Yet we are a poor country.
But as if that is not even bad enough, these same legislators, in the name of constituency projects literally rape the treasury to feather their own nests.
Recently, a sacked senator was lobbying to yet undertake the execution of the N200 million worth of constituency projects he injected into the budget of a federal government agency. Imagine each of the 109 senators ‘collecting’ N200 million for constituency projects. Yet our villages are yet as rustic as medieval communes, lacking in things that make life less brutish. Add to this, the great privileges and perks usually given to the so-called principal officers of the National Assembly. Last month, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, sacked nearly 100 of his aides. Yes,100 aides! Reports say he has 200 aides left, just as he planned to replace those fired.
We pray for them, they prey on us.

And what were the constituency projects: the supply of generators to individuals (usually cronies), buying of motor cycles for some youths, supply of dryers to some women, renovation and furnishing of the palace of the local monarchs, etc… such inane and wasteful burn of public resources. They hardly undertake entrepreneurial projects or going concerns that will grow the economy, or empower the constituents beyond their tenures. How can the federal government be expending huge money to be renovating the palace of certain local chiefs… all in the name of constituency project, whereas university lecturers, medical doctors and other health workers, etc., are daily embarking on strike for unpaid salaries and broken agreements? What rubbish!

No to Biafra, Yes to Restructuring

Did you hear that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the papers for the proclamation of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organization?
Really? So what will happen now to all the agitators asking for the Republic of Biafra?

They have to zip that thought forever. Nigeria cannot be fractionalized by people who do not even understand what life is. Henceforth anyone caught with all those IPOB insignia like Biafran flag, Biafran currency, Biafran passport, Biafran uniforms etc, will be heading to Gashua
But they say they have the freedom for self determination

Yes, they do, but this must be expressed within the ambit of the law. Or does self determination mean having and bearing arms? Does it mean operating a parallel sovereignty within a sovereign entity? Does it mean having your own guards, your own secret service etc.? Does it mean constituting yourself into an arm of illegal government? What else is sedition?

Do they own and bear arms?

Are you asking me? With what were they attacking soldiers on the streets? Didn’t you hear a cache of arms was found in Nnamdi Kanu’s house? Who do you think is the importer of those arms being seized at the Tin Can ports every now and then? And to know those arms are coming from Turkey, the same country that seems to have some sympathy for IPOB. Or didn’t you hear that a certain Turkish “diplomat” was canvassing support for IPOB?
No, the Turkish embassy in Nigeria disowned that ‘Diplomat’ and restated its commitment to Nigeria’s unity.

Look, the proper process of declaring them (IPOB) as terrorist organization is now being followed and the Federal High court has declared it so.
So, why is the cart being put before the horse? Why didn’t they do this before declaring it a terrorist organization by the military? Why didn’t the same military declare the Fulani herdsmen a terrorist organisation given the avalanche of killings and crimes they have committed across the land?
Let me tell you, it is more than what you think. Did you not read that IPOB members worldwide stormed the United Nations General Assembly in New York protesting the killing of its members? Didn’t you hear the empathic words from the UN inviting IPOB for a meeting?
Don’t assume that the group will be suppressed and discarded just like that.

Hmm, you make me laugh. Ok. Let them protest in New York and also move on to Buckingham Palace, London. And even move on to other places. But let’s see where they will have that their Biafra nonsense, whether it is in New York or in Nigeria. The prisons are yet unfilled.
Leave those diplomatic issues. The government will deal with them all, including those funding IPOB from France and co., plus even the UK which has refused to shut down the illegal Biafra radio broadcasting from London.

How can I forget the diplomatic issues when that is the greatest anchor IPOB can bank on now? And was it not hypocritical for Mr President to be focusing on far-flung countries like Myamar, North Korea calling for dialogue and conciliatory moves whereas he is clamping down on IPOB at home. Is that not diplomatic hypocrisy?
The will of the people cannot be suppressed. Even if you succeed in gagging them now, it will resurge again at a later date.

You miss the point. Biafra is no licence to good life. Take it from me. What should be the focus is how to get Nigeria working again, so that our yesterday will not be better than our tomorrow. We should be concerned on how to bake a bigger national cake which will be equitably shared by all and sundry. That is why the advocacy should be towards restructuring the polity for equitable balancing and representation at all levels of government. No section of the country should be treated like second-class citizens. Every and all policies that support class and regional dichotomy should be abolished. Let the boy from Awkulobia feel as proud a Nigerian as a boy from Madagali. That is why the resounding anthem should be for restructuring and not Biafra agitation.

You talk as if it is that easy. Have you bothered to know who bakes the cake and who supervises the so-called sharing? Those are the issues. There is a notion that the Igbo will not get equity from the Nigerian state. It is like looking for fish in the rain forest. Fishes don’t live in forests. When there is a feeling and evidence of inequity like in the recent appointments in the NNPC where ten out of 15 appointments went to the north, three to the South south and two to the Southwest and none to the South east, one is left with the undeniable feeling of not being wanted in the Nigerian space. It is acts like that which fuel the separatist agitation. Or would you beat a child and forbid the child from crying?