As a result of my job working in a radio station and living in a service apartment it can become very easy to take the availability of electric power for granted.
That got me thinking…all our Ministers and workers in the Presidency as well as top officials in states have even better power privileges thanks to generator sets and billions spent on diesel. If one is so insulated from a problem, can he or she truly appreciate the urgency to solve that problem?
I think not.
Consider also other ways that our leaders insulate themselves from the urgency of our problems. Thanks to huge pay checks at public expense and fat pensions, they can educate their children abroad. How then can a governor whose children are schooling abroad feel the pain of institution closure for indefinite periods due to strikes or “security concerns” or the pressing need to come up with a creative and lasting solution to the problem?
If a top government official can fly out of the country at an instant whenever he needs medical attention. Can such a leader feel the pressing need to fix health care in his constituency? That dichotomy, in itself, creates an us versus them situation in the country as against a “we the people” situation which is ideal for progress.
This brings me to the concept of active citizenship. Too often, when we band together as a people we either ask for the wrong things, have an unclear message or we do so for the wrong reasons. For instance, recent agitations for secession. IF all that energy was targeted, not at ethnic or religious groups but at poor leaders at state or federal levels, would we not have a better country?
Sometimes it is that we do not focus the message of our demands properly. The 2012 occupy Nigeria was largely successful because it had a clear and simple message and objective. Bring down the cost of petrol. On the other hand, the early 2017 protest for good governance did not have a simple focused objective. “Good governance” is subjective. It can be argued by those who are in position that they are providing it and there may not be a universal barometer to measure exactly what “good governance is.
Perhaps if that protest was more focused. Had a clear demand for instance “Public officials MUST educate their children in Nigeria and we want a law o back that” or “No overseas medical expense should be picked up by the state” or Public officials must not ride luxury cars, we can better guide our public servants in the right direction and keep them on the straight and narrow path.
I would buy Ayo Fayose’s argument here. It is my firm belief that leaders will approach a lot of our problems from power to roads to health to education, with more pragmatism if they are stripped of the ability to insulate themselves and their families from these problems.