Politicians have quite a knack for throwing around promises during election campaigns and ‘party publicity’. Each one seems to discover that the roads need fixing and power needs a lot more stability and somehow they are going to fix them. ‘So vote me. I’ll do it.’ If historical trends are anything to go by, these promises and their like would not be fulfilled, at least not in the way and manner they are made.
Promises are good but they must be the right ones. They must be credible and realistic. Most importantly, they must be ‘promises’. Am I to dance around because someone is so debate-smart to ‘promise’ me he’s going to fix electricity, good roads, and perhaps help me re-paint my apartment? Please! I think these things ought to be our realities and not far away hopes.
I’m afraid I can’t trust anyone who makes these kinds of promises with my vote. But what do you do when all those putting their foot forward keep saying the same things? ‘Ethno- factioncracy’ moves on.
The problem lies at the heart of what we perceive to be the responsibility of political office holders. We do not need several point agendas. What we really need is THE agenda. The government ought to ensure national security, build a healthy economic climate and educate its citizens. Simple, and straight forward. I, and everybody too, wants to walk to and fro my street without a terror-fright or panic. I don’t want my mind running this or that way when I see a parked car… I want to see a government that is determined and focused on protecting its people.
We may be in a democracy but the reason we maintain an army on dictatorial, top-bottom command is to demonstrate that though speech is free no one you should leave his mouth open always. Wars do not start with a shot. They start with words.
There ought to be jobs, and not jobs only, but industries, to engage our massive human capital. It is only right. But I don’t fancy anyone saying ‘We’ll create jobs’. Instead, I’d like to hear someone say something like, ‘We’d reengineer our tax system to be just and fair as well as make it a credible source of public revenue. This revenue would go into making the economic climate easier for people to establish, expand and fund their businesses. The public sector would be revamped and made more competitive. We’d talk with foreigin investors. We’d task the rich to invest their monies in the economy…’ Hey, such a person better makes his claims good!
A lot of efficiency and transparency would help, anyway. And how exactly do you expect me to believe you’d achieve any of this if there is little interest in getting this whole mass of people educated? Not merely literate, but educated- people who have a good sense of value, who will not jerk up prices each time a new minimum wage is announced, who are encouraged to engage their creativity, and who are ready to pay for the pay-services they get. Like I love to say, nearly all voting Americans have their whole being within their politics because they are inextricably linked with the national security, economy and progress. If anyone steals only a billion dollars everyone would know it because there would be a tangible reaction in their pockets. In Nigeria, thieving political office holders keep walking free because too little people are integrated in the national economy.
One mistake our economists often make is to judge the effect of stolen public monies on the basis of exchange rates. The thing is that domestic demand and supply occur in domestic currencies not in exchange rates. So if someone has walked away with a billion naira, it will certainly have the same effect on our economy as when someone in the U.S takes a billion dollars and upsets the U.S economic flow as well. That’s at least 150 times what the naira-thief steals but do you also consider that the dollar economy is 150 times ours? If the Nigerian steals 1 billion dollars then he’s wrecked the economy! Therefore, I blame the harshness of the domestic economic crisis during the global economic downturn not on our exposure to the global market but our exposure to Nigerian million and billion dollar thieves who live 1,500 times above our naira value when inflation is taken into consideration.
National security is only thought of when really crazy people make the headline news. This, for me, is what needs to be addressed. If actions are taken in this direction no one would have to promise roads, it would simply be announced, ‘The road has just been completed.’ And so is this article.