TOKENISM AS A NIGERIAN CULTURE

Some years back, I went for a matter in another town with my colleague. After the court sitting, she asked that we go see her mother who lived in that town.
Her mum offered lunch and after eating, I felt I needed to show my appreciation.
In my native Bini dialect, after eating, one says, ”kada” if a male, and “erhe ghi gbu”, if a female.
Since I did not know the equivalent of these words in hausa or in their native Lunguda dialect, I simply said, “Mama, thank you for the meal”, but she would have none of it. According to her, I was not supposed to thank her for providing me with a meal. As I was under her roof at the moment, I was her child and she owed me a duty to feed me. Therefore, I should not thank her for doing her duty.
That incident really struck me and made me reflect on our leaders.
Some time back, I was watching NTA Network News and saw my people sew “ aso-ebi” and singing with “ukuse” joyfully, simply because a “ground-breaking ceremony”(whatever that means) was being carried out for a road(that never went beyond the ground-breaking event).
Sometime back, I read about how there was wild celebration in my native state ,simply because the governor paid salaries of worker three days before sallah celebration.
If you ask the people of Adamawa state to tell you Fintiri’s achievement, they will tell you,” ya biya maikata”(he paid workers).
It is the same tokenism that would make us hail him as a messiah, a governor who just constructed a road of two kilometres, even though the money appropriated for the project could have constructed over 200 kilometres of road. Yet, that road cannot survive a year.
You go to some places, you see huge billboards, of the leaders and the people thanking them for a few projects constructed in their communities.
You see a legislator, who after collecting huge sums of money as constituency allowance, would come and distribute a few grinding machines, motorbikes and a few bags of rice and the people dancing in wild jubilation.
It is the same tokenism that makes a governor commission a borehole at a sum of over two million naira and the people will clap for him and hail him as the best thing to have happened since Agege bread, while being shown on national TVs.
Try criticising a governor, and you hear things like, he has tried. He did so and so, he constructed this and that, no other governor has ever done what he did, he has tried “immensaly” for the state etc.
A governor carries out a project at an amount that is quadruple of the normal amount, we hail him, simply because “he has tried”.
Nigerians, the “winch” wey do our mata, I am very sure say na First Class im make for school.
And our leaders seem to understand our psyche as a people. They throw up a few projects (sub-standard in most cases) and while we are busy clapping and hailing them, they are helping themselves to our commonwealth.
For heaven’s sake, construction of road, payment of salaries, building of schools and hospitals as well as other infrastructures are not privileges. They are rights. That is why you were elected in the first place. Did you seriously think you were elected to come and be collecting security votes? Hell no.
I have watched election debates in other countries and I have never seen any candidate talk about roads, hospitals, schools etc. These are accepted as basic and fundamental.
You hear them talking about the economy, tax, foreign relations, social security etc. the day I hear our politicians talk about these items, I go change citizenship to Burkinabe.
Our leaders continue to act this way, because they know a few kilometres of road will excite us much more than articulating a good economic blueprint or developing a good social security system.

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