Labour Prefect, Apologies; Deputy Labour Minister launches Special Public Works Programme | The #YNaijaCover

The term ‘tone-deaf’ might very well have been forged in the same cauldron that produced Nigeria’s perennially dysfunctional leading class. It is the only way one can begin to explain the never-ending cycle of Nigerian leaders coming up with one often archaic – certainly always laughable, ‘poverty alleviation’ scheme after another.

The Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, appears to be one more person on a long list of Nigerian leaders who woke up, while living large on taxpayer Naira, and decided it makes sense to merrily launch a ‘job creation’ programme involving the use of cutlasses and wheelbarrows.

The absurdity of it is beyond the understanding of us mere mortal Nigerians, and that is far from the worst of it.

It is the fact that this often-repeated absurdity is not new, nor is the consternation that follows it every time it happens.

Earlier last year, the wife to the governor of Bauchi State, donated what a statement of clarification said was “donations based on request.” The request? Bags of Sachet water, spaghetti making machines among other ‘startup capital.’

The outrage of Nigerians was met then with that defensive statement.

I came out of reading it with a sense of disbelief – if disbelief is a luxury a Nigerian is allowed at all, and exhaustion.

If Nigeria’s leading class listens – and nothing points to that possibility, they certainly are not listening to their constituents.

Governments around the world alleviate poverty by creating an enabling environment for businesses and policies that allow individuals to flourish without the burden of high-handed government interference. Not by handing out cutlasses and wheelbarrows like school prefects on sanitation day.

Hopefully, we use the wheelbarrows they think is all we deserve – while they live large on our commonwealth, to roll them right out of the mandate we granted them with our votes. The sooner the better.

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