by Abayomi G. Omotayo
If by providence, Santa reads this piece. I hope he grants my only Christmas wish: I want change in Nigeria. Ideally, this should not be a request because going by the grand promises of the present government, I should have started experiencing change since 29 May 2015.
Politicians in Nigeria love to play with words, this works on us like magic hence they continue to do so. It is a no brainer changing a winning formula. The only time I believe that we were not scammed by subtlety through carefully coined campaign mantra was in 1993. ‘Hope 93’ was MKO Abiola’s campaign mantra. This was honest in my opinion. The man only told us to hope, nothing concrete yet, just hope. Indeed, we hoped, across the length and breadth of this nation, with an infectious hope transcending religious and ethnic sentiments, we voted for hope, we believed in hope and hoped against hope. Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed.
Goodluck Jonathan’s mantra was ‘transformation’, it lived up to that name. It takes a genius to see that. We transformed from a nation whose public officials steal covertly to the one whose officials steal and rub it in our faces. Stealing and mismanagement in billions became the new benchmark. Whoever stole millions was seen as a petty thief. In fact, from the horse’s mouth came the validation that ‘stealing is not corruption’. End of story.
To the present administration, let us not talk about the fact that we waited for six months to have supposed super efficient ministers or the fact that the 2016 budget was touted as the best thing to happen to Nigeria since 1914. I remember how the word zero-based budgeting was brandished proudly as the panacea for the country’s budgeting flaws. Alas! This budget was robustly padded. Up until now, no one has been really held responsible and reprimanded. Just like in the last administration where stealing was not the same as corruption, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the man in the very center of the padding debacle, after a meeting with the president in Aso Rock, stood proudly and said to reporters that budget padding is not a crime anywhere in the world. End of story.
Jonathan’s administration had a finance minister who was always in the eye of the storm, accused of unwholesome practices. Very grave allegations that were it in saner climes she would have stepped down whether guilty or not, to allow investigation. She remained, like the rock of Gibraltar, until the end. Untouchable.
The present administration also has a sports minister who has continued to insult the collective sensibilities of Nigerians. Let us forget the uncharitable remarks he made about the team that represented us at the last Olympics and all the drama that ensued. Perhaps he was still new on the job and learning the ropes of acceptable conduct as a public official. What shall we then say about his submission that the Super Falcons were not expected to emerge victorious at the just concluded Women African Cup of Nations, hence the reason for the sports ministry’s unpreparedness in meeting their financial obligation to the wonderful ladies that did the country proud? In saner climes, people have resigned or had their political career perpetually ruined for less. This is Nigeria, he is still standing, and tall too. No repercussions, no consequences for his actions or inactions and utterances. Why wouldn’t he do something worse or why wouldn’t any other public official tow the same line?
Let me stop with these few comparisons because I can go on until next Christmas giving reasons and instances to show that nothing has really changed in this country. It is still a vicious cycle of media propaganda, shameful denial, shirking of responsibilities, utter cluelessness, policy summersault and blatant corruption. For the sake of morality or honesty, I would that the change mantra is rebranded to ‘Continuity’ or have we really transitioned to ‘Change’?
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The author tweets @AbayomiGOmotayo