PATRIOTISM AND NIGERIAN LAWMAKERS.
By Imohimi Uduigwome Airenevboise
The present Nigerian flag was an adaptation of the winning entry submitted by Taiwo Akinwunmi.The judges removed the symbol of a sun on the white portion of the flag, which gave us our present green, white, green flag.
The other day one of our honourable members (why do they call them honourable, even a fraudster can get elected into the house, he becomes honourable, talk about moral cleansing) took up valuable time by bringing to the attention of the house that the designer of the Nigerian flag Pa Taiwo Akinwunmi needed to be rehabilitated by the Federal Government. He went on to state that the designer was a patriotic Nigerian that the Federal Government should place on a pension because he designed the Nigerian flag. Why do we only remember the designer of the Nigerian flag? Who wrote our pledge? Who composed the national anthem? Who remembers Ben Odiase? Though I am sure there was a prize attached to the winning entry for the design of the Nigerian flag, and am sure Pa Taiwo Akinwunmi received the price (he has also received monetary gift from a telecom company and karis award) my grouse is with the statement by the honourable (that word again) member that he should be compensated for his patriotism.
Who is the patriotic Nigerian? Is it the poorly paid primary school teacher who treks to school daily in a bid to impart knowledge, or the hungry policeman who stand guard over the house of a politician and watches the display of opulence, or the little kid who hawks to get money to pay his school fees and is daily harassed by local government officials to pay for daily tickets, ‘ticket money” which local government politician share among themselves. Is it the medical doctor in a government hospital that has to work with dilapidated and archaic equipment while politicians go abroad to meet his colleagues for treatment. Is it the fisherman in the Niger delta who wakes up one morning only to realize that oil pollution has destroyed his only source of livelihood? Is it the government official that refuses to take bribe and is prematurely retired from service and is derided by society for having wasted his years in service when his mates who took bribes are millionaires and have been bestowed with several national honours and chieftaincy titles.
Why can’t each lawmaker pin point a patriotic citizen and celebrate the individual. Why couldn’t the member who brought the issue to the house take up the challenge of catering for the welfare of Pa Taiwo Akinwunmi? In the alternative he could have assisted the children of Pa Taiwo become gainfully employed assuming that they are unemployed. Most of our Honourable members limit their contribution to their constituency to printing note books with their well fed faces on the covers (can we term this as narcissism) and distributes same to primary school pupils. They don’t give a hoot that these pupils sit on bare floors in a classroom without roof to receive their lessons. They don’t care that some of these kids go to school hungry and in tattered uniforms, some trek barefooted for miles to get to school. Perhaps the note books with the grinning face of the politician on the cover is a message to the pupils. ‘focus your mind towards becoming a politician and do anything to get yourself elected into a position where you can one day put your face on the cover of notebooks to distribute to scrawny students” More often than not, the cost of media coverage for the distribution of the note books outstrips the cost of printing the note books.
Constituency project is another of their favourite contribution to the progress of their electorate. Most times for the lawmakers, constituency projects refers to the sinking of a bore hole that hardly functions at a cost that makes one wonder if the bore hole was sunk in a rocky terrain or in the middle of the Sahara desert. These projects are commissioned with so much fan fare and feeling of bonding with the constituency that one begins to wonder if it’s the same Honourable members who zoom around along dirt tracks or pot hole ridden roads in their glittering convoy of vehicles coating “lesser mortals” with dust(or splashing them with mud depending on the season).What are the contributions of our honourable members towards ensuring that our country Nigeria becomes a place where one can actually utilise one’s talent or intellect to harness a decent and honourable living. An environment where law and order reigns supreme, and not the present scenario where armed robbers are chasing you off the streets, siren blowing convoys with the honourable ensconced in an air conditioned jeep pushing you of the road and uniformed men who are catered for by tax payers using horse whip and boots to clear the tax payers off the road.
How many of our lawmakers can walk the streets in their constituency? Half will definitely not be recognized because nobody knows them and the other half will be mobbed. Their allegiance is to their godfather and not to members of their constituency. They are ever so vociferous when they perceive that someone has made a statement that cast aspersion on their horrible oops sorry honourable nature. These remarks are usually brought to the attention of other members by a member under “issue of urgent national importance’. At this point even members who normally use the opportunity of the house in session to take a quick nap after a night filled with activity (please don’t ask me why they are always so busy at night) join in the debate to call for the head of the person. A current governor has recently incurred the wrath of our lawmakers over his remarks that cast aspersion on the integrity of lawmakers. Our politician resent criticism even from within their kind. When we are been led by people who abhor criticism, even if it’s constructive how can our Nation grow?
The speaker is a focused young man who cares about Nigerians and knows that the art of lawmaking is a responsibility they owe Nigerians and he has told his colleagues to brace up for the challenges ahead. Leopards do not change their spots, to expect a retired military officer from an era when civilians were regarded derogatorily as ‘bloody civilians’ and who once said that the that phones and air travel should not be enjoyed by the poor to care (in a democracy) about the plight of majority of Nigerians who are living in poverty is to expect too much, even from the chamber he heads. Now the chamber he heads is engaged in a power tussle as to who heads the joint committee on constitution review. Nigerians are not concerned as to who emerges as chairman or co-chairman but in having a constitution that will offer them a solid foundation to build a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
The other day I saw a quote, right now I can’t remember the author, but the quote goes like this:-
‘Real misfortune is not the fact that you are hungry
and thirsty but the fact that there are people who
are happy to see you hungry and thirsty.”
Our politicians in government are happy to see millions of Nigerians wallowing in poverty while they continue to squander our resources on white elephant projects that will guarantee that that their private bank accounts keep growing and Nigeria keeps going down the drain. Therein lies the misfortune of our nation, Nigeria.
Imohimi Uduigwome Airenevboise