Public Service and Nigerian Political Gods – Dr.Muiz Banire

As I welcome us all to the new year, I wish each and everyone of us a pleasurable and happy new year in good health and contentment. I have consciously qualified the wish with ‘contentment’ as the conventional wish always revolves round prosperity which I believe is part of the challenge of the country. Even in the religious world, salvation has suddenly taken a back seat as every pretensive religious bigot, not pious, person now seeks and pursues prosperity.

The essence of this is to discourage the inordinate ambition of Nigerians for prosperity which is a major harbinger of corruption. With contentment, avarice and greed will reduce in the country.

My last intervention in this column was to be on wonders that will never end in Nigeria.
This was aimed at analysing the press releases of Godwin Emefiele, the disgraced and embattled former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and my friend, or do I say former friend and brother, Boss Mustapha, the former Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria over allegations of corruption against them respectively. Not quite long, I read again another press release from my friend, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the then Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, a colleague at the Executive Council of the All Progressives Congress at inception. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, the conversation in this column had to be pushed aside with the death of our great colleague, brother and friend, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, best described as eniyan ’re, a good person, who I had to dedicate the last edition of this column to by way of a tribute and eulogy. As I was hoping to resurrect the stepped down discourse around the characters and others in this column, I noticed again the attitude of our political leaders and politicians generally to life and governance in the country, in terms of the way they reason and the manner of their behaviors.

It then became irresistible that as we open the year, I need to remind them of their being and humanity. As the Yoruba would say, iku t’o pa ojugba eni, owe lo n pa fun ni. The death of a neighbour is a proverbial confirmation of one’s mortality. This is what gave birth to my description of the Nigerian politicians as self-appointed gods, though masquerading as ‘God’. What do I mean by this? Politicians, presumably, are human beings, just as thieves and other criminals.

They are certainly not ghosts. They must have been given birth to by humans and in the manner other human beings are given birth to; weather by vaginal delivery or surgical operation. What distinguishes them, however, is that they often conduct their affairs in a manner suggestive of partaking in the exclusive qualities and unquestionable omniscience of God. Politicians do no wrong in the presence of their followers, or should I say, disciples?

Where they go wrong, they apply rule number 2 in the 48 laws of power, which post you to rule number 1 that your boss is ever right. In the 48 Laws of Power, rule number 1 is that,’ your boss is ever right’, which is suggestive of the perfection of such being. Rule number 2 says, “where your boss is wrong, you apply rule number 1”, confirming again the infallibility of the political boss. The false impression conveyed by the followers worshipping their boss tends to confer on the political leaders’ absolute power and knowledge over their subjects which makes them easily fall to flattery that loyalty must be 100%.

Those among their followers who desire to manipulate them would characterize others who are critical of the foolery of their boss to be disloyal. God almighty Himself in His absoluteness asks for no loyalty that is 100% from humans. That is why He allows sins and atonement for sins committed. Absolute loyalty would have forbidden committal of sins in the first place for which no human would have merited the grace of God. Politicians, in their tomfoolery, desire absolute loyalty and hence want to be responsible for who would progress and who would retard.

While it is true that planning is an essential ingredient of success in life, but where the plan becomes inordinate and challenging to divineness of God, it becomes abhorrent. Emi ti o nii d’ola, t’o n da osu mefa. A soul that may not survive till tomorrow that is projecting a six-month plan. This is the case of the politicians who can assure their futures and that of others. It is only politicians that can plan lines of successions for the next decades including ditching out warranties and guarantees to their disciples.

They challenge God as to gift of life and the apportionment of positions and offices. They often forget as recently recognized by President Tinubu that God is the giver of not only power and honour but wealth. That statement from the President gladdens my heart but what about the people around the President down to the other levels? They behave not only as tin gods but sharer of bounties and determiners of destinies.

They often forget that just as life is transient, so also are power and other material things. Do politicians even recognize they are mortals? I very much doubt it. Even where some of their contemporaries slump and die, all that politicians mostly honour the deceased or the departed ones with is a press release of condolences. The very next moment and before the deceased is buried, they are out with their mischiefs in the land. They are already scrambling and struggling to grab what the deceased left behind in terms of office and power forgetting that the ugly fate that befell the deceased would ultimately befall them too.

That explains why, in most instances, they hardly recall their duties to their subjects. They are emotionless and reckless in their governance styles, that is best captured in their expression, bamu bamu ni mo yo, awa o mo pe ebi npa omo eni kankan which literally translates to mean “we are fully fed to the brims. We do not know if anyone is hungry”. As the Bible says, for what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? This is why it is believed that an average politician does not have the fear of God. Have you seen a politician tell another that he can never progress or boast that without his intervention, another person would not make any progress in life? Boasting that another person’s success or prosperity lies in his hands as the benefactor and maker of the other person’s destiny.

That their disciples equally believe in this and therefore worship them is a baffling thing. In fact, the way and manner they walk, as the Quran puts it, is as if they were the inventors and owners of the land they walk on? They strut the land with arrogance and contumacy. They forget that the land can quake and consume then, and even if not, they will either be ultimately cremated or buried in it.

The tendency, in recent times, amongst public officials is to forget that they are servants of the people, closing up access to the people they are meant to serve. The one that amuses me most is the demand for appointment with an unknown specific officer in a department before visiting such office to lodge a complaint. The purpose of his appointment into that particular office is to serve the people, listen to both sense and nonsense from them.

It is his duty to separate sense from nonsense and meet the expectations of the people for whom God had placed in an office of responsibility. As a friend would put is, power is responsibility, but an average Nigerian politician does not seem to see it that way. An officer placed in a position of responsibility only sees himself as the ultimate who can decide the fate of others. This explains why they are ever afraid of being recorded since their activities in office do not meet the statutory and moral purposes for which they were appointed in the first place.

Why stop citizens from bringing in their phones to public offices if your acts are noble? Even when you go to anti-corruption agencies’ offices or police stations, you must drop your phone ten miles away from the office where you are meant to see a public officer or to be interrogated. The essence of public office is to be as transparent, plain and honest as much as possible.

What is the moral or legal justification for preventing the public from accessing your offices or with their phones by which you feel that your indiscretion and plain criminality might be exposed? Public officials of latter days reflect the proverb that ‘ti eniyan o ba i tii de ipo, iwa oniwa lo ma n ya lo’ which proverb confirms that people’s real attitude only becomes revealed after ascending offices. Let me not be misconstrued to be saying that there must not be structure of visits.
Total blank out is what is abominable.

The good news however is that no matter how long, office lo ma r’ehin akowe. One day, you are meant to leave behind the office where you had been playing God, the ultimate. It is a transient position that will become history. To the extent that life is temporary, every other thing in life is transient. E je ki a se aiye re o. Today, many people have good things to say about Chief Obafemi Awolowo, SAN, GCFR. It is not because he was superhuman but simply because of what impact he made in people’s lives.

Hardly does a day pass by without people praising him for his good deeds. Arakunrin Akeredolu and Ghali Naaba have just departed. Their good deeds live behind them. We are here analysing them as if they were mere items. The world did not wait for them and neither did the earth stop its circumference. In fact, the tears had not finished dropping off our watery eyes when Lucky Ayedatiwa was sworn in to replace his former boss. The same fate will befall all of us. There is no remedy to it. There is no preventing it. The new Governor should not have a sense of triumph over his enemy for what fate befell the legator shall ultimately befall the legatee. All humans shall taste death. The place and time are only known to God, the Ultimate.

Aketi is receiving his assessment in our hands today, the same way all of us shall receive our assessment. No one shall live forever or occupy a particular office in perpetuity; not even a political office for which there is constitutional or statutory tenure. What madness would make a man get drunk by political power and constitute himself to a tin god? If the attitude his being prompted by your stooges and lackeys who are worshipping you and creating a sense of invincibility in you, it is best for you to look at the rag in the corner of your mother’s store and remember that it had once been a sparkling beautiful piece of fabric before.

The bent back of your old uncle was once a sprightly instrument impregnating women with reckless abandon.

Today, it has dropped its virility and its connection to its manhood is no longer virile. Young ladies now flaunt their beauties and virginities before the same man and he is no where to show them his power. The same thing shall happen to you who think that public office is meant to satisfy your greed and arrogance. Laala to r’oke, ile ni m bo. Whatever goes up must definitely come down. You certainly will descend to meet those you are trampling upon presently on your disgraceful or shameful way.

Time and tide wait for no man. While in office, serve man the way God has mandated you to be his public servant. Humility and humanness must be your watch words. E s’aye ire!

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