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Dividends of democracy or responsibility of government?

By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

Dividends of Democracy” is one popular lexicon celebrated by political office holders in Nigeria. It is an unfortunate grand norm of those in power: be it the presidency, states or local governments to elevate government schedule of duties to an honour to celebrate or feast about. This tradition is in itself completely absurd. The celebration of dividends of democracy has risen to the level of a pass time and contemptuous corrupt practice. At any given time politicians deliver on their mandates in form of projects executed with tax payers’ money, crowds of jobless youth, the media space and time are always rented to celebrate what is simply the reason for being in government. Beneficiary contractors and communities of such projects are not left out in the bandwagon effect as they do even beyond their means to appease and celebrate the politician and the project which more often than not were shabbily executed. By giving out customised “Ankara or T-shirt” of the man in power, the mostly illiterate populace and gullible public who lack good understanding of governance especially the role elected office holders play join in the fray and are hoodwinked into believing the so called “American Wonders” done by the politicians. The military ruled Nigeria for years and it was visible that they had laudable projects to its credit. The better part of the foundation and current state of the nation today was an aftermath of that regime your perception of that era notwithstanding. They took it for  granted and celebrate none knowing fully well that it was a call to duty.
An average Nigerian politician has a “Vuvuzela Mentality.” The trumpet blowing syndrome and a haughty sense of nobody else does it better than I do underscores the reason for lack of purposeful leadership the show has elicited and the ridiculous level of under development witnessed throughout the nation. With pictorials and graphic presentations of projects purportedly done occupying media spaces and time, the truth of the matter is that they are manifest in sheer propaganda and covered with the hood of deception. The money spent on the media and celebration most a times doubles the actual budget for the project so celebrated. A visit to the state where such high quality pictorials of development emerged tells the direct opposite in the entire jamboree of dishonesty. A one  kilometer asphalted road is celebrated with pump and pageantry only for the road to become unpassable few months later.
Using the paraphernalia of power and that of the media as a tool and accomplice to driving home the intentions of politicians are not lost in Nigerian political firmament. The politicians often pay their ways through the media and once such messages are frequently echoed or weaved into a media campaign of say six months, it sticks like a gum of truth in peoples’ consciousness. However, the reality dawns on everyone in no distance time, people become disenchanted leading to some politicians being signia of wastages around the country.  A good product does not need much promotional spree. It gets desired patronage on its own no matter the point of sale. Good thinking is an outcome of a good product. States that are doing well do not need to buy into advertisements or propaganda.  Their works are good testimonials for prudence and diligence in managing available scarce resources. The wisdom of putting state resources into the right beneficial projects is a lesson ignored by those in power. It is so vital that in it lies the fulcrum of development which is in short supply. booed, insulted or are stoned when they visit their homes and villages. The famous one kilometer radius tunnel built by former governor of Enugu State Chimaroke Nnamani was in that category of propaganda extraordinaire and deception. It  was nothing short of an over-head bridge and Enugu people can testify to that. So also are other numerous highly celebrated white elephant projects which bore the insignia of wastages around the country.  A good product does not need much promotional spree. It gets desired patronage on its own no matter the point of sale. Good thinking is an outcome of a good product. States that are doing well do not need to buy into advertisements or propaganda.  Their works are good testimonials for prudence and diligence in managing available scarce resources. The wisdom of putting state resources into the right beneficial projects is a lesson ignored by those in power. It is so vital that in it lies the fulcrum of development which is in short supply.
During campaigns for elective political offices, politicians pledge to do the unthinkable. So many outlandish promises tantamount to the one a man gives his girl at bed time tend to be the trend.  After the celebration of victory, the voters are shut out ectorates are always faithful in playing their parts at the polls while the elected shamelessly abandon their own part of the bargain. Paying good attention to investments in human capital development, quality and affordable education, provision of excellent and affordable health care, availability of class electricity power supply should interest those in government. In these few instances and many more can we be free from the vestiges of penury, want and underdevelopment states and the entire nation experiences. Propaganda is not the answer to societal development. Deliberate and conscientious attempt aimed at executing good and people oriented projects is.completely as the politician zooms pass in tinted SUV’s and police escorts without much attention or concern to the disappointment of all. This unfriendly political culture is annoying and the habit in itself completely silly. Execution of projects for the good of the people is a social contract meant to be fulfilled after elections. It is morally offensive, scorns the law of fairness and in contravention of the oath of the offices for an elected officer to celebrate his responsibilities or assume he does the people favour by keeping to his schedules. Before elections, a deal to be kept was struck between the electorates and elected. The electorates are always faithful in playing their parts at the polls while the elected shamelessly abandon their own part of the bargain. Paying good attention to investments in human capital development, quality and affordable education, provision of excellent and affordable health care, availability of class electricity power supply should interest those in government. In these few instances and many more can we be free from the vestiges of penury, want and underdevelopment states and the entire nation experiences. Propaganda is not the answer to societal development. Deliberate and conscientious attempt aimed at executing good and people oriented projects is.

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