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Nigeria: Slumbering or in Induced Coma? – By Dr. Kunle Ojeleye

By Dr. Kunle Ojeleye | Calgary, Canada | Oct. 7, 2012 – Precisely a week ago, I was unable to attend an event that I had so much looked forward to in the last few years. This was the inaugural lecture, as a Professor of Public Administration, of someone who twenty years ago ceased to be a friend and became a brother, Sylvester Olubanji Fajonyomi. I have since had the privilege of going through the text of the lecture and for me, the chosen title is apt indeed – When The State Goes To Sleep: Of Citizen And State Relationship.

In his lecture, Professor Fajonyomi (and I mean S. O. as there are two Professors in the family) identified some germane factors that have contributed to the state of sleepiness which Nigeria, the so called “Giant of Africa” has found itself. These include corruption and our cultural orientation. The former does not need any further analysis from me whilst in regards to the latter, I slightly differ with my friend’s summation.

Whilst I do not fault Prof. Fajonyomi’s view that “culture has not been put into positive use in Nigerian public administration…Our cultural practices like family loyalty, kinship, respect for age/seniority and our understanding or misunderstanding of the concept of power have weakened citizens’ rights and obligations”, I would hasten to say that our cultural practices, just like our religious inclinations, have been smartly and negatively exploited by the political/religious elites not only to disenfranchise and disempower the citizenry, but to institute a new form of slavery and imperialism in Nigeria.

It would not be fortuitous for me to say that our culture of respect for age/seniority has further resulted in our docility of not asking, finding out, questioning and querying why an elderly person (rather than an older person – a few years older) especially in a position of authority has taken a certain decision and/or carried out the implementation of a decision in a particular manner.

The cultural stigma of an affront to age/seniority and the likely retort in Yorubaland of “Se Iwo Omode Yi Fe Da’gba” (You this young/little so and so, are you sure you want to live long to a ripe old age?) has resulted in our acceptance of things/events that have happened (and are still happening) in Nigeria when they should not happen in the first place.

It is axiomatic “that the duties of the State cover twenty four hours, three sixty five days and twelve months of the year. When a vacuum exists in the operation of the State at any point in the time segment stated above, it has serious consequences not only for the citizens for which reasons the State exists but also for the State that will need to dispense more efforts and resources to cover the absence created in the period it became negligent”.

Indeed, “one thing is certain. The State has gone to sleep. No wonder marauders have taken over certain basic services that the State ought to provide be it security (Oodua Peoples Congress, Egbesu Boys and Niger Delta Vigilante Force) traffic (members of National Union of Road Transport Workers or even the physically disabled members of the community on skaters), health (too numerous to mention) education (every street now has private schools), infrastructure (private bridges link some isolated communities and potholes are filled by miscreants”.

In the abdication of duties by the Nigerian state and the delegation of those duties to someone else/another entity, my friend forgot to add our constant agitation to God for him to come and do for us the job that He, the Almighty had already equipped, skilled and endowed us for.

President Jonathan recently declared a one year prayer session for the country, indirectly saying the burden of governance is too much for him. Whilst I do not dispute the efficacy and effectiveness of prayer (and fasting), my view point is that God answered the prayers of Nigerians many years ago, but the lack of the will to do the right thing by our leaders has prevented the manifestation of the dividends of those prayers.

When Mr President devotes one year to delivering stable sustainable and affordable electricity to every corner of Nigeria no matter whose ox is gored in the process, and all our leaders (business/political/religious) do their own bit in delivering transparent, transformational, ethical, judicious, equitable, sensible and purposeful guidance/governance to a perishing nation, the burden of governance would not weigh so heavily on the shoulder of the man (or woman) in Aso Rock.

In the meantime, the Nigerian state has not only gone to sleep, I cannot but conclude that the posture of torpor bordering on drugged stupor is a deliberately induced one, aimed at an abdication of duties and responsibilities. It seems most to me that the so-called Giant of Africa is in a very deep slumber from which it may only be awoken by an event of frightening proportion.

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Posted by on Oct 7 2012. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Kunle Ojeleye, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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