This past week, Canadian doctors took to the street, to make a most unusual, yet sane, demand of their employer. Don't raise our pays, use that money for the benefit of the larger society, they said. Quite unusual was this demand that it generated a lot of debates, interesting ones, for that matter. Firing the first salvo, on an Ekiti intellectual forum, to which I belong, was by my aburo, a US-based engineer who opined that money doesn't create happiness, citing prominent American billionaires who, in his opinion, aren't happy, including the incumbent American president. Lots and lots of questions got raised on the acquisitive instincts of the African and how this led to poverty of society and the citizenry.

Truth, for me, is that the materialistic instincts of the African is driven by a plethora of factors, prominent among which is the failure of governance. This is, due to lawlessness-driven greed, of the leadership and the ignorance-driven gullibility of the citizenry. Life is quite sustainable on the very basic ingredients like water, food, shelter, means of self-actualization, security of life and property. These basics, good governments, driven by normal human beings, with godly upbringing, strive to provide for their citizens. Coming from the United States, where he went to write some examinations, some years back, my son quipped, daddy, they don't have money but they don't complain, and I explained to him that life is sustainable on just few basic essentials of life, which their governments strive to provide for them. This question was coming, more than a decade after his seventeen year-old sister called, sympathizing with my plight as I struggled to get money across to her: daddy, don't worry yourself much, we(she and her younger sister, both undergraduates, there, in the US) are the ones to worry  you. Every problem has a solution, here (America), unlike there (Nigeria), where problems have no solution, she said. Governments in sane climes strive to ensure comfort for the citizens, sufficient to enable them, contribute meaningfully to the economy, noting that politics is no more than a liability, especially when in the hands of outlaws as we have in our country-politics generate, not a single kobo, to the national GDP, at least, directly.

Standing at a bus stop, in a small community called Gaithersburg, in Maryland, waiting to catch a bus to a shopping mall, I marvelled at the number of school buses (all painted yellow) criss-crossing the entire road network, dropping school children at designated stops, closest to their homes-all parents, poor or rich, need do is take kids to the designated stops, from which they are picked after school. After counting up to sixty of those buses, with the inscription Montgomery County School bus, and still to finish, I forgot the reason I got to the bus stop, in the first place and started  to ruminate on governance, in our country and elsewhere-a county is no more than a local government,(which the governors use to pilfer monies,) here. Is it the dexterity and commitment of the Montgomery bus crews, in doing their jobs or the sense of responsibility of the authority in running the scheme, which is not sufficiently captivating? I wondered. With this arrangement, it matters not, if some parents fly their kids to school-what is important is that all kids get to school where their performances are measured, only, on their abilities.

Governance, in our country is about the politicians, their families, and their elite-cronies, in that order. The citizens become relevant, only, up to the polling booth, after which politicians are seen, only, immediately before the next election. The addresses/phone numbers are known, only to the crowd of political jobbers and the political liabilities they call party elders. Is it the insanely fat pay packets of elected politicians and political appointees or the excessive luggage they call allowances and entitlements, in a rich country with the poorest citizens? While Nigerians are amongst the most miserable people on earth, our politicians are the most  self pampered. While we have no place to call hospitals, our president jetted out  on medical tourism, while an aircraft was parked at a hanger and the crew lodged in hotels, all at huge costs to the malnourished citizens and we were told that we are not entitled to know those costs borne by us! That's our own brand of democracy- a most ungodly mixture of monarchy and feudalism.

All schemes that have any semblance of being people-oriented are driven aground through corruption and impunity. Public officers had the privilege of housing and vehicle loans, to assist them purchase those items-they are no more. The Murtala/Obasanjo regime, started the Nigerian Students Loans Board, through which capable, but poor students could finance their tertiary education, it ran aground.

The winner-takes-all political system drives the psychology of perpetual-insufficiency and the rat-race economic model and the associated lawlessness, encourages indolence and fraud, in place of creativity and production. We carry so much money with nothing to buy with them and still unhappy, anyway.


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