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Gov Peter Obi's panacea to wasteful government spending and our moral ugliness

when you have removed yourselves from the ingredients that nurture the greed in our leaders it can be easier to look them in face and ask them to comply to our demand to cut the wastes.

Ex-Governor Peter Obi is trending for many reasons... it has become a fad for many of us to be for or against trending topics on social media and spark needless controversy on national issues.

I congratulate all those who found their lost hero and all those who suddenly begin to see a hypocrite in their friend for holding divergent views... I also congratulate those who have attached ethnicity to the simple advice either on the right or by the left. You are all Nigerians after all.

Most importantly I offer my sympathy  to those who are disappointed that their hero is not the one who pioneer that simple cost cutting approach to governance spending and expose deeper rot in wasteful spending. Take heart, he may still fulfill your wish. Try and enjoy the lessons without going overboard in an attempt to shoot the messenger instead of the message.

The truth however is always bitter.  The truth is always the first casualty in every controversy... And many of us have either chosen to shoot down the truth or completely ignore it as if it is not there.

If we are honest with ourselves we would admit that most of us subconsciously want government to keep spending and we provided the conditions for the wasteful spending.  We should be asking questions. .

What are the government officials doing with those extra cash and why are they afraid of being hit by crazy opponents to such a level that they have to invest in bulletproof vehicles.?  But this is only a part of the story. . It is not impossible for government officials to do away with this. What we are not looking at is retinue of aides and visitors who stimulated these spendings. It was on their behalf that the government decided to spend. And we are all paying for everything anyway.

We deceive ourselves if we assume that whatever Gov Peter Obi was saying is the most damming of the revelations from government officials. I  remember a similar lecture in which ex Governor Donald Duke painted a more graphic details of how government looted money. This time, he touched on security votes. One of the most mysterious drainpipes in corruption Inc. We were so alarmed at this audacious and yet very legal way by which public official can siphon money in billions and he is not expected to account for it. We were given even more graphic details on how governors can control everything from assembly to the judiciary. What did we do?

Just what we are doing today. .. shout and argue and groan in agony and yet with multiple sides. And of course the noise faded and the politicians continued. Oh.. I should say we elected them again without making it an issue.

Nigerians want government to cut spending but wouldn't mind if government channel that spending to their community or tribal enclaves. They wouldn't mind taking part of those money for pilgrimage to mecca and Jerusalem. Either in form of sponsorship or dollar subsidy They wouldn't mind taking government free loans that would not be repaid. They wouldn't mind giving honorable title and award to the same person they so much detested.

We need to tell ourselves the truth.. Peter Obi indicted the government officials as much as the citizens who induced some of the spending and took offence if  government refuse to oblige their requests. Government in our brand of democracy survive through patronage. The more goodwill it can earn from the privileged majority, the more the chance of its retaining power. There are many well-intentioned politicians that have lost their political base because they refused to waste money on frivolities. This was why the politicians spent so much money to win people over and this is part of what led to high government spending. 

So while the anti and pro "Obilism" art of cutting government's wasteful spending are at it, they should at least spare a quarter of their time in addressing the ones which concerned them as citizens. Perhaps if the citizens address their own side of the wastage, we may have 50% cut in government spending. The public officials are men and women like us with our mentality and our mindset. They are responding to the social impact of our entrenched habits..

It didn't start in government. It started right in our homes. The father who built extra layer of protection to his bedroom door either in form of stronger and more secured lock or iron door than those of his wife and children is manifesting same spirit as the governor who decided to use bulletproof car while his people drive other types of vehicles.

What about your office as the Head of department?  Is your table the same as that of the common clerk or even your accountant? What about our social functions?  The man on high table is expected to occupy a more beautiful table than everyone else. Isn't this what our society fostered on us? Even at social parties some people are given the best part of the culinary assortments compared to others. 

If you visit someone or someone invited you to his home, you are sometimes expected to drop some amount on their palm if they perceive that you have a more glamorous work or are at higher social standing. If you don't do this you would be subject to attack of all sort. He is a miser. He is uncaring. He is blah blah blah. . Even when you have done this many times voluntarily and when they are in need. Even if at that point you are unable to support. Is this not the society we nurtured?  Is there anyone of us who has not felt this before? While I understand there are people in need who we help or support,  there are also people who are not in need but feel that it is a social obligation to collect something from you because you visited or they visit you. It is our culture and we must not deny this when our leaders exhibit the same trait in politics.

As you go higher in your career the society expected you show this in your magnanimity and generosity even when they don't need it. It has become a cultural norm. If you are in politics, you are expected to be a free giver.

I can go on and on. The point is... what Peter Obi said was not new and if we want change we have got to begin from ourselves  instead by nurturing the same habit at the grassroots while expecting the people who graduated from this environment we practice to exemplify perfect behavior different from what we imposed on them. It doesn't come that cheap.

If we want leaders that are not wasteful we had better start electing leaders that refuse to donate  money and free gifts  during election campaigns.. we had better start electing leaders that are already frugal. We cannot elect a spendthrift  and expect him to become frugal overnight just because we wanted a saint. If we want a leader to manifest a certain trait, we had better elect such leaders rather than wasting our energy and time analyzing them when they continue to be who they are rather than  who we want them to be. .

Fellow Nigerians,  change must begin in you and not your leaders. .. when you have removed yourselves from the ingredients that nurture the greed in our leaders it can be easier to look them in face and ask them to comply to our demand to cut the wastes. As long as we don't address the part that concern us, this moral ugliness, we would just be making noise amidst massive corruption and wasteful spending. 

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