“Bureaucracy”, “red tapism”, “inefficiency”, “ineffectiveness”, and more derogatory remarks have become the lot of all the government owned corporations, agencies and the civil service in recent years. We watch as public servants such as heads of states, governors, ministers, advisers, commissioners, the few rich as well as our quasi-technocrats and pseudo-administrators drum repeatedly into our ears that government has “nothing to do in business”.
As if under heavy bombardments from an enemy fire power, we were all swayed to a point where all our collective wealth and inheritance suddenly disappeared from our hands into the few hands sermonizing privatization.
But is privatization the answer to our problems? I would like to think otherwise. Why? The reason is obvious. A rising tide lifts up all boats, people often say. First, we have been told that government has no business providing housing estates to public servants. For this reason, for instance, even those living in 1004 estates in Victoria Island, Lagos State were forcibly ejected and the whole estate sold out.
If privatization is such a phenomenon with consistently reliable results, then it should have universal (in our situation, national) applicability. Can we then extend the same logic to the occupants of Aso Rock and various State Houses to pack out so that we can sell these properties since these people are public servants respectively of the country and the states? Or what is good for the goose is no longer good for the gander?
Second, if privatization is good and we have been compelled to accept the privatization of all unity schools, should we not extend this to all the police colleges all over the country as well as military training schools too? After all, government should have no “business” in education and “schools”.
Third, there are innumerable private organizations providing security efficiently to companies, politicians and the few rich. Some of these organizations even provide securities in some urban neighbourhoods and rural areas.
These private security organizations such as Odua Peoples Congress, Bakassi Boys, etc have all been able to curtail armed robbery in their respective zones. Since the police have been viewed as inefficient for one reason or the other and privatization is good, why has the government refused to scrap the police and allow these private organizations to thrive?
Fourth, we can extend the same argument to the military. We have at present an idle military since we are not fighting a war nor are we intending to overrun any of our smaller neighbouring countries in the near future. Why then can’t government disengage the services of the entire military and consider them as reserves pending such a time when we shall need them?
By so doing, government can engage mercenaries or treat our reserves as such whenever the need arises.
Fifth, vehicles which are for the movement of public officials have been withdrawn and monetized. Why have we not extended this to the nine presidential air crafts and dispose them off so that the presidency can enjoy commercial flights like Mr. Tony Blair and his family flew American Airways from Landon to Washington D.C late last year?
Sixth, since monetization is best for the civil servants, why was the presidency still interested in pension and gratuity for Mr. President through the presentation of a separate bill to the National Assembly to that effect recently? Should it not have been better to privatize the works in the presidency to minimize waste and cost?
The truth is that the privatization concept has been illegally and mischievously used by those in government and the few rich to sway us into new economic slavery. The same federal government had started the privatization scheme long before COJA and CHOGUM events were held. But the same federal government used our collective wealth to build stadia, games village, bought imported cars, etc ahead of these wasteful games and meetings.
But within two weeks after the completion of these two international events, the government’s call to sell all these new properties rented the air. They have been disposed off accordingly. Since privatization was meant to drive the economy, why were the private businessmen (not gender sensitive) and bureaucrats not invited to build the stadia, game villages, etc rather than spending public funds?
Privatization efforts so far have focused on promising government parastatals and agencies that had all along been under-funded to create the expected inefficiency syndrome in the system. There are so many ceremonial airports in Nigeria today. No one is thinking of privatizing them.
As we more towards the April 2007 general elections, Nigerians must wake up from their deep slumbers and use the opportunity provided to chase out liars and looters of the treasury, and new slave merchants parading themselves as leaders of the people. These individuals are scattered and present in almost all the political parties seeking elections and re-elections as president, governors, etc. I want to use this medium to urge people to VOTE WISELY.
At the end of the day, we should be able to reconcile accounts with the looters, recover our collective inheritance from the property merchants, rehabilitates all abandoned and under-funded public institutions and infrastructures, and finally start massive reconstruction of housing units, utility schemes, schools, industries, roads, rails, etc.
The present levels of destructions are indescribable, and only visionary leadership can make any meaningful change. Why do I mention visionary leadership? I like to use the current Iraq war to illustrate. In far away America, if the late Mr. Ford were to be the current American President, there would not have been an Iraqi war.
According to him, he would not “go to war”. Consequently, the approximately 60,000 lives lost since the beginning of hostilities would have been saved. Similarly, the well over $400 billion already expended and another $100 billion request would have either been saved or used to meet human needs. The late Mr. Ford was a Republican like Mr. George W. Bush, the current head of state. Therefore, our voting should not be party related but candidate based.
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