In the same way that words like “revolution”, “peace”, “change” have been bastardized and are now used freely by all and sundry; by those who qualify to use the words and those who don’t, that’s the same way words like “Patriotism” and “Sacrifice” have joined the list of misused words. Mostly, I’m of the opinion that over the years, the government has used these words as a mental blackmail on the unsuspecting mass of the people.
Over the years, the citizens have been subdued and blackmailed into submission by using terms like patriotism and sacrifice. The government is always quick to ask citizens to ‘sacrifice’ for the sake of the nation, while they themselves make no sacrifices. Recall that during the #OccupyNigeria protests in January 2012, the government asked Nigerians to endure and make sacrifices to enjoy in the future. The same government hardly made any concessions, went on to budget 2 billion for feeding the President and his Vice, went ahead to budget 12 billion to water flowers at ASO Rock, budgeted a lot of money for personal use while the mass of the people were left with making sacrifices. And true, Nigerians did sacrifice during the January uprising: Nigerians sacrificed their time, energy, sweat, and people like Muyiwa in Lagos and Mustapha in Ilorin even paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives, yet we are still told to make more sacrifices.
As in the current ASUU/FG imbroglio, ASUU has been told to give the government ‘benefit of the doubt’, but we ask, for how long? This government has shown itself to be one of the most dubious and deceitful governments in the history of this nation. Recall that in 2011, when they first raised the issue of subsidy removal, when the government met with labour groups, it was agreed that the removal issue will not be raised until sometime around June/July after sensitisation has been carried out and palliative measures put in place. January 1st however, Nigerians were greeted with a news that shook the tiny frame of the nation and cut short whatever new year celebrations people had planned while people took to the streets to reject such an obnoxious act. We then ask, a government that has engaged itself in such brazen acts of deceit, can it be trusted?
While more than 70 % of Nigerians stay stuck below the poverty line and 72 % of youths roam the streets due to unemployment, the government has continued to engage itself in scandal over scandal. There’s hardly a week that goes by that we don’t hear of one scandal in a sector. The anti-graft agencies are broke and have become toothless bulldogs. The EFCC is broke and has had its role reduced to that of an agency that merely regulates thieves to stop them from stealing more than necessary. The ICPC on its part is only strong and active in its jingles on televisions and radios.
The government keeps claiming that there’s no money to develop the nation’s educational sector, health sector, etc, yet since the beginning of the FG/ASUU imbroglio, the PDP has held its convention where nearly all top-class hotels in Abuja were booked, the President’s foreign trips which he promised to reduce has skyrocketed as he now finds solace in other people’s countries rather than the one he was elected to run, large amount of taxpayers’ money has been used to finance the unconstitutional activities of the First lady, we’ve been embroiled in series of corrupt practices that have been swept under the carpet, while south-west states claim there’s no money to pay teachers the CORRECT minimum wage, states like Ekiti have gone ahead to use taxpayers’ money to enrich traditional rulers with latest cars to pave a smooth way for their re-election. Despite all these, the government still thinks that sacrifices must be made by the people.
Truth is, we owe no patriotism to any government; we only owe patriotism to our nation, and such patriotism may sometimes demand that we go heads-on with our government to rescue our nation from ruin. It is criminal of a government that has shown itself to lack political will to tackle corruption and mismanagement in various sectors to keep on demanding patriotism and sacrifices from Nigerians. Under this government, we’ve had Lawangate, Oduahgate, pension scams (twice), Petroleum minister’s regular and consistent scams, etc, yet we have no one in jail. We have these same people still roaming the corridors of power; we have these people still commanding authority. We then ask, what sacrifices has the government made to checkmate all these? Should sacrifices only be made by the led and not the leaders?
In a nation that languishes under high unemployment rate, child mortality rate, lack of good health plans, the lawmakers earn over 23% of our money while they find it difficult to come up with any reasonable attempt at solving the nation’s problems and instead reject the numerous attempts made to alleviate poverty and thereby stem the tide of insecurity besetting the nation.
Truth must be told; Nigerians have made enough sacrifices. Nigerians have endured for long enough. Nigerians have watched impunity take a chief seat in the affairs of our nation. Nigerians have watched as undemocratic acts now reign supreme in a so-called democratic setting. If there’s going to be sacrifice, it should now be made by the leaders, not the led. Let them begin by sacrificing the sacred cows that are in government. Let them show patriotism by bringing their kids back to this nation to study rather than send them off to foreign lands while our schools rot down here. Let them begin by receiving treatment for their ailments here rather than flying off to other lands in search of good health. Let them pay attention to the mass of the people, not romancing traditional rulers and religious rulers in a bid to sway the minds of the people. Let them sacrifice the likes of Deziani, Stella Oduah, Mbu, Wike, etc. Let them sacrifice the 2 billion they spend for food. Let them sacrifice the over 100 billion they spend for books and the over 12 billion they use for watering flowers in ASO Rock. Let them sacrifice the unconstitutional roles of the first lady and stop using our money to finance her excesses. We are done making sacrifices; there’s nothing left to sacrifice.
Ogunjimi James Taiwo
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