MUCH kudos I give to the leadership of Channels Television. The day was Monday, January 14, 2013 and the country was oblivious of nothing. Then the 10 p.m. news came and the films began to roll. By the time Channels was done, the President was angry. But what in Heaven’s name could have angered a President, who has never known anger? This, we shall come to shortly. With clarity of thought, simplicity of and a well-grounded appreciation of the potential greatness of my country do I assert that no nation thrives on falsehood forever? Certainly, it may sustain a few countries for a while, in fact it may tarry for decades in some very notorious countries, but the kindness of nature is that somehow stock-taking will happen, someone’s camera will work as it happened to Channels and the veil will be lifted, helping the chicken come home to roost. When this happens, two groups will emerge. The one to be reported as angry at something that everybody knows, something he should know before everybody knows, and the people who have all their lives wined and dined with the truth, who expectedly will simply dismiss both (the news and the sensation of anger) with a wave of hand, praying no one tell them that which they already know.
This is the Police College story. A story of rotten toilet facilities, of pigsties called hostel accommodation, of tattered training outfits called uniforms, of food worse than that served to prisoners and which they still have to fight over, of N150 stipend allocated to Police trainees daily for feeding, of the giant of Africa married to a dwarf Police College, of stinkingly rich leaders of a poor people who sadly are not ashamed to be the proverbial vacant plot in the middle of a slum? Strangely, the same story that would cause sane countries to weep is a mere sensation in this corridor, while the partying in our government hit the roof. After all, there is enough money to throw around.
After stopping over at the College the President is reported as angry. Now this report beholds me, what was the President angry about? For all its worth I beg to ask, is it anger feigned or anger actual? Is it anger that the Police College should have been a world-class institution, instead of that which we know is what I ask? If the anger be true, I do rather keep my laughter and pretend not to know. However, it seems this question will not lie, and resonating it comes again, angry about what? Are we to say that since the President assumed office in close to two years, he has not been in the know of the stench, rot and decay that is the story of several government’s institutions scattered all over the country?
These are truly interesting times. For the purpose of encouraging a debate, let us assume but not concede. So what will the President do if he were to visit the following: the several Armed Forces Barracks including that of sister agencies like the Police, Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence, Fire Service and others situated in different parts of the country, the several NYSC Camps in every state where thousands of Corp members are hosted under some of the worst conditions every quarter, the several dilapidated lecture-rooms and hostels in many Federal Universities where future leaders of the country are trained, and several other Federal Agencies and parastatals whose state of habitation is so dingy that non-human trespassers such as cockroaches, rats and other rodents have for a long time assumed possession and taken occupancy. What would the President do if he were to visit the aforementioned places among the continuing list? Perhaps, the President will simply break down and sob. Verily, this is what Nigerians who have passed through these institutions have been doing all these years.
The Police College is a mirror of our 52 years of absentee leadership and 13 years of the Fourth Republic democratic shenanigans. What is more to say? It is indeed shocking how the President before this visit can claim ignorance of the years of rot in the Police College and quite frankly that is one shock Nigerians will require a much higher celestial authority to dispatch. With utmost respect do I submit, the rot and decay the Police College evinces, is nothing compared to that which lies frighteningly in several other sectors, erected copiously as the stark reality of our national story in this time and age. Thus, we refuse to be carried away by the President’s reported anger; rather we assert that Mr. President should have been angry a long time ago particularly since he came to power, or perhaps before, when he was just Acting-President, or perhaps before, when he was a Vice-President, or perhaps before, when he was a governor, or perhaps before, when he was deputy governor, or perhaps before, when he was just a Nigerian. If the President is just angry now, after spending more than 13 years in the corridors of power, if the President is just angry now after spending about two years as Executive President, then ours is a much more dangerous state of affairs?
So now that the President has visited the Police College will a higher dimension of thought not suggest the President’s anger as nothing more than a rhapsodic rush of momentary emotion that expectedly would vaporise upon his departing the rust-studded gate of the college? Shall we still not wonder if the said anger will survive the period after the President sufficiently regains his composure and returns to the air-conditioning comfort and staggering opulence of the Presidential Villa? Having considered this, time is at hand to ask the President the following questions, questions that must certainly evoke a wave of sadness, a burden perhaps too easily faraway from those in power:
How will the Police College not be in decay, when about 70 per cent of the country’s annual budget goes into furnishing the belly and attending to the needs and luxuries of those in government in an unpatriotic spending styled “Recurrent Expenditure”? How will the Police College not be in total rot when the annual budgetary allocation to the Nigeria Police, a body charged with the core responsibility of securing the country, is a lot less than that continuously wasted on unnecessary foreign travels by Government officials that add no value to the prosperity of the country? How will the Police College not be on its knees crying for help, when about N16 billion is being budgeted to build the Vice-President’s Official residence at the moment, just for where the VP alone lives.
Leadership and governance the world over is not a laughing matter. It is a matter consistently handed over to the most patriotic and best informed minds, while responsibility and accountability is demanded by the people and thoroughly received. We wonder what we are doing here. That is why the question again lingers, what is it that the President was angry about? Is it that as President, he has led by example pruning down Government’s bogus transformation team, thereby checking hundreds of pipelines of wastage in government, and channeling the rescued funds to critical institutions of the state? Is it that as President he has relentlessly fought for increased allocation to the Nigeria Police and several other very sensitive sectors of the country, so as to help turn around their infrastructural facilities, but all to no avail? Is it that as Nigeria’s number one citizen, he has vigorously fought for a life-saving restructuring of annual budgetary allocation in our country to reflect a 70 per cent capital expenditure portfolio and 30 per cent recurrent spending and has failed? With utmost respect I submit, and again ask that profound question, what exactly is it that the President was angry about?
• Olusola Adegbite Esq. is a lawyer and writes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
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