Stomach Infrastructure: Another “Low” In Nigeria’s Political Milieu

(By Femi Onasanya)

The clamour for stomach is not the same as agitation for improved welfare of citizens. It is borne out of short-sightedness of some Nigerians who believe life is all about today. This new nomenclature reminded me of the biblical Esau who sold his birth right to his younger brother Jacob for the love of porridge. He later sought it with tears but it was too late.

I am not a politician and I don’t aspire to be one. I’m contented with life as a professional.
But the newly celebrated maxim in our political milieu, ‘stomach infrastructure’, which gained popularity following the victory of Ayo Fayose in last month’s Ekiti State governorship election has been given too much attention that could downgrade our image as a nation.
It is appalling that in this century where hard work should be the watchword, Nigeria is retrogressing to the dark days when men celebrated being given fish to eat, as against being taught fishing. This does not negate the fact that dividends of democracy should be given to the electorate.

To me, dividends of democracy is not about the stomach but welfare and provision of basic amenities such as good roads, electricity, water as well as employment generation, security of lives and property. These are well spelt out in every nation as the responsibilities of government. Hence, there is provision for them in the fiscal budget. Also, they engender development and improve standard of living.

The clamour for stomach is not the same as agitation for improved welfare of citizens. It is borne out of short-sightedness of some Nigerians who believe life is all about today. This new nomenclature reminded me of the biblical Esau who sold his birth right to his younger brother Jacob for the love of porridge. He later sought it with tears but it was too late.

The stomach infrastructure advocates are of the opinion that whatever is accrued to infrastructural development in a fiscal year should be divided into two, with one part going into stomach infrastructure. They believe that government cannot be investing heavily on infrastructure when the stomach is empty. And that both development and stomach upgrade could be done side by side. They also opine that short-term projects and empowerment are better than long-term or capital projects.
Little wonder many roads are in bad conditions after 15 years of continuous democracy. The problems of power, unemployment and security, among others, still stare us in the face.

We are in a world where everything is moving fast; a world of tough competition where even the first, if care is not taken, could become the last. The likes of Japan, China, Malaysia, India, among others, who are keen on catching up with Europe, made infrastructural development a priority and are gradually becoming a force to be reckoned with.

The leadership class should see political office as a temporary one. They need to do what posterity will celebrate them for. Going into deceit in the name of “that is what they want” will not help our national life. On the other hand, leaders who are already doing the right things in terms of re-defining the landscape of their respective states and localities should not desist from doing so. The likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who turned around the history of Nigeria were into massive infrastructural and human development.

The media should also help matter by setting agenda on issues that will put the nation at par with the first world countries instead of having hands in celebrating backward-driven maxims and their advocates. Let me end with the Chinese proverb that says “If you pay now, you will play later. If you play now, you will pay later.”

Source: Blueprint

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