Who watches the watchmen? (1)

(By Adeyemi A. Ayodeji) 

The government has gone too big that it now defines our sense of consciousness, our personal identity, our freedoms, our wealth, our happiness, and even our deaths. Yet none of these ironies happens to affect the government directly. A civil servant in government service must go on a compulsory retirement at the age of 65 yet Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, while defending his chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum which was in contention with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, said to the press that he was over 70 years of age, therefore old enough to be Amaechi’s father.

‘‘Quiscustodietipsos custodies?” – Who watches the watchmen?

Juvenal (Roman Poet)

I WILL speak and I will be heard. I will be harsh as truth, uncompromising as justice.

   The government we ring everyday has failed us. Yet, this societal-turned political apparatus every day churns out encomium on itself of promises kept and others to be. You hear a political governor in his speech say “Take, for instance; the road linking here to there was in a deplorable state before we assumed office.”

   Of course, the followers have encumbered themselves with their own share of the governmental woes. Silence has become their only handy weapon to fight an ever roaring wild boar. Accountability we have decided to leave to the prowling bookies and political parties that fill national dailies with incredulous propagandas while we whine away within the corridors of our huts and in the landscape of our farms. After all, as long as we can eat to scare death away, we are satisfied. However, that that is changing is no gainsaying! Go to Osun State and ask the proponents of the ‘stomach infrastructure’ and they will tell you how they suffered from the hands of the enlightened proletariat and dusk-eyed citizens.

   Now to the trickiest question: What went wrong?  I will tell you what the problem is. The government as the custodian of the rights and privileges of the people it was supposed to serve and govern has grown too big and we remain tongue-tied.

   Charles Dunoyer, an early sociologist, explained, “There exist in the world only two great parties; that of those who prefer to live from the produce of their own labour and of their property, and that of those who prefer to live on the labour or the property of others.” To which party do you think the government falls in?

  The government falls in the second category. The business of sustaining a state is done by the citizens by producing wealth while a few; come to be seen as the government, was elected by popular choice to protect the citizens doing this. However, the government has shifted focus from its core job of protecting the party that produces wealth and instead of trying to appropriate the wealth, has delved into the business of making the wealth and at the same time appropriating it. That is why every sphere of the society is now controlled by the government.

   The government is simply an organisation that is supposed to extract surplus from the producers of wealth and facilitate its just distribution.

“If you have been successful, you did not get there on your own… If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help… Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive, somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you have got a business – you did not build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Guess who said that? President Barack Obama of the United States of America – the land of the free did.

   The government has gone too big that it now defines our sense of consciousness, our personal identity, our freedoms, our wealth, our happiness, and even our deaths. Yet none of these ironies happens to affect the government directly. A civil servant in government service must go on a compulsory retirement at the age of 65 yet Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, while defending his chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum which was in contention with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, said to the press that he was over 70 years of age, therefore old enough to be Amaechi’s father.

   The late Roman poet, Juvenal, asked a simple question that has never fully been answered. “Quiscustodietipsos custodies?” – “Who watches the watchmen?” When the government that has lost its primary function due to the lackadaisical attitude of its people becomes too powerful, to whom and where do we run?

   The only solace of the minimum Nigerian on the streets is also very much smeared in the political mud; the law and its rule. Of course, the law is supreme – only in its written form. The modern government claims to be the sole and supreme source of laws. Our political governor who are the custodians of these laws live in mansions and drive bullet proof cars thereby knowing nothing about the average Nigerian they sit to discuss and devise laws to protect. How then can we trust these bogus laws when they seem to be above it?

   Upon scrutiny, the government is NOT the sole or the supreme source of laws. The constitution that harbours these laws is just a compiled book of customary laws garnered from different and various cultures and, sometimes, from Holy Books. Typical examples are the Anti-Gay Law that was passed and the Child Not Bride Law that was not passed.   The proponents and opponents of these laws based their arguments on the cultural background of different cultures and backgrounds that make up Nigeria as a country, and some on religious grounds. These clearly show that the government is NOT the source of the laws that govern a state and so should not be the decider of the fate of its citizens as they are more familiar with these laws than the pot-bellied aristocrats that put them in the compiled book; the constitution.

• To be continued.

• Ayodeji lives in Osogbo.

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