There had been many negative voices trailing federal executive’s proposed sharing formula for the recovered Abacha loots. While the federal executive claimed to have budgeted the sum for monthly stipends to be given to poor households, the Legislative arm had raised concerns. No one can blame the federal executive for proposing this kind of allocation given the level of suffering in the land. The legislative arm does have a valid concern also. In many times, such allocations in the past had ended up in the wrong purses.
A noted challenge in many developing countries is the misplacement of values. They may seem to have good intentions but it is clear even hell’s ways are paved with good intentions filled with regret in terms of outcomes.
Many had raised concern over the short-sightedness nature of people in government. But truth be told, leaders do not come out of vacuums. They are products of our society. A society which had denied its people so many basic necessities for so long should not expect anything better. A sustained level of deprivation does make people run on a survival gear. Like a man who had been thirsty for days, water may be more important than shoe or clothing.
Two basic strategies for survival or albeit development, none of which is without a value, are stomach and mental infrastructures. Stomach infrastructure meets the present and basic needs to stay alive. It energises both the soul and body of man. Humans cannot run too far if the soul and bodies are not in the right shape.
But successful nations and individuals understand dwelling so long at the stomach infrastructure plateau without a sound plan for tomorrow through a consistent investment in the core of our being: mental and intellectual, will lead to living a poorer life than imagined.
The major challenge of our nation today, despite the level of poverty, is leaders, officials who take advantage of our people. They work so much on our emotions through the continuous use of stomach infrastructure strategy without deliberate efforts to empower the people in the real sector which holds the future of our nation.
A cursory investigations into what most of the leaders, governors, in this case, call empowerment initiatives are nothing but short time palliative focusing on survival. They have used this for so long and one wonders if they are bereaved of solid ideas. We cannot continue to buy a bag of rice, wheelbarrows and clothing items for our people and think we will enjoy any serious and fast-paced development.
If only our leaders can think long term, while meeting the present survival needs, by making deliberate but painful investment in the mental capacity of the people, it will take us lesser time to arrive at the place we consider as ideal. If we allow our young children to attend school in run-down buildings while we claim to give them a meal per day, do we think the children may not misinterpret the essence of the food? Schools may become a place to get a meal instead of where real mental development takes place.
Why give a meal to a child who had been beaten by rain and sun because the school roofs are completely damaged and out of shape? Are we saying stomach infrastructure is of no use? Not at all. Stomach infrastructure has its own place. Stomach infrastructure helps people to think straight and some time to see clearly. If in doubt, ask a man who had been without food for seven days and is not under religious obligation to read a book, he is likely to be ‘seeing men as tree’
The only reason one can give for our leaders’ concentration on stomach infrastructure here is nothing but personal insecurity. We cannot argue some of them do not know the importance of mental infrastructure. They know that an empowered and enlightened citizenry will ask intelligent questions from their leaders. They are aware mental infrastructure will deliver a generation from survival and dependence mood. They know people with an abundance of mental infrastructure will think beyond the divisive weapon of ethnicity and religion which are great tools used to distract us while they perpetuate their own self-will.
Anyway, let us come back to the Abacha loot sharing brouhaha. The leading opposition to the sharing formula proposed by the federal executive is coming from the national assembly. The citizens’ voices had been silent. One cannot blame them, even though that will be commendable. Majority of our citizens cannot trust the national legislators as their antecedents did not show many of them really care about the people. So the people think this opposition may be another ploy by the legislators to make their own cut. What a country and what a disillusioned followership? May God grant our nation leaders with a heart for the people and not people seeking fat purses.