Fundamentally, the leaders-those at the helm of affairs, in every human society are vested with responsibility of piloting the affairs and maintaining peace, and law, all in the overall welfare and interest of the people they are leading. To this end, there is this common notion that “government is our collective responsibility, help the government to serve you better.” This statement takes into account the fact that when the citizens do all that is required of them, then the leaders will surely be responsible to their duties.
This understanding underscores the cardinal, humane and mutual relationship that should basically exist between those at the helm of affairs and the masses. But, from every indication, and judging from our past and present experiences in the country, a keen observer of the trend of events cannot but be startled at the level of exploitation, and inhumane treatment that members of the public have suffered and are still suffering in the hands of Nigeria government. To this end, this write-up is an expose on these imbalances and a wake-up call to all and sundry, especially those at the helm of affairs to make some necessary reforms. They need to redirect and refocus their attention to their proper constitutional responsibilities of promoting the welfare of Nigerians.
Exploitation primarily connotes the unfair treatment or use: the practice of being selfish or taking unfair advantage of a person or situation, usually for personal gain. Alternatively, according to Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, it could mean, development of something for benefit: the use or development of something in order to get a benefit. Here we shall limit our scope to the former sense.
A Startling Paradox
For decades now, the story has been the same. The masses in the different spheres of life in Nigeria have continued to lament because of being victim of exploitations, it then means that Nigeria’s government is not exempt from mass exploitation. It has indeed eaten deep in the government. In fact it continuously causes misery, destruction, problems and even death to the masses. It is a constant source of trouble and annoyance among the masses
These exploiters in ‘service’ metaphorically are like the mouse that blows your toes while at the same time biting you. Exploitation is an obvious obstacle to the believed service of the leaders to citizens. It cuts across the diverse but rampart cases of killing, extortion, bribery and even sexual molestation of innocent citizens. Few out of these are the facts which will be made immediately will corroborate tmy claim.
First is the laxity of our leaders when it comes to implementation of laws. Not quite long ago the Federal Government agreed with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the #18000 minimum wage. The workers went back to work calling off their industrial action. However, most South Eastern governors when it comes to implementation started giving excuses why the #18000 is not feasible. Yet they sign millions of Naira for their monthly allowances. In most cases when the government pay the agreed wages to their employers, they make life miserable for them by taxing them heavily.
In the same vain, some state governments make their citizens to pay for water supply even though none is supplied. In some of these states, the citizens cannot remember the last time they used pipe-borne water from the pipes government constructed in their area yet they continually pay for water supply. The issue of security which is one of the basic functions of the government is now an age long issue. The citizens now provide security for themselves even when they pay their taxes to enable the government provide internal security. What a rip off!
The activities of the Power Holding Company (PHCN) are nothing to write home about. They force the consumers to pay electricity bills without actually supplying the power. Failure to pay the ‘false’ and ‘imposed’ bills attracts disconnection of the electric wire that supplies the power and a later #2000 reconnection fee and paying the bill of unsupplied power as well.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is not left out in this. Notwithstanding the warnings of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) the exploiters and the bad eggs in the force still turned deaf ears to that by not only collecting #20 but increasing this to #50 or #100 depending on the vehicle from the transporters. Failure to pay homage to them merits some uglies on the said transporter. Some transporters have even been murdered extra-judicially.
Similarly, some lecturers in our tertiary institutions force the students to buy texts books and handouts at exorbitant prices as criteria for passing in their examinations. Some even go the extent of forcing their female students to succumb to their inordinate sexual desires so that they will not fail in their courses.
It could therefore be seen from the foregoing that the masses agitation and cries for fairness in all aspect of life are not actually unfounded.
A Way Forward and Conclusion
We may not go on with tales of unending woes. Nevertheless, for Nigeria’s Government to be on the way of genuine service in all its ramifications, we have to take the human person serious. We must realize that human dignity is conferred by God and shared by all irrespective of status and position. This must be translated into practice by according every man/woman who works for us or in our institution his or her dignity. The human person cannot be exploited in order to attain some end or purpose, since the individual cannot be used as a means to an end.
Finally, all those at the helm of affairs at different levels have a great task. They should carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them effectively and efficiently. The effort at condemning the activities of the bad eggs in Nigeria public sector should be marched with appropriate actions. The war against exploitation and corruption in Nigeria should be conscientiously, concretely and judiciously pursued with every vigour it deserves. It is only by doing so that we shall truly be on the right track for a better tomorrow.