By Yinka Olujimi
Please count me out of the herd currently expressing outrage over the decision of our House of Representatives members to place an order for 400 imported cars and reject the ones made in their country.
Pray, why would anyone expect the legislators of Almighty Nigeria to accept locally-made cars? Are they local people like their constituents? Nonsense!
Or, is it that money to buy an exquisite, one-in-town imported brand is not available – after all, oil money is there yanfu, yanfu!
Or there is any precedent in the executive or the judiciary? So, why should anyone single the legislators for blame over the taste of the elite for anything but Nigerian?
As the Fuji musician Ayinde Barrister once sang: “E dakun e gba; tile yi ko”, roughly translated to mean: “Kindly be humbled; I’m not from these shores”!
We are a nation in perpetual dislike for things “local”. We gleefully advertise our foreignness.
Please, do not preach to me the innumerable economic benefits of buying Nigeria. Our legislators are men and women of class and panache, unlike their poor colleagues in rich nations who mostly use public transportation or condescend to use indigenous official vehicles.
The so-called hunger in Nigeria is story for the marines; applicable only to the miserable poor even if true; not for the men and women of grace in the Nigerian legislative chambers.
Do not be deceived; there is money in Nigeria – true, it may not be enough to go round and make life easier for ordinary citizens. But, believe me, there is abundance for the pleasure of the good people in the Assembly.
General Muhammadu Buhari, who had advertised his life of asceticism as election candidate in 2015 – he even promised to drastically cut down the number of aircraft in the presidential fleet, a promise that he is yet to fulfill almost five years on in office – is not a fan of locally made vehicles. Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, the man of God and former university teacher is also cruising around in imported brands.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and all the other eminent Nigerians on the bench, from the Supreme Court to the Magistracy, enjoy the foreign touch of vehicles in the lives. From Ministers down to Commissioners and Directors-General in federal and state establishments, we have national leaders gracing their backsides with imported vehicles. So, why should anyone expect a different moral standard from legislators?
Please note: When governments at any level in Nigeria complain about paucity of funds, hampering the delivery of quality healthcare, education, infrastructure and other areas of national need, they are telling the painful truth – as they know and see it. They just don’t care! From the top to the bottom!!
When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power for 16 years at the national level, some of the opposition parties also held power at different levels across the country. Was there any significant difference in the deployment of public funds in the states, and at the various levels controlled by the opposition parties? So, why should anybody express dismay that the more things change, the more they have remained the same? Why should it be a surprise that Nigerians have only exchanged one set of oppressors for another, now that the PDP has been replaced by the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
At different levels, and togas, all the opposition parties have always been on the same page whenever it came to the sharing of the commonwealth. No one heard a word of disagreement from members of the opposition parties about the distribution of largesse during the PDP years. Now that the tables have turned and the opposition parties which have coalesced into the APC have continued to tread the PDP path, the gourmet has continued unabated. Has anyone heard of dissent from any PDP member in the chambers on the official sharing of loot, called allowances? Legislators across the aisle in both the ruling and opposition parties are once again in unity.
As steak-holders — not stakeholders in the Nigeria project, please! — the legislators are one. Just as their counterparts in the executive across the country.
A wailer friend sometime this week lamented to my hearing about the huge funds that Nigerian leaders commit to the purchase of foreign vehicles. “Imagine, for a minute, how the economy will be revamped, if President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with all the ministers, chairmen and board members of the various government offices numbering over 1000 across the country, use made in Nigeria vehicles,” my friend said.
A tear or two dropped from his eyes when he considered how the dying paint making companies in the country will come back to life if orders for thousands of vehicles are made to Nigerian manufacturers. The same health will be restored to the glass manufacturers, furniture makers, while both skilled and unskilled workers will be back to life. There will be funds to keep the banks, insurance and other service-sector players in business. But, that is definitely not in the consideration of the Nigerian elite.
“Can you imagine what will happen to the economy if President Buhari makes it a national policy, demonstrated with personal example, that public officers in Nigeria will henceforth use only indigenous vehicles?”, my wailer friend wondered aloud.
He lamented further: “Each time Nigeria places these orders for imported vehicles, we are empowering the exporting countries, while our people continue to pound the streets in search of jobs. The people then become easy prey for religious manipulation. Any wonder so many ladies trade in their flesh for survival and the men are into shady businesses, or are easy recruits into the army of religious preachers and faith-based killer gangs?”
I could only shake my head in piteous wonder at his wonder, knowing that the problem with Nigeria’s leaders is not lack of knowledge that their choices are pushing the country into perdition, but that they are on a roller coaster and unable to press the stop button.
Nigerians are free to cry their eyes out, from morning to night. The 360 members of the House of Representatives will not change their minds on the purchase of the imported wonders on wheels. Their 109 colleagues in the Senate will not be different, either.
Until this president, or any one that comes after him, leads by personal example, Nigerians will continue to lament loss of jobs.