- By Innocent Okon Snr
How I wish I could turn back the hands of time and return my beloved Nigeria to default settings as configured by our British colonial masters.
The era that academics spent more time in their libraries, laboratories and earned sabbatical leave in reputable institutions outside the country!
The time that politicians like Maitama Sule could serve our country as a Minister of Petroleum without an architectural wonder as a private mansion either in Lagos or anywhere in the world!
A phase in Nigeria’s political history when public till commanded respect and even Military leaders retired into penury without private homes like Yakubu Gowon!
A time when public servants were courteous and zealously guarded their cloak of anonymity even in official communications .
The time I’m relishing here is both pre and post independent Nigeria with a terminal point somewhere in 1985.
Despite sophistication in lifestyles made feasible by technology in the dying years of the last millennium and the present, many Nigerians who were born in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and are lucky to survive till date, would not hesitate to proclaim that Nigeria of yore was more disciplined, organised and more fulfilling than this nightmare that has refused to spare us a sound sleep!
It has now become a fad to request and sing old songs of the 50s and 70s in pubs and at public functions in the name of ‘old school’ jams .
Sociologists and Political Scientists would tell you that the crave and craze for the past in the face of advantages of modernity is a direct consequence of habitually inept leadership that serially feasts on a given polity . That’s why many now prefer to live in the analogue past than the automated present!
Hallowed institutions like the Judiciary , Academia and Civil service have been emasculated and eviscerated to regrettable ebb ! No standards in the conduct of public affairs because the public officer did not bring honour with him when he assumed office and may leave without any when he bows out.
Time there was in the public service of this country that Political office holders allowed themselves to be tutored and groomed in the conduct of public affairs, particularly in public communication by technocrats within the system . Whether they were designated Private , Permanent or Principal Secretaries, they sure had a lot to offer political appointees who were and are mostly drafted from the private sector.
In those years, official communications were couched with courtesy and civility . Public officers never observed a red line between their private and public lives while in office!
In the 8th Senate , a Senator was caught on video romantically involved with two ladies, and his reaction was that he owed nobody any apology since what happened was not on the floor of the senate!
Since 2015, the duo of Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu serving as Presidential spokesmen have insulted and assaulted our sensibilities with immeasurable impunity. How can a Presidential spokesman tell the nation that his Principal is not a Television showman that’s why he loathes television interviews ?
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, is not helping matters either! When he speaks on any subject, it is as if you are not living in the same country with him. Ask him the security profile of the present government, and Lai Mohammed will tell you that Nigeria under the watch of PMB is safer and more secured than it was before 2015 .
The verbal Diarrhoea pandemic in this administration doesn’t stop with those charged with the management of public information.
Recently, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport was asked to throw more light on some projects he executed as a Governor of Rivers state which the incumbent Governor, Wike, said had failed accountability benchmark . The Honourable Minister descended to the gutter to scoop an answer by saying that he doesn’t join issues with people who speak under the influence of alcohol. What an ‘unministerial’ response!
Sometime ago, Ngige, the Minister of Labour, digressed from questions put to him by a member of the House of Representatives and released verbal grenades on the hapless Honourable member. He called him ” a Mushin boy” ( slum boy) who never enjoyed the privileged upbringing he ( Ngige) had in high brow Victoria Island in Lagos!
At the Gubernatorial level, Governors are becoming case studies in executive mandibular walkabout, apologies to Ogunsanwo!
When a Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state takes on a Samuel Ortom of Benue state, you start wondering if they will ever meet and exchange pleasantries at Council of state meetings in Abuja.
Expectations on good governance must not only be limited to security, political and socio economic concerns . It must go the whole hog to incorporate civility and ettiquettes in utterances and conduct of public affairs.
Innocent Okon Snr, is a legal luminary based in Uyo.