Government has immense and unrivalled powers and authority. In democracies, they are headed by elected sovereigns whose powers can be likened to that of a Leviathan. The reason society needs a fearful sea monster is because it is inhabited by wild animals whose abiding philosophy ‘is the survival of the fittest’, where the weak dies and strong survives. The most powerful among them want unrestrained freedom to preside over an empire of slaves. Driven by the evil spirit of acquisitiveness and the desire to dominate their environment, men who are generally insane, therefore needed to be kept in check. The only institution that can do this is government whose very end is moving man and society from the state of liberty and license, of enmity and destruction, to that of peace and safety where those who have properties can enjoy them without fear of molestation. Government’s goal is pursuance of the greatest good and happiness for the greatest populace.
The paradox however is that the rest of us that need protection most from the owners of society not only often see government as enemy, but also forget we are the government. For instance, we have consistently blamed our economic travails on government, forgetting it was our economists who first told us that for our economic growth, we must embrace import-substitution through which we supply raw materials to multinationals to satisfy the consumption patterns they had created. It was our own economists that told us there was no alternative to structural adjustment programmer (SAP) which led to the collapse of our budding industries, taking our exchange rate from N1 to more than $1 to today’s over N500 to $1. It was Chukwuma Soludo as CBN governor who killed small banks and championed mega banks that today declare multi-billion naira profits through exploitation of workers who are paid slave wages as casual workers.
Behind most of our today’s divisive issues of our politics, are the political scientists. They recommended the proscription of our political parties and their replacement with military-decreed two-party system which will “evolve from the grassroots, give equal right and opportunities to all Nigerians irrespective of wealth, religion and status”. Under Obasanjo, an aberration where a federal government funded local governments that are not accountable to the centre, which Chukwuma Soludo said is the only one of its kind in any federation in the world, was their baby. As Aso rock professors during Babangida’s reign, they accused those who implemented free education and free health programmes in the first republic of insincerity claiming “they have been deceiving our people as they were deceived during the First and Second Republics”.
Instead of admitting we are the architect of our own misfortunes, we accuse government of the most unimaginable sins. And most guilty are the journalists who pretend not to understand the media is owned by those who have cornered more than their proportionate share of the national resources and needed platforms to protect their warped world view. It must be admitted that Nigeria’s current youths were on a good start with their EndSARS protest in October 2020, with government acceding to all their demands even though they did not have a clear understanding of our problems. But the goodwill of many supporters was frittered away with the media introduction of subliminal message about the huge amount of money that managers of the Lekki Toll Gate plaza rakes in daily just to score political point on behalf of their owners who in the absence of debate, bargaining or healthy competition have resorted to institutionalised fighting. They did not say when it became a crime to make money from government even as their proprietors make billions promoting fraudulent politicians through news commercialisation and conferring of honours on dubious bankers on money bags.
The tragedy is that while making a living by serving multi-billionaires and power manipulators who daily cheat and break the law, we assume the moral high ground trying to pull down government.
How else does one explain the virulent attack on Lagos State government and, the inquisition of government lawyers who pointed out some discrepancies in the unsigned leaked report of Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters, last week? While Governor Sanwo-Olu set up a four-member committee to raise a white paper on the submitted report, the media houses have written editorial while some electronic media actually embarked on what was more or less an inquisition of those who dismissed the leaked report as “pure distortion of glaring facts and cannot, in the face of in-depth probe and sophisticated analysis, stand the test of time”.
The media found an ally on Ebun Adegboruwa who admitted he was invited to join the panel on the basis of his credibility but now accuses Lagos State government of sponsoring attack on his person. He has argued that “it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the panel.” If the government that sets up the panel cannot issue a white paper, he did not say who should. Both the media and Adegboruwa also gave the impression that it was Lagos State that was behind the attack on one Miss Kamsiyochukwu Ibe said to “be a prominent EndSARS protester who testified before the panel”.
Of course there are evil men in government. There are similarly overzealous men in government. There are constituency projects scammers. There are pension thieves. But we can yet not do without government. I spent about 30 years in the media where gratuity was gratuitous rising to the highest pinnacle one can reach. I spent just about five years in the public university retiring with a monthly pension of N11,000 and more importantly, access to medical care for minor ailments while most of my media colleagues depend on goodwill of others for their medical needs. But it must be said this is not limited to the media. It is the story of larger Nigerian society where the policy of the vicious men that control the jungle is survival of the fittest or the law of the jungle.
Finally, the media must stop misleading the youths who today see government as enemy. They must be encouraged to join politics at local level like their forbears did. Ahmadu Bello started at the local government level. He was framed up for financial fraud by his political enemies until Bode Thomas rescued him through the judicial process. Awolowo, Rotimi Williams Akintola, Ajasin, Tony Enahoro all first became chiefs to learn how their forbears managed their society over the centuries. Being used to fight institutional war at Lekki Toll gate was therefore diversionary.
And as for social media tigers, we have seen their limitations after the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Maghreb notably in Libya that has descended into a Hobbesian society where life is nasty, brutish and short. Egypt today is ruled by an emergent twenty-first century Pharaoh; Tunisia where after the initial euphoria, is today ruled by a dictator and Syria and Yemen, each at war with itself.