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Be swift to hear, slow to digest

By Theo Adebowale
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Talk is cheap. Events and life experience have continued to prove over and over again that of a truth, talk is cheap. The Yoruba put it that with a few words and in a few minutes the mouth can prepare a delicious meal just as the bare fist can mow a large field neat within a short while. This explains why promises are broken. But we must emphasise that there are people who have no regard for promises, who have no integrity, just like we have those who do not know that once beaten, twice shy. They do not know that if a man takes advantage of one, the victim must not permit a repeat. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that grades were a devise to measure intelligence, competence, capability, reliability and dependability. As imperfect as examinations with the grading system are, man has been able to adopt and use the device to measure and score performance over the decades. So let it be with the State of Osun and the immediate past administration. While critics pointed out the flaws of that government, it is surprising that on the eve of its departure, its giant strides were unveiled. It has bequeathed on the people an enviable infrastructural development. One begins to wonder that if well meaning clear-headed, patriotic citizens had been in charge of the affairs of this land in the times of plenty we would have built a strong, reliable and dependable economy that can withstand hard times.

Indeed talk is cheap. Politicians have always promised the good life. Unfortunately, in this part, only a few of them have delivered. There was a time, aspirants of a political party promised Nigeria Green Revolution. With the help of their agent, they attained power, misappropriated the resources and left farmlands and agricultural plantations brown. One of their spokespersons denied the hard times that had started then. According to him, since no one was picking food from the dustbin, the economy was good and performing. A sister gang that initiated Operation Feed the Nation succeeded in fooling the people, and returned to get the same people famished. In fairness to Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, his strategy is different. On both occasions that he presided over the affairs of this vast land, he had been a ‘reluctant’ contender. The Supreme Military Council had to prevail on him before he accepted to succeed his predecessor who was assassinated in a botched coup. On the second occasion, after his release from Abacha’s gulag, he asked pressmen who wanted to know from him whether he would be presidential candidate: how many presidents do you want to make out of me? At another occasion he assured them that he had not forgotten anything in the State House. It is only when you read his books and letters that you would know that of a truth, talk is cheap. He presents himself omniscient, the only wise politician since he was the first military Head of State to voluntarily hand over power in Africa.

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The conservative wing of the Nigerian political elite has always been in power at the center. Even 2015, when the progressives produced the President, it was with much support from the foresighted conservatives, who foresaw the imminent shipwreck of their regime. In fairness to these emergency progressives, their desertion of the camp helped to undermine incumbency and its winning strategy. It was extremely difficult for those that changed camp to change their worldview and life style. Essentially plutocratic, it was life threatening for them to be redeemed from a political life of looting and lying. Every effort, bill or law that would minimize roguery, treasury looting, or ‘ordinary’ budget paddling must be frustrated through delay, by robbery, recess, blackmail and voodoo.

After three years in the saddle, Boko Haram still strikes, defenseless citizens are still kidnapped, BEDC more than any other distribution companies (DISCOs) still dispenses darkness and prefers estimated billing to prepaid meter. Workers are still underpaid and owed wages. Of a truth, talk is cheap.

Lest we forget, Nigeria started as protectorates, a creation of colonialism. Colonialism itself was a scientific concept invented to pursue the economic objective of Western capitals where science had delivered a breakthrough in technology improving production geometrically necessitating aggressive search for market for goods and services. The colonies were a deliberate creation of consumers, addicted to imported goods and lifestyle. Those who were entrusted with power to succeed the departing officials were essentially men and a few women who could keep their people addicted to foreign, in fact, Western goods and lifestyle. They maintain personal bank accounts, accommodation and vacation in the West. Their children acquire education in Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and Harvard. They must increase, while the Nigerian economy must deplete.

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2015 was possible largely because money launderers were no longer limited to consumption of products of western civilisation. A large chunk of proceeds of laundering was going into prosecution of terror. Much as Nigerian and other black launderers would have been exempted from the laws against stashing funds in Switzerland, the United States and Europe, there is no science to discriminate between Nigerian, nay, African terrorists and terrorists from other lands. Indeed, terrorists have been raised, and are trained all over Africa. If you are in doubt, take a trip to Sambisa Forest. Because talk is cheap, we must continue to remember the cheap talks from the rostrum of agents of colonialism. If visa to the United States is not easy to procure, the United Arab Emirate is tourist friendly. Dubai is an acclaimed business center where they do not ask problematic questions. We understand that Medicare, flights even hospitality are efficient, effective and much cheaper than in Europe and the Americas. Event centers are more affordable than those of Western Europe. For sure, the Presidential candidate of a political party from Nigeria hosted his supporters in Dubai a few weeks ago. It was well attended and attendees were well taken care of. Since their return, they have publicized it that in case their candidate wins February 2019 election, there would be no more looting. They have promised uninterrupted power supply as if INTEL would fold up! All because talk is cheap.

We admit that the Nigerian economy needs greater expert attention than the government of All Progressives Congress is giving at the moment, we would prefer that efforts be invested into waking up dormant and starting new local industries in place of ten thousand naira empowerment of market women. The prosperity of the organized private sector; small and medium enterprises would deliver the good life better and faster. With reasonable wages and prompt payment, the family and informal sector would begin to live up to expectation.

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The first step to economic recovery is recouping of public funds from the looters, actual criminalization and penalization of corruption, and providing an enabling environment for clean business. The Nigerian economy, Economic Community of West Africa and the Africa Union are large and vibrant enough to facilitate robust business among the people. Transparent leadership has already birthed in Nigeria. It must be watered, reinforced, cultivated and its mission well propagated.

As the Barabbas Witnesses come around to campaign, we must remember that a good number of Nigerian politicians are shameless, ignorantly assuming we all suffer from amnesia. Hear them but keep reminding yourself that: Talk is cheap.

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Be swift to hear, slow to digest

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