By Theo Adebowale
A tradition had been established in the region to ensure fair play and equity. Before now, it had been observed that public works were not equitably awarded hence contractors from certain localities got juicy, while others got less juicy contracts. This generated a lot of controversy. The counsel of consultants that expertise and professional competence, among others were core in qualifying to execute public works fell on deaf ears.
Before long, the quota system was adopted in sharing contracts. A group noted for a special skill in agitation, started getting more than a fair share. But happily enough, there was relative peace. The contracts were coming, the economy was booming and the community was lively. The people were also reasonable enough to conceive of community projects.
The local councils were recognized to coordinate, supervise and regulate community projects, but each unit insisted it would award and monitor execution of its contracts so there was disparity in the quality, time spent and costs of the project, which was a natural phenomenon anyway.
Even in command structure and unitary systems such disparities may only be minimized because topography, location and costs of materials in the locality would vary. Not to talk of human or Nigeria factor. One of the fastest growing churches in Nigeria embarked on a school project in Ibadan. From land purchase to architecture, structural design, mechanical to landscape, the project was not only handled by professionals but spirit filled, fire spitting individuals. It was not until commissioning programme was out that the project was discovered to be a fraud. The church of God has been scammed!
Back to our quota system community, there was an annual festival which has brought natives together over the decades. It was considered an opportunity to showcase the community that year. Dignitaries had arrived, artistes were set to perform and there were musical vibrations. Gourds of palm wine had arrived, bottles of intoxicants, cartons of beer and crates of soft drinks were being discharged. Then, the chairman of the occasion arrived. He was conducted round the main hall. Then there was a sudden, spontaneous, loud noise, community hall had turned to ruins taking down lives, development and joy of the people. There was a nightmare.
The disparities in the qualities and life spans of other infractures could help anyone who cares to know whether or not the projects were designed to last in the first instance.
When the Peoples Bank was established in 1992, the official objective was to improve the capacity of market women and men to do business. Dr Tai Solarin, educationist, anti corruption campaigner, and foremost agitator for improved condition of the poor was made chairman. Strange bad fellows were appointed into his board to ensure disparity between the stated objective and outcome. A man whose trade mark was his hat, shirt and shorts, was bundled into agbada. The symbolism was to disconnect him from his passion for the poor and sacrifice him on the altar of corrupt cultists.
And the Structural Adjustment Programme was made up of policies designed to fail, an ungodly act to people who dwell in abject poverty and need every revenue conserved and managed by prudent officials. Each time pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is increased, it was attributed to withdrawal of fuel subsidy. Negotiations with labour have produced school buses, meal tickets, urban mass transit buses, toll gates, subsidized drugs and a host of other ‘benefits’ which disappear as soon as they come. Social values have disappeared, discipline has evaporated. Mechanisms entrenched in the Constitution, Statutes, General Order, Financial Institution, have been sidelined. Some people believe that the colonial master did not want them to work for us, so they were designed to collapse, to fail.
In spite of Financial Institution, an inconspicuous civil servant can use the instrumentalities of the state to enrich himself. Public officials dip their hands into the Treasury and take their fill as often as they will. As for Economic Financial Crime Commission and its twin brother, are they not to be authorized or directed to prosecute a suspect? Have we not seen defendants who switched political camp and got transformed from a suspect to ministerial candidate over night? These are measures and institutions designed to fail.
When armed robbery became a menace, a special squad in the Nigeria Police was set up to go after the criminals. It started well getting good results. But rather than being consolidated in professional policing, it became an agent of oppression and extortion. In spite of sacrifices made by patriotic policemen, certain vested interests ensured that it close shop.
With a vast land mass, Nigeria deserves to enjoy enough freedom economically, politically, culturally not to be bothered by certain encumbrances. There are so many cultures, populations, histories and geographies that can guide the state into a choice of peace and development. So long a small section would resist what is right and proper, and gets away with it, only the result of the Quota Community could accrue to it. These programmes and policies would not emanate from scientific rational premise, as such they would design policies that cannot stand, which in itself is a strategy of the rogue state to lubricate sources for criminal activities of a miserable community.
The status of Nigeria, without a Constitution designed by the people calls for an urgent attention. Unless the people have a Constitution of their own, everything would continue to run on trial and error.