2 December 2012

Nigeria: Naija's War Against Witches and Glitches

Jim Watson. You've probably never heard of him. He is the mayor of the city called Ottawa, Canada's equivalent of Naija's FCT. You could call Watson Canada's FCT minister. On Wednesday, the Ottawa City Council approved the city's 2013 budget. Watson was on radio explaining that the budget would be used to clean up the streets, fix roads, parks and recreation centres; and ensure effective garbage collection. Such monumental waste of public resources!

The old wing of the Ottawa City Hall was commissioned in 1958 and used until 2000 when a new one was constructed. North American politics and its politicians need to be sent to Naija for refresher courses on how to rule, not govern. Mayor Watson drives himself to work and walks on Elgin Street and queues for coffee like everyone else. The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, belittles governance even more. He walks his teenage daughter to public school virtually daily! When these people go out on official functions, ordinary Joneses like me cannot tell their cars from other people's cars. They scrupulously obey traffic lights! These people take the shine off governance; divesting it of its poise and panache and rendering it totally unattractive.

Canada has a first class military and a jobless corps of Special Forces, because you never see soldiers or policemen standing at attention behind the politicians when they perform official functions or give public speeches. If Harper is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian armed forces, he has lost it by not having armed soldiers behind him when he speaks anywhere in town. The last time he concluded speeches with the words "God Bless Canada" critics almost chopped his head off. There are no prayers at public functions. Canada has retired "God" from the public sphere. It is unclear what benefits "God" receives in his retirement, but I doubt if S(H)e is complaining. The people are grateful that "God" has taken a back stage in the heart of believers because they are in charge. They hold their leaders responsible if the bus is one minute late, the garbage is not collected, there is a crime somewhere or power goes out for more than an hour after a snowstorm. Somebody get me out of here before this virus infects me.

Toronto's Mayor, Rob Ford, was sacked recently for breaking the principles of Conflict of Interest. He had used letterhead with his council logo to solicit for donations for a football foundation in his name but which benefits his constituents! This must be quite amusing to Facrook Law-an who collected $620,000 from the owner of the committee he was investigating but was cleared by his colleagues of any complicity. The man remains in the House, making laws for the order and good governance of my country and may become sinnator or governor come 2014.

Naija runs things differently. A Malaysian company has accused our FCT minister of demanding bribe to sign a development project (an allegation he denies) and guess what he did - sends a proposal to the Federal Executive Council for the building of a N2.2 billion Banquet Hall for the president - a place where to eat the President's N2 billion food allowance. But President Jones swears he eats cassava bread, drinks koko and kosei like the rest of us. Naija's agriculture minister recently demoted his permanent secretary to the classroom for refusing him to spend budgets as he pleases. The permsec, an accountant, erroneously believed that budgets should be spent according to laid down financial guidelines forgetting that budgets are a minister's disposable expenditure.

Stella Oduah, Naija's aviation minister, woke up on the wrong side of her bed and allegedly wrote to the German government cancelling bilateral agreement between our two countries. I understand the Germans sobbed to the foreign ministry clutching copies of the Geneva Convention. President Jones consoled the sobbing Germans and invited Oduah for presidential tea where he commended her for subjecting the Germans to diplomatic frog jump. He then asked her to write a letter withdrawing the earlier one - shikenan.

The aroma of profligacy cooked in Aso Rock has been wafting beyond the chimneys of the FCT. Lagos, Nigeria's most lucrative state, just got a House of Rebels approval to borrow enough money to tie down the future of Fashola's grand and great children. In Imo, Rochas Okorocha hates budgets so what does he do? He sent a nebulous document to the Assembly in the first year authorising himself to spend as he pleases without further heckling until he leaves office. Governors and pastors of the oil-rich Naija-Delta are in the rivalry over whose jet is better.

Great things are happening in Naija. Hajiya Zainab Kuchi, our new power minister, told a crowded hall of South African investors that Naija's darkness is caused by witches. Work for pastors and imams waiting to join the jet age. A Boko Haram governor rules one of our states. He orders the indefinite detention of his Facebook critics and later sacks them for insubordination.

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