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Why Do Our Governors Hate Poor Nigerians? By Abdullahi Yunusa

December 1, 2013

One cannot help but ask the innocent but serious question on why our elected representatives, especially the governors so hate the poor masses with passion. Ideally, in climes where leaders think with their brains and not their butts, the masses are the hugest asset of any leader who is desirous of leaving enviable positive imprints on the sands of time.

One cannot help but ask the innocent but serious question on why our elected representatives, especially the governors so hate the poor masses with passion. Ideally, in climes where leaders think with their brains and not their butts, the masses are the hugest asset of any leader who is desirous of leaving enviable positive imprints on the sands of time.

In such humane societies, a leader’s successes or accomplishments are judged basically on how he has turned around the fortunes of his people through people-based governance and massive provision of basic infrastructure. Ideally, there should be no barrier between leaders and their followers. Followers should have unfettered access to their representatives. Regrettably, what we have or practice here is a far cry from what is obtained in serious and civilized climes where public interest overrides personal, group or sectional considerations.

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Why do our governors so hate same poor, hapless, defenseless and powerless Nigerians they swore and took oath of allegiance to serve, protect and govern, even at the expense of their personal comfort? Leaders are elected to hold office in trust and confidence on behalf of the people. Anything short of this amounts to gross violation of agreement and social contract entered into. More worrisome is the fact that a typical Nigerian leader doesn’t give a damn on people’s perception about how he conducts himself while in office. Instead of meaningfully fulfilling their own part of the agreement, they violate them with choking impunity. Yes, like the Lord of the manor, they ride roughshod and operate like dictators. Whatever they say is law, no matter the dangers they pose to the people they pledged to govern.

In virtually all democratic environments around the world over, elected (selected, imposed or handpicked in fraudulent elections in the case of Nigeria) nominated or appointed leaders are in office to serve the people and nothing more. Democracy places power in the hands of the people. Sadly, instead of using such powers to make life meaningful for the people, our leaders abuse the masses and treat them with disdain. Most leaders in this part of the world are guilty of this charge. In their warped thinking, the power in their hands is to advance their course, intimidate opposition elements, gag the media and enact laws and policies that suites their whims and caprices. They think less of the people. All they know and seek to protect is the interest of their families and cronies. This could account for the desperation of such leaders to cling on to power. The only time they think more of the people is prior to elections. Once they contest and win, all becomes history and they return to status quo.

Our democratic history, at least from 1999 till date, is replete with heartrending stories of how state executives breathe down heavily on poor Nigerians. We have heard and seen instances where sitting state governors direct their overzealous aides to kill, maim, harass and intimidate anyone who dared to question their ostentatious, profligate and wasteful lifestyles. In extreme cases, they often send security men to do the dirty job of filing spurious charges against their perceived enemies or antagonists just to ensure that those elements are kept out of circulation. In dealing with the poor masses, their excellencies watch with grin how their security aides beat, harass and flog ordinary men on the streets for reason as useless as getting close to their ‘Oga At the Top’s’ convoy. This is how sad, pitiable and frightening things have become in this part of the world. Same leaders who once dined, wined, courted and related seamlessly with the downtrodden before their ascension to power suddenly cut off and sever existing contacts with the masses. This is the magical power of power!

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The local media is daily awash with growing recklessness, brazenness and shameless posturing of these state executives in their dealings with the poor. It is either they kill innocent Nigerians or deny others right of way on federal roads or they openly direct their security aides to gun down ordinary road users. The touching story of how Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state ordered his security aides to rain life bullets on protesting students of Kogi State University, Anyigba, on the 2nd of October, 2007 which resulted in deaths, still remains very fresh in our minds. Governor Chime could have stopped his trigger-happy aides to use teargas in dispersing the protesting students, rather he watched them test their shooting dexterity on helpless, armless and defenseless undergraduates. As usual, the case went the way of others and bereaved families were left to mourn their dead.

The recklessness of the accident-loving-convoy-drivers of Governor Idris Wada of Kogi state reared its ugly head recently when they abruptly ended the life and existence of former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Festus Iyayi. Before Iyayi’s case, same convoy had in the past crashed into vehicles of other road users in the past. To a very large extent, the governor’s recurring road crashes are tied to human errors. His convoy drivers have the habit of literarily flying instead of driving on the highway. They chase other road users away with neck-breaking speed and dangerous overtaking. Sadly, the poor and helpless masses, at times who eke-out their leaving on the roadsides and popular bus stations are usually the victims of these power-drunk fellows.

The media was once awash with stories of how former governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo state slapped and ordered the detention of a Catholic Priest who condemned Ohakim’s poor governance and abuse of office during a church programme. Not too long ago, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state ensured that a certain social media activist, Mallam Moukhtar Ibrahim Aminu, who allegedly placed a curse directed at Jigiwa State Governor, was arrested and detained. Also in Bauchi state, north east Nigeria, Governor Isah Yuguda orderd the outright dismissal of a civil servant, one Abbas Faggo for daring to write on the governor’s below average performance. Aside being arraigned in court, the civil servant was detained for weeks. It took the intervention of human rights bodies to secure his release.

Then, earlier in the week, the self-styled Comrade Governor, fire-spitting, petit, vocal and attention-seeking governor of Edo state, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has the poor to thank for his ascendency to power joined the unenviable league of ruthless state governors in the country. For a man who rode on popular support to power, his recent outings call for concern. The Oshiomhole who once pride himself as the advocate of the poor now sees same people as his enemies and people to be treated with disdain. Governor Oshiomhole didn’t only demolish the poor widow’s makeshift shop, he brazenly told her to ‘go to hell and die’. Yes, that was the new Oshiomhole at his best. The old Oshoimhole has since departed ever since he became his ‘Excellency’. If I may ask, when has it become a sin or crime to be poor? Was Oshiomhole born rich? Do I need to remind anyone of Oshiomhole’s humble background? Do I need to restate the obvious that he, Oshiomhole, lived from hand to mouth?

Mr Comrade Governor, why test your might against a poor, downtrodden and defenseless widow who is striving hard, amidst harsh economic realities fueled by activities of the political class, of which you are a member to make ends meet? What kind of reforms are you carrying out that doesn’t have room for poor people? Any reform, no matter how beneficial and necessary with no human face is a grand plot to make life difficult for low income earners and the poor. Recent report released by an NGO has it that Edo state has the highest number of citizens serving various jail terms in different countries across the globe. Are you not bothered by this sad development? What are you doing about the shameful fact that young women from your state have become famous for taking prostitution to frightening dimension across countries in Europe and North America? Instead of showing your might against the defenseless poor in Edo state, I’d expected you to go against those giving your dear state bad image. The young, pretty, good looking ladies in great world cities like Paris, Rome, New York, Amsterdam, etc who engage in prostitution and drug peddling should be more of concern to you and not dealing ruthlessly with a poor hardworking widow. The ones at home are your hugest asset. Do your best to ensure that they don’t ‘Port’ to other countries like others. Cheers.

Abdullahi Yunusa wrote in from Imane, Kogi State. [email protected].


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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