We will continue to ask this question: What’s the purpose of government? It is increasingly becoming difficult to find a proper answer to this question in present-day Nigeria. And that is because nothing seems to shock anymore, not even the death of citizens in the most brutal and inhumane ways.
We say this because we do know that one of the reasons governments exist is to ensure that there is security of life and property of citizens and all who abide by the laws that govern society.
But that appears to have become really tricky in the last few years. This is because the rate at which Nigerians are getting unjustly slaughtered all over the country makes us shudder to think that there is no government performing that responsibility anymore of protecting citizens.
We hold this view because we are surprised at the seeming lack of a sense of outrage over what is going on. Also, we hold this view because not only is there no sense of outrage, but the government seems to be particularly lacking in showing any sense of urgency in a deliberate manner that suggests it wants to stop this wanton and senseless destruction of human, but especially, citizens’ lives.
We know that the other major purpose of government is to ensure the economic well-being of citizens. In other words, the government has a responsibility to secure the lives of its citizens and in doing so, it must ensure that it provides them with the economic environment to live a life that allows them to be able to meet their basic needs.
We know that the above essentially requires the government to run and manage the economy in a way that makes life conducive for citizens to live a normally; that citizens are able to meet their economic requirements to live a peaceable life, not deprived of the basic economic ingredients they need to survive or keep life going.
But we also know that while this is the basic fundamental duty the government owes its citizens, we are not unmindful that the state is like a company and the leadership is like managers of a company. The President, being the managing director leading the company, has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve in the time that he has to lead the country.
We maintain that this vision must be clear not only to the President but to a good percentage of the conscious and aware population, who are enabled to then tell where their president stands on issues and are most certainly what he is likely to do when things aren’t going well.
We are of the view that as the CEO, we expect that the President would know that in running the government citizens’ expectations are always high. Because expectations are high, it is quite possible that they could be higher than even what the President has set for himself. As CEO, he has to be conscious of this and be prepared to manage these expectations; fortifying himself with the ability to sync what he has set for himself and that which citizens are expecting of him.
Sometimes, politicians occupying elected offices, especially in Nigeria, think it is all done once they win elections and get hold of the steering wheel and begin to steer the ship of state. We know that this is not a correct way to look at things. We think that elections continue every day the elected official is in office because he needs to deliver on promises made and the other higher expectations that he is obliged to permit from citizens, whom he should be answerable to.
We think that it is a shame what Nigeria’s budget cycle has become over the last few years. It is a shame that as in the lack of visible outrage over the brutal killings of citizens, there doesn’t seem to be outrage from the Executive, enough to get the President sufficiently worked up to begin thinking of declaring a national emergency over this matter.
We continue to gloss over or laugh over what should be seen as a national disgrace, and we carry on as if it’s normal. A few months down the line, there will be talking about the amount of money that has been spent on capital expenditure.
The last time the President spoke, we heard him say something like this: “This year and last year’s budget which I took to the National Assembly were the highest in capital projects: More than N1.3 trillion.” And then we heard this: “President Buhari, therefore, scored his administration high saying under his watch; the 2016 and 2017 budgets recorded the highest appropriation and releases in capital projects, with over N2.8 trillion disbursements in two years.” This is where the economists and analysts need to come in.
We have been speaking with many of them. One thing rings clear: “If you put such an amount of money into this economy, it will show. You will surely feel it, no doubt about that.” And so we ask, where have all these capital disbursements gone? Can we have an audit statement with specific details of where, when, and how these trillions of naira were disbursed and exactly where they are in this economy?