Human memory is short. Tyrannical regimes thrive or endure on the shortness of human memory. When Jesus Christ wanted to enter Jerusalem, it was through loud ovation of hosanna; but shortly after, the opportunity availed the same people before Pilate to set Christ free on false accusation and there was a choice between that innocent soul and robbers, the man that fed thousands, made the blind to see, caused the cripple to walk, raised the dead, was pronounced condemned to a painful death on the cross.
They said the robbers that killed and stole their properties should be set free. This could only happen as a result of shortness of human memory. Machiavelli was of the view that when you want to do evil, do it swiftly, totally and fatally, effluxion of time will make man to forget. Conversely, if you want to do all the good at once, they will also easily forget; why therefore would you not do good piecemeal and gradually because of the disease of human weakness of forgetfulness?
As it was in ancient time so it is today. But as we go into the last round of elections with the election of State Governor and members of Kwara State House of Assembly, we must remind ourselves of the misrule, misdeed and the pains of the past sixteen years, lest we forget and plunge Kwara State into another long term of slavery through careless voting.
But let us see what they have done with the power we gave them: to protect common patrimony, create harmonious relationship in the heterogeneous Kwara, develop the people and the economy of Kwara State, ameliorate poverty, make the weeping to smile and generally positively raise the status and value of Kwara State of Nigeria nationally and internationally.
Kwara State is rich in both human and material resources. The State that produced seasoned civil servants like Chief Aderibigbe, Chief Tunji Oyinloye, Alhaji Gobir, Chief Joshua Ogunlowo, Alhaji Saadu Issa, several Professors of international reputations, Diplomats of high reputes, Spiritual leaders of two dominant faiths, acknowledged throughout the world etc; has its civil service completely destroyed.
The State public service was once second to none, especially in the whole of the Northern States of the federation. See what our public service has become, a service where incompetence is celebrated, service where nepotism kills skills, obliterates discipline and kills also the morale of otherwise disciplined public officers. It has now grown to a service of consultants. Civil servants are made redundant as the consultants manipulate the system only in the interests of the men of the moment in public office. Their salaries which is the smallest or the least in the Federation of Nigeria, are not also paid regularly. Civil servants should not forget the torture and the pains of the last sixteen years.
And what about the pensioners? Kwara State Pensioners are about 4000. They are mothers and fathers to several thousands of their children, they are community leaders and they were once the crème of the Kwara Society. Such people ought not to have retired into poverty and the attendant pains. The design of the service is to pay the retirees their gratuity at the point of their exit from the service. Gratuity that ought to be paid in lump sum to enable the pensioners to start a new life compatible to their age and status are paid piecemeal or are not paid for several years.
In fact since 2009, many pensioners in Kwara State had not been paid. The ebullient men and women of yesterday are vegetables today, not strictly on account of age but more as a result of paucity of fund to service the ailing bodies. As it is with gratuity, so it is with pension. As we go into this decisive election, pensioners should not forget their present travails.
The regimes between 2003 and 2016 are one and the same. It has never been denied that it is a government of continuity. Some previous administrations spent in office, years ranging from nine even to three months. They are exposed to scanty financial resources and they made their various impacts. In the last sixteen years, Kwara State earned from statutory allocation, VAT, external and internal borrowing, Excess crude oil, Paris refund and bailout fund; an amount that is close to 1.5 Trillion naira. A state that started with a budget of 250, 000 pounds in 1967 is budgeting billions of naira yearly and cumulatively in the last sixteen years we are close to about 1.5 billion naira.
Why considering who to vote into power and why to vote, rural community should think of the amount that accrued to government and the conditions of their communities remain the same in the areas of infrastructural developments like roads and water supply. We have such huge money and our school system remains highly primitive. We are endowed with this huge resources and our people die easily of curable and inflicted by incurable diseases. Huge resources that cannot be used to open the bowel of the land of Kwara to gain access to the deposited minerals inside our soils.
Huge resources that has been deployed to aid agriculture, the main occupation of majority of our people and the mainstay of our economy. Unemployed, artisans of various categories, Market women, petty traders, and entrepreneurs even Professionals like Lawyers, Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, Accountants etc should link the accrued money to Kwara State since 2003 and locate their deplorable and despicable conditions in the corruptible utilization of this money and, vote wisely and rightly.
We have spoken about the neglect of contractors and professionals of Kwara State origin in preference for the friends of the ruling oligarchy in the State. In the hey days of government of the people, by the people and for the people in Kwara State, there were State contractors and Local government contractors. But that was a time when the Ministry of Works was working for the people of Kwara State and Local Government Councils were not obliterated as a tier of government in the State.
Today, contractors of Kwara origin are not engaged in any form of construction works. The few that were engaged are mere appendages of foreign contractors, who are friends of the Governor and the ‘’Leader’’. Many erstwhile well to do contractors are today in penury and they have joined the destitutes of the earth. The neglected contractors and professionals should not forget the source of their misery and they should vote wisely.
I have a lot of pity for the traditional rulers in Kwara State. They have inherited status that make them the custodians of our cultural values and important leaders of their people. But the best and the highest of them are merely dignified with staff of office as symbolic enhancement of their status. Sometimes, they are given state of the art cars that are of more problems than utility. They really do not have impacts on governmental policies and programmes.
The sad aspect is that we have highly read Emirs and Obas in Kwara State, yet virtually in all aspect of governance, their opinions are not sought. Many among them that have letters of promotion for a long time do not have staff of office. Many that have staff of office are owed several months of salaries. Between 2003 and now, traditional rulers in Kwara State are often respected when there are pending elections. The stools that should be the father of all are reduced to the fathers of those in political authority. When traditional rulers should advocate for relevance in government, they are made to rely on those in political offices for survival. The Traditional rulers should not forget the system that devalues them and work and vote for an enhanced status and relevance.
They call them leaders of tomorrow but their tomorrow is destroyed today. They call them ‘’good boys’’ when all they exhibit is repugnant to good morals. Those that use them for violence have their children in Ivy League universities around the globe. They left our youths to live on hard drugs and alcohol while they train their own children to take over from them, the rein of government tomorrow. They are deceived by Not Too Young to Run law while poverty have put in chains 90% of their category.
The youths without any visible means of livelihood will always be too young to run for office in Nigeria. On critical examination perhaps; Not Too Young To Run law may as well be for the children of the ruling elite who are fastly growing and in a hurry to take over from their parents. Youths in Kwara State should really detest the unwholesome transfer of political power from first to the second and the third generations in a family lineage. This can be done if our youths are mindful that their future will be compromised if dynastic politics is not brought to an end in Kwara State.
‘’No woman, no Nation’’, they say. But that is not when our women are misemployed, misdeployed and misdirected for political purpose. Why must women daily congregate in the home of any politician even when there is no campaign? Are they there for discussion about the development of Kwara? Or are they there to simply felicitate with him always? Why must any politician create an aura of importance for himself by the multitude of women that are politically mobilized for showmanship? Why should our mothers be given less than survival pittance using fake philanthropy, just to create an aura of importance for the leader?
But husbands, mothers, children and relations should not forget how many women had lost their lives in ritual like circumstances at both Ile-Loke and mandate houses of the leader.
Need we remind the people of Kwara, that if we push out the regime of continuity; we shall emerge from the era of waste and misplaced priorities.
Their limelight projects or achievements for sixteen years are Cargo shed at Ilorin International Airport (not even functional for one day), Aviation College, Football Academy, Metropolitan Square, Shonga Farm, Underpass Bridge, State Secretariat, Vocational Centre and Kwara State University. When we subject these projects to critical analysis, considering the REAL NEEDS of Kwara, are these projects in the area of the critical needs of the people of Kwara State? When we needed food, they gave us powder to brighten our faces. When we needed clothe, they gave us bleaching soap. No society can continue to tolerate these set of leaders that are completely alienated from their people.
We must really not forget these sixteen years of locust. We gave them four terms mandate (2003-2019) to create a new Kwara where divisions will be ameliorated. We thought they will create a Kwara that works for all. But see what they have created, a Kwara of crisis of confidence, a Kwara of fake harmony, a dysfunctional Kwara of chronic underdevelopment. They have created through the instrumentality of government, a Kwara whose people are at war with one another. They have planted a bomb that may be denoted very soon unless with our fingers we push them out and create a new Kwara of fairness, equity and justice, that will work for all.
Oyedepo, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), writes from Ilorin