By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
So, last week I was a guest at a federal parastatal, the Federal Inland Revenue, the Jos MST Office, I hope I got the initials right. For a nation that her citizens demand much and are not conversant with the tax regimes, and how they work. It was a really learning curve.
Loads of parastatals, MDAs are sorry sights both in structure and customer service, but a cursory study into the work ethos of the staff of the Jos office, these dudes are the best, indeed not just jolly good fellows but hardworking Nigerians, irrespective of faith and creed.
From the desk officer, a gentleman who received documents and the damsel who gave forms out, the admin, the whole guys at the tax end, and my personal persons Mrs. Obed, Musty, Taiye, Paul, Salihu, the entire staff of the office even the security guards were not left out.
At least I now know a Nigerian office that resumes by 8:00am and closes shop by 5:00pm. Whether it’s because of the money involved I don’t know but kudos to the FIRS team in Jos, Plateau and nationwide.
However after all the praise above, there’s always this urge for Nigeria, her leaders and citizens to just get it wrong, and at the heart of another soon to be forgotten ‘misshot’ was the banning or suspension in Nigeria was suspect ala Lai Mohammed. Why we are a nation of knee jerk reactors one will never know, why we are bent on remaining behind only our ancestors can speak to why. The reason we have an attorney general who is prone to much cerebral misspoke in a nation of blessed minds is one one mystery only village people can be held liable for.
And June 12 came, whether the protests were successful or not, at least the sanctity of life was respected as no life was lost, that in itself was the breaking news, despite the anti-reactionary elements in the police that rather than take their teargas to Niger, Zamfara, Kebbi, and other such places, they were bent on testing them on peaceful protesters. Like it is said in local parlance “e dey our body’, may these uprising not bring out the beasts in us.
Again, kudos to the youths, though lazy, but a large population of them are the true brides to a new nation in the making, risking martyrdom, they came out, they spoke, and many of us elders say ‘Amen, Amin Ise, and Ase’ to their good prayers and wish for a better nation, which is actually what all of us demand of government and leadership.
However how do we get a better nation when the authorities target Twitter without recourse to the young Nigerians who make a livelihood through the platform, how can we move forward when the closest we have come to Twitter is the production of Kilishi by a government parastatal saddled with the responsibility of taking us to the Eldorado of technological breakthroughs.
How can we move when one government arm like FIRS is doing all it can to generate resources, and by the way they have a largely effective computerized efficient system, and then another whole ministry promised us that we will produce pencils, and yes we are methinks, but again sadly from old newspapers that are products of imported newsprints. And yet, all the pencils at the popular ‘Rwang Pam’ stationary village are imported. Abeg who do us?
My question then is how do we secede, with these crop of minds, let me be pedestrian, how do we divide, has Nigeria become a failed state, is it a failing state, is there hope, as Nigeria stands the power of violence is in the hands of non state actors, who really is in charge, everyone is a leader, every section is following her dictates, the nation is bleeding from all points, Nigeria is on red alert, has been on that alert for too long, and our big ‘ishes’ are Twitter, pencils and kilishi.
Is the current administration not dictatorial and nepotistic, lacking in leadership, lacking in structure, why are afraid to hear different voices and articulate, and what we have now is it okay for all, did we collectively agree to be how we are…our fears, are they not happening already, is Lagos same as Borno, or is Borno not even better in development wise than Katsina despite the BH boys, with time the ‘rice on top and for bottom of pot all go done’.
What hisbah is to Kano, Amotekun is to the south west, doesn’t the federal government know it has too much on her plate, that every state if allowed can generate and distribute her electricity? That FIRS is better run, than most government agencies that start with letter ‘N’.
Is it not common sense that the expansive explosive list is no longer feasible, that there is a citizenship, indigineship question, that crude use of population needs to be re-examined. That it is not a Biafran question, but that of the federating units that are tired and not content, with IBB, Abdulsalam and co, see ‘men wey sabi’ taking over local communities in Niger state and obtaining these communities. That Katsina state is not better despite the Buhari presidency is irrefutable truth. There is an elite structure that removes the ordinary man away, that structure controls the power and position whether North or South, it’s not about just ethnicity and faith, those are only drivers magnified by poverty of the mind and pocket.
FIRS is trying to embrace best practices, let Nigeria embrace the best practices of federalism, let’s not be afraid to talk about the ongoing restructuring, let us negotiate, I hear we are talking with Twitter, if we agree to do that then we should move beyond Kilishi and pencils, we should stop threatening ourselves with onions. Allow Nigerians from Onitsha to Sokoto to see the value of tax paying, let’s allow for competitive federalism, we are dragging unevenly.
In my interaction with the FIRS I saw a model, a structure, it’s a work in progress, I saw young Nigerians not afraid to start afresh, I know they don’t want to secede. They love the work they do, real Nigerians love Nigeria, and want only better, and I sure know inherently we are capable of better.
We need to look beyond infinitesimal things like rotational presidency, Igbo presidency and address the leadership deficit where people are first leaders of their clan, hamlet, village and communities, because truth is that most of the secessionists have not addressed the microsome of the larger Nigerian malaise, like for example the tripod of greed called WAZOBIA which leaves out the Berom, Nupe, Efik, itsekiri and some 300 other ethnic nationalities amongst many other such schisms.
We cannot pretend that all is well, there are no counter narratives, we have been through too many conferences, yet have done little to harness a strong spirit to work with respect, justice, equity and fairness for one and all, how long will we be in this tide—only time will tell.
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