It is time to make public service a thankless job in Nigeria. It is time to strip it of all glamour and allure because it is after all about duty and sacrifice. For the sake of this piece I define public service as any entity by which national interest is served or upheld.
The idea behind service is not rocket science. It can easily be explained even to a little child and he or she will grasp it and run with it. Service is a high and lofty ideal to aspire to and many times it involves putting aside self-agenda and making sacrifices for a greater good; and in this case the good of the people one has pledged service to. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is living beyond self and it is a desire to make anything better than the way you found it.
The desire to serve has birthed so many things in the course of man’s existence in the earth and nothing else, no matter how carefully disguised, can substitute for this desire. As a popular television advert once schooled us, “If e no be panadol, e no fit be like panadol.” So we can all agree that the koko in public service is selflessness. However in our neck of the woods we have it backwards. Self-love or self-aggrandisementis the koko in our public service.
That being said, I have a few words for our balling and blinging lawmakers. It is no longer news that the pay packages, benefits and allowances of our lawmakers tip the scales of ridiculousity to breaking point. The thought that these public servants who should protect the proper and judicious harnessing of Nigeria’s resources are feeding fat off it is enough to set one’s teeth on edge; forget sour grapes. When were we kids, my mum would chide us saying we should not expect a pat on the back for keeping our own house clean. You must not expect to be thanked for cleaning your house; wiping down your windows; sweeping your floors and scrubbing your bathroom. It is a thankless job; a duty which must be carried out. Public service, while it may start out as genuine desire to serve, is a call to duty and as long as Nigerians don’t see it in the light of keeping one’s house clean because it is after all one’s house, we will continue to have problems. To be called or chosen to serve is a privilege and it should be seen and taught that way.
A wise man wrote that it is required in stewards that one be found faithful and we can adopt this truth into our public service system. You don’t get paid for sweeping your room so let’s remove the hope for great financial rewards from public service; enough with the excessive expenses. Let’s make public service so austere that congenital kleptocrats will gnash their teeth in frustration. Personally I suggest pay lawmakers on the basis of their accomplishments over a chosen period of time. They do nothing worthwhile; nothing that reverberates through the nation’s system, they get nada; zilch, and if all I have written seems ridiculous, well:
-If it is ridiculous that impunity has become a lifestyle in our midst,
-If it is ridiculous that corruption has become a virtue to aspire to while honesty is derided,
-If it is ridiculous that politics has become a viable cash cow in our nation where the easiest way to make a quick buck is to be a politician or be affiliated with one,
-If it is ridiculous that the virtue of service has been reduced to the base and vain pursuit of self-aggrandisement,
-If it is ridiculous that the resources of a well-resourced nation have been made to serve the interests of a select few for the longest time,
-If it is ridiculous that there is such staggering and defiant display of opulence in the midst of so much lack and deprivation,
-If it is ridiculous that those who should have our backs have become our taskmasters scourging and laying burdens on them,
-If it is ridiculous how we have veered uncontrollably into baffling and befuddling times, then it is not ridiculous to suggest ridiculous measures to save Nigeria. As the Yoruba will say and I translate, ‘we use curses to cure curses’.
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