Decisiveness is a virtue for leaders but discretion is the better part of valour. The Kaduna State government came down hard on the hotel said to be the venue of an alleged sex party by reducing same to rubble and opening up another chapter in the chronicle of controversy that has become the script of the current administration since Mallam Nasir El-rufai was elected in 2015. There was the uproar about teachers` qualifications. There was the bloody clash with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. There have been the constant attacks that have rattled the nation from time to time. Virulent criticisms have trailed the actions of the government along with an outpouring of support in a state known for its harsh religious sensibilities. But it would seem that in demolishing the hotel, the Kaduna State government went after a fly with a sledgehammer and conduced to fatten the insatiable calf of hypocrisy worshipped by many in the Nigerian public life.
Democracy distills freedom and one of the most forceful fruits of this democratic freedom is the ease with which citizens are able to express themselves and the reluctance of government to interfere unless the law absolutely compels it. Alas, in Nigeria, democratic freedom has lately known the merciless chains of those who would rather Nigerians remain in bondage. To foster this, they eagerly and easily reach for religion which has today been sharpened intoa weapon of mass subjugation by the unscrupulous. A lot of Nigerians consider themselves religiously devout and moral. Yet, just beneath the surface, it would seem that something contrary and contradictory is always present. Nigeria is a country of churches and mosques but rampant corruption. Nigeria prohibits same sex but rape is rampant and child abuse is rife. Behind the lens of religions everything is gifted either a dim or rosy view. So hypocrisy is on rampage. It has put up tent in many hearts. Petty issues are overblown, and weighty issues are trivialized with the yardstick being whether they meet certain religious criteria.
Governance stutters so badly in Nigeria partly because people are elected and appointed into critical positions on the basis of religious affiliations rather than merit and qualification. Performance is weighed and action is also taken on this basis. For many Nigerians, eschewing religious bias when engaging with their fellow citizens is often an impossible task. Public office brings with it the onerous responsibility of making difficult decisions and taking responsibility for such decisions. The Nigerian public office experience has been that characters lacking the introspection, discretion and circumspection required to make difficult decisions find their way into office. While there, they elevate the gallery and their personal political relevance over the public good.
So when it is decision time, priority moves from public good to a popularity contest. The counsel of people who are far from being objective in their rationalizations are sought, and because they are mostly sycophants always looking for the next boot to lick, adopted. Mountains are made out of molehills and at the end of the day, there is neither space nor pace in the public sphere. So public affairs and muddled up and public officers can hardly see the wood for the trees. Public officers must once again examine the drivers of their actions. Public officers must proceed to examine their motives in exercising the powers of their offices. Nationhood makes a demand of each public officer. Accountability demands that they respond with neither hubris nor hypocrisy.
- Kene Obiezu, a public affairs analyst, writes in from Abuja
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