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Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo: The functions of a government


Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo: The functions of a government

by Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo

Despite the efforts of well-meaning humans, the world has suffered terribly throughout history; Somalia, to Chad, Bosnia to Iraq, Guyana to Nigeria. While other countries are managing theirs and looking for lasting solutions to solving this human defect, on our (Nigeria) side, we have been showing little or no concern, we have been promoting tribal sentiments and religious bigotry which are the architects of such problems in the world today.

Nigeria’s peace is threatened, despite the innate desires her people has, we’ve been so optimistic for a better Nigeria even by given a trial to what experts call “gross stupidity”; giving political power to a region that owns the economy power. This on our part is the worst and unpatriotic thing we did to this country. It seems a paradox, doesn’t it? When the natural desire of people is to live at peace, they commonly hate and kill one another, with this viciousness going on in our dear once peaceful country Nigeria; I can’t but state and affirm that WE (Nigerians) brought this present political imbroglio on ourselves and fatherland. Shame on us.

One of the questions I keep asking myself is if we have leaders? And if we do what are the functions of these leaders vis-à-vis government? Here are some functions of a responsible Government;

Foreign Diplomacy: A responsive government must maintain diplomatic relationship with other sovereign states. It’s sad that in our case in Nigeria, any foreign diplomat who chooses to speak truth to the government will end up being their enemies. The most recent and annoying is the report of the United State of America on corruption in Nigeria that berated the government and person of President Goodluck Jonathan for not having the required will to fight corruption and protect the lives of Nigeria citizens. The report which was supposed to be a wake-up call for our leaders turned to what the lion of Aso Villa, Doyin Okupe, adjudged as “crap”.

My take is that for a responsible Government to effect change, the leader of such Government must have interest and the will for change. Without doubt, the present Government of Nigeria lacks the will to change the present policy.

Domestic Order and Military Defense: A government must be able to control the people it seeks to govern and protect. The government must maintain internal peace among individuals and groups within the society. This is without doubt the priority of any responsible sovereign state. Unfortunately this Nigerian government has not been able to ensure domestic order since it came to power since 2010.

People like Asari Dokubo has been disturbing the peace of the state and threatening the unity of the amalgamated Nigerian nations. And to say the government isn’t doing anything to control this radical Nigeria is a sad thing and the State Security Service (SSS) which is being funded by tax payers money has been giving Asari Dokubo preferential treatment and they couldn’t do anything meaningful to place the Ijaw man under-watch. I wouldn’t know if it’s because he’s a friend and supporter of the President, the SSS and other security outfits fail to understand that sooner or later this present government will leave and then what happens?

Boko Haram is having fun killing Muslims and Christians daily, they are killing The Yorubas, Hausas and The Igbos, they attack any Islamic cleric or Northern leader who dares talk against them. Northern Nigeria has become so scary that visiting is the last thing on the mind of Southerners. In fact, the president wouldn’t have visited the place if not for political reasons and points and while visiting troops of JTF (Joint military Task Force) were deployed for surveillances and you think this is a country?

In Baga, Nigerians were killed by our own military men who are supposed to guard us against foreign oppressors, military men who are supposed to protect Baga people from Boko Haram turned around killing Baga people. Issues like that of Baga send Africa leaders to Hague after their tenure. President Jonathan once told Nigerians on national television that Odi (similar genocide like Baga perpetuated by the government of Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo) was unable to capture any militant but rather children and women. Now his government has done something similar to Odi and it took them over 120 hours to even mention such callous heart. When a bomber in Boston (USA) was identified and arrested within 72hrs and to think America is a country Nigeria is modelled after! And in case you missed it Nigeria’s Presidency was the first to commiserate with The Americans.

Administration of Justice: Consequently, our government isn’t interested in the concept that set up a government, they rather govern us anyhow they feel, simply because we are timid and scared of death? Administrative law doesn’t exist in Nigeria, you can’t sue government and win, independence of the judiciary isn’t there, and the rule of law isn’t functioning in Nigeria.

For we to fight corruption, the rule law must prevail. We must have a system which gives to every person what is his due. You can’t steal billions of public funds and get jailed for 2 years with option of fine of thousands. And we have a grand commander who claimed he’s fighting corruption. The Grand Commander couldn’t even raise it as issue. Grand Commander without grand consultation is grand foolishness.

Protection of Civil Liberties: This function is most important function of the functions that set up sovereign states, especially in a democratic society like ours. And it’s not only the Government that’s guilty of this, we citizens are guilty too, Muslim does not want to have anything to do with Christians and Christians too feel same way about Muslims. Freedom of Speech and Press is lacking in Nigeria. The recent arrest, detainment and finally charging to court of journalists of Leadership newspaper is a sad one in a society where virtually all citizens have turned to media persons and articles writers. Just a few days ago, report came in that President, Goodluck Jonathan has contracted an Israeli company to monitor tweets, Facebook messages, emails exchanges and other internet activities emanating from Nigeria and this is against the functions of government of the world and it’s absolutely against the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.

Provision for and Regulation of the Conduct of Elections: In a constitutional democratic society, government must provide for free and meaningful elections. And also to regulate conduct of these elections so as to ensure that they are carried on fairly, honestly and peacefully.

But unfortunately for Nigerians, this has NEVER been right in our history, the ONLY election that was said to be free and fair was not allowed to stay, of course, I’m talking about the June 12 election won by Late Chief MKO Abiola and rejected by the Government of Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babaginda.

Ever since then, elections conducted in Nigeria have been a charade, Local Government to LGA election are pure rubbish. Nobody is clean in this aspect. Be it ACN or PDP. They all keep winning Local Government elections in Nigeria as far as they are in control of the state. It started with PDP in Ogun LGA election under Former Governor Gbenga Daniel. Since then, ACN learnt the trade and are fighting hard to outsmart the PDP in keeping hold of their state election in their favour. When are we going to stop such improper culture and to think we have lawmakers at Abuja who can’t even make laws to stop this national embarrassment is annoying.

Provision for Public Goods and Services: Provision of public goods and services provided by like public education, airports, tarring and building of streets and highways, rapid mass transport system, electrical power and general hospital (including specialist) are a key function of government.

Electricity since the attainment of independence from the colonial masters has been poor, we can’t boast of electricity in our homes for 3 days without it going off, some communities in Nigeria still ration power as 2 days on, 1 day off. What a National embarrassment!

Transport system isn’t in their agenda as no inter-state bus transport system anywhere in the country. The private transport system in Nigeria is extorting Nigerians with very poor service and ministry of transport can’t even stand to fight for the people they govern.

Roads are death traps; and schools are not well equipped as graduates can’t even get good jobs after graduation. Nigeria is indeed a deteriorating society.

Obviously, if I keep mentioning the functions of Government I won’t stop today but I think those listed are those common ones we need in a country like Nigeria but unfortunately, our government doesn’t give a damn about our needs.

The Government of President Goodluck Jonathan promised to build one airport in each state if he’s elected as President in 2011. One will think he had a master plan but unfortunately, locations of such projects are yet to be sourced for. What about the promise to build new university in each state, our Oga at the top hasn’t even considered it. The fight he has been fighting is how he’ll be re-elected in 2015(even he hasn’t come open to Nigerians that he’ll be seeking reelection).

Some ask if President Jonathan is the only leader Nigeria has had since her independence and why are critics putting blames of our national woes on him? I say if the manager of an office is bad, he gets fired and when a new manager takes over, he’s to correct the mistakes of past managers and get the company going. If he’s not capable of such, he shouldn’t have applied. The same goes to President Jonathan, if he can’t get the country on track, he should simply get out of the kitchen since he can’t withstand the heat.

Those government officials who enjoy the act of making life miserable for Nigerians and making Nigeria not to work should remember that – When a bird is alive it eats ants, when a bird dies ants eat it. Time and circumstances can change at any time and what you are doing to others will be done unto you and your yet unborn generation.

I’m against this government and so I’ll continue to be if they continue the act of neglecting their primary functions as listed. If they can’t provide those, they are illegitimate and won’t get the support of the Nigerian elite.

– Follow this writer: @lanreneville

Most people who know Olanrewaju Oguntoyinbo know him as lanreneville. He analyses and comments on politics, critiques social issues and believes in #ProjectNewNigeria. Twitter: @lanreneville

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