Parasites Don’t Kill Their Hosts – Notes On Scramble For Nigeria

Parasites Don’t Kill Their Hosts – Notes On Scramble For Nigeria

24th March 2024 NewsOrient
Opinion, Column

WE had exceptionally gifted philosophers in the villages who taught us without being pedantic. Their words flowed with lessons about society’s sustenance though they may make light of situations.

One of them was De Oguogu. None of us met him when he was young. His wizened brows announced his age.

Personable, with a stutter that he never allowed to get on the way, many were concerned about him and trooped to his home to enquire about his health daily.

The invasive expression, “How was your night?,” would have been apt during those visits. There was no need. The elder after pleasantries were shared would tell us about his night without any prompting.

At a time he was ill for so long. Concerns about him increased. His croaky voice was barely audience. He managed to get it to pitches that delivered the message.

He told us his illness was severe. He said that the parasites fighting to take him over were too many. Ordinarily, they should have killed him, he said. But they had no agreement on who among them should do it.

Weeks down the line, the parasites agreed on which of them was yo kill him, he told us. Why did they allow him to survive the night? The question led to his theory of host-parasite community relations.

An argument arose again, according to him, when one of the parasites asked who would be their host if they killed the current one. The matter could not be resolved, so they let De Oguogu be.

The debates about budget padding reminded me about De Oguogu and how he survived the parasites. It struck me that De Oguogu could have represented Nigeria and the parasites ravaging it are the worthy padders we see in the executive, legislature and judiciary.

They seem united in a mission to loot their host until it was drained of all life.

We may believe firmly that it is the turn of those in the saddle to loot Nigeria as they like. The justification is the precedents those before them left. And as the Naira somersaults against the Dollar, it would not make sense to take something that is not reasonable enough to match the records.

Jokes on looting incude that it is not a crime. Some people who are learned in law and figures claim that the figures in the budget were official, and therefore cannot be said to have been padded. Should we not clap for this logic that would justify a borehole costing N193 million?
Or the installation of a street light deducting N183.4 million from the national purse?

The street could also have been draped in gold.

Something is terribly wrong with this heist. All types of excuses have been mounted in defence of the shame. The terrain where the lamps would be installed could have been the reason. The Senate allocated N82.5 billion to the construction of 427 boreholes. Huge as the expenditure is, and if it really goes to boreholes, 347 of Nigeria’s 774 local governments areas would not get boreholes.

We are not new to the Federal Government budgeting for boreholes. In October 2008, Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Abba Sayyadi Ruma, told the Senate Committee on Water that N24 billion borehole projects paid for by the Obasanjo administration between 2004 and 2006 were largely on paper.

That nationwide borehole scheme is 20 years old. At the then exchange rate of N130/$ the money was $184.6 million. What the Yar’Adua administration did was to re-focus on water matters, according to Dr. Ruma.

The N193 million proposed for each borehole is outrageous. Had the real owners of the purse opted for N10 million per borehole, N82.5 billion would have built 8,250 boreholes with the possibility that each of our 774 local governments would have had at least 10 boreholes.

More outrageous is that N212 billion will be used to construct 1,150 street lights. The average cost of a street lamp would be N183.4 million.

Nobody is sure what type of street lights these are, why the number is so low, and where they would be installled.

There are whispers that the street lights are cheap. We can afford them. We are not a poor country.

The largesse includes N30.95 billion that would be splashed on 170 ICT projects which translates to N182 million per project. The details of the projects were not stated.

Where the pure push will pour is in the projects for N7.61billion captured in the budget as “for the empowerment of traditional rulers”.

The number of traditional rulers in Nigeria is at best a poor guess. Who would qualify to be in the gravy train? This item is grossly under-budgeted.

How would a street lamp get N183.4 million and the custodians of our cultures will get next to nothing? Is there an explanation other than the lack of respect for our traditional rulers?

A more contentious issue is the accreditation process for accessing the funds. Governors would in the coming months suspend some traditional rulers to deny them the projects.

They need not be told to be nice to the Governors. How will the distribution be done? Is there a State with less than 1,000 traditional rulers? Will they be classified. Does the meagre N7.16 billion include the cost of implementing the empowerment programme?

Without National Assembly Committees on Traditional Rulers, there would be complete absence of over-sight functions on this item.

We already have a failed budget in our hands, amusingly by an innocuous item, Empowerment of Traditional Rulers.

Money for the budget is mostly borrowed. It would be repaid with interests. In our anything-is-possible Nigeria, those golden street lamps, diamond boreholes will generate the resources to repay the loans.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is enough for everybody’s need but not for anybody’s greed.” Did he have unique parasites on mind?

The scramble for Nigeria is on. Those who should protect Nigeria want everything for themselves.

The blame for more failures rests on parasites who care only about themselves, feed their greed, until they forget that they cannot survive outside their host.

SILENCE at the House of Representatives is too loud. Better table manners may be at work.

THE most recent killings in Delta communities whether of civilians or soldiers are about to be buried in the same emotions that 11 years ago attended the devastation of over 100 policemen and 10 of Department of State Service, DSS by Ombatse group in Nasarawa.

How was that incident managed? Details of the current operation should be investigated by an unbiased body. It behooves the government to pull out the soldiers who are attacking the communities instead of fishing out the criminals who killed the soldiers.

May the families of the departed be consoled.

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues.

~ NewsOrient