Extract from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2018 New Year address
Contd from last week.
And so, as far as I know, there is nothing in these budgets for Nigerians. Our budgets are nothing to cheer about or analyse. They are a waste of everyone’s time, apart from those who concocted them up, and the guys in the legislature who insert projects everywhere – slush funds. Our budgets are platforms for massive corruption. The system is utterly sick. If at the end of the day, the poor masses of this country – and that includes those of us who say we are entrepreneurs – get some crumbs we are lucky. Usually these days, the entrepreneurs who are ‘lucky’ to know the top dogs in charge of the money are mere tools. Let me say this once; EVERY ITEM INSIDE NIGERIA’S BUDGET AT EVERY LEVEL, IS OWNED, I MEAN OWNED, BY SOME BIG MAN – POLITICIAN OR TOP CIVIL SERVANT. This is one of the ways by which the public service in Nigeria – and politicians – got too smart for the system. When Buhari’s government came in, we were promised that everything will now be professional, but we have only seen the total opposite. The procurement process has never been more rigged, more nepotistic, or more corrupt. When you get a call from most of the MDAs now, it is about how you should come and do a job on behalf of someone inside, whom we are also paying salaries as taxpayers. Those agencies where they earn very generous salaries are the worst!
On the back of this arm-twisting, rides fraud. They double contracts and pay through funny accounts – one half goes to the real contractor (who still shares the money with them), and the other half to their own ghost accounts. They deduct withholding taxes and manage to pocket the money. They float new payments for contracts already executed years ago and pay into their ghost accounts. Never envy the wealth of a Nigerian except you know how he is ‘making’ it. Fraud! Fraud! Fraud! Everywhere. It’s pathetic. People are just not satisfied with whatever they get. They are not satisfied with the positions that God has put them into. Almost everyone is on the prowl to steal and inflate. We have a problem! A BIG PROBLEM!!
Back to China and the speech by President Xi. Can you see the emphasis on the PEOPLE. It is all about PEOPLE. He spoke about their plans for the PEOPLE. He emphasized the importance of the PEOPLE, and how the PEOPLE must benefit from everything the government does because the PEOPLE are the ones that are creating this wealth. He spoke of new mass housing for the people. He spoke of urban and RURAL jobs for the PEOPLE. Emphasis mine. He spoke about relocating millions of PEOPLE from poverty-stricken areas into better housing. He spoke about reclamation of shanty towns and the construction of 6 million apartments. He reminded his people in government to remember their purpose in government; the PEOPLE. It was all about PEOPLE, PEOPLE PEOPLE.
I discovered the Chinese 2018 budget speech when I happened on the video of President Xi Jinping undertaking a tour of the poorest areas in his country just last year. He went into the homes of the poorest people, sat with them, tasted their water and food, and on one occasion he asked an old man while sitting on his bed, what he hoped to achieve. The old man said he hoped to re-roof the house that he has been living since the 1950s. Xi Jinping didn’t ‘dash’ him cash. He instead spoke about the opportunities by which that could happen. I’m sure the next day the government would have been there to get stuff done. The president of China did not go to those rural areas up in the hill, in a long, intimidating convoy of siren-blaring SUVs. He went quietly, as a responsible leader would. It was a most touching moment even for me watching. I realized two things; that we haven’t ever planned for the wellbeing of our rural dwellers, and we have never planned for mass housing for our vast majority in these parts. I also realized we may never have had a real leader in this country. We only have pretenders.
I must quickly say that in the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson also undertook what he called a tour of the poverty belt of the USA. He also interacted deeply with the people. It was after that that he signed off the Medicaid bill, and the Food Stamp bill, among other measures to ensure the gap between the rich and poor was bridged. It could be said that Americans have been living better lives since then. At least food poverty is no longer an issue there.
Now, anyone who has time should compare JinPing’s budget speech with ours. We mostly spoke about inanimate objects – rails, roads, all of them being financed by borrowing. No emphasis on the PEOPLE. Until our leaders know that the reason for the season is the PEOPLE, and that in the books of the PEOPLE they have totally missed it, and are already persona non grata. They should hope the PEOPLE don’t revenge these injustices one day soon.