Monday, 29 February 2016

Padding the Budget

I seen this happen once before… maybe even more than once – and I’m remarkably irritated. Actually, I’m a bit angry – it’s just hard to know whom to direct the anger at and have it be productive.

I seen this happen before… once, a couple of years ago – Ok, must be closing in on 3 or 4 years by now, considering that America’s President Barack Obama is winding out his second term as the world’s leading man.

Hard to believe; never before seen – the United States, the world’s leading poster boy in almost everything, has got maybe a couple of dozen state-of-the-art websites across its numerous agencies and departments: the State Department, the CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security, Defense Department, Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Education… there must be dozens of them; and all of these have at least one website up and running for them – several of them even more than one. Functional. Not for one year or two, but for decades by now. So imagine how stunned I had to be when the Obamacare website came on and crashed out the precise same day that it was published!

Yep, you must have heard of it too –, health insurance exchange website operated by the United States Federal Government for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) promulgated by President Obama for inauguration back in October of 2013.

For a little bit of background, insurance is one of the 5 holy grails of the American economy – no matter how bad things get, they are sacred cows that nobody ever touches, regardless of who you are. The other 4 are Big Tobacco, Alcohol, Guns, and Pharmacy. Yep, these guys are so paid up with all the right people in all the right places that if you ever dared shining a little light on them, someone might shoot your head off, or you could be buried in so much legality and paperwork that your grandchildren would still be chewing through it long after you’re gun. It certainly explains why despite the number of people who die every year from alcohol related complications, there’s never been any serious legislation against it; and even though crazy people walk into schools and gun down little toddlers every other month in the United States, the system still refuses to do anything about gun control.

That ought to shed a little light on the situation with Obama wanting to reform the insurance system in the United States so that big corporations people could pay more into the system while little people who were unable to get the most basic medical attention could get more coverage. But the big corporations couldn’t have that now, could they? That’s where their money comes from – 300-some million people paying peanuts into the system annually that eventually run into billions, a small portion of which is used to line the pockets of select lawmakers and senators to ensure that that system never changes. You don’t touch insurance – nobody does… except someone who is not a part of that system.

We seen how far the Republican Party went in order to make Obama look bad; simultaneously shutting down the entire government with no care for what it would do to the little people. But we been down that road before...

So yeah, I’m a little impressed that our guys back here at home have actually grown so sophisticated that they could steal and pad the national budget just to discredit the president… make him look bad. Yes, I’m a little impressed, but also very irritated. For crying out loud, precisely how far would people go in order to keep their own pockets lined at the expense of the people that they are supposed to be serving, for starters? And more interestingly, couldn't they have opted to come up with ways to help? Think about it. If you are known for helping the president - and the country - out at a rough time like this, even though you are technically part of the opposition, who do you think they'd vote for the next election around? I mean, everybody wants to vote for Fasola right now, don't they? Buhari got voted in also because of the price he's paid for the past 30-some years. And I know I'd vote for a Donald Duke any day - what that brother done with Calabar/Cross Rivers is stunning, and if he can pull that off on a national level, just how much better could the country be in 8 years!
I kind of like me the simplicity of the president’s response to the allegations of incompetence: “I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military head of state and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund. Never had I heard the words ‘budget padding.’”

It baffles me too, truly. I mean, haven’t the people suffered enough? Just how bad do they need the country to be? What is their motivation? More money? More power? More influence? For crying out loud, they already run the show! Can’t they just back off for a bit – give the country an actual opportunity to grow?

I was flying into the country once from neighboring Ghana, when this little kid – couldn’t have been more than 6 years of age – muttered as we walked into the Murtala Muhammad International Airport terminal that “Mummy, this place is so ugly!” Couldn’t blame the child, and that’s the joy about them – they tell it like it is. It was a sharp contrast to Kotoka International Airport in Accra where we were coming from. Kotoka is so much smaller and simpler, but it is highly maintained and orderly. By comparison, our Lagos Airport is a total mess – and I say this with terrible pain in my heart.

I have never been beyond this continent before, but I have seen movies and I have a clue what gives in some of the airports that other countries have to offer. The Qatari International Airport in Doha, Dulles, Heathrow, La Guardia… We have our country’s officials flying in and out of these countries practically all year round. They see what these other places look like, but they don’t care enough to try and make their own country better. I mean, how does one think like that!

So we have Buhari in his anti-graft drive, having people arrested left, right, and center; doing everything he can to recover stolen funds and fix a badly damaged system so that generations that come after can actually have something a little proud to call home and be a part of; and then we have these nefarious persons whose identities are almost impossible to tell for certain trying everything in their power to cripple the system. It’s irritating… and annoying; as though we couldn’t think for ourselves.

Yep, that last part was directed at the press who are always in a hurry to print something sensational. I seen this a gazillion times before, in print media – all kinds of headlines that make it looks as though the world is coming to an end. I know they want to sell papers, but this is more than that – this is just plain irresponsible reporting from some of our most trusted dailies. It’s like – like is commonly said colloquially amongst us Nigerian folks – another thing don dey there! Like something else is driving these people, making them print anarchy for the minds of the unsuspecting public to digest. In the same vein, there is precious little in the news regarding the situation with our venerable President of the Senate, or the incarcerated former National Security Adviser…

It’s food for thought, folks. And it is time for people who actually do have a mind to begin putting that mind to good use. What say you, Nigeria?

No comments:

Post a Comment