Issues of the year 2017: Unpaid employment, uncorrected wrongs

Erin koja oran a nf’opa le o
Erin koja oran a nf’opa le o
The Elephant is not to be moved with a twig!
Ajanaku yo lokere
When it appears
O lo m’oro dani
You went for a cane
Koroption yo lokere
When Corruption appeared
O lo m’oro dani
You brought a twig!
Erin koja oran a nf’opa le
Nothing big can be moved with one finger!

Alaba, child wiser than father and elders, came in to see his boss Mr. Trouble. He was crying. Stoic Alaba does not cry easily. Non-synical Alaba does not cry easy. Why tears now, Mr. Trouble wanted to know, at this time of general happiness that has even generated a Ministry and good will among men, hopefully, women and children, why?

“I saw a forty-year-old newspaper headline in the Daily Times, (may it’s paper and ink soul rest in peace in foreign libraries). Date: June 7, 1977. Price 10k. Bold print: FUEL CRISIS ‘MAY BE OVER NEXT YEAR.’ There is an accompanying photograph of Col. Muhammadu Buhari, Commissioner for Petroleum Products (?) On 24 December 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari issued a short letter to Nigerians in which he assures us “that the situation will improve significantly over the next few days, as new shipments and supplies are distributed across the country.” He does not sign himself as Minister for Petroleum Products, which he is, but as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Just one more date and we are done with the permanent fuel crisis of Nigeria. On December 31, 1983, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari appeared on Nigerian television, at midnight, to address Nigerians. This is how that episode in Nigerian coup-making is recorded in JUST BEFORE DAWN, published 30 years come May 2018: “Sam Ikoku turned to his wife chuckling. His mind had already taken leave of the present. He said simply. “There is no coup. Let’s go and sleep my dear.” Which being interpreted means NOTHING WILL CHANGE. And 40 years on, nothing has changed. “For me,” continued Alaba, “It was Femi Adesina’s statement in which he said just because there has been a fuel crisis for forty years is no reason not to be happy at Christmas and complain. Is this a country or a waste of time? Are we truly and finally insane?”

Never mind the story of young Nigerians walking into slavery through the desert and swimming the Mediterranean Sea to do anything in Eetaly including prostitution. A young couple who worked in government were owed twelve months salary between them by the government. They have a child to look after. One day, both of them packed their little travel bag, took their child and left Nigeria. They went to Canada where qualified, intelligent and forward looking humans are always welcome. Tears? I wish I could shed blood instead of mere eye water for what Nigeria is today. Tears of blood, nothing else.”

Seriously, is unpaid employment? In normal speech patterns, unpaid employment used to be about House wife’s home keeping: house cleaning, bringing up children, cooking and feeding the family. Everyone of these employments women do without being paid. They are absolute necessities and they need to be paid for. Can one say the same for the millions in government and parastatal employment? Is the work they do absolutely necessary? Including teachers and lecturers in our schools and universities where salaries are unpaid?

Some governors have indicated that such employment should really be unemployment or part employment by reducing the work week to three days. After all, what do they come to do in the office more than to watch Nollywood and eat various things from plastic warmers and moan about going to Dubai and overseas.

Why are salaries unpaid? Research has revealed that unpaid salaries has to do with a national effort to encourage corruption. Years ago, a newspaper founder told his journalists to thank God they have jobs. They are to use their jobs to get their earnings. So, when they interview the aspiring rich and fame seeking they demand compensation for the newspaper space. The civil servant who will issue passport, driving license, beer and alcohol license, identity book and tainted window permit, all in unpaid employment, must charge for their service.

Same thing with the police, and the army and the monologue and road safety and everybody in unpaid employment. In spite of this massive effort, nothing gets done. Do you remember when you did capture? Have you heard if whatever you captured for is ready? Yet, if you were to go to the office you would possibly find that in a jumble of documents in a corner cupboard, you would find yours, unarranged, ready to use.

Same goes for the unpaid teacher and lecturer who must frisk the student, shake down their parents like highway robbers do, to recover their own paid salaries. Again, like everywhere else, standards go down bribes go up and up and up. They are talking of man of the year, woman of the year, mad man of the year and such oddities of society. What about the issues of the year? What about issues of the years that will not go away?

Everybody who has cared to explain the non-payment of salaries has been satisfied with simply blaming the reduction in oil earnings. One person mentioned that 600,000 barrels of oil stolen every day for a year or from NNPC contributed to the lower oil earning and the unavailable money to pay salaries. But, answer me this: are salaries not part of budgets? Are budgets not being prepared year after miserable year? What happens to the money allocated to salaries? Is it possible that it is stolen by you know who?

So many wrongs uncorrected, what does it lead to? It leads to those cars and minibuses and trailers and vehicles so packed and overloaded that they tire and their tyres and other wheel mechanism give up at a bend in the road, at the centre of a left torn and at the crest of a hill. And like the leaf that rests where it falls on a windless day, these exhausted vehicles stay where they break down. It is there that the mechanic is called to come and effect repairs, with the weight still weighing heavily on the remaining three wheels. Seriously, is this a country or a joke?

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