Professor Pius Adesanmi
In Yagba East LGA, they have been paying local govt workers 40% of their salary for so long now (when it is paid at all) that the unpaid 60% for each worker now brings the total unpaid months to 13. One year and one month of unpaid salaries.
My nephew works in the secretariat. He tries to describe the situation to me on the phone today but his small mouth cannot house the ginormous size of the bad news. He has a wife and a child. He. Has. Not. Been. Paid. For thirteen months.
Somewhere in Nigeria.
I’m a man with a sense of occasion. I avoid telling him merry Xmas. Naira, I know, is the bicycle of the good news that is called merriment. Owo ni keke ihin rere tin je faaji.
But I am saying to myself that Massa on the plantation in the deep bowels of the American south was far more humane than the animals currently ruling Nigeria.
What exactly am I supposed to tell my nephew about civics and corruption now? With which mouth am I supposed to tell him not to charge a little extra for those routine admin services which ought to be free in an LGA Secretariat in the first place?
“Bros, all your preaching and moralising about ethics and corruption and civics will not feed my child. When Wada went to donate money in Abuja, what did you do about it? Did you preach to him?”
What do I tell this young man? I am ashamed to tell him that all I did was whine about Governor Idris Wada’s stupidity on Facebook. I’m afraid to tell him that part of me says: hey, you are the one who has lived in that system without pay for 13 months. What have you done about it? What have you done about the animality of the rulers of Nigeria? If those who run my affairs in Canada do not pay me for 13 months, I am not going to turn to Canadians living outside of Canada and upbraid them for doing nothing about the situation in Ottawa.
I do not tell him this. I am thinking about how slippery the meaning of ethics and morality has become in Nigeria.
Why must a country turn ethics and morality into cloudy territories whose meaning depends… on what exactly? I don’t know.
Ethics/morals – do the work you are paid for. Do not ask for bribe.
However, if you do the work and for 13 months and you are not paid and your family is hungry and those responsible for this situation are raising 21 billion and unleashing brainwashed hordes on the public sphere to convince you that you have been paid for 13 months but you just don’t know it, is it ethical or moral for any intellectual to intervene with big grammar about civics? Bamidele Ademola-Olateju our work is cut out for us fa.
I don’t know what to tell the young man. My anger. My frustration. My exasperation. I pant over the phone. What to tell him?
Even if I notify him that my man, Ken Agala, says that there is a market somewhere in Port Harcourt where he buys rice, beans, garri, etc, at prices lower than what obtained in the 1980s because of the transformation wonders of his Oga, where is my nephew supposed to find the money to go to this market of the Chthonic world that only Ken and his fellow believers frequent?
Do I give him Ken’s phone number so he could call Ken and receive spiritual explanation that he was actually being paid all this time? Just close your eyes and visualize thirteen months of regular pay in line with the transformation agenda. Go ye forth and be patriotic thereafter. Henceforth, any mention of your salary arrears is the unpatriotic rant of a hater. Do I tell him this?
Luckily for my nephew, I know how he voted in 2011 so I determine that he qualifies for PDIF – Personal Diaspora Intervention Fund.
Well, it is one thing for me to wire PDIF. Getting the cash is where the camel starts to nurse the ambition of passing through the eye of a needle.
1) Campaign donations and funding have emptied the Nigerian economy of actionable cash
2) Where there is cash, armed robbers have shut down the banks permanently. That is the case in Okun land.
Factors 1 and 2 above, he explains to me, will ensure that he may not even receive my PDIF in weeks…