Social contract is an umbilical cord which tethers the conscience of a government to the vulnerabilities and necessities of a people. Graphically, the conscience of a government is assessed by its high or low sensitivity threshold; sensitivity in the ambit responding graciously to the paramount necessities of ordinary people in quotidian existence, and quarrying to gravel their mountainous burdens. It is a hard, unambiguous fact that a good government is measured by its degree of sensitivity to the depressing conditions of its citizens. Similarly, a government in the narrow geometry of good considers the mortal damage its policy may do on the rabble before it fires the policy cannon.
Based on these delineated essentials of composite and expected government mien, it therefore follows that some of the policies crafted and executed by this administration- the Jonathan administration, will leave many Nigerians in head-on-concrete agony. This does not imply that all the administration’s policies are monstrously anti-people. But the truth is, even if the boons of the policies will come sometime in the non-palpable future, many Nigerians will have been garroted by the inherent shocks and stifling twists of the policies before then.
Heralding the government’s epochal trajectory of garroting policies was the removal albeit in gradualism of subsidy on petrol. If not for Nigerians’ wailings which went up to heaven, the cost of petrol, transportation, housing, food and other corporeal essentials would have flown beyond the measured reach of Nigerians in the ordinary stratum. More importantly, the government showed utter insouciance in not making available alternatives in the sight of its cold strangulation of hapless citizens by its hurried decision to remove subsidy on petrol. Please note that there was no preplanned alternative or “cushioning strategy” on the ground to chisel off the heavy log of burden that the removal would effectuate. In the wisdom of the government, palliatives would come after the damage occasioned by the removal of subsidy on petrol was done. This government thinking which was an exceptionallydisingenuous contrivance goaded many Nigerians whose future was in a patrician chest into wondering why the government would leisurely embark on such a policy thread before garlanding the ground on which they traverse with palliatives or precautionary shock breakers.
As a matter of fact, the government has been faithful in its adherence to the canon of reeling off terminally aggressive policies before offering the people an exit from the moulting abrasion that results from such policies. To say the least, the government’s progression in this gamut is a leitmotif of insensitivity.
Also, the cold physiognomy of the government’s insensitivity was emblazoned on the tactical ban on tokunbo cars. Although, it was the tariff for importing tokunbo cars that was hiked up, there is no confuting of the fact that it is a process that will culminate in the outright agonising ban on fairly used cars. Interestingly, the government’s lame reason for ladling out this sour repast is that the automotive industry would burgeon if the importation of cars into the country reduced or ceased. If truly the righteous aim of the government in view of tactically banning tokunbo cars was to ensure the growth of the automotive industry, why was the hiked up tariff not extended to all imported cars, most especially new ones that the privileged class could afford? Why the selective and targeted cleansing of the middle class in this regard. Again, why would the government fail to grow the car manufacturing industry first before going on with its enchanted drive of tokunbo car extermination? Rudimentary logic in this case demands that the government provide the people with a potent, accessible alternative in the form of affordable, locally manufactured cars. And instead of making them incur more cost in buying fairly used cars, cheap, affordable automobiles should have been mass produced. This is the elementally elementary thing that should have been done.
Another shade of the government’s insensitivity is the planned ban on sachet water popularly called pure water. Honestly, it is like the government is in a strikingly rigid, battle pose of stampeding the poor with its banning crusades. If the argument for the proposed ban on sachet water is that it is deleteriously damaging to the environment considering the fact that it is non-biodegradable, why are plastic water receptacles not in the vicious monologue of banning since they are non-biodegradable too? Why should it be the ordinary pure water 10 naira that the poor man can afford that is under the government’s banning guillotine? Of a staring truth, the government and its dramatis personae have displayed masterly gross insensitivity in the light of its banning campaigns.
In the same artery, the government is devising plans of how to forcibly dig out money from the scanty purses of Nigerians through tolls on federal roads. The namby-pamby argument of the government in this vista is that the revenue generated from tolls will be used to fix badly broken roads. This again speaks vociferously of the government’s insensitivity and throws up to the crystal surface an anticipatory question. The question is: why will the government not fix the denuded labyrinths of death called roads first before taking the primrose path of conjuring toll tricks to extract cold blood from Nigerians? The elemental elementary thing must be done first- that is making Nigerian roads motorable before any method can be gleaned from the government’s madness.
As you peruse this piece, the government is perhaps tinkering with the idea of banning another common man “staple”, who knows this time it may be kpomo. In summary, the government’s Schizophrenia of irrational banning and sundry gestures portrays the shades of its insensitivity.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and a poet. He writes from Abuja. Email:[email protected]