Friday, November 09, 2007

No Free Lunch, Not Even in Freetown

I have never come across any free product in any part of the world, and if there is any, it must be nature. Nature is free and at the same time, it can't be cheated, having its own law guiding it.

That was what God did for five days, creating all sorts of beautiful natural things like streams, rocks, valleys, vegetation, fishes, animals to mention but a few. No wonder nobody is paying for the services of sun, moon, stars and air. If we were to pay for either blood in our veins or for the air we breathe every second, millions of naira could have been spent. Let us try and enquire from the patient placed on artificial air in the hospital how much they pay per hour. It's then we would know how gracious and merciful God is.

Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone and a major port on the Atlantic Ocean. The city's economy revolves largely around its fine natural harbour, which is the third largest natural harbour in the world and capable of receiving ocean-going vessels. The area said to have previously been a slave market was first settled in 1787 by 400 free slaves and black American loyalists sent from England under the auspices of British abolitionists. They established the "province of Freetown" on land purchased from local Koya Temne sub chief King Tom and regent Naimbana. King Jimmy, King Tom's successor, burned the settlement to the ground in 1789 after a little misunderstanding and disagreement.

The London-based Sierra Leone Company made a second attempt in 1792 and resettled Freetown with 1,100 former slaves and loyalists from Nova Scotia, many of whom were born in colonial United States led by former slave Thomas Peters. Around 500 free Jamaican maroons joined them in 1800. From 1808 to 1874, the city served as the capital of British West Africa. It served as the base for the Royal Navy's West African Squadron which was charged with stopping the slave trade. Most of the slaves liberated by the squadron chose to settle in Freetown rather than return home but a few ones like Bishop Ajayi Crowther opted to find their roots.

This write-up centres on our "honourables" in the National Assembly, with a little digression to other angles. Third and fourth line of Nigerian national anthem says "to serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith". If that is the case, why are we looking for free lunch that is not even available, instead of dipping our hands into our pocket to pay for a good lunch? No short-cut, all hands must be on deck to save this country from the danger of misrule. Where is our love for our fatherland, the strength and faith we all promised, both old and young to serve this nation?

The issue of kettle calling pot black should stop; we are all guilty. How beautiful it would have been if the National Assembly members could use the zeal, vigour and strength they dissipate negatively by fighting power failure, bad legislation, bad conditions of our roads, white elephant projects all over the country, unemployment, insecurity, crime, sit-tight syndrome, recycling, corruption in high places, selective justice, poverty, decline in education, poor health facilities, etc.

Can somebody please inform these honourable area boys and ladies what their duties are? Under the principle of separation of power, they are expected to be the watchdog of the executive, checking their excesses, to legislate. They should stop taking Nigerians for a ride, they should stop embarrassing us and witch-hunting one another. Can't they use that zeal toward energy where trillions of naira have been pumped, who and who got the NEPA contract, how many were completed? Is it not surprising that some of the ministers who at one time or other were in charge of this ministry are now governors? The same goes for roads, housing, health and sport. Many road contracts were awarded but no meaningful impact was recorded. Benin-Ore expressway is one of such examples.

Apart from the embarrassment they have caused the nation, they should also be informed that they have committed assault, battery, intimidation, threat to life, disturbance of public gathering, misuse of public office, dereliction of duty, insubordination, truancy and finally murder. Don't they know that if we had been running the parliamentary system of government where powers are fused, the principle of collective responsibility must have made all of them to quit over the same offence, because money was appropriated for the project, unlike this presidential system of government where the powers are separated and principle of separation of power is in vogue?

Honourable members, stop fighting among one another and fight Nigeria's enemies, which is what we expect from you all. Have you ever asked yourself the following questions, so that you can legislate on them? What is wrong with our refineries? Why are we still importing fuel? Why is it that despite the huge talents of players we have all over the world, the level of our football is still going down? Why have we never made any meaningful impact in swimming despite that the South-South people are known to be the best swimmers? What happened to our railway system? Why are we allowing the labour of our heroes past like Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Azikiwe, Akintola, Anthony Enahoro, Aminu Kano, Waziri Ibrahim, Okotie Eboh to be in vain?

If one may ask, why is it that our action does not correspond with what we profess with our mouth? We allow personal interest to always supersede national one. The recent Patricia Etteh case; why was such huge money appropriated for such renovation and purchase of cars in the first instance? Why are we looking for free lunch? Even my two-year-old son knows that any money given to him to buy biscuit is neither for biscuit nor for chocolate. A popular saying goes that "time wasted is money wasted". Who does not know that Ettehgate was a fight of survival at all cost? Whoever comes with equity must come with clean hands. Who does not know that any money appropriated on a subject is meant to be spent for God's sake either on renovation or on tea items now or later?

A badly packaged product will not make any meaningful impact even in a local market. So the time has come to put our houses in order and to make sure that each and every one does whatever in the best way. By so doing, the vision of our patriots would be accomplished. If America, Japan, India, Malaysia and even Ghana could do it, we can also get there. We should all know that there's no free lunch; not even in Freetown.

allAfrica.com: Nigeria: No Free Lunch, Not Even in Freetown (Page 1 of 1)