Last week, a couple of matters took social media by storm.
The first and perhaps most prominent and flamboyant was the carnival like burial of the mother of one of the entertainment sector’s most prolific showmen, the owner of the Cubana set of nightclubs – Obi Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana.
Nigerians are known for being flamboyant in celebrations and festivities. Indeed, Obi Cubana and his friends were not left out of it; as they gave the entire universe advance warning that Óbà, the venue of the proposed carnival; was going to witness events that may make their ancestors sit up in their graves and scratch their heads in awe.
A promise which they delivered even before the event itself started.
We watched in awe as “Touchdown Óbà” commenced; with money flying around in the air as each condoler landed in the rather sleepy town; announcing their presence by flinging bundles and bundles of Nigerian Naira in the air. They made it rain in Óbà.
Unlike in other festivities where people were prevented from touching cash that was sprayed this way; since it was intended for the celebrant and their families; this was one instance where Nigerians were invited to come with their picking gloves to pick as much money as they could from the money rain, no holds barred – and pick they did.
Óbà and its indigenes and guests witnessed a turnout of events they could never have thought possible in their lifetime. For those who went there based on the promise that they would be able to find the streets paved with the proverbial gold, it was a promise well kept.
Signed. Sealed. Delivered.
So, what was the problem?
Apparently, Nigerians began to develop a little bit of memory loss as to who they elected into office to oversee the affairs of their state, and who should, therefore, be owing them in terms of infrastructure and other forms of development.
We heard concerned citizens of Nigeria grumble that Obi Cubana and his friends were spending money stupendously; when the roads to his village abode was not tarred.
So, maybe this quick civics lesson is in order.
Governor Willie Obiano = elected Anambra government official with the duties of ensuring infrastructure and other forms of development get to the people. Electoral promises and voting decisions were made, based on the empty promises made by this same individual during the election season, to “fire Anambra roads and water their houses”.
Obi Iyiegbu = private citizen who happens to come from Anambra state; a state which has an elected Governor (Obiano) overseeing the administrative activities of hordes of elected and appointed officials; whose mandates are simply to provide infrastructural development to all the communities in Anambra state; while ensuring that the dividends of democracy get to the electorates.
Responsibility for building roads including that leading up to and around the compounds of every individual in Anambra State = Governor Obiano.
Responsibility for building his place of personal abode to whatever catches his fancy and taste buds; while ensuring that the maintenance of that personal abode does not constitute a nuisance to the rest of the community = Obi Cubana.
In other words and to break it down for those of us who have a little bit of difficulty; especially in fully grasping this erstwhile simple context; Obi Cubana is at liberty to build his compound and tar it with liquid gold. He can tar it with gold and let that gold flow up to the very demarcation of the entrance of his building and the road directly outside his gate and stop there.
The government can take it up from there if they so wish.
If Obi Cubana decides to further extend his road building capacity to his neighbourhood; it is a personal decision and he is not beholden to anybody to take that decision.
This confusion about the thin line between government responsibilities and personal contributions to the development of one’s neighborhoods and relations; may very well be why we continue to give our elected officials a free pass to continue to rip the people off; while we harass our fellow citizens and saddle them with government responsibility.
It is the reason why some inebriated old man found the nerve to berate the Nigerian team in Austria; simply for choosing to represent their country. Meanwhile, there is no evidence that that human has ever carried a placard to the Nigerian embassy in that country to go and protest the poor governance and other things that so pained him; to the extent that he had to resort to assaulting and harassing youngsters who believed they were doing their best to promote their countries image and give their fellow citizens some sort of positive thing to hold on to in the gloomy and negative existence Nigerians have come to expect.
It is the reason why someone who steals a bunch of plantain; or a local fowl in order to provide food for his family and starving relations is beset upon; lynched and set ablaze by the masses; but the very elected government officials who steal and rob the nation blind and amass so much wealth; that even their families are totally unable to finish spending the looted funds over a period of several lifetimes; are celebrated by these same masses.
Dog eat dog.
Like the crabs, we have so much expectations of our fellow crabs trying to scramble out of the pot of water; than we have of the hungry individual who has just lit the flames. The mind set seems to be: stay here and let us all suffer and die together. Where are you going? Oh, you think you are stronger than us? Well, you better believe you are going nowhere. We are in this together.
Therefore, the ability to mistake and substitute personal benevolence for government responsibility is very high and rampant. But just for the avoidance of doubt, it is the government’s responsibility to provide roads, schools, hospitals; light, water and other infrastructure for the people of Anambra State.
And it is the responsibility of Obi Cubana to do whatever he feels led to do for people of Óbà; if he feels led to do it.
It shouldn’t be the other way round; with Obi Cubana being pressured and emotionally blackmailed by green-eyed Nigerians to pick up government responsibilities; while the government is indulged to relax and feel no pressures while the state under its watch sinks under the weight of bad administration.
Thank you for attending this Ted Talk.