“Well-furnished residential houses at any location of my choice in Lagos and Abuja, six new cars for me, and they must be replaced every three years, entertainment allowance, just 10% of my annual basic salary, eight Policemen permanently attached to me…”
Lagos State recently presented a proposal to stop the jumbo pensions, which provided the above-listed benefits and many more, to ex-governors and their deputies for as long as they live. While it’s great that the state is now moving in this direction, it’s sad to observe the attitude a lot of Nigeria’s public servants have towards our institutions. Such attitude is why benefit packages like this are designed in the first place.
An appointment into government at any level is celebrated by the general public as though the appointee has hit the jackpot. This makes us all complicit in enabling the dark hole of corruption which endlessly consumes resources meant for the commonwealth.
Let’s not even go into the National Assembly for now! The wages and allowances our distinguished lawmakers have negotiated for themselves and retain, in spite of public outrage, says a lot about their attitudes toward the offices they hold. The majority of their constituents live in abject poverty with little or no hope of upward mobility, yet their ‘representatives’ are out there in the hallowed chambers, legislating luxurious lifestyles for themselves and their families.
Who is a Public Servant?
Tim Pauley had this to say in a 2013 paper titled, The Greatest Public Servant:
“One of the terms that is often used to describe legislators, elected officials, and others who work in government is ‘public servant’. This is an important description to help remind those who work in the capitol that their job is to serve others as they make and administer laws and provide government services.”
Public service is not a hustle, it is an arena for the deployment of noble intentions that serve the common good. A call to public service is not an opportunity to ‘blow’ but rather a sacrifice one makes to place the good of others above one’s own personal ambitions. Humility is a necessity for anyone called to public service, not the “do you know who I am” arrogance that we have become used to from our leaders. The Bible tells us “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The time has come for every sincere person in public service to deeply reflect on the reasons why you occupy the office you hold. Right now, you may be enjoying the dividends of our broken systems, but that sweet taste is soon going to turn to gravel in your mouth.
How sustainable is corruption in the long term? You hustle the state to provide a lavish life for your descendants, but if everyone keeps taking and depleting Nigeria’s resources, even you won’t have anything to plunder after a while.
Dear public servant, Nigeria needs the best of you right now. Why do you insist on taking the best away from us, and leaving millions of citizens to struggle for the crumbs you leave behind? How do you feel when the few times you visit your constituency, the quality of your people’s lives has deteriorated from the last time you were there? Doesn’t it bother you that there has to be walls and layers of security between you and those who voted you in?
Didn’t you have a livelihood before you came into government? Why does the state need to fund everything down to the soft drinks you provide your guests? Wouldn’t you rather vindicate your years of service by proving that with or without state resources, you dey kampe?
Fellow Nigerians, this country is ours. Let us build and not tear down. Let us serve, not siphon. Let us lift each other up, not exalt our own selves. Let us hold public servants accountable, and not celebrate corruption to the detriment of our collective well-being.
We shall overcome!