The Sweep with Hassan Alhaji Hassan

3

Old Rhythms for New Year Dance

It is national anniversary again, yesterday, and media editorials are replete, as usual, with independence songs in the old rhythms of lamenting a sick people. It is okay. We are still not there yet, where we will sing like the successful of the West. But then speaking in the negative, old narrative is bad, and dashes the hopes we have in the changes we are making in the life of this Nation.
Independence Day has always given radicals opportunity to be heard. That is good, too. Their hard thoughts about the Country in the past one year are important to national debate.  And their ideas are capable of enriching the public’s perception about where we are as a nation and why. But as we have seen, such discussions are inundated by the negativists’ voices, the opposition, and the-not-happy-with-the-Government dudes. And they are many like them, all for just personal reasons.
Of course, news is about the unusual, the new, and the hard-line. But in whose interest are these news values used? This is an academic question for a PhD thesis which conclusion is tentative. But like I always said, God created everything in the world in pairs because we should take the lessons of life that there are, always, in everything, two sides of the same thing. This government, this year, has a great deal of good which we must talk about.
This is to say that the dwell on the challenges of the nation are good to keep us all and the Government on the feet. But we should also touch on the little recent gains from last year and the hope that our today is holding for our tomorrow.  This brings you to my old sickening tunes of unflinching bias and apologies for the Government of the day. Yes, sure. The past one year has more good than bad, not for you and me, but for the system, the nation.
You and yours faithfully may not have had it good as persons, as patriarchs, as workers. And that is not as important as the nation from which you and yours faithfully expect so much in the worst of times. The nation is most important than the personal interest of all of us put together, than what interests you and I. This is the new discipline we have learnt all last year and more.
It is actually the truth about the state of the nation at the 57th anniversary. Yesterday I watched and listened to so much lamentations of a people and, yes, appeals to the Government to shift attention to consider some areas. This is okay. Constructive criticism is benevolent. But to what extent are our thoughts, opinions and appeals are, or not, informed by personal disadvantages in the reality of the state of the nation.
I have heard negligible voices about the hopes of the present from some quarters, but not enough to form an aggregate of national opinion. Sometimes, and in most respects, we are quick to comment about the nation not just from our own ‘points of view’ but sadly, from our feelings, biases, and state of personal economy. And this is the danger of reckless national comments.
We have often talked about individualism and easy tendencies to personalise national issues and view them from the myopic view of our state of the pocket. This is unfair and is an antidote to the honest, sincere national commentary we all owe the nation and its leadership. In national development, all of us – followers and leaders – have responsibilities and we should first think about our own fulfilment of the part of the bargain before we think of others’ or the governments’.
What makes us good followers and patriotic citizens is not only our ability to think about the past challenges and share them on the media. No. We are also expected to understand the direction of the present and how much promise it holds for us and why we should all call on each other to give our obligations of positive thinking, support, prayer and self disciple and redirection of our personal needs, wants and whims.
Truth is, in all honesty, this nation is not the same last decade, last regime, last year or even last month. Whether or not you call it change is not the point. The point is the striking fact that we crossed the bridge of unfortunate, bleak national sojourn and passed into a future that is sure but at some cost. My lines of advocacy rhythms have grown into stanzas and will soon be composed:
We have come of age
We have passed a stage
We crossed the bridge old fate
We walk pass the old bad gate
To join the dogged change brigade
To make a life for all that is great
I think that this independence, we should assess ourselves in terms of acceptance or rejection of the change we have witnessed in most of what the FGN is doing. Of course much is left to be desired if you will join me to see the arrogant and recalcitrant behaviour of the governors of states and the bad elements of the NASS that sabotage the federal agenda/efforts. And as public judges, we watched the ungodly drama of different display of agitations for a false restructuring, and we remained silent.
At this independence, we should reflect on the recent past to harvest the injustice, denial and rejection of change we all testified to as the only way to good nationhood. In silence, we have approved the nonsense national saboteurs – individuals or groups – and how they challenge our national, collective will, judgment and authority.
Those who see that as a challenge of the President of the Government are damned wrong. It is more serious than they think. The challenges of the national leadership are judging all of us who brought them into power. Anyone who dares the government is just deciding on the collective fate of of all and can do anything with the individual or collective will we all have. We ought not to pierce the umbrella.
What is the cry for restructuring all the years and this recent one about? We have said it before. It is about shying away from the current enforcement of change and the new national agenda of right thinking, decency in public operations and conduct of the State, accountability and the strict hand on the violators of these national principles. It is the habit of those who are shamed by the unearthed wrongs of the past, and those of us who are affected by the wind of change are sympathising with the very public enemies that denied us good all the years.
How can we be so wicked to hide, ignore or deny the fact this independence that all the challenges today – every bit of it in every way – is a demonstration of an indirect quarrel with the new national authority acting, seeking and enforcing change? How can we be this silent in the national media discourse yesterday, today and tomorrow on the different forms of direct disobedience to the national government that holds our hope and the future of our children in good trust?
How do we expect to get justice for whatever we aspire for at any level without giving justice in the easiest way? What do we think about the God of justice and when you ask him for fairness and justice? What do you think merits you for His consideration of answering your prayers? Are we being this cruel because we think of the national government in such tiny terms as synonymous to the person of the President who has placed the nation and its issues above his head and shoulders himself?
I have asked God for this Government because, yes, a good, disciplined man was going to lead it and I believed first day that, with him, I can give every share of my national part of the wealth and go to sleep in piece. I have not, at any time, not even for a second, rethought or doubted my support, loyalty and obedience to him and to the Government. And that is unconditional. No circumstance of my life will change that.
This even true of my loyalty when my promotion arrears since 2014 is still pending and this government has not paid me since it came. I have also suffered salary shortages and cuts for more than a year. For the first time in a long time I have issues paying school fees of my girls and my debt at the grocery store has piled to an incredible level. I have failed many of my responsibilities at home and disappointed many who cannot understand, and some of my key relationships have been strained as a result.
I do not reduce government business to my level of personal expectation. I know whatever problems affect me are not personal. It is a problem shared across the landscape of ministries and line MDAs, and I know that my Management has made every submission for it. If for any reason this Government has not paid yet, I should understand the reason. It can be anything, but definitely not deliberate. A government that is brought to make wrongs rights works at a pace that is not, definitely, as fast as when things were wrong.
We have asked this Government to cleanse the dirt, dusts, and horror in the system and in every point at every stage, much is found to be corrected and due process takes time. What should be my own contribution to the process of cleansing the system? What is my sacrifice in a period of change? I am expected to understand because it is the least thing anyone at my level of education, exposure and little experience should know.
I owe the Government and the system patience. It is the least I should give as my own sacrifice to the success of the change process. I need to be patient in fairness to the system and to the persons I entrusted to work out the system for efficiency so that henceforth, no one worker’s dues would be held for too  long to the extent of falling on another government’s shoulders.
We all know that this Government inherited most of the arrears and kept a promise to pay and definitely not at one person’s own time. It is about many and there is much to do in the new ways. It takes time, energy and discipline. And time, energy and discipline are not easily found in many among those who treat files along the points in the process. Many have refused, denied, ignored, change. They only give it lip-service. It is not in their heart.
At most, we are talking about few individuals in the workplace who have accepted and adopted change and do things with more efficiency and commitment. The majority are the red tape elements that strangulate the process of file flow and cause the jams that have now brought workers against government. Likewise, most of those who are angry with this Government are those who are most indolent, corrupt and selfish. They can lit fire on the tiniest issue.
We know this Government inherited all these arrears and the salary cuts are done by bad elements in the ministries for the two obvious reasons of our theory of anti-change: to get bribes from complaints because their pipes for usual makeup have been blocked by change and to incite workers to rally against the Government that brought the changes that is affecting them so bad, so they can fight their war with the government in an indirect way. And their goals seem to have been scored in many ways, largely, due to our stupidity of highest order.
As I write, my union of academics and others are on strike. You can be sure that personal agitations informed by the very issues we all share have jumped into the platform of unionism and informed a shutdown of the system for two months now and counting. It is their right. Of course citizenry itself is voluntary. It is a will of the person to be in a system and to work for it.
But a citizen should understand the processes and issues in the system of their country better and live with them in peace and in human sense of patience. If they don’t, they will always fall in conflict with themselves, with their consciences, with their employers and with the government.
That is what we should teach our kids. But now, academics are wanting in the simplest lesson of life. Where is the hope for good citizenry for a nation that seeks good governance? Do we really mean goodness or we just sing our desire for it? What is our fight for the system about? Just about our personal interests?
So we must not forget. This independence, we are not talking about the real issues. We have not told the world about the reality of the national condition and the priority that change deserves but is not getting from those who owe it much more that the nation owes them. It is not about a government, individual – President or citizen – party – ruling or opposition – tribe, religion or region. It is national and about all of us in the union.
We must rise above our myopia. We must raise the nation and the common, shared problems above the self we all crave.  The President has put the Nation first in everything. It is from the Nation that we each can get more but only if and when the Nation has much to give each of us.
This process of change that angers most of us and puts our wrath against the President and the system, is the path to everything the Nation will have in order to give you. But you are denying it everything that is best in its interest. What is your own contribution to the process of change?
We must not personalised matters of the State and the Nation. We must not see things from our own feelings and problems. We must use our minds not hearts to see and judge persons, government and leaders. We must give justice if we seek it. And we must give justice first before we ask for it. For anyone who expects must give first.

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