Father, father, how did you accumulate your wealth?
At the first read, the typical Nigerian mind would generate implications, repercussions and possibly reasons behind the author’s absence of manners and lack of maturity. The reality is the shackle of blind obedience that had been instilled into us has corroded our sense of diligence and individuality to a point where our self-worth cannot drive our moral compasses to seek the truths about ourselves and implement a cause for justice and fairness for ourselves and others. Breaking it down, a young adult dares not ask his/her parent(s) the details of how the money he/she had been raised with was earned. It is deemed disrespectful without solid reason. It has become custom that people deny access to this rightful information in order to seem mysterious and gather misdirected praise and worship. Traditionally, parents take their young ones to the places of trade so as to understand how to earn a living and develop a sense of responsibility. Appallingly, the paradigm shift has led us to a point where parents have grown secretive about their mostly contaminated earnings. So also, we the young have developed irrational fear for any such action that might threaten our pocket monies and allowances. Man might not bite the finger that fed him but he can surely take a careful look at it. When we do not care about what built us, why should we worry about how we build ourselves?
Mr. President Sir, what is your cumulative monthly income (not just published salary and allowances)?
From needy students to employees in politics, our ambition for promotions, hunger for contracts and begging for campaign funds have silenced our consciences and stolen our voices to demand our rightful information. Yes, leaders are expected to declare assets before taking offices but if we have learnt one important thing about public offices, it is the fact that they are not dieting or nutritional therapy centers. One doesn’t go in physically endowed and come out slender. Neither do they go in fair in complexion and come out looking like charcoal. Do leaders declare assets when they leave the offices? The fact is leaders are supposed to be model citizens who would sacrifice some level of their privacy in order to project transparency in governance. Our standards for accountability in civil service need a critical reformation.
Mr. Pastor and Imam, how much do you earn from our tithes and alms?
It is not uncommon that religion is a major source of income for many people in our beloved nation. Why are there five churches on a single street? Why are the calls to prayers from the numerous mosques interrupting and amplifying each other? Because the majority of our citizens are victims of our artificial poverty scheme, people have resorted to dividing and subdividing the creator we claim to worship for income. As a result, weak factions of our faiths have emerged and they are often lured and manipulated into catastrophic and destructive activities. There can be no better emphases for transparency than those found in our religious scriptures.
Mr. Mogul, what is your business doing for us, your consumers?
Taxes were designed for people to pay a certain percentage of their earnings to the government for exploiting natural resources. In Nigeria, our poor data acquisition processes challenge proper internal revenue generation and utilization. In some cases, this helps the embezzlement programs that were run in preceding regimes. In some developed countries, businesses get exempted from taxation by the contributions they make to society. Companies may build or manage public infrastructures as a new form of taxation. This could also be implemented in Nigeria for combating its infrastructural deficiencies, tax evaders and probing mismanagement of public funds.
Over the years, we have hoped for a better Nigeria. At times we have even protested, fought and lost our lives for it. Activists have been jailed for it. The sad reality is today, we wish for the Nigeria of yesteryear. As young Nigerians, it is high time we looked within ourselves and our doings and carefully map out a fruitful path for we have a tough journey ahead of us. May our beloved nation live long and prosper.