Jul 1, 2008

Ordinary People and Dividends of Democracy in Plateau State

“The truth shall set you free.” This is the Biblical statement meant to play up the significance of righteousness to he who wants freedom from the bondage of the devil. Looking at secular contemporary issues, it will be seen that the same rule applies. One unfortunate reason why our politics have failed to be productive is the syndrome of the one-eye view of issues. Whenever an incumbent government is appraised, the opposition is usually not interested in seeing its brilliant face no matter how bright it may be. This opposition will not stop there as they go as far as brain-washing the people to accepting its position as the ultimate truth. Hence a good government may be difficult to recognize and whatever it does may not receive proper recommendation. It may thus be discouraged into dormancy. The cycle of underdevelopment continues.

Past governments in Nigeria are noted for their stiff-neckedness, preferring to hold on to the unpopular style of administration that has notoriously failed the nation over the decades. The rich keep multiplying their wealth while the strangulation of the poor by indigence gets even tighter. The poor, mostly uneducated women and children have remained in the spectator stands for so long. They lack access to quality education for their children and their unborn generations are bound to inherit the tradition of destitution. They are admonished to take to farming but the relevant incentives remain unavailable to them. They are encouraged to take to petty trading but not all have inborn inclination to trading. They cannot take white collar jobs as they lack the necessary qualifications. The best thing you can do to such an underprivileged person is to provide him with a job that guarantees a regular income

The life of an uneducated and unskilled widow is extremely miserable. These are the type of persons that have been provided jobs by the street-cleaning programme of the Jang administration. Minimum pay in the regular service of the state government is about N 5 000. The one thousand five hundred women earn about N8, 000 monthly for sweeping the streets a few hours everyday for six days of the week, as it is a contract employment.

On the average every single woman has three dependants. By extension, the lives of six thousand persons are affected. It is note-worthy to make clear that the poor are those that cannot afford the basic things of life such as portable water, decent housing, quality education and affordable health care. On this basis, the six thousand people whose lives are affected cannot be classified as poor.

Kumbo Davou, one of the women who started work in December, 2007 said she now pays school fees for three of her children as a result of her new employment. In addition she employs additional hands to assist her in the farm besides buying other inputs for her farm. When her husband died, they were staying in a one-room shack. She is now working on a second room and is confident to accomplish this goal as long as her job remains secured.

Kumbo is quick to stress that the completion of her room construction depends on the security of her job. This is because a recent confusion led to the firing of a few of these women and the incident must have reminded the others that the job may not be everlasting. The conversation with Kumbo helped to reveal the indispensability of the job to these women. Thus the street-cleaning job represents duty to the electorates. If the government must win the second tenure at ease, then it must work hard to avoid failure of the programme. The women bring the votes more than any body after all.





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