Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Which Way Nigeria?

In a couple of minutes it will be 1st October . Nigeria would have gained independence from the British colonial masters for 48 years. I don't want to begin to go into the details of all that isn't working. What worries me is the way in which we all are part of the problem in tiny aspects of our lives.We are all reflecting the decay in our very fibre as human beings. The fact that we all pretend not to see the log in our eyes while we try to point out the speck in other people's eyes.

Yardua isn't acting fast enough for us all. We all complain about what other people need to be doing differently but never once acknowledge the role we play in all of this.The situation is getting worse by the day and instead of addressing the issues we develop coping mechanisms. When we started having problems with power supply. We pretended it wasn't our issue. We all bought generators. We even had fancy names for them 'I better pass my neighbour'. That very name itself shows how shallow we all are. The noise pollution and the air pollution affects us all not just your neighbour dud!

Sadly we also don't have statistics to show how many lives we have lost to carbon fumes from these generators. I know of a colleague whose cousin, a lawyer in his mid 30s died earlier this year from fumes from his generator which he chained to the balcony of his flat.

The roads are becoming death traps. Pot holes both natural ( due to wear and tear and poor maintenance culture) and man made( these are very popular in Lagos. ) what did we do as Nigerians? We started buying 4wds. We even have hummers in the streets of Lagos. Some households have more than one Jeep.Check out Lekki environs in the rainy season where you need to literally swim out of your house to get to work. I would suggest that we start buying boats and canoes to navigate the murky flood waters of Lekki in the next rainy season instead or DEMANDING that the canals be cleared and those who have built on the waterways be penalised and have their buildings removed. (PS: The flood is not limited to Lekki alone)

The standards of education also started falling. The Universities were mostly on strike in my days ( I spent 10 years from getting in to the university and getting called to Bar . I know what I'm talking about and my Father couldn't afford to send me or any of my siblings to UK or US from his Lecturer job. Why? His take home couldn't take him home. ASUU lol)

We decided to have private schools for all levels. We now have private universities that are run like personal empires with all sort of rules and regulations. All you need to set up a school in Lagos is a fancy building and some name dropping. This brings me to the crux of this post.

The PTA at my son's school was on Saturday. I'm a very new parent in the school, just about 3 weeks old. I had noticed earlier that there were flyers and posters with names of candidates displayed on the Notice Board. It reminded me of my days in Awo Hall. I wondered why all that was necessary for PTA Election at a Primary School. I was reliably informed by an older parent that the PTA Elections were usually a big deal with manifestos and campaigns. I was excited and determined to experience the whole shebang by attending the meeting. I didn't know any of the contestants. I was going to make my mind up based on what they would say to us at the meeting.

I got to the meeting late but thankfully the many agenda of the day was not yet on the table. We had the audited account of the previous administration. That received a lot of comments but all that was neither here nor there. Then the Excos stepped down and the Electoral Committee took stage. They introduced the candidates. Most of the offices were uncontested or one of the other candidates stepped down for the more popular candidate. The only office contested then was that of the Chairman of the PTA. We had the good fortune of having 2 lawyers who claimed to be friends and have worked together in the same Law Office before each going on to other things contesting for the Chairmmanship position. One was a more popular candidate and obviously was tipped to win the election.

We listened to both speak to us for about 3 minutes each. Both had 'good' ideas but they have to focus on improving the PTA and the BOM (Board of Management) relationship so they can achieve all the lofty goals. BOM( Board of Management the school is a trust school) need to trust the PTA. The PTA and the BOM apparently have a strained relationship.

The drama began when it was announced that voting will be by secret ballot instead of open ballot by show of hand as stated in the constitution. In fact on of the candidates said his 1st assignment would be to amend the constitution in retrospect so the election we would be conducting that afternoon would be valid. I found that very strange thankfully I wasn't alone. Objections were raised as to why we should be considering having a secret ballot when the Constitution was clear about the way to vote.

All sort of reason were given the most interesting of them all was ,'so we do not cause bad blood, the contestants are all our friends and we don't want them knowing I voted for one instead of the other. There are people who don't want them to know who they voted for. Its in the interest of our children'

I couldn't believe my eyes or my ears. what bad blood? what gossips? what are these people going on about? Are we not supposed to be voting for the Chairman of PTA at a primary school. Why do we do these things? If at that level in a school hall on a Saturday afternoon people were ready to influence the votes and bend the rules because we can't just be honest and do the right thing? They were going to break the law abuse our constitution at the PTA because of sentimental rubbish. The said things like The Law is made for man and not Man for the Law.

I expressed my views howbeit on top of my voice as it was almost impossible to get a chance to speak if you were not supporting the secret ballot. I also encouraged those around me to speak up and call that we boycott the voting if we were not going to do the right thing. The Lady sitting beside me a new parent also was convinced secret ballot was what the constitution said and not show of hand . I explained to her it was the other way round. She immediately joined in the shout calling for an open ballot as stated in the constitution. Needless to say we got our wish and the election was by show of hand.

After the elections we all stood outside in groups discussing all that transpired. I explained to those who cared to listen that if the General Assembly didn't want open ballot anymore we could as well amend the Constitution. We didn't have to have the election that Saturday. We could call for a referendum ammending the Constitution and have our election on some other day if that is what we wanted.We just need to as a people begin to do the right thing and not what is convenient. We need to realise that our decision all the time affects every other person. If we at our local PTA do not do the right thing what do we expect from other Nigerians in elected offices State or Federal Level after all they are members of some PTA .


A'dele said...

Wow. Politics a la primary school. Na wa o. Good for you all for standing up to them. Well said and spot on!

For the love of me said...

Yeah, you are so right, we should be challenging situations and not finding ways to cope.This our siddon look attitude isn't getting us nowhere

princesa said...

Its good to stand for our beliefs. Glad you got ur way.

Uzezi said...

ignorance has never paid. refusing to make a decision to better things, is deciding for failure. instead of grumblings, speak your mind. right


Haven't been here in such a long time. PTA politics na serious thing from what I hear. y daughter will go to 'real school' next year and I am preparing myself.

How now?


nonesuch, wey you dey?

'Yar Mama said...

Cant believe that that is elections in a primary school. Anyway, it is impressive that the parents are passionate and involved in the school...

KemiMamaLopes said...

Glad to see you got the school sorted. I sty well clear of all groups and cliques. Enjoy.

Jaycee said...

The change we need in Nigeria all starts at the local primary school PTA meeting. *sigh*