“What is going on?” One is tempted to ask. The threat of disaster begins to loom very large in my mind. News of strange happenings hitherto considered by many in these parts to be meant for faraway places, seem likely to be happening here, anytime soon. That is, if the body politic does not stop playing the game of accusations and counter-accusations.
The truth might offend some, but speaking the truth can never be a sin. We seem at times, to be a ‘dog eat dog society’ and at other times, we appear to be a ‘man eat nothing society.’ The questions keep pouring in, ‘who are we?’ or ‘where are we?’ as Patrick Tataw Obenson a.k.a Ako-Aya would have asked.
I was reading about a man called John Pombe Magufuli, who was elected Tanzania’s president in 2015. I never cease to marvel at his moves towards righting the wrongs that have crept into that East African country’s body politic. I wonder whether those moves could make sense in our fatherland.
This is a man who, as member Government, tended to keep a low profile, eschewing acclaim for successful projects, shunning foreign visits, unlike most of his peers and on occasion, speaking out clearly and bluntly. Here are some of his moves:
- Cancelled Independence Day celebrations and all the extravagant expenses Government traditionally splurged out. Instead, he wanted the day spent on street cleaning and enthusiastically participated.
- Slashed the budget for the usually opulent opening of parliament by almost 90% and demanded that the money saved be spent on purchasing hospital beds and road works.
- Cancelled foreign travel for Government officials and put a stop to the purchase of first class tickets. He decreed that henceforth, Government meetings would be held in state buildings rather than in expensive hotels.
- Trimmed down a delegation of 50 set to tour commonwealth countries to four.
- Rooted out 10 thousand ‘ghost workers’ from various Government departments and fired more than 10 thousand civil servants, after an investigation into the use of forged certificates among Government employees.
- He appointed a 19 ministry cabinet and publicly warned those selected as ministers and other Government functionaries that he would not tolerate corruption, laziness or excessive bureaucracy. He told them to expect nothing more than to work tirelessly to serve the people of the country alongside him.
So, I, the Bohemian of Abakwa, born on the last day of the month in land of proud people, after hearing about these things, this day declare, if it becomes clear in this our fatherland that the gravy train has come to an end – that Government posting no longer means a life of ease, privilege and the opportunity to make money, would that not be a wonderful prospect. Government posting should mean hard work, motivated by nothing more than a fierce desire to serve the public. That could move the country a notch or two, but, I know what you are thinking; that I am either guilty of wishful thinking or willful self-deception.
By Winston Lebga