By Prince Charles Dickson
Originally the title of this admonition was Toothbrush Politics, but I decided to bring it to my readers in an every day life manner.?What I am about to say may seem extremely simplistic but it is a vivid reminder to some of us, of the incredible privileges and blessings I/we experience every day here in many parts of Nigeria, while another section staring our face suffer.
When I was brushing my teeth last night, I thought to myself?how blessed I am to have a toothbrush and toothpaste so I can clean my teeth every morning and night. I was thinking how awful it would be to live where such simple amenities were not available. However, before writing me off as some kind of pedantic fanatic please consider a recent experience that I had.
Not so long ago I went to see an oga at the top to discuss how we could help a local community in a poverty stricken area in the State. It wasn’t just about the community not having toothbrush and paste; off course they had the local chewing stick.
But this community of several thousands was responsible for farm produce that took care of the feeding needs of a sizable population in the state. However they lacked a primary healthcare centre, the road to the community was hellish, and the local primary school lacked teachers.
Except for the once a-Wednesday-a-week market day, the community would not see a small sachet of powdered milk.
In 2014, this community still had cases of ‘kwashiokor’ not because there was no food, but they simply ate carbohydrate, carbohydrate and carbohydrate, four times a day (you may count them lucky/blessed at least there was carbohydrate).
Lest I forget, at the office of this oga at the top, I was waiting and after 30mins I was told he was eating if I could wait. Off course, sure I could. And waited I did, after almost an hour I asked if he was still eating…two hours after, he came out with two other oga looking types, indeed they were eating–don’t ask me what they were eating.
Oga at the top apologized and hence it was a weekend, he advised I could come home to see him, we would talk at length.
Back to the community I was talking about, you could imagine it was just barely 40mins to the city centre/capital. But the only houses with good toilet utilities were that of two top politician, and the biggest house was that of a former legislator at the federal level. Inside the palatial home were cars littered everywhere. I learned he was not in the country, he had gone to check his health (a case of minor cough).
That community has a president, has a governor, it is a community that has a Senator and a disHonourable member looking after or for it. The community is supposedly under the jurisdiction of a state legislator, and then local council chairperson and councilman/woman.
Sadly, this scenario is better understood like this–let us pick health, at the federal level there’s a budget for the Ministry for Health, which should capture it. Then you have a dozen interventions from donor programs and special programs.
At the state level same applies, and then there are law makers who ordinarily should be lobbyists making sure health services get to the community. Finally at the local government level the community certainly should get something but yet it looses it.
So, on this weekend I am back to oga at the top’s house, after all the INS (initial shakara) by security personnel who would be of better use in Borno, I was ushered into the expansive waiting room.
I waited with excitement, knowing that after the encounter I could already envisage the joy on the faces of the community members as myself and my team give each one of them a toothbrush and toothpaste?something they had never had in their life before.
At oga at the top’s house there was indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, all the food needed, modern medical help was at his reach, a roof over his head, a cozy bed to sleep in, a loving partner both home based and reserve players, his kids were at school abroad?and a thousand other conveniences, privileges, and endless benefits that they and all too often are taken for granted.
I reflected as I waited, lost in thought and again it was running into an hour, a domestic staff came in and told me “Chairman dey sleep” and really no one knew when he would wake.
Today, this is a nation where leadership is asleep whether PDP, APC or CCC, all the chairmen are asleep, others are simply grateful they can brush their tooth with paste, however in the air there’s a feel of discontent, members of that community would revolt: when–time only will tell.