Why is it that every time a state or the federal government initiates a new road or housing project, billboards are erected touting the name of the project along with the individual in charge of it? Our leaders never miss an opportunity to pat themselves on the back for doing what they are supposed to do.
To add insult to injury, institutional inertia causes several public work projects to fail or have significant delays, leaving us with nothing but dilapidated roads and signs covered with the faces and names of the politician in charge of such failed projects.
This was the case with the delayed reconstruction of the Bokani Bridge that collapsed in Niger State earlier this year. Issues with sub-standard materials and poor funding have caused significant delays in the construction of the bridge.
It makes sense for private construction companies to advertise their projects, as this is how they promote their business and increase their client base. The government, however, has no business wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned funds on advertisements of public work projects.
Running the country is not a business venture. Advertisement campaigns for projects that are free for all of the public to use are both unnecessary and arrogant.
It would appear that politicians are using ad campaigns for public works projects in the same way that private companies use them. While companies use such advertisements to expand their client base, politicians use them to maximise public support. Public works have notoriously been used as a political tool particularly prior to the election period.
In 2010, prior to his declaration of intended candidacy for the 2011 presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan dedicated $300 million in funds to supporting road infrastructure projects in South-eastern Nigeria. This ambitious venture was no doubt intended to increase popular support rather than to improve the lives of Nigerians in any way.
When a government creates jobs and develops infrastructure, it is simply making good on its promises. Fulfilling one’s duty to the people should not be contingent upon political support or taken as an opportunity for self-aggrandisement.
Has the Nigerian political system become so broken that leaders expect showers of praise for doing their jobs? If so, there is a dire need for the government to reassess its priorities and exercise humility and work ethic in its treatment of public works. May God bless our beloved country, Nigeria.