THERE is a popular saying that captures the heart of infidelity with respect to the relations between human words and actions, “do as I say but not as I do.” Once you come to terms with that statement, you are no longer likely to be perplexed that majority of mankind find it difficult, if not almost impossible, to match their actions with their words, and they have unlimited lame excuses for that infidelity.
We will skip infidelity at family and friendship levels, bearing in mind that those are the theatres where infidelity is cultivated and takes root. Let us go straight to government, simply because its infidelity has overriding consequences that deepens infidelity everywhere!
In order for a political party to get into government, its candidates must be elected as decided by a majority of the electorate. One major characteristic of elections is political debates amongst contesting candidates and campaign rallies for the candidates by their parties. It is during these events that promises are made concerning the aspirations of the people. What aspirations do the people have? Simply, to be happy. What are those things that will make them happy? Food on their tables, decent clothing and affordable accommodations, functional education for their children, functional transportation means, affordable access to stable power, water supplies and health services, jobs that will pay their bills and allow a little fun and holidays, security to lives and properties that gives peace of mind, freedom of conscience, liberty and justice equally for all, and so on.
With the debates, rallies and elections over, every candidate of every political party having promised all these, governments are formed. James Madison said “a good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, knowledge of the means by which that object can best be attained.” It is given then that the people, when voting, believed that the parties and candidates that get their majority votes have these two qualities. So, what usually happens that society ends up where it does, with the majority of political parties and their constituted government, with few exceptions, failing to walk their talks?
Is it simply impossible for parties and governments to do as they say? No, we have a few contrary examples. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria come to mind, as well to a great degree, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alliance for Democracy in Lagos specifically. However, a simple inventory, generally, will dishearten any good heart! Put all political parties that ever got into government in Nigeria on one side and their many promises next to it, alongside the realities during their tenure. Each of the 36 states and the FCT can examine themselves for various periods but we can check out the Federal Governments by ourselves, especially the last few ones. The table, as everyone can take time to find out, is simply not delightful. Solving only ten of a hundred problems, while creating fifty new problems in the process does not speak well for “good government” as defined by James Madison.
If we are to get out of the sad and ugly experiences occasioned by failed government promises accompanied with lame excuses, we all have a role to play at the formative stages. As adults, if our fishes are too dried up to bend, we can at least work on the coming generation. Vince Lombardi, the great go-getting American Football Coach said “watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.” One of the best characters we can begin to cultivate is to always do as we say, to always walk our talks. Let us stop saying “it is easier said than done.” Lombardi said “perfection is not attainable,” as we all accept, “but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” A majority with excellent character can surely, one day soon, install a government excellent in character, putting an end to the ages of governments across all political parties that are incapable of walking their talk, solving 10 out of 100 societal problems, while creating 50 new problems as legacy.