By Muhammad Hashim Suleiman
One of the cardinal principles of the alien but tactfully enforced Washington Consensus methodology of governance for African societies is Lean Government. It means a functional government that marginally touches on citizen’s welfare but maximally spend to keep itself functional. In such governance methodology, most of state resources are spent to keep the lean government functional even if the governed are kept dysfunctional through policies that pauperise people the more and make more monies accruals to the government. In other words, it is a system of governance in which the government is for the government by the government on behalf of the government.
The basic principle of Lean Government is shrinking of public service and utilities through irrational sacking of civil servants, jacking up of taxes and payments for erratic public utility services. This basic principle is normally rationalized through euphemisms such as “right sizing” and claims that salary bill takes higher chunk of government resources. In such Lean Government policies, the Washington Consensus government makes use of excessive behavioral change communication to lure people into accepting the third person induced suffering as a necessary endurance for the betterment of the future.
Indeed, for adherents of Lean Government as espoused by the Washington Consensus, their betterment is when they’re in government. While they tenaciously remove any subsidy that have direct bearings on the life of the poor, all their life and that of their families are 100% subsidized from the coffers of the government they control and lead. Apart from their legally sanctioned pay, they also withdraw hazard allowances, wardrobe allowances, leave allowances, health allowances, newspaper allowances, book allowances, sitting allowances, security vote, insecurity vote, severance package allowances, allowances and allowances… Not to talk of other backdoor accruals. Their personal source of gratification from such Lean Government is innumerable; it can only be imagined.
What such proponents do to show they’re trying to make governance work for all is constant use of the media to show the public works their government is executing. However, the camera has no brain of its own. Camera is operated by the man behind the camera who’s also, through flaks, mandated to capture images that promote the same principle of Lean Government. The man behind the camera will click to capture made-up government infrastructure but will not turn a little angle to capture the agony of the thousands of sacked and pauperised citizens suffering from the same Lean Government policies. He will click to capture representatives of the Washington Consensus government flagging up empty promises of expanding educational access but would not click to capture the fear of students who’s tuition has just been jacked up with over 500%.
Indeed, for the proponents of the Lean Government, governance is about survival of the fittest. To them, the unfit are conventionalized to die as a direct result of their alien policies. That’s why as they continuously sack civil servants, they jack up taxes, skyrocket tuition fees, and commercialize public hospitals. That’s why they daily make press release to intimate us of how many people are killed, injured or kidnapped as a result of governance failure.
What more, these proponents of Washington Consensus maintain a retinue of Political jobbers who are paid pittance to become vuvuzellas of government policies. Some were given cars they’re finding difficult to fuel and maintain; some were taken to pilgrimage and are always flashing pictures of their unmerited voyage. The proponents are smart enough to maintain such an army of megaphones through false hope. And, in doing that, we see Spiral of silence at work where majority of pauperised citizens are forced to maintain meek silence for fear of isolation. And, I ask, what more isolation shall we be afraid of other than that of third person induced poverty?
So, to the silenced majority, know this; your meek silence and holstered prayers have bolstered the Washington Consensus representatives to bring more harm and misery to you. They think with coercive apparatuses, poverty inducing policies and paid political jobbers, they hold you by your collars, they have the power to pauperise you the more and your silence is a prove to what they believe. If you want to get out of this third person induced poverty, the time to talk was yesterday, today is almost late and tomorrow is definitely late. Break the silence of poverty; break the silence of misery; break the silence that turns an elected person into a demigod.