Nigeria: Country’s State House – a Budget for Glutonny

In the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri lists Gluttony among other deadly sins for which conscious humanity must be wary lest we be mired in Hades. Gula (Gluttony), Superbia (Pride), Avarita (Avarice/Greed), Luxuria (Lust), Invida (Envy), Ira (Wrath) and Acedia (sloth) – the seven deadly sins – have been at the core of moral criticism since Dante.

One of the 19th century’s most notable moral philosophers, the Russian Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov wrote, “Wise temperance of the stomach is a door to all the virtues. Restrain the stomach, and you will enter Paradise. But if you please and pamper your stomach, you will hurl yourself over the precipice of bodily impurity, into the fire of wrath and fury, you will coarsen and darken your mind, and in this way you will ruin your powers of attention and self-control, your sobriety and vigilance.” Gluttony is a deadly sin.

In the introductory epigram to this piece, I invoke the Restoration poet Dryden, poet of the Carolingian courts, who knew a thing or two about gluttony under the excess appetites of Charles II of England. “O gluttony, it is to thee we owe our griefs” laments Geoffrey Chaucer. Gluttony and Greed are Siamese twins.

In the “Pardoner’s Tale,” Chaucer says, “Radix Malorum est cupiditas” – greed is the root of all evils. But why do I speak of these matters today in the “Orbit”? Just this: greed and gluttony seems to be behind the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly for the funding of the State House in 2013.

Let me confess that I personally have not yet understood the relationship between the Presidency, which once was known as the Cabinet office and which came under the administrative authority of a Cabinet Secretary as its Permanent Secretary in the nation’s administrative services, and the current office of Permanent Secretary for the state house.

Is the State House a full ministry these days, or are we dealing with one of those uniquely Nigerian forms of idiocy, where we duplicate and over burden the administrative system? Aso Rock or the Office of the President, can well be managed by a fully employed Chief of Staff to the President who may also be designated the Permanent secretary in the State House.