Nigeria at 52: Suffering from corruption and insecurity
By Charles Ikedikwa Soeze –
As a result of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 by the British Colonialist, Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard, a federating state called Nigeria came into existence. This same entity won independence from Britain on the 1st of October 1960. Based on development, one can say that what Nigeria actually got from Britain was mere political independence. To this end, the Britain withdrew their governance of the country and handed over same to Nigerians.
A thorough study of Nigeria’s history reveals at a glance that our past leaders moulded Nigeria with great zeal for success. This was based on the way and manner they collectively fought and achieved political independence for Nigeria. However, it is a truism to say that these crops of leaders exhibited leadership qualities and moral pedigree as well as professionalism that is lacking in our current politicians and leaders.
Consequently, the result of their tested, trusted and sincere leadership styles gave birth to a peaceful one Nigeria, as the Nigerian flag of green-white-green was hoisted and the union jack lowered appropriately to the admiration of all Nigerians. To this end therefore, they defended the territorial integrity of Nigeria with full restoration and preservation of our cultural values to the best of their ability, agility and professionalism. It is on record that these skillful or adept politicians maintained absolute self-respect and genuinely protected the oneness of this country through good governance. There is the need therefore for the current politicians and leaders to emulate their ideas and desist from corrupt practices and shun ethnic tendencies.
Speaking on Nigeria, President Barrack Obama of the most powerful nation (U.S.) has this to say “Nigeria is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria has not got it right, Africa will really not make progress”. In this connection therefore, it is no exaggeration but most appropriate to say that Nigeria is and will continue to remain the giant of Africa. However, it is true to say that some Nigerian leaders are either oblivious of their responsibilities to the Nigerian citizens or blinded by their selfish quest for self-aggrandizement. In other words, one can see decadence in all sectors of the economy and some of the leaders are nothing more than self-serving demagogues. Most of our leaders have shown that they are incapable of providing effective leadership to the Nigerian citizens. This is based on their inability to check their appetite and propensity to acquire wealth at the expense of the citizenry is unparalleled.
I think that was why Senator Hillary Clinton blamed Nigerian leaders for escalating radicalization of the youths. She made specific reference to poor living standards and corruption. Hillary Clinton made this statement after a young Nigerian man, Umar Abdulmutallab was apprehended for allegedly attempting to blow a U.S. plane.
Her words “There has to be recognition that, in the last ten (10) years, a lot of the indicator about quality of life in Nigeria has gone the wrong direction. Nigerian leaders corruption breeds terrorism”. The big question is who will save Nigeria from all these? The nation seriously needs leaders with conscience that will face the problems of Nigeria and effectively address them without minding whose ox is gored. One can boldly say that the problems eating up the very precious heart of the nation is corruption. Why Nigeria may find it difficult to fight against corruption is that we continue to re-cycle some old civilian politicians and their military counterparts. To successfully fight against corruption, we must pray in our churches, mosques and if possible or necessary in our shrines so that the President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, an academic and astute politician would be able to address adequately some of the problems facing Nigeria. From my own personal observation for more that one year, President Jonathan’s leadership qualities particularly his disdain for injustice and his fearlessness in openly speaking against it should be appreciated by all Nigerians and world communities. This is so because leadership is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere according to Chinese proverb. Furthermore, in the words of Jack Welch “genuine leadership comes from the quality of your vision and your ability to spark others to extraordinary performance”.
It is flabbergasting that in the 21st century where there are a large number of leadership models to emulate; our politicians and administrators continue to settle scores in the old-fashioned Stone Age way. Historians and others will definitely agree with me that some of our leaders have never learnt anything from the past. Towards this direction, the leaders made Nigeria a laughing stock of the other nations. Our nation that is regarded as the giant of Africa still cannot provide effective leadership. All Nigerians should be concerned about the bad happenings in the polity which clearly have showed signs of ineptitude, ineffectiveness, idiocy, tribalism, nepotism, favouritism and finally, the emergence of political godfathers and godmothers. Mismanagement, misdirection, misappropriations, corruption, lack of planning, policy inconsistencies and many others have become the trade mark of every administration that has ruled our nation.
It is abundantly clear that democracy is the best form of government everywhere in the world. To this end therefore, Nigeria cannot be an exemption. Whatever the case may be, we cannot totally write off the leadership of this country. I think and believe we all need to bring our ideas towards national development, this is because no man has monopoly of knowledge; we must not relent in contributing our quota so as to move the nation forward. It is our country and nobody will develop it for us. We don’t have any other place to go. It is rather unfortunate that at fifty-two (52); we are still at the primary level of development. In other words, still crawling.
According to the ex-chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, while lamenting the nation’s monumental losses to corruption since independence said that Nigeria has lost the sum of $300bn to corruption. Refer to the Punch newspaper of May 28, 2010 back page. The said sum would have been enough to build many standard public schools with all facilities. We now send our children to private schools and universities.
Also former vice president of the World Bank for Africa and former Minister of Education Dr. Oby Ezekwesili recently said that $400bn oil revenue was stolen since independence. Refer to Nigerian Pilot newspaper of August 29, 2012 front page. Where do we go from here according to a popular musician?
In his book, “The trouble with Nigeria”, Professor Chinua Achebe, a renowned novelist, poet and critic, strongly argued that Nigeria has not yet achieved nationhood. He said a country where citizens are ethnic conscious and indulge in all manner of cutting-corners to make money at the expense of the country has not arrived.
A French company was fined $630,000 for bribing Nigerian officials to obtain the country’s ID contract in 2002/2003. Can we know what happened to the case of those officials in Nigeria?
President Olusegun Obasanjo (during his first outing as military Head of State, HOS) pointed out at the formal opening of the Command and Staff College, Jaji on Monday, 12th of September 1977 and I quote “The Nigerian society as at now, in spite of our efforts since July 1975 is not sufficiently disciplined, fair, just or humane”. The then military HOS, who later ruled the country as a civilian president for eight (8) years went further to say “A nation where the indolent, the dishonest and the inefficient can get to the top or become excessively wealthy is a nation fit for destruction. It will in fact sooner than later bring destruction on itself”. Today, it is still flabbergasting that we make sensitive appointments without taking into recognition such appointees educational background and area of specialization to ensure effective contributions in the discharge of their duties in that office.
Corrupt enrichment had made many Nigerians to display shocking callousness and sadism in their actions, gross indiscipline and selfishness, thereby bringing misfortune to some families because man’s inhumanity to man makes countless people mourn. It beats my imagination when we clap and drum to the high heavens for those who corruptly enrich themselves including ex-convicts who were jailed for corrupt practices to accept many chieftaincy ‘chief-thief’ titles. Based on this, one can say that quality leadership had fled Nigeria, corrupt and inept leaders have taken over. In a paper entitled: Leadership and Governance in Nigeria: A Critique, Professor W.A. Fawole of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said after more than half a century of independence, the country has been far from progress and prosperity, because of toxic leadership style. He described this type of leadership style as one in which the leader deployed state apparatus to abuse the leader-follower relationship for self-benefit aid personal aggrandizement, leave the nation in worse condition than the leader met it.
It is sad and painful that fifty-two (52) years after, Nigeria is still held in thralldom, its people pine away in the vice-like grip of political intolerance, unbridled but violent outbursts of ethno-religious and primordial sentiment across the country and for which the security forces remain clueless, unsolved politically motivated serial murders, general lawlessness and banditry, unbridled official corruption and outright state robbery. No wonder the prediction of an American Intelligence Report (AIR) that the country might vanish from the world map soon is abundantly clear because of the grim indicators of the sad situation in the country, despite the downplaying of the warning by the political class.
Unfortunately, Nigeria regrettably degenerated from Third World to Fourth while Singapore, Malaysia China and South Korea graduated from Third World to First. The current state of anomie has made Nigeria a virtual joyless society, especially for its teeming unemployed and lumpenised youths, who cannot see any real, future for themselves in a country so abundantly blessed, no matter the sanctimonious preachments of the rulers that the country is better off today than it was under military dictatorship. When Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Second Republic President of Nigeria chose Isa Kaita (of blessed memory) as Chairman of Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), immediately he (Isa Kaita) assumed office, he confessed openly that corruption in Nigeria was beyond human solution and promptly handed over the problem to God.
It would be recalled that a one-time Director General National Orientation Agency (NOA) regrettably stated “Everywhere one is confronted with hardened corruption and open dishonesty. Our schooling system has not fared any better. Unwittingly, we have been producing “an elite of leisure” who parasitically and shamelessly feed on the less privileged. We have been constantly imbibing in these students’ inchoate and depraved values. Magnanimity, equity, temperance, humanity and humility seem to be deserting our youths”.
I was astonished when on Sunday, February 4, 2001, I read in Vanguard newspaper (front page) that =N= 400b (four hundred billion Naira) Nigeria’s looted fund is in nineteen (19) U.K. banks. According to the Vanguard newspaper, the then Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Prince Bola Ajibola disclosed it. Corruption consists of depravity, venality or peculation in playing a social life. It is therefore true that the inability of the government of all tiers to meet up with the provision of essential basic needs of the talakawas is as a result of political corruption, which finally put the economy in a state of comatose. Recall also the recent fuel subsidy scam among others. Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) while signing the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 observed that corruption is at the root of practically every other ills of the Nigerian society. There can be no sustainable development, with it, he said. During a visit to the New Nigerian Newspaper Headquarters, Kaduna, the then Minister of State for Transport, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, puts it thus: “Anything short of fighting corruption in this country, honestly we are not going to get anywhere”.
In the words of Jide Osuntokun (a columnist in the Vanguard newspaper), “We need to move away from “come and chop” politics that unfortunately permeates our society with the result that very few people can speak truth to power. This denies our leaders good advice and the rest of us good governance emanating from good advice”; what a dangerous dichotomy at 52 indeed!
At 52, security of lives and properties are no longer guaranteed. The image of lawlessness is seen everywhere through bombings, maiming and killings. Many years ago, Dela Giwa, Rear Admiral Onigbinde, O.N. Rewane, Funsho Williams were killed. Before the 2003 senatorial election, Chief John Monoria Agbatutu of Agbarho in Delta State was killed before the primaries. The Asipa of Oyo was clubbed to death. On the 21st of December 2001, Odunayo Olagbaju, member of Osun sate House of Assembly was killed by gun men in Ile-Ife. On the 23rd of December 2001, Chief Bola Ige (siddon look), the late justice minister was murdered in his room at Ibadan. On August 15, 2001 gunmen killed Victor Nwankwo, September 26, 2002, John Nuhu, treasurer Akassa Council in Bayelsa state was killed. November 25, 2002, PDP gubernatorial candidate, Dele Arojo was assassinated in Lagos. We always hear that the killers will be brought to book or be fished out. How many of them (the killers) have we been able to fish out? Engineer (Dr.) Hamed Olatunde Onipede, second substantive Principal/Chief Executive of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta State for approximately a decade was murdered in his apartment in Badagry. The killings and maiming are too numerous to mention. Without mincing words, Nigeria needs to take security very seriously.
In my opinion, the right way to prosperity is for this country to get credible leaders, leaders that will provide good governance, transparency and accountability in handling of public affairs; leadership that will rule with the fear of God and be fair and just to all. Finally, I wish to quote Abraham Lincoln’s statement in Gethysbury on the 19th of November 1863 for our information and guidance “That this country under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people by the people shall not perish from the earth”.
Soeze contributed from Effurun, Delta State.
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