There is nothing new under the sun. There is nothing to be said about Nigeria in 2012
that has not been said before; a pity that the country does not have listening leadership
or leadership that is able to make an effective difference.
From 2008 to a few months ago, matters of kidnapping, corruption, political manipulation, deceit of the public have been discussed on this page, but nothing is changing. Let us revisit one or two of them.
Bleeding Nigeria to death Reading newspapers or watching television has become a routine of bad news about corruption. I fear for the well being of the ordinary Nigerians struggling to make a living. Apart from the fact of medical services beyond their reach, they are daily pummelled by news of the thievery that is going on in high quarters, unabated and intimidating, that is inimical to their good health.
Not only do the powerful steal their money, they also ruin their health by the anxiety and anger that they well up in them. When you are about to come to terms with some persons stealing hundreds of millions of naira, calming your mind so you don’t develop hypertension on a matter you can do nothing about; you are immediately confronted with another thievery that makes the multi millionaire thief a petty criminal.
No day passes now without some revelation of fraud in one form or the other and outright
stealing making the headlines. A couple of weeks ago we were preoccupied with petrol subsidy thieves, quickly we were diverted to crude oil thieves; from there we made a detour to bribe takers and givers and currently saddled with the various cases of mega thievery of our common resources.
In just two days last week, the media reported five major cases of corrupt practices; and that was a good week. Reports in other weeks are often worse.
1.The Senate was probing the Presidency over the Natural Resources Fund, where N873 billion was supposedly unaccounted for or not used for the purpose for which it was meant.
2. The Senate Committee on Public Accounts disclosed that N44 billion was missing from the Federal Government’s Special Intervention Fund on Solid Minerals.
3. 3,000 former militants of the Niger Delta were said to be missing but were collecting N20 billion every month as allowances.
4. The Big Kerosene Fraud allowed NNPC to supply depots owners’ kerosene at N50 per litre which they in turn sold to retailers at N115 per litre which the ordinary Nigerian bought
at N150 per litre.
5. NNPC flouts presidential directive of 15 June 2009 to stop subsidy payment on kerosene; the payment was resumed in 2011 and N331 billion paid. In almost all walks of life in Nigeria there is some monumental fraud going on.
Everybody is looking for an avenue of making quick money. Stealing now goes on in billions so that the money can last the thieves a lifetime of comfort. One day Nigerians will wake up and discover that some people have sold the country to another set of colonial masters for a huge sum that they will stash away in banks of the new owners of Nigeria.
The country is gradually dying from stealing. Roads are not fixed, hospitals have no
equipment, schools are not equipped, the cost of living continues to rise and some
people sign away billions of naira into their pockets every day.
They discover new ways of doing it every time. Somebody recently came up with the brainwave that money could be made from the threat of militancy in the Niger Delta creeks. A security com-pany to patrol the creek waters was quickly formed and a contract given to it by the government; to provide security on the waters, in a country that has a Navy that boasts of many Admirals. What security will that company provide that the Nigerian Navy cannot provide?
The juice in it was recently exposed when NIMASA revealed to the National Assembly that it would have to share its total income 50/50 with the maritime security company. So far in the year NIMASA has made N30billion, which already gives the maritime security company N15billion income.
Corruption is not only when people steal money, it is also corruption when they are made to earn money that could have been used for other more meaningful purposes in the society.
The petrol subsidy thief is as much a thief as the one who makes undeserved money in
an unnecessary job. Both are robbing the people of the opportunity of using the country’s
resources to maximum advantage. A government that really wants to fight corruption must fight both. Information in the public space alleges that a foreign contractor got a
loan of N2billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria, because of his connection to high
places a few years ago. Is that true? Government needs to find out and punish such
anomalies if the fight against corruption is to have any meaning.
Our men in high places are making Nigeria a laughing stock around the globe. A documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] titled ‘The King of Corruption’,
is really cause for every Nigerian to be ashamed. If you have not listened to it, please
follow this link and remind yourself of the shame that has been leadership in Nigeria.
0100a.mp3. And please don’t let anybody tell me that it happens in other places too or that it is unpatriotic to talk about it as there are other positive things about the country.
Only the real enemies of the people of Nigeria talk like that. In how many countries do state governors lodge in UK hotels and keep £100,000 [N25million] in their rooms? How many of such governors declare a public bonanza in a foreign country by handing out £50 to any person they come across, disrupting work in the hotel in which they lodged by having hotel workers queue up for a free £50?
In how many countries will a state governor buy goods worth £120,000 [N30million] on his credit card in a single shopping spree? If there is really so much money in this country why re the leaders of the country so wicked as to allow so much squalor and poverty in the
land? People who elected them into officen cannot eat two good meals a day; many under their umbrella of governance are groaning and dying, yet they fiddle with the resources meant to give meaningful life to all.
It appears to me that the controls over public expenditure are so weak and ineffective
that nobody is deterred from stealing. Remember the pastor who worked in the accounts
department of the NYSC many years ago and died in an accident; in whose account
was found N7billion.
The country has been bleeding profusely for too many years. The bleeding continues and has perhaps intensified for lack of effective controls. This haemorrhage will certainly herald a fatality in the near future. [First published April 2012] Kidnapping goes blind
At the beginning when the word kidnap was conceived, the imagery was of a helpless
child, a kid, abducted by an older and much stronger person.
Today’s kidnappings have made nonsense of all that. All manners of persons are kidnapped by all manners of persons.
Again it used to be fashionable that only the children and relations of the rich were kidnapped for a ransom. Today all kinds of people, rich and poor, are preys in the hands of kidnappers. Consider this true story.
A few weeks ago in Port Harcourt, a retired civil servant was having a quiet evening with
his family at home. At about 8 pm, the family needed a household item that was available at a shop nearby, so a member of the family, lady of about 18 years was sent to purchase it. When she did not return after about 30 minutes, a worried family organised a search that yielded no result. Later on into the night, the family received a phone call.
The lady had been kidnapped and her abductors wanted N50 million for her release. Her father was distraught. Where on earth was he going to find that kind of money? All of his
savings was not near fifty thousand naira.
Day after day, the kidnappers called, but the family was unable to raise any such money.
All appeals to relations and friends yielded no fruits. So bluntly they told the abductors,
‘we don’t have that kind of money’. Negotiations went on and the demanded sum went
down gradually from fifty million to twenty, to ten, to one million. By the third week the
demand was for one million, but still the family could not pay. The kidnappers threatened
to kill the lady but the family begged and pleaded for understanding. They simply had
no money to pay.
By the fourth week, the amount had been negotiated to one hundred thousand naira, but
still the family was unable to pay. In frustration, the kidnappers called the family and this
‘Why are you so poor? Don’t you know that you should have some money reserved
for emergencies?’ “Please have mercy on us. It’s not our wish to be poor. We just don’t have any money”.
‘Okay, how much do you have?’
“We have managed to put together ten thousand naira”.
‘Yeye people. Okay buy recharge cards of ten thousand naira and send to this phone and
we will release you daughter. You better do something about your poverty’.
And the lady came home.
Reports say one student of the University of Abuja was kidnapped last Tuesday, another
was kidnapped at the University of Benin same day. As the rich fear and tremble about kidnappers, let the poor also beware.
[First published August 2008]
Goebbelian Nigeria Paul Joseph Goebbels mastered propaganda to the point of hoodwinking an entire nation to believe that it had been created superior to all others by God. The German Aryan race believed it was next to God and if Hitler had succeeded in his blitzkrieg of the econd World War, Goebbels would have pushed the Germans to a contest of superiority with God. That is the power of propaganda.
Today Goebbels will find his match in Nigeria. Poverty, bad governance and man’s inhumanity to man have combined to make the people susceptible to manipulative propaganda.
Popular views have been imposed on society and anyone who operates outside it is an enemy of the people. The nation has surrendered that vital element of human development, diversity of thoughts and opinions.
Dissident is taken for rebellion and argument for treachery.
This did not happen today. In the early 1960s, the seed of this intolerance was sown in Western Nigeria. The people were made helpless in the electoral process and that deprivation became the propaganda for unitary thoughts and intolerance of dissent.
Today, that process has been taken to a crescendo. Matters are judged more by popular
sentiments than by the facts. Popular opinion has killed human curiosity for truth and knowledge. The masters of propaganda are riding high on the crest of public opinion.
Take the Lamido Sanusi/National Assembly fiasco on the percentage of overhead expenditure that goes to the lawmakers. From the facts of the inquisition at the Senate and House of Representatives, it is clear that Sanusi is wrong on the calculations, but he
has won the debate on the matter.
He goofed but the euphoria of public support has made him adamant. The overhead in the 2010 budget is certainly not the N500+billion that Sanusi says it is. His excuse that he got his figures from the Budget Management office of the presidency is untenable for a Governor of the Central Bank. He should be sleep talking the budget of the country if he is a true financial policeman.
But it is not Sanusi that is licking his wounds in this matter, it is the National Assembly
that is embarrassed. This society now works on prejudices where wrong can become right and right can become wrong; and that prejudice weighs heavily against the National Assembly.
Several days after the Finance Minister had admitted that the basis of Sanusi’s argument was faulty, I read comments on the web site of some newspapers eulogising the CBN governor; Sanusi oko won [Sanusi the antidote to legislative rascality], God give us
many more Sanusi..., they have met their match in Sanusi’. It was obvious that the
comments were more of expressions of frustrations with leadership in the Nigeria than
any substantial admiration of Sanusi.
Sanusi’s propaganda had taken root in his prosecution of Cecilia Ibru and other bank
chiefs. He has carved the image of the defender of the people from their oppressors.
Never mind the fact that some say he is a guilty of some of the same things in his days
at the First Bank. Perception is reality today in Nigeria.
If tomorrow Sanusi says the principal officers of the National Assembly are behind kidnapping in the country and his only evidence is that his grandmother told him so, David Mark and his colleagues had better begin to get themselves good lawyers, for the public will push them to trial for the imagined offence. Ask General Muhammadu Buhari his experience on the allegedly missing N2.8billion. Tai Solarin’s word, which he said he picked up from unknown persons in a commercial bus, was what almost ruined Buhari’s reputation.
Those who are smart, go to no end to create the right public impressions even if they
are thieves and murderers; and society continues to applaud even its greatest oppressors
who have mastered the Goebbelian strategy of a lie told many times becoming the truth and who tell today’s lies on the platform of the applause of their actions of yesterday.
[First Published December 2010]
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