By Jon Chikadibie Okafo
By every known standard, Nigeria is a country that celebrates corruption, thieves of all hues, mediocrity and government deceit. As a country lousily established on fraud, one tries as much as possible to justify so many obnoxious stench of institutionalised fraud and corruption stinking to the high heavens in this country. The stench is threatening to choke us all up, unless something is done to clear the mess.
You really need to live in this country to be able to experience first-hand, the rot that is symbolic of the system here; as a people, we should be tired of singing the same old song-bad roads, lack of clean water, a bizarre police force, insecurity, lack of power supply, collapsed education sector, charlatan religious groups, etc. Surprisingly, most Nigerians prefer to live in denial while succumbing to a sinful mind-frame that suggests that we “leave everything in the hands of God”.
We should be bold enough to address our dilapidated situation with the moral courage it requires-since the advent of “democracy” in 1999, this country has been celebrating a system that throws up thieves in government and a massively corrupt civil service. The system in force here honours fraudsters, morons in agbada, petty thieves, armed robbers that steal with pen, Toronto graduates, oil thieves, soldiers of fortune and many more similar buffoons.
How did we end up in this depressing situation as a country? With all the intelligent citizens this country has, how on earth did a few rubbish politicians mesmerize us into expressing only impotent rage and nothing more? Just like a defeated lot, Nigerians now take succour in listening to pastors and similar “traffickers in the word” who have perfected the art of “pray until something happens”. Ours is now a very religious nation where citizens are daily enjoined to pray for a better tomorrow while those in government live large.
Nigeria is really a classic comedy show. Quite recently, we have been treated to so many revelations emanating from the National Assembly. Probes have been instituted with so many sordid details of how those entrusted with public money engaged [and still do] perpetrating gargantuan fraud at our expense. The list is uncountable just as the revelations are extremely too shocking to imagine.
While asking questions about how the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo wasted about $16b meant for the revamping of our power sector, it was brilliantly established that those tasked with that job stole virtually all the money. Interestingly, the chairman of that probe panel, a certain Representative Ndudi Elumelu and many more were accused of stealing so much of our money. He was arrested, charged to court, granted bail and nothing again is being said about this absurdity. This man is still a member of the House of Reps, collecting huge sums as salary, benefits and what have you!
Some former past governors were arrested and hauled before Judges to account for how they mismanaged and diverted public funds into private pockets. As is usual in this shameless country, almost all of them applied for bail citing poor health as an excuse-they all asked to be allowed to seek medical succour abroad. They were all granted bail and nothing more is being said about this while we all rush to our prayer grounds to offer more prayers for God’s intervention.
It is appalling and exceptionally shameful the level of corruption and madness that goes on in this country. A certain Peter Odili, former governor of River State was accused of enriching himself fraudulently while in office, instead of being filled with shame and mortification, he ran to a “court” to obtain a PERPETUAL injunction barring anybody from calling him to account for his sins committed against the people of his state, and his God. As I write, Peter Odili is still a free man, enjoying his loot.
Mr. James Ibori was not so lucky, thanks to the British legal system. This thief it was who was discharged and acquitted of all the charges of illegal enrichment brought against him by the EFCC by a charlatan fellow obnoxiously called Justice Marcel Awokulehin. To the glory of God and mankind, Mr Ibori, “…a thief in Government House” pleaded guilty to corruption and money laundering charges brought against him by the British Met Police.
Just last week, a probe panel set up by the Senate of the Federal Republic established the monumental fraud that was playing out at the Pension Commission. I wept as I watched how those entrusted with the handling of pension funds of those that served this country well were clearly exposed as stealing from this fund-in billions. We all know what pensioners go through in this country just to access what is genuinely due to them. This is pure wickedness.
And the list of probes and corruption allegations goes on and on. Whatever happened to that beautiful Pius Okigbo report that is believed to have indicted the criminal government of General Babangida? Where is the former IG of police, Mr Tafa Balogun? I make bold to say that former President Obasanjo ought to be “smelling rod” in some jail if we were a serious nation with a vibrant Judiciary. Foreign nationals that were accused by their governments of bribing Nigerian officials have been jailed and fined, while those that actually received the mind boggling bribe sums in Nigeria are strutting about as free men.
Just yesterday, the Director General of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, Miss Arumma Otteh accused the leadership of the House of Reps Committee on Capital Markets of trying to vilify her because she refused to part with the N44m [forty-four million Naira] bribe they requested she pay. This was after a drama that clearly seemed to establish that the SEC under her engaged in many sharp practices that went contrary to the laws of the land. Is there going to be an end to tales of fraud and corruption being churned out by various probe panels across this sorry nation?
So, how do we as a people ensure that those found to be robbing us are made to face justice? When are we going to rise up as a people to put a stop to all the rot and mess that is daily being cooked by those in positions of authority? At this point, I wish to once again make known my displeasure at the dysfunctional body known as the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress. These two bodies that ordinarily ought to be the voice of the down-trodden have suddenly become a toothless bulldog that barks, collects bones from the masters, and go to sleep. This is very shameful.
Well, it will be nice for President Goodluck Jonathan to raise his transformation agenda to glorious heights by building strong and independent institutions to help fight corruption and fraud to a standstill. We have a police force that is notorious for shooting hapless Nigerians for not bribing “efficiently”, we have the EFCC that appears to take pride in jailing petty thieves while throwing up its arms in despair at the ease big time crooks in and out of government go scot free, we have a Judiciary that is enmeshed with allegations of corruption and giving justice to the highest bidder, we have religious groups that instead of serving as the moral backbone of the nation by chastising corrupt individuals, make a living by “praying” for them for a fee, we have a populace that jostles for pilgrimage in foreign countries to pray for “our leaders and a better Nigeria”.
It is very important that Nigerians come together under whatever umbrella to demand for an end to this madness. Corruption is killing us all; why should we be paying for an expensive government that chooses to give us untenable excuses instead of a steady power supply? This is happening in the 21st century! Are we going to wait till the rumbles and fumes from our generators choke us all to death before we start demanding that those that steal our money be made to pay restitution and go to jail?
Please, I am tired of being told to “wait for God’s time”, it is not God that is stealing our money and turning us into wretched paupers in our country. The sooner we come to terms with this and start fighting for our liberation as a people, the better for us all. And then, God will bless Nigeria.