Lip Service and Selective Justice: The Bane of Nigeria's Corruption
This entire business of corruption, as Americans say, "sucks." Nigeria at times induces nausea. Forgive my frustration, I am tired of Nigeria, with its pretense and its high level of dishonesty. Nigerians are truly sidelining the meaning of probity, honesty, truth, and are corrupt to the depth of their marrow. As a Nigerian, I find this troublesome. I have found Nigerians who think such modality is simply a game and does not matter. Some lie pathologically, thus we have 419ers all over the place, lying to people and to themselves. We have so-called pastors dealing in unwanted babies using religion as cover. We have parents selling their own children, their own blood. It is as if we are socialized into dishonesty. Yet, I know and have met honest and responsible Nigerians, even in the most unlikely of places, in public offices. Thus, I am pained by the mode by which my nation is heading. Now, I am beginning to internalize the American observation that if nothing serious is done, the fate of Nigeria is drawn joining old names like Mali, Ghana, and Songhai empires, erased and defaced from the surface of the earth. Thus, becoming an archaeological breeding ground. But, I know I love this nation, in spite of its ills, in spite of the treatments that many, including myself have received at her hand, without being loyal to us her citizens, and constantly demeaning the very nature of our human and social existence.
That is why, I am pained by the mode of acting of our public office holders. Their recklessness is like a million pins striking at my me. I am an ardent believer in accountable and responsible governance in Nigeria, and across Africa as a whole. I find this despicable as many do, and the worst thing is that irrationality rears its head everywhere celebrating even the basest of realities with spirited emotionality and triumphant trumpeting. Ken Saro-Wiwa on his dying "cross" cried out in acidic pain, "what kind of a nation is this?" What kind of a nation is Nigeria, in all its ugly faces? A notable case of a demented and imbecilic population? At least, I find this population dynamic and resilient, vigorous and determined, spirited and courageous. Hence, I keep asking myself what has gone awry. I found that answer in the fact that we are a nation of lip service providers (LSP). We relish lying to ourselves and to others. We glory in falsehood and mask reality simply because we are afraid to watch our dirty linens in public. We are scared of how the entire world will see us, even when we already know how they perceive us and have formed their opinions about, by easily appealing to cliches "The Giant of Africa" and similar self-aggrandizing rhetorics, even when seemingly we are the perpetual crawling dwarf of the continent, mainly due to the ever-constant misrule of our leadership.
Simply, that is why, though I would have naturally have had crass cause to celebrate the recent arrest of the Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, in London over money laundering charges, I have restrained myself. Alamieyeseigha is just one instance of the corrupt Nigerian public holders, past and present. Many still exists and parade themselves with relevance when they are worst than armed robbers, and filthily deserve not the world of humans, but whose wealth have pedestalled them over and beyond every honest person in the land. False wealth and noxious images are worshipped, in tandem with the pulsating religious rhythmic entities that dots the land without spatial regulation. Even, then, we know, some of these religious entities and their leadership also worship the lies and/or the liars, because of their monetary and political clout. Even, some of the religious entities regal in lies and corruption too, such as the Owerri Okotoko Pastors and church founders, and their cohort "assembly-line" pastors that pervades everywhere, with their rancous deafening preachings in buses, bus stops, blocked roads, just everywhere. The Mallams and marabouts too are well versed in the game of survival through "prophesies of sycophancy " that soothes their salivating palates in their appetite for pecuniary gains.
Thus, even in the acclaimed anti-corruption battle, the battle is a unidirectional and selective one, that targets specifically vulnerable opponents while protecting "strong heads." Nigeria, in its entirety, pulsates in corruption. The very base of governance, right from Aso Rock oozes as a fountain of corruption.
The President, while putting up a public face is not serious and neither sincere. Running a selective administration of justice in his assumed anti-graft war, his feverish dosages specifically targets those that he masks hostility. While, he is busy militarizing the entire Nigerian political project with devious characters, he has gone against some with ease. The Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) ruling party chair, Dr. Adah Amodu Ali, in a nepotic drive reserved choice public board appointments for members of his family and cronies. Though, the Presidency stopped the board from being inaugurated and making a big banging noise, the PDP chair has not resigned and remains a corrupt party leader, of a corrupt ruling party, one whom Nobel laurette, Professor Wole Soyinka, noted as a "club of killers." An appelation also affirmed by a PDP governor, the maverick, Governor Kalu of Abia State. A former house speaker, Alhaji Salisu Buhari, who forged, impersonated and misrepresented his education qualifications, was also recently rewarded with the chair of a public board. Therefore, President Obasanjo, regardless of some of his strategic tactics that seeming offer the posture of being anti-graft leads a government rich embedded and nourished by corrupt practices and tactics.
Today, erstwhile dictator, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida walks on Nigerian street a free man, and travels with ease. Recently, we were told he travelled to Germany, while others were killing themselves to celebrate his birthday "bash" in Minna. Vice President Atiku, for over four years has being a Master rallying point of corrupt practices, as he uses his political clout to "armpit" almost all the privatized public corporations and parastatals. He bought the house in Potomac, Maryland that was recently raided. Many governors and political actors are kleptomaniac with paunchy tastes of public funds stowed away in foreign accounts. If they are in the right books they are protected.
When I was in Nigeria in December, driving past the National Stadium, Abuja, the Federal Capital, for the African Sporting championships, I was reminded by my chauffer that the distinguished First Lady, Stella, made a fortune through the help of Oga Uncle Sege. Now, it has come to the open that Stella's son, bought a house in the Brooklyn area in New York, and the Presidency and the young man mother's family, represented by one John Abebe, lied that he was a practicing lawyer, and so he was able to pay nearly $600,000 for a house at a go. Yet, Obasanjo perceives himself as a "messiah," the only palpable savior of Nigeria, who sees all else as monstrous villains attempting to bounce on him like detestful tigers. Mushroomed under his very carpet and benefit his hat and his regal toga, the "agbada" (Babariga) is an incendiary monster whose homestead oozes out stenchful corruption. Till today, he had audaciously refused to prosecute Ibrahim Babangida, even when there is evidence that he misspent Nigeria's wealth in an orgy of recklessness, and actually stole to build himself a fifty bedroom uphill house in Minna and prebendally amassed fortunes for himself, and shared his largesse with his cronies.
Today, sadly enough it is the same cheated people who are drumming the percussive rhythm for his very corrupt-to-the-depth and like dirt, to be a suzerain over their lives, in a rancous syncophancy of irrationality. Thus, I think that many Nigerian people possess a deluded consciousness, or is it an amnesia, that short circuits their memory in producing false consciousness. Thus, the people of Plateau when Governor Dariye was arrested and eventually suspended thrusted themselves against the barricade of anger manifested by President Obasanjo. Today, the deprived Ijaw youths who have been decrying their lethargic oppression by the Nigerian government, cannot even see how Governor Alamieyeseigha's action, if proven true, constitutes a vestige of the same oppressive device that represses them, and characterizes and defines every facet of Nigerian governments at all levels. Enrooted within the dynamics of ethnic solidarity they are fatally incapable of seeing directly those responsible for their very degradation. Rather, they promise Armageddon against any and all British interests in the Niger Delta, rather than try to see the possibility of holding their CEO accountable.
Truly enough, Governor Alamieyeseigha has stood all upfront in articulating resource controls, that rather than tickle down in a Reaganomic parlance, "evaporates upward." They cannot see beyond their noise how oppression and corruption are intertwined. Ironically, it is one of the iconic voices for justice in the Niger Delta, Douglas Oronto, the Bayelsa Commissioner of Information, that has now offer Governor Alamieyeseigha an armoury of protection during this troubled times. Yes, that is called "sanctioned cooption" or in the now becoming obsolete term of the Maradonic Evil Genius Era (Babangida) was known as "settlement." When one is bought over, brought over to the class of the oppressors from the oppressed, rather than sing the dirges for the oppressors now sings their ovation and dance their rhythm of bastardization. In Nigeria, at that point, it is considered that one "has made it" and on another level that one is "highly connected."
On another level, the new witchcraft in Nigeria is now being unlynched surreptitiously against political opponents, in a witch hunt that if Alamieyeseigha's words are anything to go by, represent a gloomy perspective on the Presidency of Baba Adinni of Aso Rock, the only gnostics and messiah of Nigeria, whom Alamieyeseigha's thinks set him up. In some sense, that would be troubling that our legal and judicial systems cannot be trusted and Nigerians with Diplomatic Passports can be disgraced simply on the insinuated villainy of an unforgiving President, the agents of foreign governments. Further, it also amounts to an insult on the Nigerian state over which he is presiding, given that he has added credence to the porosity of our Nigerian systems and respectable regulatory institutions simply ordering them into becoming moribund.
This in deed represents interesting times. I am not rushing to full judgement yet, given that the entire story is just spilling out in vignettes that are yet to make a totalized rendition possible. Until that is done, I would not rush to condemn Governor Alamieyeseigha yet. But for now, all I can say is, "you caused it for yourself, you deserve your lot," not simply because you are guilty (because I cannot fully tell and you are yet to be so judged), but due to the fact, that if you had fully developed the health infrastructures of your Bayelsa state to an ineviable standard, the trip to Germany for treatment would have been unnecessary. You would have saved yourself the embarrassment.
Ironies also exists in all of these. Call the white man names, and on the other end put your whole life at his/her disposal. On the one hand you attack Shell and its white imperialists while on the other the Deustch scalp held your fate, of being scrapped into pieces and thrashed directed toward the neon lights on the eternal tunnel. Well, you came out on the one side of the tunnel from the brothers and sisters of the owners of Shell, and see what you got at the other, their other sibling got you into trouble in collaboration, with you own. Now, tell me you know why Ken Saro-Wiwa died in between the machinations of two evils. Now, there is no freedom because of privilege, true freedom not only has to be yearned for, but it has to be earned.
These ironies make me laugh robustly all the time. Alamieyeseigha thanks for the humor you and Obasanjo offers me when the moments are seeming dull with the nostalgic adventure of the Hurricane Katrina, and its torrents. Now, before Rita strikes again, and we see how the New Orleans levees hold, I have truly satisfied myself with lots of laughter. See you in jail, I will try to contact the Prison chaplain to find out how thoughtless you were when you did not think what Pastor Uncle Sege, Baba Adinni of Aso Rock is capable. You see he is a better politician, even without all the 50 per cent derivative talk of the Resource Control. Ironically, both you and Dariye shares something in common, you preside over Oil minerals and he solid minerals- remember the old Tin and Columbites mines of the Jos Plateau. Yes, that was why, when initially you and your South-South colleagues were shouting on top of your voices on On-shore-Offshore he was wild and wide in calling for resource control for solid mineral states, and was almost asking you to repatriate the solid minerals money that the British sulked into drilling for the oils prior to the dominance of oil.
Even, the Kano guy who was rocking himself, over working his emotion was also asking for resource control because his erstwhile Groundnut Pyramids was at the base of the exploration of your now oil agitation. Well, he might be thanking his Allah for balancing the act between the Arewa and the rest of your Southerners (who have no indigenous names for your region except South-West, South-East, and South-South), which he finds difficult to say because it comes out as "Saw-Saw" or "Sour-Sour." See the problem, the equation is balanced, the Arewa Dariye leads, and the South-South follows. Of course, Dariye paid for it because he was a deviant boy calling for the Middle Belt Forum, and now again the South-South giving the North such a sleepless night has given this Kano Mallam some cause for celebration Alamieyeseigha-Champagne!!!!