BY Emmanuel Onwubiko
Emeka, my profoundly gifted younger brother travelled to one of the upwardly mobile Asian countries for his masters degree in Information Technology after he rounded up his university education in one of the Federal universities based in the South-East Nigeria.
He excelled in his degree examinations whereby he read Philosophy as his first course after much encouragement from me who inspired him to embrace the study of Philosophy because of its inherent intellectual benefits of broadening the thinking faculty of the scholar and readily put the person in the right frame of mind to interrogate issues around his/her environment with a view to finding meaningful and relevant conclusions to such probing questions of exisentialism.
In our many conversations in the recent past just before he rounded up his post-graduate studies, Emeka appeared very worried that the crop of political leaders that Nigerians have entrusted our future with are really not committed to transform Nigeria from our current backward status as one of the most dangerous places to live on earth and also one of the most corrupt countries of the world.
On several occasions, my sibling has sounded very worried for my safety because of what he called my consistent advocacy campaign to compel the Nigerian political class to respect the basic rule of law and the fundamental human rights of the citizenry. He, it was who rightly branded the unfortunate scenario going on in Nigeria as “the Nigerian ongoing tragicomedy.” I think there is no other appropriate way to describe the Nigerian current situation than to use the word tragicomedy. In Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, the writers defined tragicomedy as “ a literary genre that blends aspects of both tragic and comic forms.
Most often seen in dramatic liteature, the term can variously describe either a tragic play which contains enough comic elements to lighten the overall mood or, often, a serious play with a happy ending”.
An interesting dimension in all of these sad scenarios playing up themselves in our contemporary times in Nigeria is that there are still many people with good and courageous hearts in Nigeria like my younger brother- Emeka who are truly worried about the fate of Nigeria if at the end of the day, our own kind of tragicomedy does not end up in a happy mood as contemplated by those who propounded the literary theory of tragicomedy.
These set of persons in Nigeria who wish that things turn out differently for the good of all Nigerians are sometimes branded as ‘rebels’ by the powers- that- be who are so unperturbed by the worries expressed by genuinely committed Nigerians regarding the existential consequences of their corrupt practices on the body polity called Nigeria.
But Mr. Albert Camus, one of the world’s best known but departed philosophers took his time to author a beautiful book he titled “The Rebel” in which he graphically painted a glorious picture of what it takes to consistently preach against these kinds of corruption, economic crimes and perfidy that the Nigeria’s current political elites are busy perpetrating and perpetuating thereby exposing Nigeria to one of the worst cases of political instability, insecurity and the near- total state of anarchy and impunity that have enveloped the present day Nigeria. Albert Camus, who was born in Algeria in 1913 and killed after a glorious intellectual life in a car accident in January 1960 had written thus; “
There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The line that divides them is not clear. But the penal code distinguishes between them by the useful concept of premeditation. We are living in the era of premeditation and perfect crimes. Our criminals are no longer those helpless children who pleaded love as their excuse. On the contrary, they are adults, and they have perfect alibi; philosophy, which can be used for anything, even for transforming murderers into judges”.
Put more appropriately, this great philosopher of all times, Albert Camus seems to have the present day Nigeria in mind while writing the book entitled “The Rebel” when he also stated with regret that; “…On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself….”
Still talking about the Nigerian ongoing story which my younger sibling [Emeka] who now resides permanently abroad has rightly branded as ‘tragicomedy’, there are instances of political and economic developemnt in the polity that calls to question the integrity, credibility and commitment of those who currently preside over our affair as Nigerians and whether they are aware that their collective crime of political crimes have consistently pushed Nigeria to the precipice of destruction.
Few years back, when the current Economic Minister Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the Finance Minister under the then Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, she was credited with leading the international advocacy to successfully negotiate Nigeria’s exit from the foreign debts trap whereby she was said to have led a team of negotiators that got Nigeria big reprieve so much so that the country paid off $12 billion in place of the over $35 billion or so foreign debts that past federal and state governments accumulated dubiously for the corporate entity.
But only on December 6 2012, the local media are awash with stories that in the year 2013, the Federal Government has completed plans with the 36 states to also approach some creditor agencies and nations such as China, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to attract a foreign loan of over $9 billion USD payable in forty years time to immediatelly finance the building of some infrastructure and also facilitate the building of some mass housing projects for the benefits of poor Nigerians. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who briefed the Senate of the on the desirability of this huge foreign loan sounded as if it is being done to satisfy the greatest happiness of the greatest number of Nigerians.
This is a tragicomedy because Nigeria is now being gradually enslaved into another foreign debts trap similar to the situation that we found ourselves when the past federal administrations collected huge but dubuious foreign loans which only took the ingenuity of Okonjo-Iweala and her economic management team under President Obasanjo to exit Nigeria. But the Finance Minister who was the person that actively and vigourously campaigned for the international community and precisely for Nigeria’s foreign creditors like Paris Club and other multinationals to forgive part of our total foreign debts overhang, has also begun another campaign but this time around to also drag Nigeria into another foreign debts.
Oh what an unfortunate irony of fate? Only recently, the Finance Minister asked the National Assembly to quickly approve the Federal Government’s external borrowing plan of N1.8 trillion. Nigeria is seeking the loan facility from World Bank , Africa Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Exim Bank of China and India’s lines of Credit. Okonjo-Iweala said the loans were required to complete some ongoing projects captured in the year 2012 budget.
This line of reasoning is absurd because what immediatelly comes to mind is to ask the Finance Minister why Nigeria had to use the scarce fund to finance the last line of foreign debts which were mostly dubiously obtained and only to return few years now to seek another huge foreign loans. Where are the huge revenue accruable to Nigeria from the crude oil exports in the last twelve months?
Have they all being? Again, some of the Nigerian States that would benefit from these loans are also some of those unfortunate states in the federation in which their state Governors who behave like emperors have acquired for themselves state- of- the art private jets using the scarce fund available in the treasury of their state Governments to finance their high taste and profligate lifestyle. Onwubiko writes from Abuja.