From Fred Ezeh, Abuja The report of a financial audit conducted by an independent audit committee set up by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has revealed that about N423 billion was spent on developmental projects in the oil rich region from 2008 till date. The committee, which audited the books of the ministry since…
First things first, let me introduce my subject nation. The world celebrates it more as the headquarters of the happiest people on earth. Embedded in that booby prize is the contradiction of contradictions: this same ‘happiest’ citizenry suffer the most deprivation, poverty and leadership abuse. Yet, they live happily. It is a wonder the world hasn’t added the tag of the most contradictory or two-faced nation. No other country the world over compares as home to the most religious people nor is there any good second on the flipside: most religious ‘for mouth.’
From the foregoing, you understand why the world is grateful for little mercies that occasionally tumble out of that country. While others are hitting the sky flying, her leaders are busy seeking to jumpstart her to hit the ground running. Mannerisms that are a taboo elsewhere are excused or explained away in that land. Recall that one of her Old Testament presidents, during his heyday, once sent shockwaves around the globe when he clarified that stealing was not corruption. Typically, the sanctimonious few who rose up in gross indignation against that comment had the bad luck of their grandstanding fizzling out just like that. Truth to tell, that President had a point. He still does. There is no way stealing would be corruption, as the world sees it, because, in that country, stealing is self-help of the people, by the people and for the people. I hate generalisations, but how else can I say that in that country everyone celebrates or encourages stealing, directly or indirectly?
Sssh, wait! I can explain. Who is living within his/her means in that country, and is being respected for that by the masses? Which civil servant or public office holder retired clean and got one chieftaincy title or such other honour(s) from their community? Kith and kin lampoon, badmouth or isolate their sons and daughters who refused to help themselves when they held the keys to the public till. How many villages, or families, or parents in that country now bother about the source of their children’s sudden wealth? How does that society corporately see pilfering from the commonwealth? Show me one burial or grave or epitaph of one honest man or woman of that land who died poor; whose relatives rallied around in appreciation of the fact that (s)he eschewed this vice. Mind you, stealing in this context is not only about money and materials. In that country, they also steal oil, votes/elections, office/position, life, human beings, examinations/certificate, truth, rights, ideas, land, relationships and, lately, pots of food still being cooked. In that country, stealing is not about class. No, everyone is involved to feed their greed or nepotism; if not in the commission, certainly in the criminal deafening silence that greets the crass thievery witnessed all over the landscape. In that country, stealing is not corruption. It cannot be.
Buoyed by the foregoing, may I now second the motion, which a citizen of that country recently joked about? When his compatriots take this seriously, change shall truly go to them. The first step is to take turns in publicly swearing to the oath of stealing with the fear of God. In addition to guiding incumbent opportunists to ‘steal and remain’ for the populace and future thieves, the oath will have retrospective or retroactive as well as presumptive and anticipatory powers. The aim of this multipurpose or smart oath is to make everyone ethically and attitudinally born again such that a past thief who stole without the fear of God would step forward to return the surplus while those angling to become new kids on the block would allow the new spirit to guide their kleptomania. But, what does it mean stealing with the fear of God?
Simple. It refers to white or holy thievery, stealing that has conscience. An official who steals with the fear of God does not steal as blindly, as gluttonously nor as wickedly as has been experienced in that country. The fear of God makes a thief to smile during the act. That way, (s)he takes a little or only the much needed to sustain his/her family. Not so the one who steals without the-beginning-of-wisdom fear. That one frowns and grumbles all the way and, blinded by that anger, amasses far more than enough for his/her extended and nuclear families, children, children’s children, cronies, etc. Stealing without the fear of God is so silly that sometimes the ill-gotten gains are lost to ants (buried wealth) or to thievery receiver economies (where exported haul is banked away). Stealing without the fear of God lands you in prison. It is too glaring, too animalistic and, above all, too wasteful. One only needs a billionth of that mindlessness!
I cannot round off this SOS sans stating the reason I decided to pick on this particular nation today. Last Wednesday, a woman chatted to me about one of the airports in her homeland. She told me that, between 2010 and 2014, managers of the aviation facility, via just one of their revenue-generating strategies, pooled about ten billion bucks. Brilliant? Nonsense, the guys only paid a few millions into government coffers. Not only did these ones not have the fear of God, the next page of that brief proves conclusively that they are the very personification of Satan. You know what? Apart from stealing (in fact ‘armed robbing’) the ten billion revenue that they generated, they also got government to approve and release another ten billion bucks to them. Gawd!
No fear of God, no respect for Satan. Rapists from hell, all of them. Little wonder that country bleeds. I thank God that it is not my fatherland. For the road, here’s a little good news: the authorities of that land are looking into ad hoc books, and have invited Yours Sincerely to pry along. I travel thereto, in a day or two. Details soon, if any. God bless Nigeria!
Senate vs. EFCC & Customs or Senate vs. Buhari & Exco?
My hyperactive mind has been on overdrive since our 109 senators decided to taunt President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed the executive arm by publicly ridiculing Ibrahim Magu and Hameed Ali. Is this corruption fighting back, seeking to force the family to the roundtable? Or is it just the legislature standing up to be counted? Or is this furore another trick by the political class, nay leadership, to buy time? Heads or tails, the current back-and-forth will end like every other ill wind, to the Executive, the Legislature and, of course, the masses!