ONE fact that has emerged from the first part of this two-part series is that Nigeria fights for survival in many diverse fronts. In the first part of the series, I listed some of the real enemies of Nigeria that had contributed negatively to its development. Among those mentioned were pen-robbers, cross-border criminals, those who kill in God’s name, and the cabal that runs this country, etc.
One common denominator of these real enemies of Nigeria is that they parasitise on the nation’s resources, leaving it generally impoverished and emasculated. There are other real enemies of Nigeria, and this is what the second and last part of this series intends to address.
Before I do that, I wish to most painfully observe that our nation would have grown into a globally-recognised economic giant, if not for the unpatriotic activities of these unrepentant enemies. Nigeria has had a stunted growth and development for good 55 years after its independence, when other countries that had their independence at the same time had recorded substantial progress in every sphere of human development.
Observers of Nigeria’s development over the years believe that the country could still be salvaged from THE strangleholds of its enemies if the planners of our economy turned a new leaf and approached development more pragmatically and patriotically. What cannot, however, be argued is that Nigeria has become a victim of its own people, especially those who parade themselves as leaders – who govern without conviction and love for the country. This is why we have not been able to attain a certain degree of development expected of a nation as large and populous as Nigeria.
For the benefit of today’s discourse, it will be appropriate to begin with corrupt judicial officers. These are people who occupy distinguished offices in the judicial arm of government. In the eyes of the people they are irreproachable, but beneath the veil some of them are worse than Pilate. These corrupt officials in the temple of justice are easily compromised and misapply justice for their self-aggrandisement. Whatever bad name the judiciary bears today is blameable on them. Even at that, there are still some good men and women sitting in judgement over important cases in the country who have refused to be manipulated by forces seemingly more powerful and daring than them. This category of judicial officers is those who have shunned the billions that politicians flaunt before them to obtain justice behind closed doors. What do you, the reader, think about the judicial pronouncements in the governorship election petitions in different parts of the country, where the tribunals took the bulls by the horns and delivered judgments that were seen as monumental and historic?
In some other cases, it was obvious that the judiciary faltered and played to the gallery. In such instances, its reputation is called to question. A prominent Nigerian and former Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, echoed the same fear when he stated categorically that the Nigerian judiciary was corrupt. He made this declaration about four years ago at the Annual National Conference of the Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies (AES) held in Lagos. Obasanjo stated and I quote: “The judiciary does not have the moral justification to label politicians as being corrupt, because in a way, it is the same judiciary that has corrupted our political system, thereby making justice accessible to the highest bidder.”
Could anybody have been blunter? For the first time, in a long time, the former President scored a bull’s eye in his assessment of a critical national institution for the advancement of our national judicial heritage. To me, Obasanjo’s comment strikes a familiar note with the position expressed by other notable Nigerians that had frowned at the acquiescing disposition of the judiciary in matters concerning election petitions. Fashola’s, then Lagos governor, position at the forum seemed to drive a nail into the coffin. Hear him:”The judiciary is a part of government as against the misconception that government owns the judiciary and can hijack or influence its judgements.”
I wish to state emphatically, however, that everything humanly possible should be done to maintain the integrity of the judiciary, despite the pressure in the contrary. Even President Muhammadu Buhari frowned at the activities of the judiciary sometime in January this year when he openly said that the judiciary was slowing down the fight against corruption.
If the enemies of Nigeria succeed in finding sanctuary in the judiciary then our nation is doomed. This is why I expect the Review of the Constitution being undertaken by the National Assembly to address the problems confronting the judiciary, which inhibit it from performing its constitutional role efficiently. As far as I am concerned, it will amount to a great disservice to the nation for anybody to think about compromising the judiciary. The consequences of such an action are unimaginable.
What about corrupt security agents? From among them come those who pull the trigger with recklessness, committing what is generally called extra-judicial killings. They kill and maim the same citizens they are paid to protect. Some of them even collude with criminal elements to terrorise and intimidate members of the public. It is very embarrassing that a policeman or woman could be involved in crime with acute remorselessness. They constitute a clog in the wheel of progress of the nation by flirting with criminals. Corrupt security agents are the real reason all the strategies put in place to fight violent crimes are not working. It has been alleged severally that some security agents serve as informers to criminals. Beat that if you can! They are in turn settled generously by these social misfits and desperadoes. Didn’t former President Goodluck Jonathan himself at some point during his reign own up that his government had been infiltrated by the dreaded Boko Haram Sect? The implication of this was that intelligence-gathering among security agencies had been seriously jeopardized. It is now understandable why Boko Haram and other anti-social elements seem to be having the upper hand.
The sophisticated weapons criminals use are an indication that some people, somewhere, are working for the criminals. Their firepower is adjudged superior to that of security agents. Let us ask: from where did the arms find their way into the country? Definitely, they came in through the borders, which are supposedly manned by well-trained and remunerated security agents, such as the customs, immigration, Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Security Service (DSS), etc.
I advocate that part of the reforms of security apparatuses should include the weeding out of the bad eggs that populate it. I have sadly come to the conclusion that asking compromised security personnel to serve as security detail to you is tantamount to asking an armed robber to guard your house. You can provide the answer to what will happen yourself.
There is a new band of enemies that poses a great danger to the development of Nigeria. They attack the vulnerable, impressionable and weak. In this case, I mean youths below the age of 18. Those that engage in this immoral and illegal act are adults between the ages of 55 and 75 years. They specialise in defiling innocent girls as young as between 2 and 12 years old. They lure these girls with money as small as N100 to sleep with them. Many of these girls have either become pregnant or infected with deadly sexually-transmitted diseases. There was a case that occurred at Omu Aran in Irepodun Local Government Council of Kwara State in recent past, where three men – ages ranging between 55 and 75 years – were arrested by the police for defiling three teenage girls. The youngest among these girls was 12 years old. Reading through the story left my heart completely torn. How could such a bizarre and bestial thing happen in a nation as globally prominent as Nigeria? I felt somewhat ashamed belonging to such a depraved society where life has become brutal and brutish.
In any case, the looseness of our statutes on crimes such as rape, defilement and abduction is responsible for the escalation of these crimes. This calls for an immediate amendment of the extant laws to prescribe stiffer penalties to serve as a deterrent to others. As the laws stand now, it is not easy to deal effectively and speedily with such cases. There is, however, hope that the right thing will be done soon, given the new awareness around the matter. Some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) have taken up the struggle to ensure that the unholy acts are not committed with reckless abandon by men with uncontrollable libido. Left for me, I would want convicted offenders castrated. This is the only language criminally-minded Nigerians understand.
The recent case between Ese and Yunusa has further accentuated pressure on security agencies to curtail this menace before it gets to an embarrassing level.
What about human-traffickers and operators of baby-making factories scattered across the country? Human-trafficking has become modern-day slavery, going by the expansive network and connections the perpetrators enjoy. It has been established that young girls of all sizes and shapes are ferried to Europe, Asia and America for prostitution. Thousands have already been trafficked with the cartels smiling to the bank. Often, the girls that are trafficked are brainwashed and ultimately deceived into believing they are in for a life-changing deal. Efforts by the various governments across the world to fight the scourge have met with little success, because of the desperate and fierce tactics the traffickers apply to their illegal trade. Interestingly, there have been visible efforts by the Nigerian government to contain the menace.
On the same slate with human traffickers are the operators of illegal orphanages. They are among the most dangerous enemies of Nigeria. These orphanages are centres of all kinds of sharp practices ranging from luring young girls to become pregnant, delivered of their babies and the same babies sold to those who need them at exorbitant prices, leaving their mothers childless and disillusioned. There are pending cases at the various police stations all over the country with a few prosecutions. The business booms, because there are ready customers who patronize the ‘baby-factory’ willy-nilly.
Let’s spare some time and look at the activities of fuel subsidy scammers. We are all agreed that they have worsened the economic condition of the ordinary Nigerian by their crooked activities. They constituted themselves into a deadly cabal to hold the nation to ransom. The fuel increase strike of January 2012 was the fall-out of the indiscrete activities of the scammers. They had, before now, been feeding fat on the nation’s scarce financial resources unconscionably. The exposure of the members of the cabal by the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee that investigated the fuel subsidy scam accentuated the anger of the public making them call for the heads of the culprits. Sadly, the orders by then President Jonathan that his Attorney General and Minister of Justice Adoke Mohammed should commence immediate prosecution of those found to have been involved in the scam were not carried out religiously. I harboured deep apprehension that the orders might not be judiciously carried out, going by the experience of the past. One fact that has been established beyond contestation is that the fuel subsidy scammers are real enemies of Nigeria, and therefore should be treated with all seriousness.
I am pained that Nigerians are going through hell getting petroleum products for commercial and private use. The prices of fuel and diesel have jumped to high heavens. We hope that the assurances by President Buhari at the opening of a two-day retreat of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Tuesday would lead to the stimulation of the economy and deal with some of the pressing issues bothering our people.
Examination cheats are another set of those killing Nigeria. By their infamous activities educational development has been dealt a deadly blow in the country. Even parents collaborate with their children and wards to commit examination malpractice without bothering about the negative consequences on the moral fabric of the nation. The consequence is the churning out of half-baked graduates by the various higher institutions. It is sad that many Nigerian graduates are viewed with suspicion outside the country, because of the disused infrastructure that dots our tertiary institutions.
Next are oil thieves. They are also called bunkerers. They are worse than armed robbers. They are known to run over 700 illegal refineries across the country. The nation, according to the Minister of Petroleum, loses over $7 billion yearly to these oil rogues. Worst still, they have collaborators in government who provide them the cover to continue to perpetrate their criminal activities.
Let me quickly point out that these real enemies of Nigeria are formidable and dangerous. They are well-rooted in various establishments across the country. They occupy key and strategic positions in prominent political, economic and social organizations from where they influence what happens in and to Nigeria. This is why all the efforts to uproot them have been rebuffed. However, Nigerians are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to work together to defend our country from the activities of never-do-wells who have vowed to continue to work against its progress.
As 2019 approaches, there is the need for increased citizenship education to identify these real enemies of Nigeria and work hard to eliminate them. If we failed in this task then we should start singing Nigeria’s nunc-dimitis.