– The Sun News

When govt silence signals support for corruption

In the past 57 years since the attainment of political independence, Nigeria has been led by loquacious and clueless politicians and military dictators who promised so much but delivered so little. During this period, the country suffered immeasurably owing to weak leadership, endemic corruption, collapse of infrastructure, disregard for the basic needs of ordinary citizens, failure of the government to investigate strong allegations of fraud, embezzlement of public property, deteriorating quality of university education, poor condition of public hospitals, and most disgustingly and most recently the sheer inability of Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha to identify the priority needs of the citizens of the state. At times like this, citizens of Imo State must feel like dissociating themselves from their state of origin. Well, just like the uninspiring leadership we have at the centre, the citizens must learn to live with what they have as political leaders until the next election. In various parts of the country, things are falling apart. Various ethnic groups are seeking to abandon the current arrangement in which they feel their best interests are not being served. It is that feeling that has fuelled and continues to instigate militancy of sorts across the country. Boko Haram terrorists continue to pin down security forces in an endless war in certain parts of the country even when we are informed the armed forces have degraded their capacity to mount serious attacks on citizens. The southeast is just recovering from high-handed and brutal attacks by the army on citizens in the name of chasing members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). What is the outcome? The group has gone underground. A problem that should have been dealt with through dialogue has been postponed, not eliminated. The Niger Delta region remains restless. The communities that produce crude oil, the country’s main foreign exchange earner, do not get to see much of the revenue derived from oil that is produced on their own soil. This is a major contradiction that has blemished the country’s image. While communities in the Niger Delta produce our national wealth, other people nowhere near the region manufacture half-baked arguments to justify why they have to sit in judgment over how the oil revenue should be shared, most times to the disadvantage of the communities and states that produce the oil revenue. It is the perpetration of this longstanding injustice that was captured in the local phrase – Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. Everywhere you look, there is trouble, there is injustice, there is denial of civic rights, and a deliberate policy of marginalisation is being enacted against people in some regions because of the way they voted in the 2015 national elections. Beyond these contradictions, there is the case of the Chibok girls whose conditions and predicaments remain unknown. Even after we have celebrated the return to life of some of these young women, they are still denied their right to free expression. They are shielded from journalists who are keen to interview them to tease out the appalling conditions they suffered in the hands of their abductors. Is the Federal Government overly protecting the Chibok girls who gained their freedom under inexplicable circumstances? Why is it that, of all those who have been reunited with their families, none has spoken publicly and none is willing or eager to speak up? There is something mysterious not only about those Chibok girls still in captivity but also there is something creepy about those who have gained their freedom. Who is making political capital out of someone else’s misfortunes? The economy is in a bad state, despite claims by the government that the recession is over. Our public health system is a disaster, including the clinic in Aso Rock which is meant to serve the President and his family. That explains why President Muhammadu Buhari himself rushes to overseas medical facilities for regular medical check-up. Universities and polytechnics have disintegrated because they are underfunded. Their research outputs are pitiable. They lack innovative teaching practices probably because there is no rigorous procedure or framework for yearly appraisal of academic staff. We live in an odd society grappling with political leaders who suffer from one form of congenital physical, mental, emotional, or physiological impairment or another. In this kind of society, people have asked repeatedly: Is there anyone in charge in Nigeria? This question is apt because it symbolises the current state of disorganisation in the country. It was former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who once gave an unsettling account of how uncritical civil society aids politicians to plunder our common wealth. Not that Amaechi himself would be found spotless when we scrutinise former and present state governors with regard to their achievements during their tenure. As I have argued previously, a weak civil society is the equivalent of a dead society. A society that fails to hold political leaders to account cannot escape blame for the way politicians loot the treasury unlawfully and audaciously. A country without a vigorous civil society is the same as a democratic country in which there is no opposition. When civil society abdicates its responsibility to question people in authority, unbridled corruption becomes the approved way of doing things. The question now is: Who will lead the campaign for genuine change in Nigeria? Unfortunately, the word “change” has been bastardised by the current APC government that rode to power on the platform of numerous promises that it would introduce radical reforms (change) after election. More than two years since the APC was swept into office, the country seems to be going backward rather than forward. Certainly, there is the impression in the public sphere that Nigeria lacks genuine political leadership. Here is proof. There are startling cases of official corruption that are awaiting investigation but they have been killed by unfathomable silence by the government. The few cases the government bothered to set up investigation panels have also suffered the same fate: silence. There is no word from the government about the outcomes of the investigations. Could it be the Federal Government is using silence to signal its support for corruption? Part of the reason why the Federal Government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and other public institutions charged with fighting corruption in our society have ignored growing calls for investigations into corruption allegations is because we have a weak civil society. In 2011, we hailed the popular uprisings that erupted in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and consumed the absolute rulers who had governed their countries for decades even as the population grew poorer and poorer. We wished we could do the same in our country. If wishes were horses… It is true that every country has its problems. Nigeria’s problems are inoperable.


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1 Comment

  1. Peter Okeke 25th October 2017 at 8:33 am

    Our society is weak because of our mix up in a political marriage that the couples were coerced into with suspicions. The civil society therefore tends to view corruption along ethnic lines that has weakened its collective will to resist and condemn and that is why we are where we are today. The political class are more closer to one another from different ethnic groups when it comes to matter of indulging and covering corruption than their avowed allegiance to the people they represent who fail to appreciate their schemes. The truth is that we have gone very far in this journey together to start looking for anyone to blame since we are all guilty of the acts and acquiescence. Solution lies in pulling down the structure that has nurtured corruption , profligacy and passive approvals by the civil society by restructuring to start rebuilding again on right foundation.

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