Life is a continuum and it can be described as circular in nature. Every year we begin from January and we end the year in December, beginning again in January and we end it again in December, so the spherical earth revolution brings new day, new week, new month and new year with the accompanying changes in weather, aging system, new babies, deaths, happiness, cries, new political order, economic system, human adventures and misadventures, new inventions and other myriad social engagements and order.
In Nigeria, we begin each year with different notches of corruption and we intend to like it in our midst.
At present, the new mantra is zoning, political alignments and realignments, our turn and not their turn, who gets what, wins and who loses, free and fair election, contracts and various political and ethnic jingoisms. Nigerians are sharply divided in narrow things, that never matter to the masses and which invariably will never add a modicum of abundant life to them. Nobody talks about how we can exorcise corruption in our neighborhood.
Whenever our boys or girls play outside the shores of Nigeria or in any of the turfs in Nigeria, we Nigerian sing in unison, a song of support for our players and I wonder why we cannot shout out in unison the singular death penalty, a fatwa placed on the heads of the less privileged Nigerians by a few opportunists. The death penalty is corruption and it has decapitated the nation beyond imagination. The practitioners feed fat on it, they will not give up as it has become their life wires and the masses face life in Nigeria with retreating hope and faith. It has become a normal life. My one time professor of Critical Media Literacy told us that when lies and stereotypes are beamed on the screens or in the air waves many times, they become accepted as true and trite. He maintained that the beneficiaries are the media owners and practitioners, but the worst thing he continued is that they rent our eyes and ears to achieve their devilish aims, profit maximization.
Corruption has come to stay in Nigeria and we have literally accepted it as a way of life. At every forum Nuhu finds himself, he would trump it to the hearing of Nigerians and the international community that if you fight corruption, it fights back. With the passage of time, it is increasingly turning out that we are losing the war on corruption and the blame should reside with no other person than the President. Dr. Pat Utomi said that everything stands and falls on the leadership. If Nigeria is infested with corruption, the president should be blamed. The Obasanjo regime amplified corruption from what it was used to be, during the regime of the father of corruption in Nigeria, IBB. On the other hand, it was during Obasanjo’s regime that Nuhu gave his life out to tame corruption. There has never been any regime in the history of Nigeria that has witnessed the chase of corrupt leaders than during the days of Obasanjo, and the man Nuhu was at the center of it all. This can be termed as unresolved contradiction according to late Brazilian professor, Pualo Freire, the author of the pedagogy of the oppressed.
In spite of the contradictory nature of Obasanjo’s regime in terms of corruption, the Nigerian state witnessed a slight decrease in corruption and the mantra then was the fear of Nuhu Ribadu was the beginning of the waning of corruption and sharp practices. Nuhu went after the anointed ones, the lowly and the highly placed in the society, and the result was the recognition by the international community and world’s corruption monitors. The nation moved down a bit in the corruption index scale.
The birth of Umaru’s regime and his retinue of corruption admirers undid all the good works of Nuhu and the leader of that group was no other person than the worst attorney general the nation has ever produced, Mike Aondoakaa. Umaru surrounded himself with corrupt moguls like James Ibori and his ilk. I am not one of those who believe that nothing bad should be said of the dead, please. Umaru sent us back to the dark days of IBB and the 1999-2003 era of Obasanjo; governance was halted to a hilt and corruption, lies, deceit and decrepit were uplifted to a state craft.
The singular malady responsible for our retrogression, decay and decapitation of the country is corruption. The village head and his cabinet are corruption, the local government and his or her cabinet are corrupt, the state governor and his cabinet are corrupt, the president and his cabinet are corrupt, the heads of public institutions like public service, hospitals, the power sector, the communication sector, primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions are corrupt. The managers of banks, insurance houses, oil companies and other private sectors are deep neck in corruption. The security operatives are corrupt, the judiciary is corrupt, the so called peoples’ representatives in both federal and states are corrupt. The churches and the mosques are corrupt and when all are corrupt, who will check the other?
In this kind of rotten environment we found ourselves, nothing will ever work in Nigeria, and nobody will ever get what belongs to him or her. Nigeria is suffering from institutional decay and corruption and it will ever take the political will and the conscience of God’s appointed one or the people’s choice to clean the Augean table.
The person who will fight corruption in Nigeria will not live in a glass house, because the fight against corruption will be just like throwing a stone. A corrupt dude or a woman will not be successful in fighting corruption. Fighting corruption in Nigeria will take a full dose of sacrifice. Jesus Christ said that devil is the accuser of brethren and when he comes he will not find anything against Him; and for this Jesus always mustered the boldness to cast out demon in anywhere He went while He was on earth.
Can Dr. Goodluck Jonathan confront the hydra headed structure of corruption in Nigeria? Umaru could not fight corruption because he shielded himself with corruption crusaders; he was sleeping with champions of corruption in Aso Rock. How can a mother who is a prostitute admonish her daughter from sleeping around with men? The logic is simple.
One who seeks equity will present a clean hand. I am in love with our president, Dr. Jonathan and he has to prove to Nigerians and the international community that he is ever ready, willing and able to fight corruption in Nigeria. His appointment of prof. Attahiru Jega convinced many Thomases that he is set to confront election corruption. Dr. Jonathan has again to convince all of us that he is set to confront the biggest canopy of corruption when he fires the present chairman of EFCC, Mrs. Waziri and allows Nuhu Ribadu to mount the stage again and root out the enemies of the Nigerian state. The irony is that any person who wants to root out corruption in Nigeria will never win any election, but this will be left to the masses to determine.
I hate when I hear the rule of law in fighting corruption in Nigeria. Which rule of law, that was the mantra created by Umaru, James Ibori and Aondoakaa, to deceive us that corruption war was being fought, but that was a lie and the period of Umaru’s sickness showed us that truth was a scarce commodity among those “vendors of impunity” if I can quote Okey Ndibe.
What are the lessons from other land, Chinweizu wrote some time ago? A classical lesson can be drawn from the Lord Shang dynasty in the ancient China. The Lord Shang Legalists as against the prevailing Confucianist school believed that humans are lazy, corrupt, petty, and wicked, hence the emphasis on punishment. Heavy punishments were meted out to even minor offences and the reason behind that was to prevent people from jumping off the slippery slope into more serious crime. Lord Shang dynasty believed that promotion and advancement should be based entirely on merit and it had nothing to do with one’s family connection or other circumstances. They also advocated that all people, from the Emperor to the lowest peasant, should be treated equal before the law.
Lord Shang believed that when a sage is on the throne all appointments are given to those who could deliver services to the people with finesse and firmness. He also believed on the other hand, that when a mediocre ruled a nation, he would surround himself with mediocre, corruption would be high and the state would suffer.
If corruption still persists in the nation, it will be a simple fact that Dr. Jonathan condones it. When those corrupt governors, legislatures, local government chairmen, public office holders and other helms men and women in the private sectors find themselves locked behind a sold wall of prison, others outside the gate of prison will stop stealing the commonwealth of the people and corruption will be reduced; and then nation will witness an accelerated progress and development in all spheres of the nation’s life. Without severe punishment evils will continue, as simple as that.
Give Nuhu Ribadu the EFCC job and with the president backing him, the Emirs, Obas, Kings, Ezes anointed ones, the untouchables and the Queens will go to jail if found guilty. And it is only and only then Nigeria will be a nation to behold. It is only then I will not bribe anybody for my child to go to any of the Nigerian federal or state universities. Only then will somebody get what belongs to her or him without slipping a naira note under the table for any job to be done.