“In sooth, I know not why I am so sad,” Antonio wonders at the outset of The Merchant of Venice. The scourge of corruption that is ravaging Nigeria makes good people like Sonala Olumhense so sad. He is not alone. 

Of all contemporary Nigerian writers that I know, there is no one like Olumhense who doggedly and fastidiously prosecutes corruption face to face in his columns. He’s got that right. 

Olumhense is a veritable ball of energy. He is animated when writing about corruption in Nigeria. He stresses in evangelical fashion, the interconnectedness of the multiple political, economic, and social consequences of corruption to the country and the impact on the citizens.
We can understand why Olumhense grows apocalyptic at times, overheated, and fueled by fury. Corruption is our number enemy. Corruption is the new radioactive catastrophe – our Chernobyl – if you will, that is killing Nigeria and Nigerians and would ultimately wipe out the country and its 160 million dumb citizens.

In his article “Let Us Detonate This Grand Corruption Conspiracy (2)” published in SaharaReporters November 17, Olumhense’s fervor to rid Nigeria of corruption bubbles to the fore as evidenced in his carefully distilled and dispassionate suggested strategies in the article.

In the characteristic Olumhense style, he carefully and methodically builds his case step by step. Olumhense’s manifesto on how to fight corruption in Nigeria reads like conjured magic with Hemmingwayesque simplicity of prose. I say conjured magic because the strategies proffered are too democratic, too decent, too civilized, too constitutional, too logical, too commonsensical, and too alien, to Hobbesian Nigerian state – that’s the surest way on how not to “detonate this grand corruption conspiracy” in Nigeria!

Olumhense religiously submits that “The first task is to understand that Nigeria’s corruption oligarchy counts on the ignorance and cowardice of Nigerians to fuel the culture of impunity.” “The first task is to empower people and therefore embolden the people with information.” A people armed with the truth,” says Olumhense, “can never be defeated.” 
I’ll like to remind Olumhense that the titans of the corruption conglomerate are extremely dexterous in distortion, manipulation, misinformation, disinformation, falsehood, and make believe. It’s no wonder Nigerians are trapped in moronic delusion in support of the illegalities of corruption.

The issue of corruption is a comedy of ethnic columns divided into neurotic acts and scenes of misery.  For instance, if the culprit was Hausa man, the Hausas would shield the criminal with impregnable fort and instead charge his Yoruba or Igbo accusers of ethnic bias. The same goes for the other two groups.

Consider the following examples: 

The so called Middle Belt Progressive Union came out swinging at critics of the embattled aviation minister, Stella Oduah. In the Sunday edition of This Day November 24, in a letter to President Jonathan signed by the union’s president and secretary Danladi Shaga and Shehu Maihula respectively, said “Most observers are not deceived by the hypocrisy of the on-going orchestrated and sustained mass media hysteria against Oduah. It is all hatchet job sponsored by parochial interest groups jealous and unhappy with you and your star ministers,” the group said. 

The group then warned Mr. Jonathan of enemies within “working against your interests as moles; they are like the dangerous domestic rat that reveals to the wild rat that there is a piece of fish in the kitchen basket.” Not so long ago, a group of women also came out in full force protesting in support of Oduah. 

The little known Abuja Market Women’s Association were up in arms deriding, insulting, and castigating ASUU for being on strike and threatened ASUU with October deadline to go back to work or else… These rented crowds feed the corrupt appetites of the enemies of the people and dwarf our hopes that Nigerians have what it takes to present a unified front and fight their common enemies.

Some brain pulverized youth demonstrated against the arrest of Governor Lamido’s two sons by the EFCC for embezzling millions of Naira. 
Tell Ijaw confederacy that Mr. Jonathan is a corrupt man and rather than fight corruption he has in fact legalized and legitimized corruption and hear what they would say. The Asari Dokubos of the Ijaw Confederacy would confront you with “it’s our oil money and we can spend it as we like.” And with a clincher Dokubo will vow that “Nigeria will become history if Jonathan is not re-elected in 2015.”

The Peoples Anti-Corruption War (PAW) suggested by Olumhense will fade away as soon as it is formed. The various governments and their looting surrogates will inoculate or better still, castrate PAW members with tempting and irresistible bundles of Naira in Ghana Must Go. Similarly, the Civil Society Anti-corruption crusaders are also at risk of being bought and burned.

The compilation of database of phone numbers of legislators as advised by Olumhense will be 419 numbers. It’s like building a bridge to nowhere! Nigerians are too conniving, too religious, and too sympathetic to serve as reliable whistle blowers and dependable informants that will give away the phone numbers of NASS or state assembly members. Bear in mind that most of the legislators are members of the same church with their staff. In some cases, the legislators are their pastors. Armed with the Biblical injunction “do my prophet no harm,” these religion charlatans would refuse to turn in the real phone numbers.

Forget about Citizens United Against Corruption. We don’t have such committed and loyal citizens that will “Encourage,” “Suggest,” “Assist,” and “Volunteer” to report the thieves to any of the civil society campaigners. Our citizens are not equipped consciously, psychologically, radically, democratically, and resolutely “to ask harder questions of other officials, elected or appointed…” Likewise, they’re too timid, too cowed, and too subservient “to pile unprecedented pressure on their representatives that will translate into law and improve governance.”

Olumhense solicits the support of the telecommunications companies in Nigeria in the fight against corruption. Well, the telecommunications companies are allies and accessories that put finishing touches that complete the fraudulent transactions of the thieves in Abuja, Aso Rock, and in other parts of the country. They are partners in crime. As we all know, the companies are owned by the ruling thieves but fronted by their boys. Then the pertinent question is: How can Beelzebub cast out Beelzebub?

Asking political parties to fight corruption in Nigeria is like asking President Jonathan to declare his assets. The enlistment of political parties in the war against corruption as proposed by Olumhense is a political nonstarter. The political parties are the architects of corruption in the country. The parties are the same, the only difference is in name. None of the parties in my view presents a credible alternative in the fight against corruption. They are anti-people, anti-democracy, anti-development, anti-transparency, and anti-accountability. 

Take a look at the personal estates, fortunes, and other largesse of the party leaders, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. When it comes to choosing a political party that fights for the oppressed poor, Nigerians have no choice really. They are faced with a choice between Satan and Lucifer!

Olumhense calls for Anti-Corruption Campaigners to “unite and establish a genuine annual National Honours scheme, perhaps to be called Nigeria People’s Heroes, to restore meaning to the concept of honour.” In my view, this would not discourage corruption. Remember, this is Nigeria where things work in the reverse and where everything is corrupt or prone to corruption. 

What becomes of the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) merit honor of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)? A professional status considered as independent indication of professional excellence of value has been politicized, punctuated, and inundated with the Nigerian factor. We now have many SANs more than the membership of NBA. Literally, every lawyer in Nigeria now walks around with the SAN title on his or her forehead.

Nigerians in the diaspora are very politically disabled, fractured, polarized, and disunited due to suspicion, petty jealousies, ethnic rivalry, and personal ambition. They don’t speak with one voice, they lack focus, organization, and are consumed, constricted, and cocooned in their narrow hermetic cells. Like Nigerians at home, they see the war on corruption as “we versus them” and “they versus us.”

Take a tour on Facebook and see the jaundiced, colored, and mangled pedestrian views expressed by Nigerians in Diaspora on corruption. Usually and as expected, the debate is full of ethnic bias, pride and prejudice. Sorry, they can’t be of any help in fighting corruption back home!

Now what’s to be done?  Well, the answer is simple: I believe a revolutionary movement with nostalgic vision of “house cleaning” of Jerry John Rawlings by the masses (military not invited!) whereby the enemies of the people – the fat cows of Corruption Inc., are purged in a bloodbath. Once the traitors have been successfully eliminated, then we could apply Thomas Sankara style of people’s revolutionary tribunals to try minor agents and appendages of the corruption conglomerate. 

[email protected]


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

You may also like

Read Next