Sunday, 26 May 2013
The Ghosts Amongst Us In Nigeria By Prince Charles Dickson
“I don't suppose you have to believe in ghosts to know that we are all haunted, all of us, by things we can see and feel and guess at, and many more things that we can't.”― Beth Gutcheon, More Than You Know “
...the ghosts you chase you never catch.”― John Malkovich
I am sure many of my readers had predicted this, on seeing my topic--this must be about Jonathan and his ghosts of Yobe/Borno. The ghosts he won't negotiate with and the same ghosts being killed by STF, JTF and other Fs.
I am sure many believe my admonition would be asking to know what has happened to the hundreds of ghosts caught by the Department of State Security.
Well in a ghost society like ours, one may not be far off with such assumptions, though for now I would leave Jonathan's ghosts and dwell on the other ghosts amongst us.
Perhaps I should have a working definition of ghosts in this context, a being so often talked about but very few can claim to have seen, these ghosts we never catch...
These ghosts are in low and high places in Nigeria, they have over the years found our clime a conducive working environment--they have been responsible for 'missing' files, ships, planes and monies (especially sums in millions and billions). Need I tell us, one of the characters of a ghost or ghosts are their ability to appear and disappear.
So next time you feel exasperated about the Nigerian conundrum, especially corruption i.e. stolen funds--take it that the ghosts are it, if not how do you explain how thieves disappear.
For example it is regular sight to see two policemen for lack of duty follow a man to go arrest a boy who allegedly made his daughter pregnant. But yet an entire police with legislative, executive powers and a warrant cannot get a certain Maina ala pension?
Permit me to tell us the real ghosts’ stories, some years I read an essay on "Ghosts" from the work The Word by H. W. Percival. Published in 1913. Harold Waldwin Percival was a Theosophist and writer, famous for his magnum opus Thinking and Destiny.
In 1904 he began publishing The Word, "A monthly magazine devoted to Philosophy, Science, Religion, Eastern thought, Occultism, Theosophy, and the Brotherhood of Humanity.
I was a fan for academic reasons; in this particular essay he opined "No country is free from the belief in ghosts. In some parts of the world much time is given to ghosts; in other parts, few people think about them. Ghosts have a strong hold on the minds of the people of Europe, Asia, and Africa..."
I substitute Africa for Nigeria. He went on to further say, "Ghosts frequent certain localities more than they do others...At certain times the belief in ghosts is wider spread than at others."
I cannot but agree with him, so let me prove him right.
Gov. Jang of Plateau told me in 2011 the state government lost about 800 million naira to 'ghost workers' in the state civil service.
That was before a 'ghost' commissioner was discovered. Recently with no fewer than 5,000 ghost workers on its payroll, out of the state’s total workforce of 21,000, only about 50 percent, it implies one in every four workers were ghosts.
The Chairman of the Zamfara State workers’ verification committee, Ahmed Abubakar, told the same tales that more than 7,000 ghosts were on the government's payroll.
He lamented that more than 50 per cent of the Government House staff members comprised of mainly “the ghost and redundant” workers. About 20,000 ghost workers was detected on the payroll of the 25 local government areas in Niger State, according to the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Garba Tagwai.
No fewer than 140 ghost were unmasked by the Kano State Government in the state’s Civil Service during the on-going personnel verification exercise, while in Bayelsa a LGA staff audit committee constituted by the chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, discovered the existence of 500 ghost and dead workers on the payroll of the council.
And the state itself under former Gov. Sylva discovered that the state civil service had 11, 132 ghost workers who have been gulping N293.7 million monthly, translating to N3.524 billion annually.
Lagos has its own share, as the Office of the Auditor-General for Local Governments in the state said they were able to stop the payment of over N82 million to ghost workers, and deceased pensioners for the years 2010 and 2011. They even arrested some of the ghosts (sic).
Last year, the HoR said a build up of ghost wages that helped swell the 2012 federal payroll, delayed the passage of the national budget. And this year State Minister for Finance Yerima Ngama, announced that 45,000 ghost workers who earned more than N100 billion, had been discovered on the pay roll of the Federal Government after auditing 251 Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs out of 572, these are 'ghosty discoveries'...
With all the ghost tales told, records kept and books written about ghosts, there seems to be no order as to kinds and varieties of ghosts. No classification of ghosts has been given. No information of a science of ghosts is at hand, that if one sees a ghost he might know what kind of a ghost it is. One may learn to know and be unafraid of ghosts as of his shadows without giving them too much attention or being unduly influenced by them.
So its strange how these ghosts are discovered, how these ghosts serve the living--where are these ghosts locked when caught. In Nigeria it is ghosts everywhere you go. Ghost robbers, ghost kidnappers, ghost rapists, ghost security agents, and ghost governments.
A case of 'who done it', not me, not you--then blame it on the ghosts, if your wife misbehaves, it's her ghost, politicians steal, they have only 'ghosted' away with the money, ghosts that move subsidy funds, ghosts schools, ghosts and more ghosts, are we ready to exorcise these ghosts in our national life, only time will tell.
Prince Charles Dickson
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