Saturday, 25 May 2013
Who Is The Thief - In - Chief? (1) By Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.
Few things excite corrupt Nigerians more than appointments to public positions. Their very first reaction upon securing a government appointment is a quick check to establish if there is much to skim there. If there is, the appointment is described as “lucrative”. If there is not much to skim, the position is termed as “dry”.
A person is known as “creative” or “resourceful” in corrupt circles in Nigeria if he can turn an otherwise dry posting into a lucrative one and more importantly if he does not forget to parcel out choice proceeds from his thievery, upwards to his superiors or benefactors. In Nigerian terminology this is known as ‘making returns’.
A resourceful underling who conscientiously renders returns to his corrupt bosses becomes “our man”, a favorite protégé of his bosses and benefactors who make sure that he is rewarded with more lucrative postings. In the eyes of his bosses, if he can be so “trustworthy” in minor postings, he would most certainly do wonders in major ones.
Now the most common way in which rotten public servants and civil servants turn dry postings into lucrative ones is by creating unnecessary obstacles or checkpoints in the way of bona fide users of the service which their office provides. These obstacles of course can only be cleared by making ad hoc illegal payments known as “settlements”. The logic is simple. If you want to cross the check-point you must make the payment. If you don’t, it is a no go situation and the status quo ante subsists. The choice is yours. Faced with a contrived obstacle or artificial check-point, most users of government services and service providers such as contractors make a quick cost–benefit analysis of the situation and act accordingly as profit dictates.
Of course what we have just described is the base of the elaborate yet decentralized infrastructure of corruption in Nigeria. The corruption industry is by far the largest employer of labor in Nigeria. It is almost a given that anybody who wants to be somebody in Nigeria must have a foothold in this industry.
There are some Nigerians who are gainfully employed in the corruption industry because as the saying goes, and I claim no knowledge of its provenance, if you cannot beat them, you should join them. For such Nigerians they cannot afford to be the only sane persons in a sea of insanity. For them, it is prudent to align with the majority even in their insanity. For some other Nigerians, the corrupt route is the only way they can make ends meet. Such people would reel out to you the humongous responsibilities they bear. Their salaries are too small to meet the demands that fate has thrust upon their shoulders they lament.
Those who belong to either of these two categories work in the corruption industry to, they might say, make ends meet, keep up with the Joneses, impress their impressionable wives, children, kinsmen, friends and acquaintances that they are ‘making it’ and crucially, in order not to be left too far behind in the rat race for ‘progress’. If Pareto’s principle, the famed 80-20 rule applies universally, these two categories combined represent the base that accounts for 80% of the volume of corrupt practices in Nigeria but for only 20% of the corruption in Nigeria in value terms.
For this 80% base, the proceeds of corruption are applied at best into buying a couple of brand new cars, building a couple of new houses in select Nigerian cities, erecting a country home or villa in their native village, flying to London, Dubai, Paris, Rome or New York for shopping once or twice a year and sending their children to Ghana, Republic of Benin, Togo and maybe South Africa for their education.
At the top of the corruption food chain in Nigeria are the heavy hitters, the knights, dukes, barons and godfathers of corruption. The membership of this select category comprises ranking politicians and top drawer public servants, influential civil servants, flamboyant preacher-men, business moguls, the ex-this and ex-that of Nigeria’s ruling elite and the rotten elements of the Nigerian intelligentsia.
These knights of corruption are the people who determine who gets what in Nigeria. They may be directly responsible for only 20% of the corrupt acts in Nigeria in volume terms, but they account for 80% of the corruption in Nigeria in value terms. They are the sharp point or tip of corruption in Nigeria.
Nigerians should believe this. We have lost our hard won independence. We are effectively no more an independent nation. We are no more a country of free men and free women. We are now a colonized nation. The future of the country has been mortgaged and Nigerians have been sold down the river like slaves. Nigerians are now staring down the abyss of perdition with no hope in sight.
52 years on from independence Nigeria, the most populous black nation on Earth, should ordinarily by now have become one of the world’s newly emerged economic and scientific powers on a par with countries like India, South Korea, Brazil and China. Yet the thieving tip of corruption in Nigeria working in cahoots with their conniving base has conspired to reduce the country into a caricature of nationhood.
Our new colonizers are black like us. They look like us. They speak like us. They attend the same schools like us. They work alongside us. They worship alongside us. Some of them even pastor to us. They speak our common languages. But they are different from us. There is another deeper esoteric language they speak, known only to them, the neocolonialists as well as their cohorts and replete with hidden signs and symbols.
You have to be self - initiated into and steeped in corruption to speak this language. That esoteric language is the language of thievery. You either understand that language or you don’t. You either belong to them or you don’t. Some of them, born thieves, started speaking that language right from their mothers’ wombs. Some learnt the language out of greed. Others learnt the language out of sheer laziness – wanting to reap where they have not sown.
These internal colonialists have partitioned Nigeria into thieving spheres of influence just as the white colonialists partitioned Africa. If you speak their language, they parcel out an aspect of our national life to you to steal and plunder. The internal colonialists stem from and cut across all tribes, age groups, creeds and genders in Nigeria. When they speak the language of corruption to you, they expect you to understand. If you don’t, they frustrate, oppress and repress you.
But those who stand for what is right, those who stand for what is just, those who stand for a great Nigeria taking its rightful place with dignity among the comity of great nations should not be frustrated. Just as our forefathers won the original war of independence from external white colonial rule, so too we must fight until we win back our own country from internal black corrupt misrule. We must continue to fight using all legitimate means and methods to overthrow rogues and common thieves lurking in high and low places, mortgaging the future of coming generations in order to satisfy their selfish interests and warped egos.
Engr. A. C. Konwea, P.E.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters