That Nigeria is still afloat is a miracle. This is against the back-drop of jugular bleeding inflicted by Nigeria’s elite financial rapists. This small group has mercilessly battered and plundered Nigerian at all fronts and from every angle waiting for Nigeria to die. A lot of them are evil geniuses.
Before someone categorises my write-up as another case of Nigeria bashing, I plead not guilty. For Nigeria to win the war against corruption, the fundamental principles of operation must and also be seen to be transparent and non-selective. Public perception must confirm this because Corruption does not carry a party- card. In any scientific endeavour, we must know where we are coming from to appreciate where we are and plan accordingly for future success.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo formed the tripod that received independence from the British on October 1, 1960.There are other operators among whom is no particular order were Tony Enahoro who moved the motion for independence, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Herbert Macaulay, Mbonu Ojike, Michael Imoudu, Aminu Kano, Kingsley Mbadiwe, Michael Okpara, S.L. Akintola, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Eyo Ita, Margaret Ekpo and many more. Well documented positions of these early leaders about Nigeria abound but that discussion will be far another day. Compared with today’s rogue operators, the early leaders were Angels.
Who are these naira guzzling vampire-elite that have caused our country so much pain and derision in the international community and placed us near to zero growth fifty – six years after independence. Nigeria is still faffing around and there is no destination in sight. Briefly speaking, this class ELITE is small, rich and powerful and exerts an influence far in excess of their numerical strength. They operate in cuckoo land and have forgotten that public service is a sacred trust.
For any society to advance, the elite must positively engage and mould public opinion in the national interest. They have to be good role-models for the young generation. Is that the case with Nigeria?
In developing countries unfortunately, the elite are first generation graduates and seem so blinded in the dash for wealth both legal and illegal. Their modus operandi is grab it all today for there is no tomorrow.
A sub-group within the elite is the intelligentsia who should be hard-nosed thinkers in pursuit of naked truth. Normally money cannot buy this group but as Prof. Jega found out in 2014 general election, a good number of his appointees were compromised. No wonder our education has literally collapsed for how can this group look at their students’ eye ball to eye ball and preach integrity and honesty. The Nigerian intelligentsia has to be salvaged for it is the dedication and superior thinking of the intelligentsia that transformed the world. A few examples will fleshen the discussion.
In the field of religion, Jesus Christ, Mohammed and Buddha stand out. In science and medicine Charles Darwin and the origin of species/ natural selection, Edward Jenner and vaccination, William T.G. Morton and the discovery of anaesthesia, Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity, Henry Ford and the automobile are all people who changed the world permanently. The invention of the web by Tim Berners Lee in 1989 permanently transformed communication, truly making the world a global village.
In the field of politics, the names are legion but regardless some excel. Among these are Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Karl Marx, Moa Tse Tung, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro, Angela Merkel.
Coming to Africa, Nnamdi Azikwe, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela all etched imprints that inspired millions to fight for freedom.
Within the context of our country Nigeria, one asserts that our intelligentsia rank among the best in the world. They excel abroad.
On arrival home for some inexplicable reasons, it looks as if a nerve synapse snaps and there is a 180-degree decline. How can one understand the sickening and gargantuan sums of money bandied around in the press and social media and said to be stolen by political office holders, military personnel, civil servants running into billions and trillions of naira.
The monies allegedly stolen if recovered can fund our national budget for 2 years or more. How can anyone justify to Nigerians that a Governor after serving for 8 years appropriates to himself through his rubber stamp house of assembly #200 million to build a retirement nest. This is a Governor who for 8 years controlled all contracts awards. Lo he is a comrade and labour keeps quiet. What example are we setting for the other 35 states? The people of labour keep quiet when many of their members have not received their pension for years. Is it not insanity for a minister to allocate to himself 12 plots of land in our Federal capital? What of the housing estates some retired permanent secretaries have in Kenya, South Africa, Dubai, Abuja, Lagos?
The malfeasance is so systematic and deep rooted that even Vice-chancellors are being arraigned for thievery running to billions.
A system where Senators who are head and shoulders above governors in order of national protocol resign to contest for governor needs re-examination. This invariably must be to access unchecked state budgets. Over-sight by state assemblies is like chorus singing.
The tragedy of financial rape is not just that our commonwealth is decimated but the damage done to our international image has deprived us of funds and Nigerians continue to live in perpetual poverty. No serious investor, foundation or government will throw away their tax-payers’ dollars into bottom-less pits without transparency and accountability.
In as much as one disagrees with 80% of American President- elect’s tweets can anyone seriously pick bones when he says African nations may be better off being re-colonized for 100 years to teach them governance as their leaders both government and opposition sit like hyenas waiting to devour their hungry citizens. How sad. Africa must understand the mindset of the incoming American administration.
Sage Nelson Mandela rightly said ‘’ The world will never respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect’’. The fight to reduce corruption drastically is also a crusade for the soul of the black man world-wide and we must not fail. We have a duty to ensure that those who rape our nation never enjoy their loot. Are we as a people condemned? The answer is an Empathetic No. Every nation must protect itself.
Apart from confiscation and seizure, the judicial system which now is excruciatingly slow must be re-configured by all the three arms of government. We have to agree to set up special courts which will be chaired by an honest lawyer.
The other members don’t have to be lawyers. Mega sums of billions and trillions belong to these courts while smaller millions can be handled by smaller courts. These special courts will only hand down two sentences (a) seizure, confiscation and one life sentence. (b) seizure, confiscation and two life sentences. There will be right of appeal to the Supreme Court whose pronouncement is final with no provision for parole or pardon.
Unless we introduce draconian measures, this cancer will kill Nigeria and mortally would Africa.
Dr. Eddie Mbadiwe writes from Abuja