Nigeria is not a banana republic yet

—See what?

—The Time magazine copy of course. It said in the citation written by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberia leader that ‘’Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan exemplifies the African political renaissance at a time when the people of the continent are starting to reap the fruit of their resources and their hard work.’’

—I can’t see anything wrong with that. After all, they say our economy is growing in leaps and bounds.

— Hold on, we shall come to that shortly. The Liberian leader further wrote that under Goodluck, ”Nigeria has grown out of its past of corruption, mismanagement and brutality, but the foundation of good governance is still fragile.’’

—See, I read my own copy of the magazine so spare me the rehash.

—Ellen Johnson Sirlief said Nigeria has grown out of its corruption and mismanagement. Where has she been?  Mongolia?  Afghanistan? Or worse still somewhere in Mars?

—If you are going to go on like that I am afraid you will have to leave. You are too worked up on the  matter of the president’s recognition. You forget that it is a matter of perception. The old woman from Liberia may be saying it the way she sees it.

—Then she is not seeing properly. There is a dark irony in the whole publication. It came out barely a week after the highly indicting subsidy committee report was published with all its hideous revelations of sleaze at the NNPC, with the oil minister’s pretty hands soiled and stinking. The report has thrown the nation into uproar with calls for heads to roll and that some N1.070 trillion to be refunded. But so far all is quiet from Aso Rock, and officialdom, oblivious of the nation’s mood, is going about as if nothing is the matter. I do not begrudge the man being mentioned by Time magazine but for God’s sake fighting corruption should not be cited as his achievement. It insults our intelligence.

— So write the editors in Time magazine to tell them how they goofed. I am sure if you couch the piece well enough they may oblige you space in their letter page. That would be far better than working your self into frenzy and becoming a nervous wreck.  Anyway, as I was saying it is a matter of perception. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should be forgiven for saying Goodluck’s ‘’Nigeria has grown out of corruption…’’ if as she claims in her citation, Liberia has benefitted from the support of Nigeria. Remember only the ungrateful bites the hands that feed him or her.

—But the editors of Time magazine owe its readers the duty of not purveying falsehood. Rather than growing out of corruption, Nigeria is sinking deeper and deeper into its whirlpool and this government is acting as if it couldn’t care less. The police pension scam was hatched right at the inner recesses of government, at the office of the secretary of government, going by the number of officials indicted from that office.  Surely, Time magazine should know that, its editors should have asked the view of their correspondents on the ground for the correct position. With a government that is so much enamored of foreign approval, Time magazine should have been a lot more surefooted in the material it chose to support its choice of Goodluck.

—So, you are saying the man does not deserve to be one of the 100 –people chosen?

—Think what you like, but all I am saying is that it seems Nigeria is being mocked by the choice. By all means put him there among the 100 others but find a good reason to justify the choice, which to my mind should not include ‘’growing out of past corruption’’ and certainly not ‘’good government’’ as the citation claims, because a minister is still sitting pretty, as if oblivious of fact that she has been tarred with the odium of the Farouk Lawan subsidy probe. Where accountability is taken seriously and enforced she should have vacated her position or forced out of it. And that would amount to being charitable.

—Taking a person’s job is charitable?

—Yes. In ancient times they force those who behave abominably against society to take the hemlock.

—Poison. You want to take lives because they stole a few millions of naira?

—Why not? China kills them. You steal government funds, you are shot dead. It is the reason its  growth  has become a marvel. All funds are charged to development purposes not to be stolen and hidden in foreign accounts.

—If Nigeria should follow suit there would be bloodbath. Any way, Barack Obama was also among the 100, with the prostrate state of the United States’ economy which has forced many people out of work; he also shouldn’t have been picked. Isn’t bad economy a result of bad governance?

—If I didn’t know you I would say you’re ill-informed. You’re bringing in Barack Obama to shift the focus from the issue at hand. You know as well as I do that Obama inherited a bad economy as a result of Goerge W. Bush’s misadventure in Iraq. But Barack Obama has worked unstintingly to arrest the drift and the economy is looking up, people have started picking up jobs steadily and barring any untoward eventuality, on the strength of his performance he might win in the November presidential election.

—Your point is well taken. But I prefer to see all this differently. True, Time magazine chose the wrong reasons but that does not take anything away from the choice. Even you should grant that anyone fighting a running battle with murderous extremists that have turned the whole country into a huge inferno should be credited for still holding the whole place in one piece. And this is no mean achievement if you consider that so far reprisals, particularly from the many fault lines have been virtually none existent.

—Even on that score your claim can be disputed. For how long must a country be under siege as Nigeria has been for the past two years? Business and normal life, which we used to take for granted, has since disappeared in many parts of the country where there has been the onslaught of the extremists. The running battle has turned into a virtual challenge to the supremacy of the government.

—Still and all the same some semblance of normality prevails, enough for people to continue to go about their business. I say it could be worse, let’s hope everyone keeps his wits about him to enable government to surmount the insurrection quickly before it gets out of hand. And as for Oga being on Time magazine list of the influential, why should there be so much hair splitting? After all, warts and all Nigeria is not a banana republic yet.

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