A situation where less than 2 percent of the populace (in executive and National Assembly) cart off more than 80 percent of the nation’s wealth is simply absurd and undemocratic. The token self-slash of salaries by certain public officers remains a mere gesture. We know of nations where the political offices are voluntary, part-time and non-remunerative. Humane values and praxis are feasible in such places, not the cut-throat, kill-to-win politics of our country.
Now, the anti-corruption crusade. To be sure, corruption is not an exclusive Nigerian disease. In fact, as we know, the word corruption did not come from any Nigerian language – be it Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, or Ijaw. There is corruption in most countries of the world, especially the so-called developed world. The difference, however, is that in all these nations, corruption has been held as antithetical to development and is therefore abhorred and punished. In China and Singapore, corruption attracts supreme penalties. Watergate in America was vilified while in Nigeria Oilgate has hitherto been vain-glorified, even deified.
Corrupt people in high places are celebrated and rewarded with honours and titles. Hence, corruption became endemic and ingrained in our socio-cultural membrane. Nigeria has been pronounced in many parts of the globe, including in Africa (including from the insensate Robert Mugabe!) as, in the usually graphic words of Biodun Jeyifo (The Nation, 2015) “infamous for all kinds of indecent, backward and immoral things: political leaders and public officers who were not only some of the most corrupt in the world but were unequalled on the planet for the scale and impunity of their corruption.” Imagine, as a minute instance, the absurd roguish elite with primitive accusative and accumulative spirit of serving directors and permanent secretaries who carted off billions of pension funds and hid them, safely, in their bedrooms, while the aged and grizzled pensioners who own the money languish in penury and some die in an attempt to collect their paltry entitlements!! Nigeria, therefore obtained an absurd ‘pride of place’ on the top list of the index of corrupt nations of the world.
There is no question that the crusade being waged against the corruption cancer-worm that has corroded the body politic of our nation – the economy, political governance, and other social fabrics of the country by the new Buhari government is positive, persuasive and vigorous. Ask Dame Dezeani battling with two kinds of cancer presently in London! Sure, the crusade must and is receiving mass support from the citizenry, including even the opposition parties who traditionally, deliberately do not acknowledge the positive inputs of the ruling party.
Good governance can be further engendered and enhanced by a death-knell inflicted on corruption and other social ailments like insecurity of all shades. Previously, the war against corruption was feeble and the anti-corruption agencies were rendered ineffectual, dysfunction, vengeful and arbitrary by the very powers that set them up. Shocking revelations of money laundering, capital flight, absurdly enormous and mind-boggling and eye-popping thieving were treated with kid-gloves or indeed by past Nigerian governments.
International fraudsters who swindled Nigerian government, organisations and institutions and private individuals got off the hook lightly, even when receiving punitive measures and reprisals in their home countries. Swiss firms who connived to swindle Nigeria of $6.8 billion through oil deals, as revealed by the Bern Declaration, a Swiss-based NGO operated with absurd collaboration with Nigerian businessmen of means and connections.
When the battle against corruption is won, as it appears obvious it will, there is need to erect firm structures that will lift the nation out of the economic doldrums of the moment.
The first and most important constitutional mandate of any Nigerian government – any government of any nation for that matter – is the security of lives and property. Our democracy, especially since the Fourth Republic from 1999, has been characterised by widespread insecurity, from the growth of militancy in the delta region, to the growth of ethnic militias in many parts of the country to the present rampage of insurgency and the unconventional warfare waged against our country from the north-eastern zone by Boko Haram.
For many years, the last six of them being the worst hit, the state has virtually lost the monopoly of violence to militants, insurgents and terrorists of absurd and ludicrous intents and ill-motivations. Our military and other agencies of security, famed all over the world for their excellent performances in peace-keeping, have been rubbished by the ‘superior’ armed and psychological powers of Boko Haram and thousands of lives have been lost with millions others internally displaced until the last six months of the Jonathan administration when some muscle and fire-power was injected into the security architecture and machinery of the state.
There is believable evidence that Boko Haram as formidable menace and threat to national security has been considerably weakened but nobody should be under any illusion that terrorism can be terminated through physical battles alone but it is consoling that it may no longer be in charge of the monopoly of violence. Other absurd sources of insecurity such as kidnapping which is on the rampage, ritual killings, armed robbery and ethnic insurgencies such as MEND are real sources of security concerns and should be systematically addressed, beyond sheer military approaches.
Our country must be returned to the path of hope and the possibilities of dreams in our dreary land. Many countries were with us at the point where we stand – still? And they have taken the required leap, into the future. Singapore has moved from the third to the first world. Ditto the Asian Tigers, India, and Brazil.
Let us review the question of leadership and the difference visionaries make in the social and radical transformation of their countries.
Somewhere in our society, with an intimidating demography and abundant, stunning intellect, such men like Yew, Mandela, Guevara, Cabral, Castro, and so on, abound. With the coming of President Buhari, it is believable that we have begun to find such men of the required leadership qualities, rather than being bogged down by tired mediocres and mimics of Caligula – manipulators who have been active participants in our present doom and who will spare no looted lucre to further ruin it the more.
Lead by dynamic and purposive leadership and robust vision and adequate structures, Nigerians must be actively involved in that search for a true nation and its politics of integration and democratic actualisation.