The newspaper column is an important forum where informed minds meet to exchange ideas and opinions. And, truth be told, it is also a place where flattery is freely dispensed by kind readers. If you do meet a columnist whose neck has problems holding up his head, know ye that he has just emerged from drinking deep from the fountain of good-natured flattery asin, “you are a wonderful writer;” “I have been following your writing since I was a kid; “ “ I love your writing;” “I wish I could write like you….”
It is not all sweet, of course. I bet you knew that. The sweet pen and the poisoned pen like to keep their distinguished company. All columnists tremble at the sight of the acerbic pen. It delivers its message with the grace of the five-ton bone crusher. But it also sobers you up. If you thought you knew it all, you were wrong. The columnist is, of course, a self-opinionated oracle who believes his place in the society is to dispense worldly wisdom to help keep the society steady on the narrow path. Do you doubt that?
I welcome responses from my readers. I truly appreciate the time they spare to read my column and appreciate even more the time and the trouble they take to educate me. I am pleased this week to yield my space to two of my distinguished readers. Professor Olabode Lucas writes on The System is Our problem and Ifeanyi Anago writes on The CJN’s Dilemma.
Not Our system, brother
Please permit me to comment briefly on the issue you raised in your column of November 6, 2016 in The Guardian on Sunday. In your piece of that day you put the cause of the present shameful colossal corruption pervading our country on ‘our system.’ You subsequently highlighted that ‘the flawed system’ operated in the customs, judiciary, police and military allowed the disgraced people you mentioned in you column ‘to steal and steal to their heart’s content without the alarm bell going off.’
With greatest respect to you, I beg to disagree with you on this point. I do not see anything wrong with our system. Our problem is the operators of the systems we are operating. I do not see anything wrong with systems we are operating in this country because the systems are not original to us. Most of the systems we are operating in this country were bequeathed to us by the British, our former colonial master and systems are still working in the home country of the colonial masters and other former British colonies dotted all over the world without this horrendous and frightening level of corruption that has blighted our country.
Unlike you, I will like us to examine critically we operators of the systems and ‘turn our attention to what really makes it so easy for our top men to turn themselves to shameless thieves.’ To me without any doubt that thing is our palpable lack of discipline. I make bold to say that if the system that works perfectly in heaven is brought to Nigeria, it will be bastardized and made unworkable by Nigerians because of our lack of discipline at all strata in our society. It is no secret that we even lack discipline to practise democracy if one judges by the unruly way our politicians behave. The system of governance used to uplift the standard of living of the masses in saner climes has turned to a veritable system of ungodly self enrichment.
Until we find a way to inculcate discipline in ourselves, both the ruler and the ruled, we will continue to grope in the dark and the ills that are atrophying our development as a nation will continue unabated. No country can make any meaningful progress if the people and the leaders are not disciplined as we have in our country at the present time. We have examples of what a disciplined populace can achieve in China, Singapore, India, and Cuba.
As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar: “the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves”. To me the fault for the humongous corruption lies not with our system but the operators of the system.
Prof. Olabode Lucas
As usual, your intervention in The Guardian of October 20, 2016 was a solid and refreshing read. I had always enjoyed your articles flowing from the days of “four Musketeers” at Newswatch. By the way, I’m a lawyer and had experienced first hand, what judicial corruption could look like. However, I do not exactly subscribe to your description of what the DSS did as “sting operation”.
My own experience of the underhand methods of some of these security outfits convinced me that nothing is beyond them once they intend to achieve a pre-programmed objective. Counting N25m in a bank using counting machines may take up to five hours. How DSS was able to count N300m in an operation that lasted less than seven hours inspires suspicion. Perhaps the only way it’s possible is if the money had been pre-counted (planted by the DSS). And it’s not impossible. One of the Supreme Court Justices has already alleged that, and until he’s had his day in court, he should be presumed innocent.
Your article breached this presumption of innocence. Furthermore, I’m quite intrigued by the fact that only judges who had rendered judgements that disfavoured the APC were caught in this corruption net. What about the “Pro-APC” judges? Are they all clean and unsoiled and like Caesar’s wife above reproach? DSS operatives like Judges are also Nigerians and until they produce evidence of their angelic DNA, I shall remain unconvinced of their puritanical claims.
Sir, because your reputation and integrity is given to many readers, your opinions should be evidence-backed and not speculative. That way, we’d be encouraged to keep treating your write-ups as gospel truth.