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« What are all the complaints about Ibrahim Babangida? | Main | Impeachment and Mere Allegation of Looting in Nigeria »

March 29, 2005

Nigeria’s War on Corruption and Prevailing Ontologies

by Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh Olusegun Obasanjo; GCFR, Command-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, woke up one morning; after perusing through the reports tendered to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s Chairman; on the Investigations of the allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds, levelled against some principal officers of his government: instead of coughing emasculatedly, like was native to his public comportment; garnered courage and rose to address his fellow country men.

In one fell swoop, he fired those indicted as the peddlers of impunity. A couple of minutes reading of his text prepared for the occasion, Prof. Fabian Osuji, his 63 year-old Minister of Education stood fired. Prof. Okebunkola of the National Universities Commission, was handed over to the relevant disciplinary commission, to be summarily decapitated. At the end of the day, as well as the speech; the Former “Honourable” Adolphus Wabara, the Senate President; who was earlier imposed on the Senate by the machinations of the Presidency, was handed a broken reputation, as well as a ticket to impeachment, or resignation. He equally compromised the integrities of other conspirators fingered by the report. In one great act of courage, he scuttled the existential and career trajectories of a number of inglorious men and women, who constituted themselves into accessories before and after the fact of corruption.

My first reaction after a marathon appraisal of the reports streaming in on so many media portals, was to jump up with clenched fists and gusto, to box the air. I shouted: Bravo Mr. President! Boundless Joy and pride flooded my being. Not only because I have severally fallen victim to the corrupt excesses of unscrupulous airport officials, at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos; I have equally known others who lost their lives to the speaking ends of Police guns, for the justifiable and virtous failure to pay a bribe. My soul was gladdened not only because of the terrible image that corruption has inflicted on Nigeria, or the suspicious regard we get at international social settings. But equally because, the license to normative anarchy, which corruption promulgated in Nigeria, seemed now to be on the verge of being overthrown. For once in my life, I was edified by the thought that at long last, Walt Whitman’s poetic prophesy, that “the ravening clouds ( of corruption in our case) shall not for long hold the sky”, could be a realisable possibility, even in valleys of despair and consolidated decadence.

Poceeding to appraise the unfoldings, as Obasanjo throws down the gauntlet; my emotions commanded a triumphal celebration of the small victory, just recorded over corruption, not minding the pyrrhic cost of its purchase. My natural heritage of hermeneutic bias, resident in every human mind, struggled to lend me a prejudicial prism; with a seductive temptation to apostasize against reason, in allegiance to the black sheep of tribal attachments; simply because the principal culprits come from my own neck of the tribal hood. Thankfully, did reason triumph. My cultivation, in opposition, vehemently demanded a dialectical vivisection and appraisal, freed from the captivity to sentiment. That is the path we have consciously chosen to tread in this piece. We lay out the issues, and invites reason to judgement.

For the first time, Obasanjo brooked the frowns of privileged roguery. He stared the cabal of crookedness, and the mightily-corrupt straight in the eyeballs, and asked them to take a hike to hell. He in one glorious instance of righteous bravery, destroyed the greatest nourisher of corruption; namely, executive inaction; general acquiescence; and collective unconcern. He for once, backed his rhetoric with punches.

This action of his, convoked an agreeable unanimity that for the first time ever, united the ideological tangents of his harshest critics with that of his sycophantic cheerleaders. All honest men became agreed, on the greatness of his action, as well as the necessity of his decisiveness. Odi and Zaki Ibiam may have testified to the tyrannical propensities, resident in the core blueprint of his education in soldiery. His allergy to the word Biafra, may have attested to his Igbophobic affinities. But this blitzrieg at the citadel of corrupt complacence, even though laced with military-inspired manouvres, sends some powerful signals, that would rattle the strongholds of official corruption in Nigeria. Our hopes have been raised once more, as this moment, may be the genesis of the resurrection of probity in Nigerian public life.

May this newly excavated sense of probity, not lose steam! That is the secret prayers of our hearts. At least, the geriatic debauchees, who buried our posterity in the crapulence of their avarice; as well as the young robber-barons, that stole our aspirations by embezzling our future; tying us to the pillars of stagnancy and decadence; have all been challenged, and shocked into a realisation, that their evil, will ultimately consume itself, in the heat of its own unwisdom. Fear has at least arrived at the doors of corrupt arrogance.

Onward Mr. President! You have done noble.!

Corruption is the canonization of fraudulence. It is the brazen celebration of impunity, which pollutes the ethical hygiene of a society. It spells the diminishment of social good; as well as torpedoes the trajectory of development. Corruption kickstarts a process of social decadence, by enthroning the reign of roguery, and unvarnished dishonesty. Corruption allows ethical recklessness, and invites a normative chaos, that erodes every sane social value. It defaces and corrodes social mores, with lavatorial rotteness. It sabotages the common weal and enables the embezzlement of a nation’s posterity. When a country allows itself the extravagant luxury of entertaining corruption, it unwittingly commissions the debauchery of its social structures. A society that patronizes corruption is condemned to the outbacks of social felicity. This is because corruption empowers, patronizes, and encourages the forces of social retrogression; handing them, an unmerited leeway to wreck havoc on the society. To this end, every society, that desires progress, must do ceaseless battle with the constant attempt of negative forces to bring the social structure under its inglorious dominance.

Corruption is a pan-humanic reality, which means that it transcends the parochial insularities of clime, tribe, race or nationality. It resides in the core of reality, as its downside. Its manifestation exists in the centre of human finitude and frailty. To this end, corruption has the tendency of sprouting in any social constructs or circumstance, which either by active commission, or careless omission; provides it with the right soil for its germination and nourishment. Corruption berths at the habours of a particular circumstance, not by accident. Its arrival is a process, which takes time, and is energized by the active collusion of our collective inaction, postural unconcern or active cultural reinforcement and encouragement. For corruption to gain tap roots in a society, it skillfully co-opts the social situation; deploying it to its crucial and strategic advantage.

Corruption becomes inducted into the social mainstream, when the whole society arrantly and timorously smiles at impunity; tolerates unmerited stations; glorifies the success or triumph of dishonesty; permits the diffusion of double-standards; celebrates indiscipline; encourages the ostentatious arrogance of unearned privilege; genuflects subserviently at the altars of unmerited wealth; In short, once the society silently swallows the impunity of unearned privilege; it unwittingly canonizes corruption.

In this regard, when a society confers privilege on a criminal; it approves crime, and reinforces criminality, with all the baggage of propensities, or affinities accruing thereto. This singular recognition makes corruption and crime a lucrative option. But if the the social structure operates in a way, which reinforces the discountenancing of corruption; an ethical sensitivity and social checks gradually evolve to stand as bulwarks against corruption. This is because, with a functional operation of right structures of sanction on the ground, the message is strongly etched and reinforced, in the social consciousness, that corruption is unwelcome here. This creates a high intolerance bar against dubious practices. But if these sanctions ever close it eyes, or excuses the impunity, and corrupt excesses of the rich and powerful; the privileged; or a section of the social spectrum, it creates a dissonance, which ultimately destroys its sacrosanctity and validity.

Nigeria wandered in a desert of social corruption for so long, without any oasis of hope in sight. The descent into the miry cesspools of social rascality, was a painful process, that sacked probity from our shores, and enthroned audacious impunity. Prior to Obasanjo’s decisiveness a few days ago, corruption bestrode the Nigerian embrace like a colossus, through whose legs we must pass, to find ourselves an insignificant grave. This dubious dye, tainted the sublime echelons of governance, as well as the profane recesses of ordinary social existence. Almost all those who have ever ruled Nigeria, even to present-day politicians, are known to be corrupt, were alleged to have corruptly helped themselves to the national funds.

These crooked politicians and military brigands, presided over the debauchery of the relevant social sanctions, that would otherwise have been the waterloo of their thievery. Their brazen impunity disabled the legal, as well as the social checks, that were hitherto, firewalls against corrupt enrichment. That was not all. The flamboyant opulence of their stolen privilege, created a creeping domino effect; instituted a scramble for the national cake; as everyone chose corruption as the surest way to felicity. Their behaviour while in office, which simply followed an avaricious blueprint, enthroned instant gratification, as a goddess to be worshipped with the audacity of our impunity. Their avarice knew no bounds, and our disembowelling became so deep. The perimeters of ethical restraints, was irredeemably breached.

Since corruption was allowed to hijack power, resources were skimmed offshore. Only crumbs were left in the treasury, to finance their deceit of Nigerians. Through stupid programmes, and jumbo, lame-elephant projects, that were never intended to be completed; they led Nigeria on a crazy-circle run-arounds. The impoverishing recklessness of government, impoverished Nigerians into emasculation and sycophancy. Seeing no gateway to the social policies that would empower their drive for self-actualization, they became arse-lickers to privilege, in order to survive; even to the extremes of cultural abnegation. This set the stage for the callous and spineless attempt to confer legitimacy on rottenness. Thieves and embezzlers of our commonweal started being rewarded with social recognitions. Almost all of our worst, jostled to be crowned with some legitimacy, by buying up culturally ridiculous chieftaincy titles; empty academic degrees (honoris Causa); and traditional stools bereft of meaning or relevance. Nigeria then became the home of Chiefs, Alhajis and Drs. who never saw the four walls of a classroom.

The transformation was instant. Thieves became chiefs. Stark illiterates donned Drs. after their bastardized names. The destruction in social equilibrium was incalculable. This seismic, psychosocial misappropiration of ideals, destroyed the ethical calculus of the Nigerian society. The acquistive impulse became established as the lead impulse, over and above the creative impulse, which would have launched our society to greatness. “Having-more” became the social target; while “Being-more” was thrown into the thrash-can of social irrelevance. At that, the Nigerian socio-economic and political life, degenerated into an theatre of callousness and an arena of deceit. This became the social clime, that would eventually suckle quick-fingered bandits like Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha, Umaru Dikko, Chris Ubah, Emeka Offor, Tafa Balogun, and all other thieves of their ilk. This watered the social concourse with such an evil banality, that a policeman could extort bribes from motorists, without qualms of conscience; and a teacher could extort money from his students to award them marks. In the prophetic words of Chinua Achebe: “Things” really “Fell Apart; and the centre could not hold anymore. And in the poetic words of John Pepper Clark; we all became “Casualties”: Casualties to our avarice and silence.

The decadence of our social corruption, was allowed to fester, by the consolidated avarice of those privileged by it, as well as the crass unconcern of the disadvantaged majority, who have been emasculated into postural unconcern, by the consistent rape of the social circumstance by the powerful. This collective enfeeblement and tolerance of corruption, gave rise to a stereotypical portrait of Nigeria, which gained an inglorious currency world wide; to the effect that we started winning prizes for our corruption. Nigeria and Nigerians became famous for their notoriety.

This, though like other stereotypes, may simply remain stereotypes, that may have been impregnated by some fundamental bias; one irrefutable fact remained that corruption thrived in the Nigerian public square, so much that a radical surgery became an imperative, if this nation is to survive the onslaught of corruption that has eaten deeply into our social marrows.

Shortly after independence in the in 1960, the first republican politicians carved and worshipped a graven goddess of corruption, and Ten percent. Summarizing this era, was the late Nigerian Finance Minister, Mr. Festus Okotie-Eboh, who was recognized as the by-word for corruption and banal veniality. When the coup of January 15th, 1966 happened, Nzeogwu told the world whose his enemies were; namely the 10%ers etc. That coup was necessitated by the social unease and turmoil created by corrupt politicians of the first republic; who shamelessly conducted an orchestra of corruption, that ensured the reign of social resentment, which kickstarted the gradual impoverishment of our commonweal. Since then till the present day, almost all Nigerian leaders and public office holders, have continued to swim shamelessly, in the sea of official corruption, financial misappropriation and mismanagement; most times, arrantly, outrightly and brazenly stealing their statutory votes.

Corruption became tradition.

This was the heritage of visionless and kleptocratic leadership, that warranted Chinua Achebe’s direct accusations, that the trouble with Nigeria was, and remains a leadership, castrated by visionlessness and corruption.

Previous attempts to fight corruption by the Nigerian governments, have been more energetic than useful. Some were outrightly pharisaic and brazenly hypocritical. For instance, Sanni Abacha instituted a War against Indiscipline and Corruption during his tenure, with the popular acronym WAIC. But this guy claimed to be fighting corruption, while he and his buccaneering family, and cronies busied themselves stealing, embezzling, salting, and stashing away billions of Nigerian peoples’ money in foreign accounts. His was a baronial enterprise of official thievery, presided over by a debauched robber baron. The immensity of his looting propensities, remains unparalleled; and can only challenge comparison, with that of his predecessor and brother-in-thievery; Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

Babangida never made any pretence about his thievery. He presided over the massive liberalization of corruption in Nigeria. His was a government of deceit and volte face. At first, he was able to hide his depravity, under the cloaks of populist policies, and a toothy smile. He was a master of deception and dissimulation. He established so many agencies, which sounded populist, but were in fact, huge drainpipes and constructs of corruption. He had a singing canary in Jerry Gana, whom he appointed at the head of his laundry agency- MAMSER- which was a programme that was supposed to mobilize the masses for social and economic realiance. Gana was a perfect mouthpiece of a perverted master. He mass-mobilized Nigerians into poverty and silence, while his master was busy pillaging and eviscerating our commonweal. Nigerians know only one thing about the $12.2 billion dollars, oil windfall, we earned during the first Gulf war. Nigerians know, despite the lame and sterile attempts of lying cheerleaders like Omo Omoruyi, that IBB stole and squandered this money. The Pius Okigbo commission instituted by Abacha, returned this verdict and indictment, which IBB has neither denied nor refuted. Nigerians equally know that he fritted away over N40 billion naira, in a transition to civil rule program, of doubtful provenance; which he designed and teleguided to fail. Nigerians equally know that the Better Life Program ran by his wife, was akin to Imelda Marcos’ cosmetic shop, designed to ventilate the flamboyant tastes of the matriach of a crooked dynasty. Babangida’s boys; which is a conglomeration of all beneficiaries of his corrupt patronage, refer to him as the Prince of Minna, due to the imposing fortress of over 50 rooms he built in Minna to house his depravity, and brokenness. But Nigerians on the streets, know that this guy is the King of corruption.

IBB bribed critics with offices, and money. His government was that of “criticize-me-I-corrupt-you” variety. He ran a government of settlement; creating a congress of official and elitist rogues, who are today the vanguards of his attempt to edit the history of his crimes against Nigerians, in order to smuggle this commander-and-Thief, once more, into reckoning and political relevance come 2007.

Buhari-Idiagbon’s government, though shortlived, started on a note akin to that of Murtala Muhammed in 1975/76. These guys sent out clear signals, when they sacked the corrupt congress of second republic politicians. They were armed with a vision to root out corruption, and indiscipline in Nigerian public life. Many politicians faced military tribunals that handed out donkey-years prison sentences to those convicted of corruption. Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of the executive recklessness of the politicians, applauded the intentions of this crusading pair. But this crusade, though with some understandable excesses, and collateral damage, which are normal in such social-sanitizing crusades, was terminated, by what history has today come to see, as a greedy, debauched and superlatively corrupt conglomerate of military brigands, headed by Ibrahim Babangida

Shagari’s regime advertized puerility on all fronts, save national embarrassments. This was an ideologically deficient administration, which play hosts to a broad spectrum of sorry characters, that canvassed only selfish blueprints, at the expense of national development. Umaru Dikko’s Presidential task force on rice, was one of the greatest stealing enterprises ever supervised by a government. Corruption, inefficiency and indiscipline became the order of the day. Nigerians groaned, and the politician grinned. Corruption reigned.

Gowon’s government was both an apology and a tragedy. He was a political fiction, we wished never happened. Engineered circumstance of bestial import, had him in power, when billions of Naira flowed into Nigeria’s coffers. What did he do? He simply commissioned consumerism as a national pastime; importing every shade of garbage from abroad, without caring about Nigeria’s future. He left a rot that so much irked Murtala’s sensibilities, that he made war on corruption the cardinal principle of his administration, when he sacked Gowon.

Obasanjo’s first missionary journey in power was an accident as well as a tragedy for Nigerians. He lacked the visions of Murtala, whom Dimka’s guns sent to eternity. He oscillated brainlessly: convoking a festival of squandermania and underachievement. Projects were undertaken without vision. Corruption creeped back as accountability flew threw the window. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was so irked by the brazen nature of official corruption in that government, that he publicly and in Music labelled Olusegun Obasanjo and Moshood Abiola, as “International Thief-Thief”

It is against the backdrop of this horrid heritage, that the most recent; though belated efforts of Obasanjo, to fight corruption, which seems to have hijacked every facet of the Nigerian life, comes as a welcome palliative.

Sacking the minister and publicly naming and chiding public officers accused of corruption, is the most courageous act that Obasanjo has ever undertaken in his entire poitical career. And we salute his courage. How we wish he would go the whole way to really sanitize the system. Obasanjo should be aware of the task ahead, and must eschew all temptations, or seductive attractions to compromise this new found courage. He must never consult selective justice, if he is to succeed in this new mission of his, which is superlatively laudable. Consulting selective justice like he had done in the past on other occasions will surely ruin this enterprise.

This is because, a social construct cordially invites perpetual dysfunction, whenever the gravy for the goose fossilizes, or is allowed to coagulate into a luxuriance, exorbitantly unaffordable to the gander. Justice becomes disembowelled, whenever it becomes selective; while a fundamental social disconnect is enthroned, whenever a country patronizes some standards redolent of hypocrisy and double standard, in its dealings with its members. In fact, the social fabric is rent asunder, while a collective bout of social dissonance infects the concourse of social behaviour. This is why the integrity and majestic opulence of justice, could only be symbolically articulated, by a blindfolded maid, armed with sword and scales.

A people courts social disaster, when this maid of justice removes her blindfolds, to consider faces, demeanors, status, race, or creed while dishing out justice; or when, as obtains in the Orwellian Animal Farm, the conduct of some “animals” becomes entrenched, head and shoulder above that of other human beings, in their predisposition to impunity. This is because, hypocrisy consolidates corruption and paves the way for the arrival of social infelicity.

Obasanjo has sacked Prof Fabian Osuji and has pressured a corrupt president of the senate to resign. It must not end there. The law must be allowed to take its course. They must face a court of competent jurisdiction, and if convicted, should be appropirately punished. Unnecessary delays, in the litigation process should not be entertained here, as justice delayed becomes justice denied. These chronic pilferers must be made to lose their freedom in jail. That is the first step.

On the issue of selective justice once more: Since the train of retribution has left the station, with Obasanjo’s newfound courage; he should, as a matter of urgency, cause an investigation of Mr. Tony “Fix it” Anenih to be conducted. And he should be prosecuted if he cannot account for the 300 Billion naira, he allegedly spent in building roads, which Nigerians never saw. The Anambra State saga must be revisited and the President should ensure that the right music is faced, by all involved in this inglorious saga. Chris Ubah and all his accomplices, should be doing time in jail for kidnapping a sitting governor, and commanding an arson on public property in Anambra State. That is the first front on the battle against corruption. Secondly, he should also seek out all those indicted by the Vincent Azie audit report and prosecute them. That it happened in 2003, is insignificant. They must face the law, if the people’s confidence are to be restored.

On another front, every Nigerian knows that Joshua Dariye is not the only quick-fingered governor, who stole his people’s money. Almost all the governors of the 36 States of Nigeria were accused last year by high officials of the finance minstry, of stealing their states allocations. It is equally heart rending that a State governor in Nigeria had the effrontery to tell the press, that he is a proud owner of 76 Jeeps, and nobody asked any questions, on the source of the wealth, he deployed in purchase of a personal fleet of 76 jeeps. Nothing was done to that. All the State governors should be investigated, and their foreign accounts closed down. The people are yet to see the results of the allocations they received since 1999.

The Federal executive should as a matter of urgent public concern, introduce a bill to the National Assembly, that will outlaw, the operation of a foreign account by any public officer holder in Nigeria. Foreign bank accounts, have always given them the incentive to rapaciously plunder Nigeria, and escape abroad where things are well structured, to enjoy their loot. Like Dariye, they should be made to pay for their crimes; not only in public opprobrium, but also in strict legal sanctions. Every public officers should be made to publicly declare his assets, before he gets in; and after he leaves office. This idea of a secret asset declaration, not accessible to the public, is deceptive to say the least. Secrecy aids criminality. That is why most armed robbers operate at night or go to lenghts to hide their identities.

Furthermore, the government should equally cause a Freedom of Information bill, to be sent to the senate. This law, would give every Nigerian, access to information on the activities of their rulers. Vigilance has always been the price of liberty. This law will help the people to keep an eye on, and monitor the activities of their leaders.

Tyrannies thrive on disinformation and deception. The people need to be empowered to be able to ask questions of their leaders, without fear or timidity. This is necessary, because those who asked questions of probity in the past, in Nigeria, have either disappeared, assassinated, sacked from office, or beaten up by armed robbers from planet Mars, like Audu Ogbe was a few days ago.

Another very important front for this war on corruption, which would send a tsunamic signal to all and sundry, that thieves can run, but cannot hide, is the the issue of past Heads of States. Ibrahim Babangida and the Abacha Matriarchal dynasty, should be brought before the law. The Zambians are presently arraigning former President Frederick Chiluba for corruption. Corruption is a criminal offence, and is not statute barred. Equity and jurisprudence can never confer or extend immunity to a thief, a criminal, a felon or a public enemy. Equity never allows anybody to be a beneficiary of his crime. IBB and the Abachas have been the beneficiaries of their crimes for so long. We should make atonement to our posterity, by sacrificing them to the law. They bled Nigeria dry. They should be forced to haemorrhage and regurgitate those stolen monies back to our national coffers. If convicted, they should go “enjoy” the rest of their lives in jail for their destruction of the future of Nigerians.

What these guys did was not as simplistic as stealing huge chunks of cash. Any bunch of petty crooks staking out a major bank can do just that, like the heist on a Northern Ireland Bank recently brings home to us. They stole resources that could have been dedicated to providing, and servicing a functional social system like education, health, transportation and communication, and other things. Today, the educational system is such a bankrupt arrangement, that many Nigerians cannot go to school due to lack of funds. Our universities are perpetually starved of funds, that could spell functionality and good education for Nigerian youths. Our hospitals are simply places where Nigerians go to die. Power generation is epileptic and simply non-existent in so many places. Industries and small businesses that are dependent on power supply simple shrivel and die, as operation costs gallops away. Unemployment is then compounded, when these business throw up their former employees into the unemployment pool.

One can see from this trajectory, that corruption, creates a concentric ripple, that has essayed to send many Nigerians to their untimely graves, due to lack on so many fronts. It has equally embezzled the future of generations of Nigerian youths, who are armed with poor, half-baked education, due to the absence of the necessary facilities needed for their education. Millions of Nigerias keep losing their lives and limbs everyday on our roads, that have been transformed into strips of potholes, by the active dereliction and negligence occasioned by corruption. Add this to the millions of families, friends and extended relations, who have continued to lose their breadwinners and loved ones, to this executive crime perpetrated on Nigerians by a succession of heartless, visionless, and kleptocratic leadership, then the picture becomes really frightening.

Obasanjo’s decisiveness is appreciated equally against the backdrop of the fact, that in Nigeria for so long, political office was never pursued for service to the people. That was why our politics has remained a do or die affair. Public office in Nigeria degenerated into a distribution agency, where anyone who captures it is assure of banishing poverty in his family to the 5th generation; by stealing as much as his bags could carry. This was the mindset which saw to the introduction of GMGs-(Ghana-Must-Go) into the Nigerian political concourse; as the vehicle of bribe. This is equally the mindset, which inspired the PDP electoral fraudulence across the country in 2003, as well as the shameful battle for the triumph of political roguery in Anambra State, where like Chinua Achebe said; a band of @@@@

Obasanjo may borrow some inspirational leaves from Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, who democratized violence, to rid the society of its undesirable elements. He should go ahead to democratize the access to information. Information is power. Tyrants have always been afraid of it. This accounts for the Napoleonic assertion; that the pen is mightier than the sword. It accounts also for the fact, that tyrants have always thrived on censorship; proscription of media houses, banning and burning of books, and denying people access to information.

Individual human history is a very short chronological enterprise, or what Shakespeare chose to summarize as a walking shadow; a poor player that struts and frets it hour on the stage, and is heard no more. For this existential enteprise not to conclude this Shakespearean sentence; by wearing the garments of “a tale told, by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, but signifying nothing;” nobility then recommends that we take shots at immortality.

If we are to ensure our eternity, we must, in obedience to the recommendations laid down Longfellow in the Psalms of Life; strive to ensure that “on departing this world, we must have left our “footsteps on the sands of time”. The dead, we must remember, is not he who bowed to the finality of human finitude; which is the end of all the living: but he whom humanity hastens to forget. Eternity is the creation and establishment of a memory that survives one’s demise. Obasanjo has embarked on a path that would make him, or mar the survival of his eternity on our collective memory, long after he must have expired. History would forgive all his trespasses, if he fights this battle against corruption, with dignity, justice, and nobility; and if he fights to the end. This is the only way for him to imprint his name on the sands of time or take a shot at immortality.

The prevailing ontologies of corruption must not be offered refuge anywhere in our social firmament anymore. They must be flushed out of their hibernating fissures. Long have Nigerians hidden under the wings of tribalism, when caught stealing, as if their tribes sent them out to steal. Long have we grovelled in moronic silence at instances of brazen corruption. Long have we tolerated intolerable standards. Today, a concerted effort across all spectrums of our society, is called for, if we hope to restore sanity to our broken social firmament. All well meaning Nigerians should rise and support Obasanjo in this drive to disinfect our polity. We criticise him when he fails in his responsibility. We should also support and praise him, when he initiates courageous actions aimed at bettering our lot.

Obasanjo needs our support, because he is not fighting only flesh and blood in the strict Pauline sense. This guy is facing a deadly armada of consolidated thievery, with octopoidal tentacles across the deepest reaches of our national life. He is fighting the powerful forces of social wickedness in the high places. It is a dangerous war, both for himself and his government. We should never allow him to loose this battle. We must recognize that anybody who undertakes to change the status quo faces a very formidable hurdle. Like Machiavelli recognized, he faces stiff and deadly opposition, in the elitist parasitism, and lecherous anger of those who profit from the status quo, and who would never live to see it changed. On the other end of the spectrum, he lacks support in the non-committed opportunism of the masses, whose battle he is fighting, but who sit on the fence, watching which way the battle goes, as to enable them pitch their tent with the winner.

Men of unearned privilege have never in history, been known to have given up their privileges willingly. The have always fought for them, even to the portals of self-destruction. The Pharonic Eygptian establishment pursued the motley band of fleeing Jews, to the thresholds of the Sea of Reeds, where their avaricious attachment to the unearned benefits, and privileges availed them by Hebraic slave-labour, suffered an eternal defeat. The Iranian Shah continued to bask in the grovelling bootlicking of oppressed Iranians, until he was sacked in a desperation-inspired populist revolt. Ferdinand Marcos, and his Shoe-latrous (Shoe-worshipping) wife kept funding their horrid tastes until the people’s anger overflooded the banks of forebearance. Shylock’s inordinate craving for vengeance clung tenanciously to the privilege of his legal entitlement to a pound of flesh, until it became clear to his corrosive hate, that a pint of blood was never guaranteed by a bond, that allowed him a pound of flesh. Abacha kept at his thievery until death denied him of a life presidency.

These examples heavily conduce to the construction that it remains a delusional assumption, to believe that citadels of greed, would ever yield up their privilege willingly; without a fight. Mirroring this was Shylock, who had to tell the Judge Portia, after his sentencing to lose his estate, for his greedy vendatta against Antonio; a citizen of Venice: “You take away my life, when you take away the means by which I live”. Their impregnable fortress of impunity has been assaulted. Naturally are they bound to react. Because the means of their corrupt livelihood is on the line, it then becomes a fight to death. They are ready to lose their lives, rather than give up their privilege.

Corruption can only take a bow in this instance, if Obasanjo who has been variously accused of playing habitual double-standard on issues, really lives up to the expectations of all men of goodwill. His new declared war against corruption must never be seen as an extension of his Igbophobia, or his plans would fail, and taint him with ingloriosity. He should strive to prove to the world that his target is corruption, not ethnic witch-hunting. To this end, every corrupt action, and individuals associated thereto, should be given the same decisive treatment, that the corrupt trinity of Osuji-Wabara-Okenbunkola, are presently in receipt of.

Cancers call for merciless dosages of chemotherapy and incisive surgeries, to stem their prolific metastasis. Corruption is a social cancer, which nothing less than a tough, uncompromising assault is required. Anything short of this is notoriously incapable of making it history. We encourage Mr. President and equally remind him that the whole world is watching. He should never be afraid: Goodness and right are on his side. With justice and courage on his side, we believe; he would do bravely. Corruption is a slavery to dishonesty. Liberation only comes from a co-ordinated effort led by a blunt refusal to be compromised; displayed by a firm and resolved leadership. Nigeria can still be salvaged.

The ball is now in Obasanjo’s court.

Posted by Administrator at March 29, 2005 03:12 PM


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