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The voice of Jacob, the hand of Esau (3)

By Douglas Anele
THE repeated failures of economic predictions and uncertainties about the specific details of what the global economic situation will be in a few years time is a reminder that economics can never be an exact science like physics. Therefore, one must always bear in mind the “human factor” while trying to comprehend economic reality.

We can understand better the problems with Nigeria’s financial institutions in particular, and the global economic meltdown in general, by unmasking the dominant character in contemporary capitalist societies. The marketing character is dominated by the marketing orientation, that is, an attitude based on experiencing oneself as a commodity.

A stockbroker, a bank chief executive, a pastor, or a university professor must each present a different kind of personality that, regardless of their differences, has to fulfill one condition: to be in demand. Individuals who are dominated by the marketing orientation see proper functioning under the given economic circumstances as the A to Z of human existence. Such people respond to the world mostly with manipulative intelligence.

Of course, manipulative intelligence without reason, in the sense of understanding, which is an exclusive quality of human beings, is very deadly because it makes people move in directions that are self-destructive. Greed and the morbid quest for primitive accumulation are by-products of uncontrolled manipulative intelligence.

The indicted bank CEOs are associated with one Christian denomination or another. They were respected members of the society, and quite a good number of Nigerians looked up to them as role models. Sadly, going by what the Central Bank governor had revealed, the sacked CEOs and directors are greedy and immoral in their pursuit of primitive accumulation.  It also follows that behind the intimidating offices of banks and ostentatious lifestyles of bank executives, there were horrendous illicit transactions going on.

It is disappointing that when big men and thick madams steal billions, all kinds of people present specious arguments to protect them, whereas a poor man who steals something insignificant to avoid starvation faces the full weight of the law. This implies that the maverick Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, was right when he stated that authority stealing passed armed robbery.

When I read that thirty-five lawyers, including those described by the press as “human rights activists”, are defending an accused bank executive, I realized that it would be easier for an elephant to pass through the eye of a needle than for people like Cecilia Ibru and others to be brought to justice.

These individuals have so much money, power and connections in high places that they are likely to escape going to jail. Can we trust the courts to ignore finicky legal technicalities and concentrate on the substance of law and the dictates of fundamental principles of morality in handling these high-profile cases?

Can the judicial officers handling these cases muster enough moral indignation to deal severely with those who might be convicted of financial rascality in the banks? To be candid, in as much as I know that there are incorruptible magistrates and judges, the judiciary is not completely immune from corruption. I will not be surprised if during the trials, substantive justice is sacrificed on the altar of legal minutiae.

The judges handling these cases should take a cue from the responsible manner the Madoff’s case was handled in the United States of America:  The magistrate gave Madoff the maximum sentence because his ponzy schemes were “extremely evil.” Our judges should be courageous enough to punish those found guilty of the allegations against them no matter their financial and social status in the society.

The EFCC, on its own part, must ensure diligent and thorough investigations in order to present a strong case against the defendants.I thoroughly dislike those who display pathological craving for primitive accumulation; men and women who are already rich using sleight of hand methods to swindle the public under the façade of respectability. I consider such people detestable characters who have exchanged the centres of gravity of their true worth as human beings for the illusion of grandeur generated by vanity.

For the accused bank executives who are “strong in the Lord”, if a patina of Sanusi’s allegations are corroborated, then they have failed woefully as Christians. They have allowed excessive concern for money and material possession to becloud their sense of reason and stultify their spiritual growth. What has happened is a manifestation of some of the evils of prosperity preaching.

I know that members of the churches to which they belong are praying fervently for their God to intervene and take control “by fire, by force.” My question is: are they praying that God should allow the guilty escape justice? If their God grants such a prayer, is such a God a just God who deserves to be worshipped?

I urge the courts and the EFCC do the right thing by making sure that the guilty are appropriately punished to deter others with the voice of Jacob the hand of Esau syndrome from messing up our financial institutions and, by implication, our lives.
Concluded.


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