Give me a church and I will give you a contract
By Kassim Afegbua
Fresh happenings in Nigeria these days keep one wondering about our determination to help our country get past all the sordid stories of yester years. At the dawn of each blessed day, one is confounded by the ingenuity of those who are in authority at explaining away gory details about their conduct in public office.
The donation of a Church, whether renovated, expanded or completely rebuilt, questions very strongly the integrity of the President and his stance on anti-corruption crusade.
I am one of those who feels very strongly that this President is lacking capacity to generate new ideas to move the country forward and happenings in the country everyday point to that loss of faith and confidence in a system that is heavily corrupt and sliding down the slope.
The explanation given by the Presidential Spokesman about the propriety of the donation, citing very crude example as the Abuja Millenium Park, further exposes the unpreparedness on the part of government to take this country beyond the rubrics of mere sermonizing, to a more forward looking one with visible signs of doing things the new way.
Where has the transformational mantra gone to in the eyes of this unpalatable scenario that further brings us ridicule in a country where one of our own is desperately canvassing for World Bank Presidency?
There are a few probing questions that stare us in the face on account of the explanation rendered by the Presidency and its Spokesman. The donation of a Millennium Park to members of the public in the Federal Capital Territory is different from the donation of a Church in the President’s sleepy home town of Otuoke.
If they had donated the Church before President Jonathan assumed office or if they waited until he leaves office, the issue would have a different coloration. In promoting its corporate social responsibility, as the presidency is wont us to understand, I wish the company could rebuild our ailing refineries to further underscore its commitment to helping the country.
What is the use of a corporate social responsibility that clearly exposes the inherent corruptive tendencies of a company that has been meaningfully engaged by government to do so many contracts on behalf of the federal government?
Why has it become so difficult for the company to help reduce the incidences of environmental degradation in the Niger-Delta that has seemingly defied all possible interventions in the past and present? Yes, corporate social responsibility indeed, what has been the company’s attitude towards the several impassable roads in the country, how many have they been able to fix for us in appreciation of the several contracts and empowerment that the country had given them?
I think the Presidency should just have owned up and seek forgiveness from Nigerians be it plea bargain, or plea guilty, so that we can rightly place the issue as one of the several misgivings in a system that is run by learners on the job.
The fact that the Construction Company carried out such donation in the President’s home town at a time when the man in whose honour it was being donated talks about transformation agenda, removes from its corporate responsibility status. Why did the Company not deem it fit and proper to erect one in my little village of Okpella. There is a mosque that needs completion in my village, and I guess the Construction Company will be gratuitous enough to help complete the project.
The idea of trying to parry a crime when committed by citing another example does not make good logic. The fact that nobody raised an alarm when the millennium park was built, even if wrongly, does not make the act committed in the Otuoke case right by all estimations.
In anti-corruption, people tend to underscore the intention behind an act and not necessary the act itself. Why now does it become necessary or auspicious for the company to build a Church for the community of Otuoke whose dedication and presentation was proudly attended by the President himself.
At the event, perhaps the President never contemplated that it will generate this furore, he reportedly told the ecstatic audience how he had wanted the placed fixed for a long time and thanks to some of his friends who decided to finally bail him out by this donation.
I have pains trying to rationalise the action and reaction of the Presidency in its response to this impeachable offence which betrays the sanctity of that high office and the very essence of our anti-corruption crusade.
Once a President, who should set standard when there is none, is seen to be culpable by acts of omission and commission, the moral pedestal upon which the presidency is anchored becomes compromised. In such situations, the president has an option to either resign in order to regain that moral authority or at best impeached as a corrective measure to succeeding presidents.
This is how developed nations got themselves on the super highway of development, and not this idea of name-calling and veiled threat cloned with tribalism and ethnicism to address an issue as serious as the one under reference. Can this Construction giant attempt such a thing in Italy where they are originally domiciled? Why do they think that once we are given palliatives, that ends the story?
What impudence from a company that is feeding fat from our patronages? Who says our problem is building more places of worship or renovating same, where are the monies collected every week from tithes and donations and offerings? The more places of worship we build, the more morally bankrupt we become. These days, the question being asked is simply why the society is becoming increasingly morally backward when there seems to be upsurge in churches and mosques. With attitude such as this, that is using a Church as a bribe to a community where the president comes from, underscores the fact that we have fallen short in the eyes of the Lord.
To describe a serious issue such as this as a storm in a tea cup gives me an impression that the moral fibre of this administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan has simply gone haywire. How on earth will a presidential spokesman describe an issue with very grave implications as a storm in a tea cup?
We are in serious trouble. What morality does he think the system would possess to look into the eyes of alleged corrupt officials for the rightful corrective measures to be taken when the man who should be the tale bearer is as culpable as those that are being exposed daily for one wrongful act or the other?
Corruption in the house of the Lord is a more crushing offence than others that are committed beyond the precincts of the Church. Once the foundation of a Church is premised on a questionable stance, the propriety and sanctity of that Church becomes suspect and that alone could invoke the wrath of the Almighty God. From available statistics coming from Otuoke, I am well informed that building a Church or renovating or expanding an existing Church is the least of the problems of the members of the Otuoke community in Bayelsa State.
The abject poverty that is characteristic of the average person in Otuoke and Nigeria goes beyond what a Church building can address.
If the Construction firm is that magnanimous as they are wont to have us believe, why not take up the new university project that was earlier allocated for the Otuoke community and complete its construction in record time as a show of corporate social responsibility?
Somebody should save us this very crude way of seeing things on the one hand while asking for development and growth on the other hand. This issue as very “petty” and “a storm in a tea cup” as it could be, is capable of making Okonjo-Iweala lose her nomination and election as World Bank President. The attitude alone and the act of condoning corruption is enough to tell the
world who we are.
OBASANJO,s RESIGNATION AND OTHER MATTERS.
Why will anybody be surprised that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo chose to resign his position as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the “feedeefee”? The man has simply overstayed his welcome and feels more and more unimportant in the eyes of those he has politically cut to size.
Why will a man who has been so blessed with honour and pride by God, was president thrice, and reluctantly exited from the corridors of power, still feels that he has to be Chairman of the BOT of a Party he was never part of forming? The real owners of the PDP are gradually coming back to the arena and Chief Obasanjo cannot withstand their sight any more, hence he feels the urge to resign.
And he did resign for good. At least that will give the PDP the opportunity to reinvent itself if it is really serious about reforms. The reason given by OBJ as he is fondly called, is not tenable as far as I am concerned. It was better that he resigned than wait to be disgraced out of the Party.
He has stayed too long in the saddle and now he realised that his plans are no longer working for him, he feels frustrated. In the new exco of the PDP, there are quite a few persons who can be their own in the face of executive pressure, and such men would not enjoy OBJ,s domineering posturing. Good luck to OBJ in his future endeavours.
He will be remembered as the man who out of greed and propensity for power, bequeathed to the nation a successor who was frail and ill, coupled with a VeePee that was also reluctant to provide leadership. Today, we all are beneficiaries of the phlegmatic leadership that is staring us in the face.
We are reaping the whirlwind that was sown by Chief Obasanjo through questionable means in order to remain relevant in the scheme of things. We are now in a country where donation of a Church to a President and his community is seen as a normative order. Bye from the BOT. At least, he too has learnt some good lessons from the
steps taken by my oga patapata to quit active and partisan politics. Good student you might say.
With respect to OBJ,s position on third term, please tell him that he reportedly mentioned his third term project to the following; IBB, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Aliyu Gusau at a meeting where they told him that he OBJ had made new friends and that he should rely on those new friends to make him.
He reportedly left the meeting room in anger and these four persons worked in tandem with other Nigerians to scuttle the project. There was third term but it was scuttled to the chagrin of OBJ. He was simply beaten to his game.