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Amnesia and the anti-corruption war

By Steve Osowa

OUR collective consumption pattern as Nigerians is problematic and so it affects our perception of corruption. When we assess ourselves by our material acquisition and not by our productive capacity, there is corruption inherent in every one of us waiting to exhale.

We cannot justify the level of opulence we see in Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and some other cities in Nigeria in terms of expenditure on real estate, luxury cars, yachts, private jets, etc. If we take a forensic look at our GDP and income per capita, this bizarre taste for conspicuous consumption  and materialism, in the midst of deprivation and monumental lack, can only be explained by the presence of corruptive mentality in our collective psyche.

It is not enough to point fingers at those men in the corridors of power. Scapegoatism  is too simplistic a  manner to fight corruption. We must take a  holistic view, lest we remain perpetually in a dynamically static state of slumber.

Thus, we will never be able to fight this cankerworm that has permeated every facet of our lives.

According to Douglas Anele in a  piece  titled, “Kettles calling pots black,”  he observed that,  “it is remarkable, though not entirely surprising to discover that virtually all Nigerians that complain about poor quality leadership share similar  attitudes and world views with members of the ruling class.

In other words, given the observed behaviour of the majority of our people, it will be extremely difficult to identify those with the requisite mental and spiritual stamina to provide selfless service to fellow Nigerians.”

In our university system for instance, a  lecturer who  requires a poor student to pay extortionist rates for handouts in order to pass his course, after paying  tuition fees, does he have the moral right  to complain about corruption in the corridors of power.

Those operators of the capital and money markets that play and manipulate the market for their selfish pleasure at the expense of millions of small investors are worse than  the leadership of the country that they complain about, on the corruption index.

The  pastor that lives in opulence, owning private jets, fleet of customised luxury cars and jeeps, while the sheep that he shepherds cannot pay the school fees of his children that attend the school owned by the church, is insensitive to the needs of his sheep and cannot morally, preach against corruption. To fight corruption we must be able to employ standards that would and can stand the test of time and space.

Members of the civil society, organisations must be able to use the same standards to  judge corruption in all cases instead of this  selective persecution.

It is like Sarkorzy saying that Karzai is corrupt, but lie is our friend. It is either one is corrupt, or one is not. We must not feign  an excuse to be selective in our judgements.

On the 26th of November 2009, at about 8.00 pm. the issue of the Aaron  team and the Niger Delta was being discussed on TV Continental. Tony Uranta. talked on the credibility of the Niger Delta leadership involved in the Aaron    and their antecedents in the struggle for a fair deal for their People.

The moderator, one Mr. Eshonomor, could not wait to spring out the name of  Chief James Ibori, whom he had issues with Chief E. K. Clark  on the misappropriation of the funds for the  development of the Niger Delta. Uranta corrected him and that the  issue was in court.

The moderator then said that because  of  the like of  Ibori, members of the House of  Representatives made a blanket   a  condemnation of  the  leaders of the Niger Delta and asked the people of the  region  to hold their corrupt leaders responsible    instead of the Nigerian state.

A visibly angered Uranta advised that the speaker should zoom his lens on Obasanjo on how well he managed the resources of the country for eight years. I have not heard our dear Mr. Speaker raise his voice on any of the leaders from his part of the country, obviously corruption  can only be found in the Niger Delta, a la Mr. Speaker.

We are awake, we cannot all be suffering from amnesia, Mr, Speaker!’ or according to Arinze Alinnor writing in the Punch Newspaper of November 29, 2009, we cannot all be suffering from “amnesia or cerebrospinal-meningitis.” Corruption can be tackled in its entirety using empirically  tested standards. We cannot turn a blind eye to it when it suits  our fancy and shout blue-murder when it serves our  selfish purpose

How could our honourable members who  spent  billions traveling to look for foreign investors have enough time and the required mental input to make laws that will be beneficial to the country? However, if we all do the jobs assigned  to us perfectly, instead of ‘over-sighting’ or making sweeping derogatory statements about leaders of a particular region, our country would be better for it.

It is a fact that indigenes of that region, the Niger Delta, have suffered more from the conspiracy against  them by the  leaders of the region where the author of the sweeping condemnation of their leaders, hails from. We do not want to be guilty of collective amnesia because we know that the persecution of our leaders is the continuation of a conspiracy to make them lack the moral  right to speak for our people.
Mr. Osowa, a public affairs commentator, writes from Lagos.


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