By Ebele Orakpo
Fifty years of independence and we are still crawling?” asked Pat, a commuter in an Ikeja-bound passenger bus while listening to an advert on radio about Nigeria’s forthcoming 50th independence anniversary celebration. “In what single area have we improved post-independence? Instead of all this noise, we should go to our closets and weep for our dear nation and what has become of what was once a promising nation.
Look at our so-called war against corruption. The recent report on the inability of the Federal Government to prosecute those involved in the $180 million bribe-for-contract Halliburton scandal is sickening, to say the least. Can this happen anywhere else in the world? All the noise about Halliburton scandal for the past God-knows how many years, and the government of Nigeria has logistical problems serving notices to the accused? Oh pleeease, tell me something else.”
“Are you surprised? Look, nothing, I mean absolutely nothing surprises me in Nigeria anymore. The case go soon enter voice-mail. Just watch and see,” stated Jude.
“I don’t know what to say. We’ve been talking and talking but it’s like hitting a brick wall. Are those in authority listening? The more we talk, the worse things become,” lamented Iyke.
“We have to keep talking. We cannot afford to keep quiet in the face of all these abnormalities. Our part is to point out the evils and advise on the way forward. It is left for the leaders to act on the advice,” said KC. Continuing he said: “An Igbo adage says that for refusing to talk, the blame goes to the mouth and for refusing to hear and act, the blame goes to the ear so let us keep talking so that posterity will absolve us of every blame.”
“I can just imagine them saying something like: ‘Na una get una mouth, talk as much as you like and we will do what we want to do,” noted Ade.
Pat, still fuming said: “And the judge excused himself?”
“Please decode that big grammar. You dey with the masses oo not with grammarians. What does that mean?” asked Tunji, laughing. “It means the judge disqualified himself (as a judge) in the case because of a possible conflict of interest or lack of impartiality,” explained Pat:
“Maybe an order from above. The man must be running for his dear life because you and I know that bringing those people to the court would definitely open Pandora’s box; so to be on the safe side, they would rather drag the case like this until everyone gets tired and forgets it ever happened,” stated Ade.
“You may be right. And to think that the USA has already tried, sentenced and jailed the bribe givers over two years ago. Chei, our beloved country is in serious trouble,” continued Pat.
“That is where we get it wrong. Nigeria as a nation is not in trouble. It is the inhabitants that are in soup,” stated KC. “Please be serious for once in your life. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that when you say Nigeria, you mean the people and not the geographical entity. Anyway, the geographical entity is in trouble too,” said Jude.
Not done yet, Pat said: “It simply appears that everybody is on the take – judges, lawyers, police, politicians, army etc. Nobody is left out. So who will save us?”
“God will deliver us. I have always said that the Nigerian case is peculiar and requires a peculiar solution. Those who rob the nation should be treated as murderers because their action has sent so many people to untimely grave, destroyed families, rendered many homeless, sent children to the streets. etc. Our hospitals are ill-equipped, our roads are death traps, our schools are in a shambles, our industries and factories are moribund. And here we are, talking about $180 million bribe. God have mercy! Just bribe oo; so how much was the contract itself? When someone gives you $180 million bribe, he hopes to recoup double that amount and that will definitely affect the quality of projects to be executed,” stated Iyke.
“This is the time for Labour and civil society groups, market men/women, and students to rise up and demand for justice to be done. All those involved no matter how highly placed, must be brought to book,” concluded Pat.