BASHORUN J. K. RANDLEin this installment argues that the biggest forms of corruption are at the level of economic sabotage and political corruption
THERE was once a time in this country in Nigeria during the Buhari-Idiagbon regime when people normally queued up to enter the bus. People started queuing on the streets because they knew the consequences. We need drastic measures, draconian measures even if just for five years. That is the only way Nigeria can move forward.”
This was followed by a statement by Professor Daniel Babayi, Executive Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (19 Northern States): “Our country is being assailed by insecurity, particularly through the evil activities of Boko Haram Islamic sect.
We object strenuously to any talk of amnesty for Boko Haram as it would be tantamount to rewarding evil doers. We urge compensation for victims of Boko Haram and we demand that Sharia Law should be expunged from the national Constitution or in the alternative Christian Canon Law should be included in the Constitution.
“The scourge and menace that is Boko Haram continues to cast long shadows over our nation’s affairs. In the second quarter of 2013, the Federal Government finally accepted the inevitable and placed the struggle against terrorism in the country on a quasi-war footing; a State of Emergency was declared in Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa states in the north-east of the country.
Since the declaration of a state of emergency the terrorists in those three states have come under severe and sustained pressure and have been placed firmly on the back foot. The tales and testimonies of woe that have emanated from people of all faiths provide ample evidence of the cancerous and debilitating nature of life under siege from Boko Haram.
A notable effect of the state of emergency is that the terrorists have targeted other soft underbellies in an attempt to keep up the pressure; they have also shown themselves no respecters of the state with some particularly outlandish attacks in Baga and Bama. While congratulating the Federal Government on taking overdue steps, we would counsel that the ambit of the use of a state of emergency be kept continually under review both in terms of its modus operandi and its geographical spread. No longer is kidnapping restricted to particular enclaves of the country; it has become the crime of preference for a growing army of misfits and malcontents.
True and enduring nationhood
“Carried out with various degrees of violence, it is a new threat to the rule of law and another manifestationof a society at war with itself. It is the duty of both federal and state governments and the citizenry to shine a light into the dark corners from whence this evil and dysfunction emanates. We deliberately place the onus of responsibility on both the government and citizenry because that sense of civic duty that is an essential block for true and enduring nationhood is sorely lacking in our country and its restoration is a necessary precondition for redemption, even where we cannot be our brother’s keeper, we must be his overseer.”
The intervention of Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, was very measured and thoughtful: “Administrators in every country are the linchpin of development. They are the very group on whose shoulders the task of implementing policies rests. These can be the national policies of governments, or the policies of organizations in the private sector or the civil society. In this age of technology and specialized operations managed and directed by appropriate specialists, there is a growing need for administrators whose task, especially at the top level, is to coordinate the multi-faceted activities of a government or a private corporate organization.
“The present structure of 36 federating units with an all powerful centre compels a disproportionate deployment of the national resources on recurrent expenditure; and worse still, compels a destabilizing competition for the control of the centre, a competition that fans the embers of the peoples’ primordial ethnic and religious sentiments.”
Perhaps, it was inevitable that Dr. Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan and his colleague, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant would jointly step up to bat for the President:
“Jonathan did not create corruption. Those who say this administration is not fighting corruption are not speaking on the basis of facts. The Jonathan administration did not create corruption in Nigeria. It is an inherited problem. Corruption is also not limited to Nigeria. Even the countries and individuals who shout most about corruption, you will see that it is a challenge that they too have to deal with. President Jonathan had admitted recently that corruption is present in Nigeria as it is elsewhere but that is a challenge his administration is tackling. There are many concrete ways in which this administration is fighting corruption.
“This administration took up the challenge of the fuel subsidy scam headlong. People will collect allocation to bring in fuel, they will not own any vessel, they will not import any fuel and they will still collect government money. Over the years, previous governments have created a community of rent collectors and this administration said this is pure economic sabotage and it must end. But the propaganda machineries of the beneficiaries and their collaborators insisted that it won’t work. The biggest forms of corruption you can have are at the level of economic sabotage and second are political corruption.
“Once you allow political corruption, you will create a lot of problems. This President decided to fight political corruption by insisting that elections must be free and fair. It is only when elections are free that those elected can be accountable. The 2011 general elections were acclaimed to be free and fair. Every subsequent election conducted under this President’s watch have been free and fair and so adjudged by both local and international observers. In Adamawa, Kogi, Sokoto, Edo and Ondo, there were no problems when elections were conducted in those states.
“The truth of the matter is that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission made it clear that last year alone, it secured over 200 convictions. Nobody is noting that they are looking at the cases that have not been resolved.
“The truth is that there is a clear doctrine of separation of power. Once the agency has initiated action, it is for the judiciary to look into those issues and we all know that in Nigeria the wheel of justice grinds slowly. Those who say this administration is not fighting corruption are not speaking on the basis of fact; they are speaking on the basis of emotion and selective reasoning.”
We were caught totally unawares by the military intervention by Major-General Sam Momah (rtd), former Minister of Science and Technology under late General SaniAbacha: “As a former Adjutant-General of the Nigerian Army, it is my patriotic duty to warn against the breaking up of Nigeria. The repercussions would be too disastrous. I must make it clear that it is better for Nigeria to remain a united country despite its many contending tribal, ethnic and religious entities. Although we managed to survive a civil war (1967 to 1970), we would not be able to survive disintegration.
“A disintegrating Nigeria is an unthinkable prospect. However, should it occur, the war that would ensue may last for over fifty years like that of Sudan which lasted for fifty-eight years. But the glimmer of hope is that since Nigeria has survived for 100 years, what is required is for her to build on that success utilizing her enormous resources. In doing do, Nigeria would restore hope, gain her pride and respect in Africa and the rest of the world”.
Major-General Momah pondered on the contradictions that had dogged every facet of the nation’s life, pointing out that Nigeria remained the only place where US $16 million could be spent on electricity, with the nation still wallowing in darkness. He also said it was an irony for the country to be spending a fortune on security vote only to reap more security challenges. He lamented that the nation was planning a centenary celebration jamboree while its N640 billion textile industry remains comatose.
The Governor of Nassarawa State, AlhajiTanko Al-Makura’s concern was directed at education: “I advocate the declaration of a state of emergency in respect of our nation’s education sector. It is a necessary step towards addressing the overwhelming problems in public schools. The level of infrastructural decay in government-owned schools has reached an alarming rate. I have said it before; those public schools are now heading towards emergency situation. I said emergency because virtually all the infrastructure needed in schools are non-existent and that is the reason there is no attainment of excellence in public schools.”