By Femi Aribisala
If you have been wondering why the government of Goodluck Jonathan has achieved precious little in the monumental fight against corruption in Nigeria, the answer is very simple. There is actually no corruption in Nigeria. Nigerian politicians are thieves, but they are not corrupt.
This is the erudite position of our dear president, who happens to be the first president in the history of Nigeria to have the distinction of a Ph.D. President Jonathan says: ”What many Nigerians refer to as corruption is actually stealing. Stealing is not the same thing as corruption.”
This is a profound statement that has since become the subject of many doctoral dissertations on Nigeria. It has also provided a very Nigerian contribution to the English language.
Our president is not alone in this assessment. The Chairman of the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission), Ekpo Nta, agrees with Mr. President. He also insists it is wrong to confuse stealing with corruption. The distinguished chairman says: “Stealing is erroneously reported as corruption. We must go back to what we were taught at school to show that there are educated people in Nigeria.” He then likened the Nigerian penchant to regard theft as corruption to be as erroneous as calling a roadside mechanic an engineer.
This perspective has brought great relief to Nigerians. We always thought there was too much corruption in the country, so it is fantastic to learn that there is no corruption at all. We are just thieves. It is necessary to bring this new insight to the attention of Transparency International, which persists in listing Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries. We need to tell the world that we have “re-based” the corruption index in Nigeria and found it to be totally non-existent.
The only problem here for Ekpo Nta is that we might have to scrap his organisation. If there is no corruption in Nigeria, there is no point having an Independent Corrupt Practices Commission.
Since Mr. President educated us that corruption is different from stealing, other eminent Nigerians have also found it necessary to make similar Orwellian clarifications towards the obfuscation of the truth. Here are some examples of this peculiarly Nigerian “doublethink.”
“PDP governors are thieves but APC governors are corrupt.”
Murtala Nyako was not impeached as governor of Adamawa State during the many years he was in the PDP. He was only impeached after he decamped to the APC. This shows a critical difference between the PDP and the APC. While PDP governors are thieves, they are not corrupt. However, APC governors are not thieves, but they are steeped in corruption. Stealing is accepted as our national pastime in Nigeria, but corruption will not be tolerated by the Jonathan Administration. PDP governors pocket government money, but they are not corrupt because they make sure it is shared with their colleagues in the legislature.
However, when PDP governors decamp to the APC, they become corrupt. They become selfish and do not allow stolen money to go round. This breeds corruption. This explains why the government does not have any problem with them while they are still in the PDP. In the PDP, it is understood that politicians steal for the good of the public. But in the APC, politicians steal for the good of their families and their party. This is unacceptable. Therefore, any PDP governor that decamps to the APC must be impeached.
Rabiu Kwankwaso was a very good and upright public-servant as PDP Governor of Kano. But after he switched to the APC, he became negatively transformed. Accordingly, President Jonathan was quick to inform Nigerians that the governor corruptly enriched himself with public funds. This is what happens when politicians move from the PDP to the APC. They become corrupt and are then handed over to the EFCC. But if they are smart and quickly return to the PDP, their EFCC file is promptly closed.
“Stealing public funds is a sign of progressive politics.”
APC is a progressive party. Therefore, when APC governors steal public funds; this must be seen in the context of progressive politics. APC governors steal money for the sake of building physical infrastructures; while PDP governors steal money for the sake of “stomach infrastructures.” It is well-understood in Nigeria that building physical infrastructures is definitely more progressive than PDP’s “amala politics.”
Many of the roads, schools and other dividends of democracy evident in APC states were done with stolen money. The progressive element in this process is that money stolen from one state is sometimes transferred to another state in the interest of the redistribution of resources. Moreover, a lot of the stolen money is used to build party structures and to fight elections. This is progressive because if it is not done, Nigeria might end up as a one-party state, and no right-thinking person who is concerned about the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria would like that to happen.
Bearing this in mind, it then becomes clear that, although Murtala Nyako was impeached as Governor of Adamawa State on the grounds that he corruptly enriched himself with government funds, this does not in any way diminish his APC credentials. Nyako belongs to the new breed of APC progressives who engage in the in the redistribution of the resources in their states. This offended the PDP who don’t have the interests of the people at heart.
“Democracy does not entail voting in elections.”
Nigerians should be made to understand that the fact that we have a democratic system does not mean the people should be allowed to vote. Because the generality of Nigerians are considered by our intelligent politicians to be stupid and foolish, they cannot be expected to vote for the right candidates. That means we need to rely on enlightened godfathers to “select democratically” our public officials for us. We also need to ensure that while people may be allowed to cast their votes in elections, their votes must not be allowed to count.
For there to be true and effective democracy, elections must be judiciously rigged. Otherwise, we might end up with the kind of thing that happened recently in Ekiti where, with soldiers and policemen protecting the right of the people to vote, they voted out the erudite governor, Kayode Fayemi, and voted in Ayo Fayose. This kind of aberration needs to be discouraged in true democracies.
A PDP Senator confessed that on Election Day, the electoral officials in his constituency were surprised to see his mother at the polls. “Mama, what are you doing here?” they berated her. “Don’t you know that you have already voted?”
Two local chiefs then complained to the Senator afterwards that they were not allowed to vote for him. When he made enquiries as to why this was so, the electoral official involved was irritated. “Honorable Senator,” he declared, “you won the election by a landslide in this constituency, so what are they complaining about?”
“That is not the issue,” protested the Senator, “they want to be able to vote for me themselves.” But the electoral officer refused to be persuaded. “Then Senator, they must be traitors,” he declared. “If they are still complaining, even though you won the election, it means they were not planning to vote for you. We cannot allow that to happen.”
“Belonging to the APC does not mean you are not a member of the PDP.”
There are many PDP men in APC clothing and many APC men in PDP agbada. One such example is His Royal Highness, the Turaki of Adamawa. The Turaki was in the PDP, and then he was not. Then he was in the PDP again and now he is not. The Turaki is something of an invisible man: now you see him in the APC, then you see him in the PDP.
Although he is currently masquerading as an APC member, there is no doubt that HRH reserves the right to resurrect any time in the future as a member of the PDP again. In the same way that some people have dual nationality, so also the Turaki has more than dual party memberships. His right to this is guaranteed under the Freedom of Association clause in the Nigerian Constitution.
This insurance policy is necessary given his nationalist presidential ambitions. If he is not chosen as APC presidential candidate later this year, and if APC loses the 2015 presidential election, the Turaki can be expected to throw away his APC membership card and become a staunch PDP man once again. Nigerian political parties don’t bear grudges. They accept prodigal sons back home, even those as compulsively prodigal as the Turaki.
Is Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a PDP man or an APC man? Nobody seems to know. It is even possible that the Speaker himself might not be able to answer the question with any degree of certainty. Currently, Tambuwal sits on the PDP side of the aisle. He occupies a position reserved for the majority PDP party. However, to all intents and purposes, he is also an APC man.
“Having a doctorate does not mean you are educated.”
There are now so many doctors in Nigeria. Many of these are doctors of ignorance. Time was when having a doctorate signified you have attained the height of academic excellence. Not any more in Nigeria. Doctorates are now bought and sold in flea-markets. Just give a few million stolen naira to any of the “jekuredi” universities and they will readily award you a Doctor of Philosophy in a field of your choosing.
If you don’t have stolen money to throw around; don’t let that deter you. Just award the degree to yourself. How do you think the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister obtained his doctorate?
Ekiti state is said to have the largest concentration of doctorates in the country. But you can tell that this does not mean they are educated because they voted for Fayose instead of Fayemi. That should tell you how uneducated they really are. (Kindly post other examples of Nigerian “doublespeak” on my blog).