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By Denrele Animasaun

You tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” —Mark Twain

When the president was last in the UK he gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph. There was an uproar due to some of his comments   in the interview. It seems that his remarks cut too close to some peoples’ sensitivities and perhaps, too honest,way too honest for some. It is not a secret that there are some, I mean, a higher than acceptable level of criminality among Nigerians and these criminals are feted in a big way. In other countries, they  lock their criminals and they make an example of them.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

So what do we do to our criminals?We let them off with a fine and we celebrate our corruption merchants, don’t we? No,not PMB . He said:”Some Nigerians claim that life is too difficult back home,yet, they are in different prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking and all sorts”. I mean,Nigerians did coin 419, didn’t they?

I  don’t think these Nigerians have anybody to blame but themselves for their notoriety. How times have changed.

PMB was asked if he thought that Nigerians have an image problem abroad? and he replied:”Certainly. But we are on our way to salvage that. We will encourage our countrymen to stay at home,work hard and make a respectable living at home.”

He warned Nigerians to stop trying to make asylum claims,when their reputation for criminality has made it hard for them to be “accepted” abroad.  We are tarred with the same brush and you do sometimes feel that you have already been judged by virtue of one’s nationality.  In fact, you have to work harder to prove that you are trust worthy. It is true that, it has  become difficult to believe Nigerians home and abroad,due to the reputations of the wrongdoers.

Rome was not built in a day, so I admire PMB’s determination to rid or reduce corruption  and criminality in Nigeria andNigerians, but it has taken years to develop this reputation and it would not be easy to change our attitude. It’s not impossible,mind you, but it will take sometime.

He has his work cut out and I don’t envy him, but if anyone can do it,he can.

Where do you begin to address the incredulous level of corruption;the trillions and billions of dollars of oil cash that went missing during the previous administrations?. Now that some of the suspects have been arrested in the UK,other countries are eager to assist the Buhari’s administration to recoup the stolen money from these thieves in fine clothing.

PMB commented that:”One of the biggest suspects is in Britain now, although I am not going to name that person. But Britain has earned our respect in theway it deals with these matters. Our only problem is that it seems to be too thorough and it takes too much time. If there are obvious cases,like bank accounts infrastructure, houses and hotels, I would hope they could do it quicker,so that we can claim these things back promptly”.

Yes,the truth hurts and many of us are in denial;too many Nigerians live beyond their means and if they could they will steal,embezzle and they will try and get rich or die trying. There are some honest and hard working Nigerians but there are those who aren’t.  Let’s  be honest: not everything is well and not all Nigerians are Lilly white!PMB said that those who had joined the migrant exodus to Europe were doing so “purely for economic reasons rather than because they were in danger and that because of the number of Nigerians imprisoned for law-breaking in Britain and elsewhere, they were also unlikely to get much sympathy.  True, many have cried wolf  so many times unfortunately, those with genuine case are tarred with the same brush. It has not been right for a long time with Nigeria and Nigerians.  Let us call a spade, a spade. And let’s stop kidding ourselves, everyone knows and PMB has not said anything new.

 “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” —Mark Twain

It is a bitter pill, to swallow: truth but about time,we face it .

Not all Nigerians are dishonest but they are  many giving us a bad name.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.

Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” — Harvey Fierstein

Evidently, PMB reportedly may have succumbed to pressure to replace  heads of federal government agencies and parastatals in particular, those who were appointed by the last administration. It was said that 35 chief executives and directors-general of agencies were given their matching orders. Most were unceremoniously evicted from their post.  There was no need for this, if ain’t broke why fix it.

I mean for continuity sake it would have been prudent to let them get on with the job at hand.

As we know,most of these appointments are about who you know. And it seems this administration, wants their own people and of course,  there is a change of guard so it should in all areas. The question is:are they merely changing like for like? If only,they could employ the right people to these posts,  who could do the job and stop playing politics with these posts! I read Onyeka Onwenu’sopen letter on how she was removed . She is a woman of substance and has always been dignified. She said:”

When the call came on Sept 13,2013,to serve the Nigerian people as DG, National  Centre for Women Development, I took it as a call from God and I answered in the affirmative”.I have no doubt that Onyeka is very very hard working and very patriotic. In fact, she always was. Oyeka in her letter,said she served over two years in a very difficult environment: no enough money, staff with low morale, many absent workers and collecting salaries. She said that she turned the place around and was able to inspire manyto take pride in their work. This is laudable  and should be recognised. The ugly problem we have is the problem with those who treat the workplace as their territory and undermining her position.

This is not new, in fact, this behaviour is our undoing and will prevent success and progress. Her letter was very poignant :”There remained,though,a remnant who felt that the centre was their personal preserve and that the position of Director General should only go to someone from their personal preserve and that the position of Director General should only go to someone from their part of the country ” This is disrespectful, especially when someone has track record and had worked so hard. It is a low blow, when tribe and region become the criteria for employment and not by experience or qualification.

Onyeka is a very capable and qualified person. She endured so much :”I was initially dismissed as just a Musician. When that did not work, I was targeted and abused for being an Igbo woman who came to give jobs to and elevate my people.

When these detractors could not provide answers to the spate of improvement we were bringing, they resorted to sabotage and blackmail.

This type of victimisation goes on across most workplaces and it has become common place. They are afraid of her capabilities and are small minded people with inferiority complex.

This should not be the case.  It takes a strong person not to buckle and Onyeka, is made of sterner stuff and she remains strong and dignified in her resolve despite all the bullying and harassment. She said “The first such salvo was fired when a Senate Committee visited on an oversight mission a few months after my arrival. All three generators at the centre were cannibalised overnight, just hours to the visit. we got over that incident and trudged on.The rest of our activities and accomplishments, modest as they are, are public knowledge.














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