POVERTY – the majority of Nigerians are not paid living wages. Their take-home pay cannot take them home. The minimum wage of N18,000 a month cannot cover all of the needs of a normal-sized family that has to pay rent, school fees, etc.

Fear of Retirement

Pensions are too small, rarely get paid when due and only last for 10 years. Apparently the government expects former public servants to die after ten years of retirement.

Limited number or amount of what is being sought: admission into institutions, job vacancies, plots of land and so on. We are not always sufficiently well-informed about policy changes or existing laws and regulations. Officials exploit our ignorance to obtain bribes. Nigerians worship money, hence moneybags have taken over the society. If you have money and donate, you are recognised, regardless of where the money came from.

Churches will make you a knight and give you a front seat. Your town will crown you chief, high chief, Otunba, Igwe, Eze. The society has no room for average or poor people, your pocket must be deep. You must ride exotic cars, use the best phones, dress like a super-rich person or you are nobody.

This situation has given rise to a rat race where almost everybody is stealing, and embezzlement is rife. Nigerians cut corners, misappropriate and indulge in all types of corruption in order to get rich, show off and buy private jets, huge mansions here and abroad, fleets of exotic cars and multiple women.

Our solution to reduce corruption must be holistic and everybody must be involved. Money itself is not bad but excessive love for it leads to corruption and we must change how we think and how we do things. We must upgrade our values. We must emphasize and reward hard work, discipline, honesty, merit. Workers should be paid living wages and reasonable pensions.  We must educate our people to become good citizens.


 Bravo to a man of substance

From left Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State; Chief Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas and Senato Theodore Orji, former Governor of Abia State

LAST Saturday, His Excellency, Henry Seriake Dickson, the amiable and dynamic Governor of Bayelsa State who recently celebrated his sixth anniversary in office, received an award from this newspaper – for Purposeful Leadership, Transparency and Accountability.

A few days earlier, he’d chaired a panel at the Africa CEO Forum, a conference that is organised annually in Abidjan by Jeune Afrique, an influential Paris-based media group that produces respected French and English publications.

The Africa CEO Forum is attended by heads of state, captains of industry, iconic individuals and senior movers and shakers from all over our continent; and Dickson’s chairmanship skills – along with the very pertinent points he made about various crucial issues – were much-praised by his distinguished audience.

Nobody is perfect, but I think it is fair to say that Governor Dickson has great ideas and works very hard to actualise his vision. He believes in excellence and is, in a nutshell, a man of substance who tries his best to keep his state safe and promote/develop it under circumstances that are often extremely challenging.

Having visited Bayelsa a number of times in the past year or so, I can confidently confirm that Governor Dickson has initiated major projects in several sectors, including health, education, agriculture and infrastructure.

He also happens, perhaps contradictorily, to be utterly detribalised as well as staunchly Ijaw. He smoothly combines being a passionate nationalist who has close friends in all four corners of this country with being a proud son of our geopolitical zone and an eloquent defender of Niger Delta peoples’ interests.

Daniel Iworiso Markson, Dickson’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, says that his boss has initiated major developments in sectors like agriculture, health and education…and “proved even to the worst critics…that indeed he has performed creditably on all fronts as the awards (he has also been honoured this year by Silverbird and DAAR Communications) were neither political or commercial but from organisations known for their pedigree.”


Readers’ contributions

EARLIER this month, I said on this page that despite my disenchantment with Buhari’s administration, I didn’t see why he should be blamed for attending the wedding of the governor of Kano’s daughter to the governor of Oyo’s son.

My argument was that it was not the President’s fault if his pals and political associates chose to host lavish weddings for their offspring.

But Dr. Chidi Ezetoha ([email protected]), a Vanguard reader, begged to differ; and I’ve decided that he is right to disagree with me:

Dear Donu,

The criticism of Buhari’s presence during the Ganduje/Ajimobi wedding was about being insensitive to the plight of the masses of the country. The wedding held just a few days after the kidnap of the Dapchi girls and he had not shown concern for those girls or visited their parents as at that time. It didn’t portray him as a leader for everyone but a leader of a select few. That was enough reason to call for his resignation if it was in saner clime. Thanks

Some interesting thoughts from Nosike Uduezue ([email protected]>), who lives in Abuja and has understandably concluded that we need a cultural revolution more than we need a War Against Corruption.

Professor Ikenna Nzimiro defined culture as: “The way people do their things”. I am defining revolution within this context as a great change in our beliefs and the way we do things that will affect a large number of people. Chinua Achebe in his book, The Trouble with Nigeria, said that “keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping a goat from eating yam”.

We get to hear only about the big thieves in the ministries, parastatals and other government offices. But there are many major corruption offences going on at lower levels, all over the country; and they may involve trillions of naira.

Examples include: A messenger who takes bribe to find your file in the office or enable you to jump the queue to see oga or obtain a form or submit a form whose submission date has passed;  the lecturer who will not attend lectures but collects his/her salary and sells handout to students. The lecturer is cheating the students and collecting salary for job not done (stealing).





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