By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, said the fear of unknown in the welfare of public officeholders after retirement is fueling corruption in the civil service.
President Jonathan stated this at the book launch of the former Chaplain of the Aso Rock Villa Chapel, Obioma Onwuzurumba.
The book launch, also featured unveiling of a Day-Care Centre for the elderly, marked Onwuzurumba’s 73rd birthday celebration.
The former President said, “One of the greatest problems we have in Nigeria and probably that’s why corruption is so pervasive, is that people don’t know what will happen to them tomorrow…So such people are tempted to say, now that I’m active in service, let me help myself in a bad way,”
While commending the celebrant and his wife for the initiative to launch a daycare Centre for the elderly, the Jonathan lamented the lack of care for civil servants, whom he said were not allowed to own businesses, and still weren’t taken care of after retiring from service.
He said, “I’m quite happy that you and your wife are creative and have this initiative to build a centre for the elderly. One of the greatest problems we have in Nigeria, and probably that’s why corruption is so perverse, is that people don’t know what will happen to them tomorrow.
“Because there is no welfare system that can manage people. Especially if you look at the people in the security services, for example, today I was listening to one radio commentary, I think they were talking about the Police and so on, and it is true. Somebody works to become a commissioner of Police and retired, and he has almost nothing. If care is not taken, he will become a beggar. So, such people are tempted to say, now that I am active, let me help myself in a bad way.
“And of course, our laws, too, don’t allow civil servants to even have a company, apart from farming. So, you’re not allowed to do business as a civil servant. At the same time, nobody is looking after you and your children when you leave office. So, if Onwuzurumba and others come up with this care for the elderly, we all need to support them”.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Information in the Olusegun Obsanjo administration, Prof. Jerry Gana, lamented that integrity is in short supply among Nigerians.
He extolled the celebrant, describing him as a man of courage who never failed to speak truth to power.
He said, “In addition to his outstanding contributions, we remember this beloved Chaplain as a man of honour, a man of integrity. It is on record that he left a testimony of very high integrity. Integrity is in short supply in Nigeria.
“People who can be trusted, who are skillful, who’s word is their bond. You can really take it because they are not, as it were, deceitful.”
In his address, a former Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said that the value and practice of caring for the aged was fading among the younger generation, and called for support to make the elderly Centre a reality.
According to him, “The youths of today are largely on the fast lane, recklessly pursuing all sorts of goals that are sometimes a mirage. They have little or no time for their immediate nuclear family, not to talk of their vulnerable dependents who are helplessly confined to the embankment.
“The government have not been helpful either. The politicians of course utter all sorts of political statements, which are mere rhetoric to provide for the aged among us. For Obioma’s vision and desire to care for the elderly in an atmosphere that is conducive to the temperament of the aged to come alive and bear fruits, he needs the understanding and support of us all,” Akinola said.
Nathaniel Bivan, the author of the book titled ‘My Time As Chaplain in Aso Rock,’ described the book as a journey.
He said that chronicling the experiences of the former Aso Rock Chaplain was one more plus in documenting Nigeria’s political history.
The launch featured goodwill messages from several dignitaries, including former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim; former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Ama Pepple; and the Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Henry Ndukub