When Nigeria’s Government Speaks…..

I was happy to see Katie Couric the other day, as she was joined by Nicholas Kristof to speak on the crisis in Nigeria, happy also to see the whole world pushing the conversation forward and calling and sustaining attention on the crisis. Thank you world.

Listening to the interview Katie had with the Nigerian Minister of Economic development, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, one could only come out with the impression that the government of Nigeria is living in a gilded city, oblivious of what is actually happening in the rest of the country. They talk of creating jobs with no mention of the education that will teach the skills for these jobs. The Nigerian government allowed the Nigerian Universities to wallow for six months on strike without resolving the problem that started the strike. When Mr. Goodluck Jonathan was elected as president, the university community rejoiced in the hope that the new president, a university don, will end the perennial problem of the universities with the government, but they were wrong, just as they were wrong in thinking that a young, educated and enlightened man like the new president, will pull the country out of the lethargy in which it wallowed since the independence.

It is often hard for someone living in Abuja not to believe that the rest of the country is not like Abuja. Unfortunately, Abuja is not the rest of Nigeria, it is not like the rest of Nigeria, may not even be in Nigeria. I told a friend who just returned to Nigeria after several years abroad, as he was purring over Abuja, the beauty of the place; and so on, that Abuja is actually in Dubai.

Before I left Lagos, recently, I do that often to clear my head or take a break from everything gone wrong in Nigeria, I told my friends, who saw me packed and ready to go, that I am always packed and ready to take the next flight out if I hear an inkling of trouble. The tension in the whole country was so intense at the time that one could actually cut it with a knife. At the time I spoke to my friend, the Boko Haram menace had not reached Abuja. Abuja is now their target.

So when our most highly respected Minister Jumps to the defense of the government, especially on how well the government is doing, I will beg to disagree. The government may believe that they are doing well but do they really know how their effort trickles down? I have seen contractors in Lagos patching roads instead of re-surfacing them, and sometimes using direct labor instead of hiring engineers…The public only sees these things as the way officials syphon money meant for development. Official always find ways of rationalizing and justifying their thievery. The pension funds suffer most from this style of thievery. The officials fix pension money for months even years in the banks, so as to profit from accruing interests. Thievery is thievery no matter by what name.

#katie-couric, #nigerian-government

Should Heads Not Fall?!

 

In civilized countries, when things go terribly wrong as we are witnessing in Nigeria, heads will fall. The governor of the States where these nefarious actions are taking place, will step down, or be forced to do so. The President of such a country will be impeached and forced to step down. Not in Nigeria. The Boko Haram marauders know that Nigeria is governed by spineless bull dogs, who can bark, but cannot bite.

The marauders have for year dared the Nigerian government to touch them, to do something that will show that the government can actually stop them, but they have come to know also that the government is so corrupt that they can do nothing for fear of being exposed. They know that no one will dare touch them or do more than bark.

Why was the President reluctant about asking for outside help?  Because he and his well-chosen collaborators do not want outsiders to see how ugly things really are. These people are living in glass houses, oblivious of the outside world, partying and eating caviar… failing to see the cracking roof over their heads. This is what corruption does. It robs people of their morality, their good judgment, their spirituality, their dignity, their everything. Nigeria today is an amoral country.

Ask the clerk in a government office for your file, and be ready to grease, that is what they call it, to grease the palm, to bribe to get what is yours by right. Be stopped at a road block by a police officer, and be ready to wash, that is what they call it, to wash your car for them, meaning to bribe them for owning and driving a car. In Nigeria, you celebrate a new car, or wash a new car by blessing it, praying over it, and sometimes entertaining friends for attending the ceremony. So the Police man asks for his share of this satire if the car is new, or appears to be new.

Find yourself at the airport, whether traveling out or returning, and be ready to buy your way through.  It doesn’t matter whether you are carrying contraband or not. If you don’t want delays, you better pay. Bribery, the mother of corruption has eaten so deep into the fabrics of the society that I doubt if Nigeria will ever survive it. I started calling bribery service charge whenever I was confronted with it. My thinking being that if that is what it takes to get things done as at when due, then so be it. Does that make it right? Of course not, but it seems the whole nation have developed and live with that mindset. What hope for Nigeria?

So while the governing class live in their glass houses, leading the corruption band wagon, stealing billions and getting away with it, making corruption the norm, so normal that if one is in a position to demand and take bride and does not, that person is looked upon as a fool.

 

#nigerian-government