Published On: Fri, May 13th, 2016

How Nigeria’s Corruption Became Fantastic – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones


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In case you do not understand what the British Prime Minister, David Cameron was saying or why he chose to qualify the rate of Nigeria’s corruption as ‘fantastic’, I will give you an illustration that may help you to better understand the youthful Prime Minister’s irrefutable position on the level of corruption in Black Africa’s largest country.

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A certain family has made a name for itself in craftsmanship. So good is this family in the art that people come from far and wide to patronize their art and to also learn from them, the art of turning shapeless materials into beautiful objects. However, after so many years of the reign of the Garinga family as one of the best talented in that art, a big tsunami happened, wiping off the entire family. As most members of the community mourned over this grievous loss, some other people whose crafting businesses had failed to thrive as a result of this family’s ingenuity, became anxious, hopeful that they will begin to enjoy a new lease of life in their business.

Just as the community and their neighbors were getting over the loss of this specially gifted family and trying to get to terms with the reality that they will now have to make do with average craftsmen who litter the town and the less talented craftsmen were readying their tools for a kind of windfall, a new craftsman emerged. Tanama’s ancestry is traced to the old family who were wiped off in the Tsunami, but he had long dissociated himself from them, because he felt they had not treated his mother well.

Tanama became the newest song in the community and beyond, as he did not make beautiful crafts like his dead kith and kin, but also devised new ways of making his more beautiful and even more affordable. Before long, the community and their neighbours forgot about the original craftsmen. Whenever they remember them, it is not really because they miss their craftsmanship, but because of the Tsunami. For most members of the community and their neighbours, the Garinga family was good, but Tanama is fantastic.

Britain, the United States of America and other countries of the world; Western and the Third world, Nigeria has remained an important reference point in international politics and economy, not just because of our oil nor because of our size, but because of the huge potentials we hold which are suffocated by successive corrupt governments and their officials who have held the country down. These countries of the world do not pay attention to us, because they love us, neither is it because want the best for us. Rather, they keep regular tab on us, to ensure that we do not make any reasonable headway that may guarantee our ascension to being a world power.

David Cameron’s comment in which he referred to Nigeria as one of the two countries that are fantastically corrupt is neither scorning us nor pitying the ordinary people of Nigeria, rather, it is rather a celebration of what is presently happening in Nigeria under President Buhari.

In place of saying that the country is ‘fantastically’ corrupt, the British Prime Minister could have as well chosen to say that Nigeria and Afghanistan are as corrupt as they (the Western powers) would want them to be. If the Prime Minister had any pity for our condition or was disapproving of the endemic corruption that has eaten off the entire fabric of our nation, he would have chosen more appropriate adjectives to pass his message. It couldn’t have been for a lack of proper understanding of the English language that he said what he said. Remember, he is English and understands English better than any of Buhari’s media aides who may be trying to teach him the Use of English.

Instead of trying to insult Nigerians by explaining away David Cameron’s unambiguous indictment of President Buhari’s administration as fantastically corrupt, the duo of Garba Shehu and Femi Adeshina should have invested their time and efforts towards explaining to Nigerians how we graduated from being one of those corrupt countries to the two most fantastically corrupt countries, in less than one year of the Change regime.

British leaders, like their counterparts in the top ranch of world, best referred to as Western powers do not speak impulsively. They say things they are very sure of, having got the necessary briefings from the relevant agencies of government. The President’s image makers should have known that the world watches what happens in our country, and what David Cameron was caught on camera saying is a reflection of what the world thinks about the presidency of Muhamadu Buhari.

The world has seen our President as one who lied himself into power and expresses no regrets about not being able to keep to even the simplest of his campaign promises. I did write sometime that there is no worst form of corruption than lying. One who lies cannot be trusted, and anyone who cannot be trusted is corrupt. The world joined Nigeria in waiting for our President to keep to one of his major campaign promises of publicly declaring his assets before taking over as President and compelling all his appointees to do the same as he promised before and even after his election as President. For the same President who made this promise under no duress to turn around to tell a bewildered world that he will no longer declare his assets publicly is a most disheartening level of corruption. Prime Minister David Cameron is aware of this.

Corruption is not fought by marking out outspoken political opponents for persecution in the name of prosecution. It is the worst form of corruption to give someone who has stolen bigger money from State coffers a pat on the back and pick out some of his messengers who allegedly stole pittance, when compared with what your Party members stole and throw them into detention camps without as much as following due judicial processes. For those who will want the young British Prime Minister to agree with them that Buhari is fighting corruption, they should understand that David Cameron is a beneficiary of one of the world’s best educational system, he is not like the millions of certificate carrying dullards who will believe any lie, without carrying out the simplest of analyses.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s choice of word indicates that the Western world appreciates that the rate of corruption in the country at present is far worse than what it used to be in the past. This is understandable, because the country has only continued to pick out few rats among the viruses that have eaten up our national heritage, while leaving all the perks that attract and encourage corruption. The best way to fight corruption is by setting out the necessary policies in place to discourage people from corruptly enriching themselves. While punishing people for their acts of corruption may serve as deterrent to others from engaging in corrupt practices, it does little to really fight the cankerworm, especially as it is assumed by some people that belonging to the same political Party with the President may serve as immunity to them against prosecution for any act of corruption.

The most effective way of fighting corruption is by taking steps to discourage people from being corrupt. It can be illustrated with a situation where rats continuously destroy your documents or any valuable of yours, if you keep killing these rats, they will keep coming, as long as that which attracts them is still there. To stop the rats from tampering with those documents, what you need to do is to find out what attracts those rats, if it there is fish or a smell of it close to where you kept those documents, you remove them and if there is a hole through which the rats find their way to where you kept these documents, you close up the hole and these rats will stop coming. President Buhari’s idea of fighting corruption through clamping people into detention camps, without removing those things that would attract some other people to steal our commonwealth is an indirect way of encouraging corruption.

The whistle has been blown so many times on some corrupt acts going on within President Buhari’s government, yet, no one has been called to question on any of those issues. Recently, a memo from the Ministry of Information and Culture demanding loan to the tune of millions of Naira for transportation is still trending in the social media, and no one has been called in for questioning. When the lid was blown on massive corruption that trailed the preparation of the 2016 fiscal budget, the President kept mute on it, he did not as much raise a pen on the matter. Today, a budget of over 6.6 Trillion Naira, being the highest figure to be passed in a single years since the nation’s independence has become a legal document. How these funds will be disbursed will go a long way in proving to the world, if the British Prime Minister was right or wrong.

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