The Dilemma Of Criminal Hypocrisy In Nigeria – By Theophilus Okoro

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Hypocrisy refers to actions that contradict proclaimed values, and is generally condemned as a form of dishonesty. According to John Milton ‘…it is the only evil that works unnoticed except to God, No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.’ Charles Caleb caps it up by saying


“If Satan ever laughs, it must be at hypocrites; they are the greatest dupes he has; they serve him better than any others, and receive no wages.

 

The UNDP Human Development Report of 1994, states that; “The goal of governance should be to develop capacities that are needed to realize development”. In line with this reality, many countries all over the world are increasingly working hard to build democratic institutions to further strengthen democratic governance. But building democratic institutions in many of these countries have come with a great cost. In Nigeria, the major challenge has always been how to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor, in other to  eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV / AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, develop a global partnership for development and combat terrorism of all kinds.

These challenges must necessarily be tackled for any meaningful development to take place. But the emerging trend of criminal hypocrisy that is ravaging the country is assuming a disturbing dimension both in public and in the private sector and even within the civil society. In the polity, it is common place for people to now dishonestly proclaim a commitment to standards or principles they intend to breach. We also see a situation where people who have overtime, paraded themselves as men and women of integrity, become deeply enmeshed in corruption.

 

Rochas Okoroacha, the Governor of Imo state, once said that we have more politicians in Nigeria than leaders. When asked the rationale behind this, he said, ‘Politicians are thinking of the next election, while Leaders are thinking of the next generation’. This indeed, is a master class utterance aimed at pointing out vividly to us that the paucity of leadership in the country over the years, both in public and the private sector in Nigeria, is the major reason for the slow pace of development in our national life.

We have many leadership positions in the country and people who have sought to occupy these positions overtime, are not motivated by the drive to serve, but rather driven by the demonic lust for profit, unlimited power and wealth. This is why our country’s leaders -both past and present- have lived in the firestorm of constant criticism. Past leaders; for their failure to steer the nation out of the doldrums despite the numerous opportunities the nation had for economic, political, social and cultural advancement, and Present leaders; for their inability to quickly bring about the needed changes that our nation urgently needs.

We have held numerous conferences, retreat after retreat and many other discourse foras and interviews to discuss Nigeria and the stifling challenges that bedevil her, but to no avail. Participants at these events, are usually in high spirit, criticisms are rife, solutions are proffered but people go home with no clear-cut mandate on how to effect positive change in their work places, and at the end of the day, nothing changes. It has become a vicious circle of criticism and mudslinging in regards to failed government policies and programmes.

When you listen daily to public analysis by lawyers, public affairs analysts, captains of industries, and experts, from diverse fields of human endeavor on contemporary issues of national discourse; usually aired on NTA, AIT, Channels Television and several other media platforms, you will understand that we are not a nation lacking in ideas or relevant laws to make for a productive and viable nation. But, entrust these public analysts and experts with leadership responsibilities; you will be surprised at the level of corruption or failure they would most likely exhibit. Thus, one is left to conclude that we must either be some bunch of hypocrites who are openly hungry for change but secretly not ready to pay the price for the transformation of our nation. What hypocrisy!

Man has learnt to control the sun to heat his house; control mighty rivers to produce electricity for our cities; control satellites in space to transmit communication signal to the nations of the world; control deadly diseases with wonder drugs, but we have not learnt how to control and lead ourselves aright. We have become very greedy. Leaders both in private and public life are deeply enmeshed in corruption. The led are also tacitly encouraging corruption by paying lip service in the fight against it, praise-singing and awarding chieftaincy titles to dubious politicians, putting undue pressure on elected representatives for monetary rewards and gratifications as their own share of the ‘national cake’ and refusal to raise alarm when they see people living above their means.

Among the political elite, the situation is damning. It is even a dangerous dimension of criminal hypocrisy. Those who have sworn to uphold the law and order in the country and to live within the dictates of the law have belligerently violated it. Many disgruntled politicians, particularly those who lost-out in elections and those in the opposition parties, continually accuse the government in power of ineptitude, corruption, favoritism and the likes but these ‘anointed’ critics have never fared better when it comes to good governance practices particularly when they ascend the positions of leadership, thus, leaving the electorates with no credible alternatives. Some of these so called ‘critics’ have remained so, not because they have the interest of the nation at heart, but for selfish and ulterior motives of theirs. It is usually the case, that when you block the sources of criminal and illegal enrichment by some of these desperate politicians, they will usually fight back with greater desperation. Consequently, the country is left at the mercy of these crops of disgruntled individuals who can do anything including unleashing terror on the masses in order to actualize their selfish ambition.

Certainly we have got problems in our country and we all know it. These issues confront us in our daily lives. We have had to continually challenge corruption, ineptitude, negligence and mismanagement in the schools, in our interaction with the police, army, customs, immigration officers, in the National Assembly, in MDA’s, hospitals, courts of law, banks and even in the private sector, in spite of the fact that these organizations and the different positioned therein, are mostly manned by Nigerians who  constantly howl for transformation and good governance in our country but who nevertheless have neither brought any transformation to bear in their lives or in their work places. This, is indeed double standards!

Regrettably, the Judicial arm -both the bar and bench- has been caught-up in this quagmire. Many Judges have been compromised in the discharge of their official duties. Worse still, many legal practitioners have remained overly critical about governance in Nigeria; but on the other hand, they continue to frustrate the legal process and make cases unending just to satisfy greedy politicians and enrich themselves to the detriment of the nation. More so, the concept and practice of plea bargaining is now making a mockery of our judicial system. How can the nation develop when the people who are supposed to be adjudicators on civil and criminal matters frustrate the process for selfish ends?  How can an arm of government which is considered by many as the last hope of the common man become highly politicized and corrupt? There is an urgent need for judicial renewal and transformation in our nation. There is even a greater need to strengthen our legislative systems, improve access to justice and public administration and develop a greater capacity to deliver basic services to those mostly in need. This is because; any society that uses falsehood and hypocrisy to dispense justice will not experience peace, harmony and progress.

The civil society is not left out in the mess the country is experiencing, in that while they remain overly critical about government policies, programmes and procedures, they stay hugely divided and largely insincere about the best way forward for the nation. Certainly, many civil society and good governance bodies in Nigeria have been hijacked by politicians and have become highly compromised. Their antagonism towards government policies and programme is tailored to achieve primordial and political objectives.  Those that are still trying to work honestly and earnestly, merely concentrate their attention on the Federal Government alone, neglecting almost totally, the deep rot and corruption that happens in the states and local governments that are even closer to the people. Thus, making their impact almost not felt by the citizenry and even when felt, is insignificant. This is a wake-up call for good governance and civil society groups in Nigeria.

No nation can be transformed beyond the capacity of her civil service. You will agree with me that with the kind of over bloated civil service that exists in Nigeria today, we might not yet be ready to move forward. Interestingly, the government is working hard to downsize or right-size this huge drain-pipe, that is highly unproductive and corrupt called the Nigeria civil service. All over the world, the civil service is seen as the engine-room for the implementation of government policies and programmes. Apart from this, the civil servant is supposed to be a trained technocrat who checkmates the excesses of politicians. In Nigeria, however, this is not the case. What we have had to endure overtime, is a class of civil servants, who are least dedicated to work and whose work ethics is very low. More so, among the top echelon of the civil service, many of those who are presiding over the affairs have corrupted and twisted their mandate and have also collaborated with the political class to milk the nation dry. Remember the December 2007 Ministry of Health cash sharing scandal and the expose at the power sector probe that involved legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly, the pension scam, BPE probe, fuel subsidy probe, among several others that revealed mind-boggling figures stolen by individuals whom I presume, want to live eternally on earth without tasting death. These persons should have long been thrown-off the corridors of power but as it is usually the case, they will do anything to cling to power and the nation is worse-off for it.

Those who are opposing efforts to carry out reforms in the civil service should stop doing so in the interest of Nigeria. While genuine individual rights should be protected and respected, the overall interest of the nation should be paramount. Our corporate aspiration should supersede the career aspiration of certain elements whose service records have not been able to take us out of the abyss.

Let us explore the place, role and relevance of the opposition in the troubled Nigerian project. People have truly wondered if we have a credible opposition in the country. Political parties are lacking in clear-cut ideologies, and if it exists at all, must be merely on paper and not in practice. Parties do not have clearly defined roles for the youths. Youth wings are usually handed over to old men whose interests and views about youth participation and relevance in politics are highly contrary to their expectations. Politicians have become bunch of ‘prostitutes’ who cannot stand  firm in upholding sound democratic principles and ideals but prefer to jump from one political party to the other just to achieve selfish ambition. As a result, electorates are left with no other credible choice but to stick to the ‘evil’ they know rather than the one they cannot fathom.

Nigerians are desirous of positive change in the country but many are not ready to change their attitudes in public life. They drive against the traffic, give chieftaincy titles to corrupt politicians and government officials, award degrees to undeserving individuals and politicians for a fee. The maxim of work and eat does not apply to many youths today, it is now eat, eat and eat. The get-rich-quick syndrome is rife and it is truly the leading cause of social vices among the youth population. Nigerians also crave for reformation in governance, but many, are divided about the degree, aspects and nature of the reforms. In reality, many Nigerians are not willing and ready to endure the difficult challenges that come with true reforms.

One thing I know for sure is that; the problem of Nigeria, will be solved by no other persons but Nigerians. Evidently, ours is a case of endemic mismanagement of resources. Undeniably, we need to change some of our managers and inject new people that could start off with a new culture of accountability. But the question remains: How/Where can you identify these new crops of leaders who would be selfless, patriotic and who would handle government business with diligence, transparency, accountability and with a high sense of patriotism? If they are eventually identified, will the politics of ethnicity, geopolitical configuration and the likes not hinder such persons from taking positions of leadership?

More often, when new crop of leaders are brought in, they tend to be diligent and efficient for some time, after which, they begin to lead corrupt lives. These situations have become overly recurrent that many have wondered if the nation would ever get it right. Leaders do not descend from the moon. The leaders that we have had over the years both military and civilian are products of the society we live in and the leaders we will continue to have would definitely be products of the same society. We must begin to make our society better; each and every one of us must change the way we live our life both individually and collectively as a people, if indeed we want to have a truly prosperous nation. We must be accountable in our small places of work; we must be committed; we must not remain aloof to demanding accountability from our leaders or intimidated into docility by vindictive politicians.

The concept of nation-building is a collective effort. We must all display high sense of responsibility in all our endeavours, and it is the aggregation of these responsibilities that would make a great nation. The challenges we face in the country is not peculiar to our country alone. Countries all over the world are faced with one peculiar challenge(s) or the other. In issues of national life, most Nigerians have lost hope about a better future for the country. We have continued to express words of discouragement, defeat, doom and gloom, thus have elevated despair in place of hope. The truth remains that, if we keep saying that things are going to turn out bad, we have a good chance of becoming prophets, and our days in the wilderness will be long and full of despair.

In every facet of our national life, we must begin to evolve a civil society that will grow beyond the realms of arm-chair criticism and becoming partakers in the project of developing the country. No nation can be built on the pages of newspaper. Citizens must have to climb down from their high horses and put their skills and talents at work for the good of the nation.

Good governance is truly challenging and good leaders who bring about changes must constantly expect criticism. They must also be disciplined enough to be able to overcome constant criticisms, character assassination and conspiracy. True changes and reforms comes with pain and people abhor pain in whatever form  or shape and would do the necessary to put an end to reforms that bring temporary or long term pain.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you are called to be a street sweeper, you should sweep as the famous Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. You should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” As for Nigeria, history will smile on us for becoming the model of a country that achieved a successful reversal of the climate of corruption to emerge as a landscape of integrity, transparency and accountability.

When truth is rejected, all that is left to embrace is a culture of lie, deception, hypocrisy and sentiments.

We must truly shun criminal hypocrisy NOW!!!

This is an important wake-up call to political, religious and media leaders and even the entire citizenry in our pursuit for true national development.

 

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