Nigeria at 52: Still contending with corruption and insecurity

Written by Charles Soeze
Monday, 01 October 2012
AS a result of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of
Nigeria in 1914 by the British colonialist, Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard, a federating
state called Nigeria came into existence. This same entity won independence
from Britain on the October 1, 1960. Based on development, one can say that
what Nigeria actually got from Britain was mere political independence.
Britain simply withdrew its governance of the country and handed over same
to Nigerians.
A thorough study of Nigeria’s history reveals at a glance that our past leaders
moulded Nigeria with great zeal for success, given the way and manner they
collectively fought and achieved political independence for Nigeria. However,
it is a truism to say that the crops of leaders exhibited sound leadership
qualities, moral pedigree as well as professionalism lacking in our current
politicians and leaders.
The result of their tested, trusted and sincere leadership styles of our founding
fathers, gave birth to a peaceful one Nigeria, as the Nigerian flag of green-
white-green was hoisted and the Union Jack lowered appropriately to the
admiration of all Nigerians. They defended the territorial integrity of Nigeria
with full restoration and preservation of our cultural values to the best of their
ability. It is on record that the set of skillful or adept politicians maintained
absolute self-respect and genuinely protected the oneness of this country
through good governance. There is the need, therefore, for the current
politicians and leaders to emulate the ideas of our heroes past, desist from
corrupt practices and shun ethnic tendencies.
Speaking on Nigeria, President Barack Obama of the US has this to say,
“Nigeria is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria has not got it
right, Africa will really not make progress.” In this connection, therefore, it is
no exaggeration but most appropriate to say that Nigeria is and will continue
to remain the giant of Africa. However, it is true to say that some Nigerian
leaders are either oblivious of their responsibilities to Nigerian citizens or
blinded by their selfish quest for self-aggrandisement. In other words, one can
see decadence in all sectors of the economy as some of the leaders are
nothing more than self-serving demagogues. Most of our leaders have shown
by their actions that they are incapable of providing effective leadership to the
Nigerian citizens. This is based on their inability to check their unparalleled
appetite and propensity to acquire wealth at the expense of the citizenry.
I think that was why Senator Hillary Clinton blamed Nigerian leaders for
escalating radicalisation of the youth. She made specific reference to poor
living standards and corruption. Hillary Clinton made this statement after a
young Nigerian man, Umar Abdulmutallab, was apprehended for allegedly
attempting to blow a US plane.
Her words “There has to be recognition that, in the last 10 years, a lot of the
indicator about quality of life in Nigeria has gone the wrong direction. Nigerian
leaders corruption breeds terrorism”. The big question is, who will save
Nigeria from all of these? The nation seriously needs leaders with conscience
that will effectively address the problems of Nigeria without minding whose
Ox is gored. One can boldly say that the problems eating up the very precious
heart of the nation is corruption. Nigeria may find it difficult to fight against
corruption, because we continue to re-cycle some old civilian politicians and
their military counterparts. To successfully fight against corruption, we must
pray in our churches, mosques and if possible or necessary, in our shrines, so
that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal
Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, an academic
and astute politician, would be able to address adequately some of the
problems facing Nigeria. From my own personal observation for more that one
year, President Jonathan’s leadership qualities, particularly his disdain for
injustice and his fearlessness in openly speaking against it, should be
appreciated by all Nigerians and world communities. This is so because
leadership is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere according to
Chinese proverb. Also, in the words of Jack Welch “genuine leadership comes
from the quality of your vision and your ability to spark others to
extraordinary performance”.
It is abundantly clear that democracy is the best form of government
everywhere in the world and so, Nigeria should not be an exemption.
Nevertheless, we cannot totally write off the leadership of this country. I think
and believe we all need to think up realistic ideas for national development
because no man has monopoly of knowledge; we must not relent in
contributing our quota so as to move the nation forward. It is our country and
nobody will develop it for us. We don’t have any other place to go. But it is
rather unfortunate that at 52, we are still at the primary level of development,
in other words, still crawling.
The ex-chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related
Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, while lamenting the
nation’s monumental losses to corruption since independence, said that
Nigeria has lost the sum of $300bn to corruption. The said sum would have
been enough to build many standard public schools with all facilities. But
strangely, we now send our children to private schools and universities.
Also, former vice president of the World Bank for Africa and former Minister of
Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, recently said that $400bn oil revenue was
stolen since independence. Where do we then go from here according to a
popular musician?
In his book, “The trouble with Nigeria”, Professor Chinua Achebe, a renowned
novelist, poet and critic, strongly argued that Nigeria has not yet achieved
nationhood. He said a country where citizens are ethnic conscious and indulge
in all manner of cutting-corners to make money at the expense of the country,
has not arrived.
A French company was fined $630,000 for bribing Nigerian officials to obtain
the country’s ID card contract in 2002/2003. Shouldn’t we know what
happened to the case of those officials in Nigeria?
In the words of Jide Osuntokun “We need to move away from “come and
chop” politics that unfortunately permeates our society with the result that
very few people can speak truth to power. This denies our leaders good advice
and the rest of us good governance emanating from good advice”; what a
dangerous dichotomy at 52 indeed!
In my opinion, the right way to prosperity is for this country to get credible
leaders, leaders that will provide good governance, transparency and
accountability in handling of public affairs; leadership that will rule with the
fear of God and be fair and just to all. Finally, I wish to quote Abraham
Lincoln’s statement in Gethysbury on the 19th of November 1863 for our
information and guidance “That this country under God shall have a new birth
of freedom and that government of the people by the people shall not perish
from the earth”.


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