Barack Hussien Obama’s eight-year rule as President of the United States ended 10 months ago. Before and during his reign, he spoke many things about Nigeria and her leaders. Some of them were unflattering. Read some of his words: “I hear Nigeria makes the metaphorical claim as the Giant of Africa. That claim, I make bold to say, is not only unfounded but absurd. Forgive my observation. That country’s claim of gianthood is only proved by the relative size of its population. Forty-eight years after bidding farewell to colonial rule, that nation is still struggling to get on its feet, like a toddler. Nigeria has clearly failed to be the beacon of hope for other African nations. Will the Nigerian people ever speak of their country as that where leaders make unselfish calculations that prepare them for the challenges of the global economy? Will they ever speak of a nation where every child, male and female, has the right to achieve his or her dream? So long as people are trapped in poverty, so long as there are evidences of gross marginalisation of certain regions, so long as opportunities are open, but not for all, the dream of a true nation will remain out of reach”.
Obama was America’s first Black President; but he never stepped on the soil of the biggest black country in the world. The Nigerian smudged soil did not deserve his golden and holy presidential feet. We heard he was protesting widespread corruption that was ravaging the nation. I was not one of those who had a beef about Obama’s snub of Nigeria. His visit, if it had taken place, wouldn’t have changed a thing about the country.
Readers, if corruption attracts the death penalty as it does in China, what will become of Nigeria? The Chinese’ treatment will shrivel the country’s population from 170 million people to one million in an instant. Very few will be standing. How many businessmen and women became billionaires in Nigeria without passing through the baptistry of corruption? How many of them dodge paying taxes, skip levies, duck requisite duties on imports, and offer and take big bribes? The system, by default, has nurtured and raised Chairmen/CEOs of cumshaw; commanders-in-chief of Nigeria’s gravy-train; and cockeyed capo dei capi of corruption. It is only in Nigeria that civil servants become billionaires without a track record of where the wind of wealth blew from. A nation so religious and so pious with splatters and bespatters of churches and mosques, and with millions of Nigerians in daily mad rushes to worship as early as 4am. Yet, so drenched we are in dubiety and impropriety.
I almost slid into coronary thrombosis when I read recently about the non-remittance of revenues by Nigerian government agencies. That is the crux of my treatise this week. At least, 30 agencies of government were discovered not to have remitted N3.8tn of their operating surpluses in the five years to 2008. The searchlight was beamed on the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. And, scared out of their wits, and within just nine months in office, the JAMB leadership paid N5bn into federal coffers; and an additional N3bn will soon be shovelled into the treasury. This year alone, N8bn that could have gone down in diversion through the conduit of putrescence is now in the government purse to feed hungry school children. I was shell-shocked that such sums of money circles carelessly around in JAMB; not the NNPC.
The crude-oil crude fight between petroleum resources minister, Ibe Kachikwu, and the NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, has at its roots the devil called money and struggle for control over big windfalls from Nigeria’s oil. The brawl will never be resolved as long as the black gold is spewing out of the Niger Delta grounds; and as long as the President maintains his recumbent approach towards descending on the depravity of corruption with force and fury. Has this President given up on fighting corruption? I am beginning to think he has. Is the fight too overwhelming for our ageing and recuperating General?
I feel comfortable cutting Mr. President some slacks and absolving him as an individual from corrupt practices; but we hear more noise about who supplanted what funds than we hear of comeuppance for culprits and returners of stolen money. About 14,776 Federal Government projects have been abandoned in the last 45 years in Nigeria. Why must a GIANT abandon its future? With much natural endowment to generate electricity; Nigeria’s federal secretariat was without light for five weeks not too long ago. Corruption is at the roots of these nonsensical. If God were men; He will be so sick of Nigeria; a nation that has it all but losing it all to brazen bandits around government. But all thanks, God is not a man.One-third of the world’s hidden treasures are in Africa. These untapped treasures can sustain the world economy for 100 years. One-third of Africa’s hidden treasures are in Nigeria while profits from the unhidden make no positive impressions in the lives of the people. Wearing a CROWN does not make a king; and having a bloated population and vast land mass are not the only reasons Nigeria qualifies to be called THE GIANT OF AFRICA. She is a true GIANT when her leaders stop stealing from their children. A true GIANT doesn’t kill the future of her children; she protects it.
Nigeria, an island of wealth, a trough of treasures; penstock of prosperousness; and a depository of abundant natural resources. Ours is the home of innumerable sages; arsenal of intellectuals, harbour of highbrows, human gathering of geeks and deft double-domes. But Nigeria continues to bea cornfield of corruption; a bunker of banditry; a tenebrific terrain of thievery; and a tenebrous titanic vessel of blatant and reckless authority stealing. Oh, what a Giant Indeed!
My friend, Chika, in Chicago recently asked me: “Na like this we go dey go”? Chika, out of frustration with Nigeria was just curious to know if anything will change in Nigeria. If Chika had asked me the same question in 2014/2015 when Buhari was running for President and I joined 15 million Nigerians in shouting and screaming hoarse for the General to take charge; my answer would have been a bold “No; no be like this we go dey go”. But now, all I can say is that corruption is a GIANT STRUGGLE for Nigeria.