Posts Tagged ‘CORRUPTION’

Nigeria’s Cult Of Corruption

October 26, 2009

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

 Virtually every Nigerian knows and strongly believes that any day Nigeria is able to make up its mind to end its obscene and ruinous romance with the stubborn monster called “Corruption”, this country will automatically witness the kind of prosperity no one had thought was possible in these parts. Just imagine the amount of public funds being stolen and squandered daily under various guises by too many public officers and their accomplices, and the great transformation that would happen to public infrastructure and the lives of the citizenry if this organized banditry can at least be reduced by fifty percent!  

 Now, is this monster divorceable? Of course, yes. But are there any signs that anyone in the corridors of power is interested in ending the strong grip it maintains on the very soul of the nation? That is the problem. It is sheer foolishness to expect any of them to willingly block the very hole from which great goodies also flow to him or her just because some other persons are also benefiting from there. No, you can neither fight corruption with soiled hands nor retain monopoly of it! It spreads like cancer. And the whole thing has now been horribly compounded by the emergence and empowerment of a very formidable class whose sustenance and longevity solely depend on its ability to continue sustaining the culture of corruption and bleeding the nation pale. Read the rest of this entry »

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NIGERIA: The Making Of A Dangerous Country

September 11, 2009
By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye,

“Something startles me where I thought I was safest,

I withdraw from the still woods I loved,

I will not go now on the pastures to walk…”

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) in the poem, ‘This Compost’.

In October 2004, Professor Chinua Achebe told Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s “civilian” ruler at the time, that Nigeria under his watch was unarguably “too dangerous.” That was about five years ago. Today, words would fail anyone, including Achebe himself, to describe Nigeria’s current state. And if by any stroke of misfortune the 2011 general elections still throws up this same band of (mis)rulers, whose insatiable greed and obscene display of unearned wealth now constitute the greatest and most effective incentive for the prolongation of Nigeria’s current nightmare of kidnapping, violent robberies and ritual murders, what this country will become in the next few years from now is better imagined.

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua And Queen Elizabeth of England

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua And Queen Elizabeth of England

Mid-last month, July 15, 2009, to be precise, The Nigerian Tribunecarried a very brief story whose significance may have been lost on many people. At 3.00 am on the Sunday of that week, a thief was caught in the bedroom of Mr. Sule Lamido, the Governor of Jigawa State. The story, according to the newspaper, has been duly confirmed by the Governor’s Director of Press, Muhammad Sanu Jibrin. Before now, who could have imagined that a thief, any thief, would have been able to violate the sanctity of a governor’s bedroom? But that has now become part of our history. I won’t be surprised to hear tomorrow that a governor or his wife has been kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination, from the safe confines of the Government House. Given the horribly complicated security situation in this failed state we call our country today, such a possibility already stares everyone in the face.

There is always a huge price to pay when a nation is left in the hands of an irresponsible and wayward elite to do the only thing it knows how to do with it, namely, primitively bleed it pale and callously run it aground. That is today the story of Nigeria. And the situation is becoming horribly complicated. Those outsmarted in the grab-and-plunder game have taken up arms to get their own share of the cake, provoked mainly by the sudden wealth being flaunted by the “lucky few” with easy access to public funds. Now, the smell of blood and death hangs in the air, like a dreaded epidemic! Fear walks on all fours. Yet, the looters are still busy plundering, hoping to use what they have accumulated to purchase safety and comfort for themselves in the midst of death and destruction. What a foolish thought.

On Their Own: Who protects these ones?

On Their Own: Who protects these ones?

On July 18, 2009, Saturday Independent reported the gruesome murder of two former aides to the Education Minister, Dr. Sam Egwu, at the burial ceremony of the father of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Nnewi, Anambra State. A Federal lawmaker, Paulinus Igwe Nwagwu, who was also hit by bullets from the same gunmen, however, still has his life intact, and was at the time of the report receiving medical attention at an undisclosed hospital. It was even reported that due to “the deadly onslaught of this gang of killers”, Gov Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who were already set to attend the funeral in Nnewi became scared and retreated indoors. Do you blame them? When a state fails, not even governors or deputy senate presidents can appear safely in the open, despite the intimidating security apparatus at their disposal.

And make no mistake about it: this can only get worse until the political and ruling elite decides that looting and plundering of commonwealth must not remain inextricably intertwined with governance, and that Nigeria needs to be healed and rebuilt and not continuously gang-raped. Well, the bad (or good) news is that very soon, treasury looters may no longer find any safe ground to ply their lucrative trade. The words of British clergyman, Willaim Inge, may soon come alive to everyone: “A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he can’t sit on it.” Indeed, no one can sow the wind, and expect NOT to reap the whirlwind. Nigeria appears to be the only country where people are busy eating and drinking poison, and yet wishing to live. Our rulers live their whole lives destroying the country, and yet wake up each morning expecting to see it flourishing like a May flower. No, you don’t bring home ant-infested faggots, and expect to be excused from the visit of lizards. For goodness sake, Nigeria is too young to die. It has never been this unsafe. And no part of the country is immune.

Living Dangerously: Who Cares?

Living Dangerously: Who Cares?

A couple of weeks ago, on a Friday, a heavily armed gang reportedly raided two commercial banks in Nsukka, Enugu State; they took their time to thoroughly clean out one bank before moving to the other to repeat the same exercise, killing a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the process. While the reign of terror and bullets persisted, no form of resistance came from any quarters. When they were through with the banks, they moved with an even greater fanfare to the Nsukka Police Station, where all the ill-equipped and poorly motivated policemen had fled for dear life. Then they opened the cells, released all the inmates and razed down the police station. After the robbers had finished their operations and gone, the Enugu State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, told Saturday Independent (probably from his hideout in Enugu) that the Police Commissioner had dispatched some more policemen to Nsukka to go and help catch the robbers. Nigeria, Great Nation, Good People!

 

Face of Danger: No Place To Hide

Face of Danger: No Place To Hide

Whether we like it or not, the rise of violent crimes is to a large extent being provoked by the massive, unrestrained looting going on in public institutions. Time was when everyone, including criminal elements among us, watched passively as those in government, their relatives, mistresses and errand boys became rich overnight and obscenely flaunted their ill-gotten wealth before every eye that could see. Now the situation has changed. Those without access to government coffers now have access to guns. But in their determination to “make it” like their counterparts in government and politics, they are unable to achieve reasonable discrimination between those who acquired wealth by dint of hard work and those who bled the treasury pale. I have heard it said several times among the populace that if the robbers and kidnappers would direct their efforts solely on those carting away public funds, no one would bat an eyelid. It would then amount to a balance of criminality. They steal from the public; the thieves and kidnappers steal from them! And so long as those outside this godless ring remain untouched in the desperation of the two camps to out-steal each other, no one would complain. Imagine such a reasoning flourishing in supposedly sane country!

Tender Victims: Usually The Worst Hit In A Dangerous Country

Tender Victims: Usually The Worst Hit In A Dangerous Country

Welcome to Nigeria, a country no one wishes to slave or die for. Nigeria is like a collapsing House, cordoned off by the Ruling/Eating Class, who are busy day and night carting away the much they could before it goes down. No one is interested in rebuilding it so it could remain for all of us. But the marginalized out there have taken up arms to force their own portion out of the looters. There is “war” in the land which might become more complicated, ensuring that there would be no more places to hide. And as 2011 approaches, it is bound to get worse. But why can’t we decide today to halt this massive looting and start rebuilding Nigeria? If graduates get jobs tomorrow, will they steal and kidnap? We better open our eyes to the stark reality of today’s Nigeria and act fast to fix our country for the safety of both the ruler and ruled. But if we continue pigheadedly on this path of perdition, even a blind man can see what this place will become tomorrow.

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 scruples2006@yahoo.com

www.ugowrite.blogspot.com

Yes, Yar’Adua, Let The Immunity Clause Go!

December 18, 2008

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

 Unless, this is merely another of those statements he usually makes to grab the headlines and circulate the misleading impression that some form of governance is going in Abuja, after which nothing more is ever heard about the matter again, last week’s call by President Umar Musa Yar’Adua on the National Assembly to expunge the irredeemably iniquitous Immunity Clause from the Nigerian Constitution, most surely, ranked, in my opinion, as the most significant thing the man had uttered since he assumed office in May 2007. The Immunity Clause gives statutory protection to the president, his deputy, governors and their deputies against arrests and prosecutions for any unlawful acts throughout their tenure of office. In other words, even if a governor or president empties the whole treasury into his pocket, the much anyone can do (since the  lawmakers are also in his pocket) is to wait patiently until he is out of office before he could be brought to book for such a hideous crime. The purpose of this  odious law, we are told, is to ensure that this  category of public officers are spared every distraction which their arrests and prosecutions could constitute, so they could devote their whole self and time to govern the people well.

 

But, as we have all sadly found out, this has become the most abused law in Nigeria. The Immunity Clause may have been added with good intentions, but   given our bitter experiences with successive rulers, nothing now justifies its continued retention in our statute books.  Unfortunately, the governance of our hapless nation has been hijacked by a criminal class whose only mission in the various Government Houses is to loot the places dry. After they had stolen so much and stashed billions in coded accounts abroad, they would abscond once they leave office, and only return to the country to enjoy their filthy wealth after they had successfully used the billions they had stolen to install and sustain one of their own in power, so that no matter the national outcry against their boundless criminal accumulations while in office, the various anti-corruption agencies would endeavour to look the other way once their names are mentioned. “Corruption is endemic in this country,” President Yar’Adua said last week, “and there is no way this country can achieve its potential until and unless this evil is confronted promptly by all Nigerians, and one of the steps and measures that we may have to take in order to entrench this fight against corruption is to look at some of our laws. I today call for the abrogation of the constitutional provision of immunity for president, vice president, governors and deputy governors, and I want all Nigerians to join me in this call … this provision of immunity should be expunged from the Nigerian Constitution.”

 

With my whole I heart I endorse this most important call by the president. We have always been fed with such bunkum like how irresponsible and unpatriotic Nigerians would use countless frivolous petitions and lawsuits to “distract” the governors or the president from his determination to turn Nigeria into another paradise. And how instead of spending all the time “transforming” the state and delivering “democracy dividends,” he would be in one court or the other where he had been charged for corruption or other criminal activities. Please, spare all such trash for hare-brained fools. Since the immunity clause had protected these fellows from “distractions” what have they achieved? For eight years, 1999-2007, Nigeria enjoyed unprecedented prosperity from oil exports, which sold as high as $135. But despite the total absence of “distractions,” what did our rulers achieve? Nigeria is still battling with prehistoric darkness, with industries folding up and relocating to neighbouring countries, as a result of the total collapse of the power sector. Roads have remained impassable. The school and health systems have since packed up, and no one is even attempting to extend them the honour of an autopsy. Indeed, the immunity clause has only helped the heartless, thieving rulers to mindlessly steal without “distractions.” This just must stop! We require only one quarter of what was stolen by public officers in this country to turn it into another Europe. Imagine what this country of highly creative people would become if we had uninterrupted power supply? No nation where thieves are kings ever survives! The greatest hindrance to Nigeria’s development is CORRUPTION. No more, no less.

 

So, let the immunity clause go. If it only helps the governor or president to realize he is NOT some emperor to be worshipped, and that state funds are not his to squander the way he likes, that’s okay for now. Whoever thinks he would be unable to take the “distractions” from “frivolous petitions” can simply excuse himself from aspiring to become president or governor.  Maybe, after this, the  genuine servant-leaders, whose mission is to truly serve the people, would emerge to rescue this nation from the resilient criminal class that has held it to ransom for many years now. Every other nation seeks daily to transfer more power to its people to enable them hold leaders accountable, but in Nigeria, everything is done to render the people voiceless and powerless. I see the removal of this immunity clause as one effective way of returning power to the people. By the way, what is all this fetish about “distractions”? Anambra people still retain pleasant memories of the brief tenure of Chris Ngige as their governor, yet, only few people remember that Ngige did all he did to win the love of his people in the midst of a most savage fight against him by Aso Rock-empowered renegades.  So much for “distractions.”

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What is Gov Ohakim Afraid Of?

Mr. Ikedi Ohakim has said countless nice things and did a few things right since he happened in Owerri as Imo Governor, including tarring the road to my village in Umuaka halfway – something previous regimes could not even attempt despite profuse promises. And, although, many people on this side of civilisation recoiled at his suggestion the other day that treasury looters should be stoned (to death, I suppose), such an outburst, however, was construed by many as indicative of the governor’s deep revulsion for corruption. But just a few days after his historic statement, and President Yar’Adua had called for the abrogation of the obnoxious immunity clause, Ohakim thoroughly embarrassed his admirers and Imo citizens by becoming the first serving public officer (in less than twenty-four  hours or so) to voice his public disagreement with Yar’Adua on this issue. “I believe that there are many areas of the Constitution that require amendment to assist Nigeria in fulfilling its manifest destiny, and not the issue of corruption,” he told reporters in Kaduna. Indeed, given that corruption has since distinguished itself as the most destructive enemy of Nigeria’s development, Ohakim’s uncritical stand  certainly cost him countless friends, and placed a halo of doubt over his past media posturing on transparency in governance. Did he see the degrading comments his unedifying position attracted from enraged Nigerians on the internet? But why is Ohakim suddenly jittery? Is he scared of a past to which the removal of immunity clause might attract more discreet scrutiny or a present which when exposed by the removal of the immunity shield might look very scary? Or was he merely, characteristically, dropping another headline-grabbing bombshell? A sad day for Imo indeed!        

 

 scruples2006@yahoo.com

www.ugochukwu.blog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Became A ‘Prominent’ Lady

July 31, 2008

Dear Ugochukwu,

I was sufficiently provoked by your last week’s column captioned, Criminalisation Of Poverty,to share my great and exciting success story with Nigerians who throng this page every Wednesday to read you. Let me start by proudly informing you that I am a prominent, highly-placed lady, a distinguished member of the nation’s ruling elite, highly-connected political leader, a super organiser and one of those who decide the future and direction of this great nation. I worked really hard to attain my present exalted status, so no columnist should be jealous of me.

 

I am very happy and fulfilled. Today, in my community, State and nationally, I am highly respected and always applauded as one of the “illustrious daughters” of the land and role model, despite what some of you journalists may consider as the unflattering route I took in my rapid journey to the top. Well, not all of you are unappreciative of my person and status. I regularly read brilliant reports full of flowery descriptions of my person in the media, especially, when I hold my usually great parties or attend public functions. But whether you would choose to accept it or not, in this our great country, once someone has “made it”, that is, achieved real financial, political and social success as I have done, and is also willing to occasionally dole out some crispy Naira notes, the person would become an instant celebrity, and anyone trying to question his integrity would be impatiently dismissed as an irritant and insufferably jealous.

 

Right now, I have two highly-rated chieftaincy titles, one conferred on me by the traditional ruler of my community (where I was practically a ‘nobody’ only a few years ago) and the other by a highly respected traditional ruler in another State. I am equally arranging to have a reputable University offer me an honorary doctoral degree to add more dignity, sophistication and intellectual colour to my already high status. My Special Assistant, a former University lecturer, obtained his PhD from a very reputable University in the United States. And my driver? Well, he was always on top of his class while at the University. I have choice properties at highly coveted privileged spots in Lagos and Abuja, and my country home stands out as an exquisite palace befitting my status. I have no interest in owning houses abroad, so I only reluctantly purchased a ‘little mansion’ in London.

 

I am not ashamed of my very humble beginnings. When I finished secondary school, my father had dismissed me as a horrendous disappointment because of my dismal performance. And just like I had failed at school, I also was unable to learn to sew very well, and was always quarrelling with customers I had messed up their dresses at my shop in the State Capital where I had relocated. My boyfriend was the personal driver of a prominent politician. He lived in the Boys Quarters in the man’s massive compound where they stayed each time he was in town. One day, he agreed I should visit him at home, but on the condition that I introduce myself as his cousin. That suited me perfectly, because I had my own plans too. Everyone agreed I was a very beautiful girl, an asset that helped me through secondary school since I was a favourite of my male teachers. And so as the Security Man admitted me into the massive compound and called my boyfriend, his boss suddenly appeared and barked at his direction:

“Who is she?!” he asked with a malevolent scowl, which could not obscure the undisguised lust with which his eyes devoured me.

“My cousin.” My ‘bobo’ answered almost quaking.

“Okay,” the man said, smiling nicely. Later, he invited me into the massive mansion “to welcome me properly,” and from there I entered a good, exciting life I never imagined existed…

 

Chief was simply mad about me and took me to many important places in the country and around the world where I met very important people. My (former) boyfriend complained once, but I silenced him by reminding him of his wife and children in the village, showered him with gifts, and occasionally allowed him to sleep with me when Chief travelled without him. Trust me, I can be that generous. Moreover, you never knew with these drivers; he could pull a surprise one day and Chief would just show me the door and all the good life would suddenly end! One day, I told Chief I wanted to be a Council Chairman. He was shocked. A prominent, formidable godfather in our State, even our governor was anointed and installed by him.

“But you don’t have adequate education?”

“What do you mean, Chief? I have a School Certificate. The person who just vacated the office, what had he?” Then, Chief smiled, and soon after I was anointed and installed as the Honourable Chairperson of my Local Government Area. My father could not believe it. A great tumult occurred the day I rode into our community with my convoy to receive a distinguished Chieftaincy title conferred on me by our traditional ruler at a very impressive and well-attended Civic Reception organized by the community in honour of their “illustrious daughter.”

 

I didn’t want a second term, so Chief got the Governor to appoint me a Senior Special Adviser on Youth and Cultural Affairs, and later Honourable Commissioner for Women and Youth Affairs. Then, my foreign trips increased tremendously, some with Chief, and many others to attend any conference on anything (no matter how insignificant) that had to do with youths or women even in the remotest part of the earth. Although I owe my appointment to Chief’s awesome influence, I nevertheless lured my Governor to my nest, and soon, he also became my active supporter, although he pretended he did it because of Chief, since he knew he could be impeached the very next day if Chief found out about our affair. Chief soon announced me widely at the national level as a “Women Leader” and powerful “grassroots mobilizer” from his State, and with his support, that of my Governor and State Party Chairman (whom I also was sharing very secret moments with), my visibility and prominence at the national level in our great party grew with incredible speed. Chief wanted me to the go to House of Representatives, but I preferred a national appointment (which I still retain). I have an excellent Press Secretary who ensures I am in the news always, and everything I say or do gets duly reported, and prevents my ‘secrets’ from getting into soft-sale magazines. I have invested massively and wisely. Apart from Chief, I have also used other powerful party bigwigs who had lusted after me to get the things I want. They have already anointed me as the next Deputy Governor of my State. I have also acquired significant influence of my own so much so that it is only on rare cases now that I require Chief’s intervention to get whatever I want. I recently launched an NGO to promote morality, honesty and hard work in youths, and regularly speak at youth forums where I draw from my exceptional personal example to warn them on the dangers of prostitution and corner-cutting.

This is my story, Ugochukwu.

And I must tell you, as a prominent member of the ruling class, the present Administration is on course, serious about its war against corruption, and has the capacity to make this nation one of the greatest in the next couple of years. I therefore solicit the support of vocal Nigerians like you, for the president’s excellent Seven Points Agenda and war against corruption.

Very soon, our nation will be ushered into a glorious era of unimaginable prosperity. We are here to ensure that happens.

Thank you.

I am Chief (Ms.)……[Name Withheld]