Some people do not subscribe to the existence of an Omniscient, Omnipresent being for reasons that have been discussed and assessed over time. Majority of Nigerians still hold tenaciously to the existence of God. He is worshipped in Churches, Mosques, and shrines and homes every galloping second. They believe his invincibility and indefatigability are as constantly held as Julius Caesar regarded the constancy of the Northern Star. But, as they say, man proposes God disposes, as we shall presently realize in this context.
However, it becomes worrisome and disturbing when human beings invite God to intervene and arbitrate as a result of his ascribed qualities in situations that are purely social, environmental and orientation.
I am referring to the invitation by Mr. Obasanjo, the current president of Nigeria, to the world acclaimed prayer merchant, Evangelist Benny Hinn of the USA, to come to the Nigerian State House in Abuja in April 2005 to hold a prayer session in order “to bring the message of salvation and miracles to help heal our precious country” The Punch of Sunday, October 31, 2004 quoted the letter written and signed on behalf of Mr. Obasanjo by the Chaplain of Aso Rock, Professor Yesufu Obaje and dispatched to the American Cleric.
Reacting, the Secretary General of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, Max Okwu described the religious misadventure as “hypocritical” and he advised Mr. Obasanjo to “change instead of asking for divine intervention. “He needs personal orientation,” the Secretary General of the umbrella body of Nigerian political parties concluded.
The World Youth Peace Mission however disagreed with the wisdom of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, as the body’s president, Richman Goodwill, hails Mr. Obasanjo Bennized perception as “a good omen.”
The body opines that the presence of Benny “in Nigeria would help the course of peace and also uplift the spiritually our leaders, particularly our dear President in the task of delivering the dividends of democracy”.
Interestingly, on page 47 of the same edition of the Punch newspaper where Goodwill and Okwu’s reactions are contained, the Methodist Archbishop of Lagos, Ola Makinde berates the Nigerian elected public office holders as paying lip service to fighting corruption. The Archbishop believes that instead of the elected Officers putting in place the weapons with which corruption can be attacked, the Country, according to him “has become lame, dumb and deaf because of corruption”. Ola Makinde must have been fuming with pure ire when he said: “we are asking for debt relief when our leaders have stolen our wealth abroad. Worst still we can’t see what they have done with the money they borrowed.”
From the submissions so far, certain issues have become tangibly obvious and relevant for discussion.
One clear implication is that by inviting Hinn, Mr. Obasanjo has aligned with Okwu, Goodwill and Ola Makinde including every concerned Nigerian at home and the Diaspora that corruption is a Nigerian and something has to be done to send the social ill packing.
Why Hinn, when the combination of Oyedepo’s inspirational prayers, Oyakhilome’s miracles, and Bakare’s practicality are in Obasanjo backyard, beats my imagination.
The type of corruption in Nigeria today is palpable. It is breathing fire and spitting its venom all ever the place. Worse still, everybody, including the seemingly naïve and ignorant, is now aware that a sickening profligacy by the ruler, an unbound, reckless, almost psychotic acquisition of wealth by these elected rulership, have combined to decimate what should accrue to the masses.
A man whose total asset included a rickety Peugeot 504 and a rented flat suddenly finds himself in the corridor of power. And, before a triple blink, he is a multi-millionaire with strings of Chieftaincy titles complemented with countless number of houses all over the world.
Yet, the government that makes “a war against corruption” one of its cardinal programs keeps chasing shadow and gasping to catch a will ‘o the wisp.
Visit any tertiary institution, government office or institution in Nigeria and assess the cost of the infrastructure there. Go to the ministry and make enquiries about the total amount of money allocated to the institution in question since its establishment. Now deduct the estimated cost of the infrastructure from what the ministry told you was allocated and released to the institution.
Of course, the difference between the budgetary allocation and the cost of the available infrastructure has developed wings and flown into the bank account of a few bureaucracies – protected, politics – pampered officials.
Another fallout of the recklessness of the current political togetherness is that majority of Nigerian students no longer care two hoots how their academic or professional certificate is obtained. They are itching to get out there and join the bandwagon of maddening thievery that is the signature tune of present day Nigeria.
And why won’t an average Nigerian student think and behave like an academic – Rambo in order to obtain a piece of paper called certificate? He knows and hears that his elected government, between 1999 and today, has paid about $800 million to some individuals to repair the country’s ailing and obsolete oil refineries. Yet, five years into effecting the repairs, the refineries remain epileptic.
The discerning student knows that his government has been mouthing a fight against corruption since 1999, and all the calls on government that those who collected $800 million without executing the contract should be made to face the music has fallen on government’s deaf ears.
So, what is sweeter than bulldozing one’s way through an ill-equipped Faculty, obtain a defective certificate and become a contractor?
That ministry official who Mr. Obasanjo wants to be patriotic and join him in building a virile nation knows that a former minister went away with more than N300 million meant for road construction in a part of this cursed federation, and nothing has happened and nothing is likely going to happening to him.
The official knows that there is an iota of truth in the disclosures that some Nigerian Cabinet ministers received bribes totaling $180 million from officials of Halliburton. (It may interest Nigerians to know that Halliburton is a company in which the Vice President of the US has more than above average interest).
This disclosure has put a stamp of authority on the belief that corruption is a Nigerian national delicacy, prepared and served by the current administration.
The market woman living near my adobe may be an illiterate, but she is intelligent enough to gather from discussions around her that the N10 billion released for the implementation of Poverty Alleviation Program (PAP), of Mr. Obasanjo administration was embezzled by some party big wigs.
The ruling Peoples Democracy Party confessed this much to the hapless masses of Nigeria whose suffering this money is meant to pacify. These party men and women who stole the money are not ghosts. What has happened to them by way of reprimand?
My illiterate market woman will no doubt support her son or daughter’s tendency to be corrupt, since it is only in such orientation that one can survive in Nigeria.
The fellow Nigerians who were addressed by Mr. Obasanjo on October 1, 2004 to be hopeful and “put our hearts and minds to doing things the right way at all times in the interest of our people and Country,” are aware that a Minister superficially did certain things right but Mr. Obasanjo, his assistants (and this includes the said Minister) refused “to do things the right way.”
In a move that smacked of spurious courage than genuine intentions, the Minister of Works Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe made public the names of contractors who collected money without executing the contracts. Up till today the contractors are still roaming the streets, wining and dining with the Nigerian money illegally collected. One may ask who signed and released the cheques for unexecuted contracts?
The attitude to work, commitment to official responsibility, and the enthusiasm to uphold and respect the dignity of labor by an average Nigerian Worker have been smashed by corruption – favored policies and willing negligence of elected officials.
Visitors to any Ministry, parastatals or organization that are government-run will be lucky to meet an officer in the office by 8.00 o’clock in the morning. The man may saunter into the office at 10.00a.m, pleading one ridiculous reason or the other for his lateness. One will be surprised that the same official will be all serious, punctual and seem dedicated if a project that involves disbursement of money is to be executed by his department. You may see him issuing directives, writing countless memo, and sweating seriously all in order to get the project executed “sincerely.”
The reason for this seeming seriousness and thin display of commitment is aimed at exploiting all the loopholes in the process of executing the project to the benefit of his pocket. So, at the end of the day, the project becomes abandoned; an edifice is unpainted or without provisions for water, toilet and other conveniences. Of course his hapless subordinates who cannot benefit from the moral delinquency of their boss will wait for their turn in form of demanding bribes for carrying out their official responsibilities.
One may be running a risk of divine damnation if this typical Nigerian ministry official and his subordinates are berated for their lack of transparency and dedication, because the environment in which they are required to work is richly saturated with elected government-induced indices that augment the festering of corrupt practices.
From every conceivable perception, Nigerians are at the centre of all that is happening in Nigeria. What Mr. Obasanjo should have done instead of accentuating his economic brigandry by wasting Nigerian’s money to invite an American evangelist to come and eradicate corruption in Nigeria, is to embark “on sincere reform.” He should first make up his mind that he sincerely wants corruption thrown out of the cultural practices of Nigerians.
For instance, that Nigerian who has been slaving for Nigeria in whatever capacity will shun bribery, nepotism, indolence, ethnicsm, statetism, and other shades of corruption if he is sure his elected officers are not looting the treasury uncontrollably. The Nigerian has to be certain his salary and allowances however meager will come at the time it should come and not subject to the whims and caprices of the governor of his state or the Chairman of his local government.
Above all, the Nigerian should be made to trust the political leadership or, is it rulership? True transparency in leadership would go a long way in instilling worthy trustworthiness in the minds of the followership.
The current situation where the political rulership is involved in shady economic deals, false declaration of assets, flagrant display of stolen wealth, and intimidatory profligacy is warning the followership to toe the same line of subsisting.
The list is endless. But the rallying point is that those in government, our decision makers, are aware of what is just and right. That exactly is what they should put in place, and every other thing will fall in place.
To invoke God’s name in the attempt to eradicate corruption in Nigeria is tantamount to begging the question. God will not eradicate corruption because He cannot do it. Corruption is man-made, not God-created.
So it is Nigerians, given the right and conducive orientation that will eradicate corruption. God will only do what He is designed to accomplish: working miracles.
So I will sincerely implore Mr. Obasanjo to hasten the process of inviting Evangelist Hinn to Nigeria. December this year will be very apt instead of April 2005. What God will use Hinn to do in Nigeria is not to eradicate corruption but to remove the bad governance (the source of corruption) as exemplified by Obasanjo and co from the mainstream of Nigerian politics.