Nigeria Matters

Speaking Truth to Power: The Nigerian Nightmare and ‘Zigilisation’

It has been months of silence in the face of the fun and games and the ‘Zigilisation’ that have now become bywords for governance in Nigeria. I have found my therapy in the company of a few good women and men, I have maintained a stance of ‘non-commentary’, a studied silence, contemplating where next to turn with my true voice.

The whole scenario called Nigeria presents one with a nightmare, a long one with out any discernable way forward. Some times the ‘project’ Nigeria, apologies to Prof Dora Akunyili, is comparable to a long nightmare that you hope you would emerge from in the morning. However, as the years pass, as the nation crawls towards half a century of its existence, there appears to be a conspiracy of factors and circumstances. These are determined to reduce Nigeria to a case of the every unfulfilled potential.

This increasingly appears to be a nation of promise with little fulfilment to match. The vividness of the present position is captured by the recent news reports I choose to share with you in the next few paragraphs. Before proceeding any further I wish to recall some of the optimism that moulded my teenage years, passed down by my parents and particularly my Uncle Chief Adeagbo Odeniyi.

I was taught to think that ambition for my country is good, that overreaching for it is good, that people in service should give a vision of government that is more than corruption and cluelessness combined is also good. That governance should be about optimism. That is why against all odds visited upon us by the current crop of ‘politicians’ and a ravaging and confounding enemy called corruption. I still chose to believe that:

Joy cometh in the morning, for I do not know if life in Nigeria would be worth living if it did not. Yes, there is evil in Nigeria and in the world, there will always be, and maybe we cannot do anything about that. But there is brazenness, corruption, lethargy and maladministration in our governance and too much mayhem in our culture, and we can do something about that.

There is not enough character, discipline, and depth in our leadership and we can do something about that. We are not doing nearly enough, not nearly enough to teach the next generation that politics can transform lives in Nigeria and that corruption is self defeating and destructive and we can do better, and we must do better, and we will do better, and that we can start this moment today. However, there are matters at hand which demonstrate the enormity of the task that faces a few good men and women.

It was several months ago that we were treated to the spectacle of the House of Representative’s power probe where allegations were made that Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration to put it mildly, squandered billions on various power related projects in a report titled ‘Nigeria’s Power Crises Deepens as Lawmakers Launch Probe’ by Gilbert da Costa, 12th March 2008. It revealed that:

“Despite its profile as a leading oil and gas producing nation, Nigerians have long endured debilitating power cuts. Officials say the government spent $13 billion to revive the sector between 1999 and 2007 with nothing to show for the investment. The House of Representatives Committee on Power, which is investigating how the money was spent, says it has discovered widespread irregularities in the award of contracts…….Committee chairman Ndudi Elemelu told VOA his group is counting on the support of Nigerians to establish the truth. He added:

For everybody who believes in growth and progress of a country should come out and be patriotic. We need to know,” said Elemelu. “Those who were privy to all the funds, the way they channeled them, even the ones they did not utilize but moved them into accounts. We need people to come and give us information. And be rest assured that we will make it public. The position God has given is for us to make sure we live up to God’s expectation. We cannot afford to fail.”

The same Elemelu, the gatekeeper, is in a bizarre turn of events now charged with almost the same offenses he was charged with investigating, recent reports suggest that:

EFCC arraigns power committee chairman, others over alleged N5.2b scam.’ The story continues, with:

The accused persons charged before Justice Adebukola Banjoko had 130 out of the 157 count charges read to them in a proceeding that lasted almost eight hours, to which they all pleaded not guilty to.”

Another report from Elombah.com of 14th May 2009 states that:

Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Senator Yahaya Ugbane and eight others appeared before an FCT High Court, Abuja, for allegedly withdrawing N6.2 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The money was meant for the rural electrification of the whole country. Elemelu and others were alleged to have illegally withdrawn the money from CBN account number 0103742014, using a number of companies as fronts.”

If these reports are true then it would appear that the hunters have now swopped places and become the hunted. Many may suggest am being too harsh on Nigeria, but its only in this country that a seeker after the truth arrives a position where he appears to subvert the same truth he is seeking.

The tragic-comedy of the Nigerian State is that incidents such as these are not limited but also variously replicated in many creative ways across the Nation.

Then we have the Ekiti State election saga, where the INEC found it virtually impossible to conduct elections in a few wards. The current administration and its agents would seem to condone the sucking away of the oxygen of democracy, rigging, on the altar of power. Then again, joy comes in the morning and when we awake we would have spoken to power before it is too late.

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