The Roar of A Lame Lion (2)

by Segun Akinyode

Aside the aforementioned, there is still palpable financial recklessness and wanton waste as demonstrated in the cases of graft, destruction of records, breaking of rules and connivance between government officials and private sector personnels to defraud government.

The next logical question that should agitate the mind of any discerning Nigerian, if corruption is to be banished from our shore, is how does one stop the policeman from demanding and collecting bribe from offenders? How can one convince the teacher, the lecturer, the instructor, the technologist that he should spend his contact hour in the classroom instead of chasing contracts all over the ministry? How can the farmer be discouraged from arbitrary increment of the price of his farm product? How can the civil servant abstain from conniving with elected officials to inflate contracts, destroy important files or certify a project completed when, indeed, the job is not executed? Can the Nigerian student be dissuaded from the notion that elected office means plundering and looting the treasury? Has the University undergraduates’ mind-set not been tuned to the perfection of Osomonism? The list is endless.

If Mr. Obasanjo is truly interested in banishing corruption into obscurity in Nigeria, he should declare his asset publicly. Not only that, he needs to convince Nigerians that he did not dip his hands into the nations cofers between 1976 and 1979 or actualize a process that allowed him undue advantage to the nation’s wealth. And that between 1999 and today, he has not indulged in any corruption – related acts.

As the man on whose table the buck of the fight against corruption stops, he should convince Nigerian that there is no connection between Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) and Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Ltd. (OFN). Nigerians are desirous of sound explanations, debunking the rumour that Mr. Obasanjo has been using his presidential might to do the Nigerian poultry market in in order to ensure that his vast poultry farm dominates the Nigerian poultry industry. Sir, which company won the contract for the supply of chicken to the 8th All African Games, and at what cost per chicken? Satisfactory answers to these posers and those that may surface during investigation should prepare the ground for the next scene in the plot.

Once the Nigerian hoi poloi are satisfied that their president and his aides are not corrupt and are not likely to be corrupt, the factors that should discourage them from being corrupt should be put in place.

But, before this is done, Mr. Obasanjo should understand that corruption in Nigeria is graded. The nature and structure of corruption peculiar to the elected office holder is not the same with the appointed political office holders.

The colour and operational tendencies of corruption in the civil service are quite different from those of the public service. The private sector does not subscribe to the modus-operandi of corruption in both the civil and the public sectors. Even, within these broad divisions, are certain ascribable features peculiar to the subsidiaries of each of the aforementioned divisions.

Thus, the farmer, the market man and woman, the traditional rulers hiding under the guise of serving the public, perpetrate all sorts of corrupt tendencies which their scales can accommodate. Those in the military – the soldiers, the naval ratings and officers, men of the air force, and the paramilitary men, all demonstrate their peculiar corrupt tendencies according to their degrees of inclination.

From his quotidian interaction with his aides and the public, Mr. Obasanjo should demonstrate both financial and moral frugality, he should insist that his aides join him in exhibiting these virtues. In practical terms, a minister or an assistant should not enjoy while in office the privileges he cannot afford when he is no longer in office. Ensuring this proportionate living lies with Mr. Obasanjo who is expected to ensure that what his aides receive as salaries and allowances and other privileges accruing to them are within the perimeter of reasonability, in consmance with the reality on ground. A situation where an aide has fleet of cars, sets, more than three GSM phones, and lives in a gleaning mansion, will only whit the appetite of such person to acquire more and more wealth through crooked means to ensure that he does not live below his appointment affords him opulence when he is no longer in office. And the only way to guarantee such subsisting is to steal-the public’s money.

Again, the kind of “naira-assault” which occurred on 14th May, 2005 at the launch of the Presidential Library in Abeokuta should be discouraged if Mr. Obasanjo is actually interested in killing the spirit of corruption in Nigerians. True, the establishment of the library is laudable, true, I or any other person should not dictate how the Adenugas, the Dangotes or the Otedolas of Nigeria spend their money. But, for goodness sake, flaunting such stupendous wealth in the face of the quantity and quality of poverty, wretchedness and squalor in Nigeria, in support of a project initiated by a man who is fighting corruption, is not only antithetical, it is illogical and unreasonable. Mr. Obasanjo could have insisted that all donations be kept sealed. By allowing such colossal amount donated by individuals, government contractors for that matter, to be made public, Mr. Obasanjo has not only planted an insidious revitalisation of the spirit of graft in the minds of the masses who must have gawked Red at such display of naira-recklessness, but he has also cast a jolting doubt on his seriousness at fighting corruption.

The current wage structure in Nigeria is a gratuitous insult to the tolling masses. Again, Mr. Obasanjo must have realized this shortcoming in 1999 when he unilaterally set a national minimum wage. The culminating effect was that the state governments were forced to adopt this approach. The attendant reality of the “right” decision Mr. Obasanjo took in May 1999 is that, because he has ignored his promise to review Nigerian workers’ remuneration annually, coupled with the galloping inflationary trend on virtually all sectors of the Nigerian economy, workers’ take-home has been rendered ineffective. The result is that the average worker is daily assailed with serious economic problem that have turned him into a shapeless thinker, an economic vegetable. To now ask him not be devise the means of reforming him into a purposeful thinker, is like intending to scoop water with a strainer. So, in order to ensure a purposeful, sincere and transparent war against corruption in Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo, in conjunction with the state governors, the Local Government Chairmen, and the national assembly, must put in place a realistic and humane salary structure for the Nigerian workers. Anything short of a realistic take-home for the Nigerian workers, is nothing but a half-hearted intrusion into the world of eradication corruption among a people so socially, depraved, political neglected and economically marginalized.

What is worrisome is whether Mr. Obasanjo has the moral will, political wisdom, and leadership acumen to even consider the fact that the whole of Nigeria is his constituent and all Nigerians are his wards. He therefore has no justification to castigate or punish any of his children whom he had not been kind enough to, as a father, given enough feeding allowance. How then does such father expect such children not to steal? In that view lies the lameness of Mr. Obasanjo’s roar against corruption in Nigeria.

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Anonymous July 18, 2005 - 6:37 am

Even though the article has a lot of truth i think we should also see the positives of Mr Obasanjo. The point is the man has surrounded himself with the best(Okonjo-IwealaNuhu RibaduSoludoetc) and the worst (AnenihOdiliUbasetc) so if we just dwell on just his negetives its incomplete.

Its a difficult mix and sometimes I just wonder where all this will lead us.

Anonymous July 12, 2005 - 1:19 pm

I appreciate the truth buttress by the author of this article. We have come to the age where the government should not treat us like idiots or people without knowledge. The author has made it clear that the masses are seeing Obasenjo's evil in the country. This article is a food of reflection for the oncoming 2007 general election.


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