Nigeria Matters

This Nation, The Crying People And The Crowned Order

Once again, Nigeria is governed by another civilian president other than Obasanjo. For the second time since Independence in 1999, a democratic election that was not working has been overthrown in a frivoling electorate. Like the first election 8 years earlier, the action of the electorate April 2007 has met with broad popular criticism. Yet it has been a stunning blow to those who had hoped to see democratic institutions prosper in this largest and most potentially powerful African nation, as a model for other African states.

One unique charisma about Nigerians is that they show respect to their colleague in Authority; imposed or voted by fair or foul, I and fellow countrymen are ready to obey them. The authorities are known with gruesome flaws, we overlook them, since we are highly reputed to remain the best Rules observers in Africa despite those lure by unfavourable policy, where the government are nonchalant. We worship laws; reneged or reviewed. It is only the people in government who do not obey the law. They enact the constitution yet not conformed. Laterally think in void, reason myopic and advised sheepishly. They engage fraudulent advisers whose conmen draw ingenuity on dupe and loots. Together with their household, they buy the hinterland; live a very lavish lifestyle to ensure the economy keeps Nigerians absolutely handicapped.

Just to be a law into themselves, they take junket from Japan to London, from Switzerland to the United States in enjoyment of special preference in detriment of the poverty-ridden fellow citizens. They anticipate they live in luxury for the rest of their lives; failing to understand that it is the home that reviews what they are up to. They want paradise and self haven not putting in record that this is initiated and completed by those in their same shoe but deft and dedicated.

We are intoxicated with politics. The premium on political power is so high that we are prone to take the most extreme measures in order to win and maintain political power, our energy tends to be channeled into the struggle for power to the detriment of economically productive effort, and we habitually seek political solutions to virtually every problem. Such are the manifestations of the over politicization of social life in Nigeria.

What we have seen therefore is that because of the winner-takes-it all attitudes that permeate our political lexicon, any one who looses an election in any political party quickly gravitates towards the ruling party. The important thing is being at the corridors of power at all cost. That is why you find Chairmen of some political parties leaving office to become Special Advisers to the President. That is why the PDP Chairman would run errands for Mr. President and then go to Aso Rock to report. On no account should the Chairman of a political party report like a school boy to a Headmaster, to a President made by his own political party. But we saw that. No wonder then Mr. President suddenly now saw him as a dispensable syringe that could be thrown into the garbage heap of history after being used. So the only opposition that we have had because of the moribund nature of these opposition political parties who are all swimming towards the ruling one threatening to make Nigeria a one party state. The civil society in conjunction with labour decided to pick up the gauntlet. We have seen some decisions of recent threatening to tear down the NLC.

Many early reactions portrayed the election riggers as a bunch of power-hungry politicians, with no appreciation for democracy, eager to dip their hands into the nation’s coffers. This is a gross misreading of the flaw. The new government may, in the end, fail the expectations of the Nigerian people as badly as previous governments have, but it has swept into power on a deep tide of disillusionment and disgust with civilian politics. Its primary purpose appears overwhelmingly to have been national salvation, not personal aggrandizement. Its motivating spirit has been popular and redemptive, not authoritarian.

What caused the electoral malpractice was not the ambitions of the politicians. The decay of the country under eight years of civilian rule had three components: staggering corruption, crippling economic waste and mismanagement, and the vitiating of the electoral process through violence and fraud.

It is another misconception to argue, as many Western newspapers have, that corruption under the last regime was no worse than it had been under previous regimes, and hence was only an excuse for the massive vote rigging. In fact, corruption in Nigeria has grown more widespread and brazen with each regime, and was more out of control than ever under the last one. To some extent it is true that the civilians only applied more intensively and perfectly devices that had long been in operation, in particular the pervasive inflation of contracts to cover the costs of kickbacks to ministers and parties and of commissions to politically connected agents. The almost universal padding of these contracts by 50 to 100 percent meant that only half as many projects could be undertaken. And the payment of huge “mobilization fees” before the performance of any substantial work meant that many were never completed. The shells of unfinished hospitals and public housing, the treacherous craters of ungraded roads, the idle cranes and pumps and bulldozers, stood in virtually every state as vivid testimony to what was happening.

Continually, the newspapers published exposes of fantastic corruption, something much more than business as usual. Force, fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt at concealment, and it requires an effort to discover within this tangle of political violence and contests of power the stern laws of the economic process. In reality, political power is nothing but a vehicle for the economic process. The conditions for the reproduction of capital provide the organic link between these two aspects of the accumulation of capital. The historical career of capitalism can only be appreciated by taking them together. ‘Sweating blood and filth with every pore from head to toe’ characterizes not only the birth of capital but also its progress in the world at every step, arid thus capitalism prepares its own downfall under ever more violent contortions and convulsions…

This is not a time of radical, revolutionary politics. Not yet. Unrest, riot, dissent and chaos notwithstanding, today’s politics is reactionary. Both left and right are reactionary and bureaucracy. That is to say: Both are political. They seek only to revise current methods of acquiring and wielding political power. Radical and revolutionary movements seek not to revise but to revoke. The target of revocation should be obvious. The target is politics itself. They have had their sights trained on politics for some time. As governments fail around the world, as more millions become aware that government never has and never can humanely and effectively manage men’s affairs, government’s own inadequacy will emerge, at last, as the basis for a truly radical and revolutionary movement.

We must continue to explain to the working class and youth that the perennial failure of Nigeria‘s ruling class, and that of their counter-parts across Africa and the rest of the so-called underdeveloped world, is primarily a function of the backward dependent capitalist nature of the economy which prevails in these societies.

Cases of looters and plunderers should be re-opened in view to get back the looted money. I strongly condemned the recent series of indiscriminate attacks in the country; Government should curtail them, arrested the situation, So that people would come together as the voice of the nation.

President Umaru Yar’Adua has been urged to publish the names of past leaders and serving politicians who looted the nation’s treasury and stashed such funds in bank accounts overseas. We cannot “win” a decisive battle against fraud. We need to be eternally vigilant against fraud and work cooperatively with other nations. The Institute for Fraud Prevention (IFP) can help build those alliances—and CPAs and lawyers are vital to the effort. CPAs ensure the reliable accounting essential to any well-functioning enterprise; lawyers have taken the lead in helping to create a rule of law in emerging states.

The time-tested virtues of independence, professional skepticism and competence have never been so important. We have to take control fraud (that is, fraud perpetrated by management) seriously—that means recording it when we detect it and conducting research to learn how to spot it before it causes catastrophic damage.

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