Ubiquitous Thieves, Cosmopolitan Rogues

Few years ago, Nigerian youths looked upon some people as epitomes of perfection. These role models went about making speeches, organizing symposia and delivering guest lectures on how to succeed in life. They exuded confidence that transcended beyond the shores of Nigeria and won laurels from local and international organizations. In the church, they occupied the front row and had the presiding bishop on speed dial. Befuddled members of the congregation saw them as points of direct contact to God since they typified men and women that are favored by God. Youth organizations rallied around them, protégés flock to them, and they monopolized the spotlight until recent times when it became evident that they are unrepentant thieves, and lying rogues.

Like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Posterity is blowing across Nigeria’s high places. Secrets are being revealed and sealed deals are becoming unsealed. At a snail speed, blatant liars are being openly ridiculed.

It was with great trepidation and awe that I read on saharareporters.com of Philip Emeagwali’s notorious lying status. This is a man who is neither a politician nor a religious leader, but became a role model to many. From the article, he was presented as a professional liar that is embroiled in several frauds, accusations and allegations. For a man who is seen as Nigeria’s Ben Carson―the man with gifted hands―it’s a knockout blow on Samuel Peter’s face.
Cecilia Ibru, like Chief Bode George, has been convicted of bank fraud and she is supposedly serving a jail term. While there is great disparity over the duration and condition of incarceration, the shattering of hopes of millions of young Nigerian girls who saw the ‘religious’ woman adorning Oceanic scarves as an inspiration is more devastating. It is gradually becoming an assertive assertion that it’s not possible to rise to the top in Nigeria without getting ones’ hands dirty or getting involved in dirty deals.

Erastus Akingbola is another ever present loud voice in support of the work of the Lord and youth advocacy. Before the Sanusi Sea Tide, Pastor Erastus was everywhere―on TV screens, pages of newspapers, and several web home pages; preaching the intercontinental gospel of honesty and actualizing dreams. Before he was laid off the blue striped bank, he bankrolled and spearheaded the publication, production and distribution of Nigeria’s largest daily devotional―The Word For Today. A page of the publication used to have the picture of a humble God’s servant, Pastor Erastus, who humbly received Widow’s Might donations from faithful readers. It’s worthy to note that after the saga that led to his removal, he also got fired from the fifth page. Now, we know better!

Madam Ayoka’s conduct as INEC’s electoral commissioner in Ekiti also brought ridicule to Christianity. Like a swinging pendulum, she presented herself as a sheep among wolves. But with the verdict of the Court of Appeal in Ilorin, it’s crystal clear that claiming to be a religious person in this country is no longer a free pass at the airport without passing through the newly installed 3D scanning machines. As a matter of fact, it calls for closer attention.

These days, I don’t know who to trust. Gradually, politicians are being canonized and made saints by the so-called saints who are well stained. I can’t trust the firebrand pastors anymore because they might be collecting seed offerings from corrupt politicians. The G.O. who is on board a private jet that was procured by a conglomeration of smartly fraudulent banking executives can no longer be trusted since he’s now a beneficiary. The situation has degenerated to the point that I can’t even have a clear mind to receive my free daily devotionals which could have been printed with the aid of illegally siphoned funds. These days, everyone is a corrupt suspect.

On the road, NURTW bus conductors are reluctant to give commuters their complete “change”, in the neighborhood, fellow landlords are “democratic” with their security bills; and at home, children seek to outsmart their parents to get more money for the much coveted Nokia E63, PES 2011 and Playstation consuls. We’ve become a smarter nation, and our IQ has surpassed that of our ancestors.

We can no longer blame Yahoo boys for disgracing us since the likes of Dr. Amos Adamu set the pace. The familiar concept and traditional ideology of acceptable official corruption could be seen as the impetus that propelled the FIFA executive member to utilize his official assignment for personal aggrandizement. He personifies the current status of Nigerian corruption, not only on the corridors of power, but in the mind of everyone with a little authority. This is further validated by the reluctance of the presidency and other tiers of Nigerian government to formally dissociate Nigeria from Amos’ artificial turfs.

Politicians are also using this deeply implanted corruption mentality to edge out opponents at polls. It’s amusing how the so called “helpless citizens” and “leaders of tomorrow” queue for cups of rice and tins of groundnut oil when elections beckon. It’s also disheartening that we don’t have better political options, either in the opposition or the civil societies, since they are all the same; and nothing new―apart from the change of nomenclature―would be added if the incumbent government is overthrown or toppled.

Fighting corruption has been corrupted with selfish vetted interests since most of our leaders are corrupt. We can’t boast of a perfect system that totally excludes financial misappropriation, and allowance is gradually being made to cushion the effects of embezzlement in the completion of projects via price inflation.

As a country, the cantankerous syndrome called corruption is officially everywhere and it has eaten deep into our veins to the extent that we don’t cry out loud, and it’s no longer a big deal for millions and billions of Naira to be mentioned on the TV with little or nothing to show in the city. Days of selfless services are gradually coming to an end; leaders unofficially pledge to seek personal interests and followers, in the same vein, now pursue ulterior motives. Even religious leaders have joined the wagon.

The only thing we are good at is the redistribution of blames while the major issues remain unattended to. The next general elections would be a testimony of how far we’ve dealt with these issues, or how far these issues have dealt with us. With the current status quo, the only realistic Vision 2020 is for Nigeria to be the most corrupt nation in the world. This is premised on the fact that every Nigerian, no matter the level, is free to do what he or she likes.

There is no respect for the rule of law, and the Nigerian Constitution, despite the numerous editions, is only known to lawyers. The relative ease with which the Independence Day Twin Bomb Blasts went off is another attestation to the fact the Lord is our only Shepherd. And despite the assurance and reassurance from the confused executive and pusillanimous legislature, Nigerians should know that we are on our own, we are independent.

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