Who Is The Bigger Criminal?

by Sylvester Fadal

When the issue of safety becomes a major concern in any country, the citizens typically look up to their leaders to address the problem. In democratic countries, the subject could be a key election issue and in autocratic countries, the head of the nation traditionally makes a new keen and aggressive rule that addresses the issue outright even if it means using previously caught criminals as examples. In nations where the leaders are just as disreputable as the criminals themselves, it is often a complex issue in that both cadres are criminals of the same sort but operates with divergent tools such as pens and guns. Nigeria is one such nation that is currently being haunted by the activities of criminals at both levels. The sad point however is that the actions of the criminals leads to the loss of innocent lives and the sinking of the future of a potentially great nation into immeasurable demise.

An old parable says, “The evil that men do lives after them.” The situation in Nigeria is calling for the evil of men to live with them. This invariably means that offenders should reap the repercussions of their actions. Nigeria remains filled with professional pen criminals in both public-governmental organizations and in the private-corporate world. At the other end of the spectrum are the downtrodden citizens who out of lost hopes resort to engaging in armed robberies to either maintain a livelihood or to exalt themselves to a level of social esteem like their government counterparts. Regardless of the situation, they are guilty of the same kind of crime…robbing the innocents. The armed robber with a gun and the pen robber with a stroke of a pen steal millions of Naira, all in effort to maintain their fallacious lifestyles. They both love the glamorous dinner dance and to fully participate or host such events, they must have the wherewithal to afford it. If compromising their integrity and mortgaging their conscience is what it takes, they gladly embrace it. If ruining the lives of millions is what it entails, they willingly accept it. If siphoning the financial resources or killing the manpower of the nation is the only option, they adopt it.

How did a great country of this magnitude slid downhill? It is simple, our leaders. I recall the days when it was safe to function without fear. I recall the days when there was peace and harmony amongst the citizens. Where did things go wrong? What are our choices and how do we address this ongoing problem? Good leadership perhaps. OBJ may have made some efforts but it is not enough and he has not firmly asserted his stand on the issue of safety. We need leaders, implementers, tracking mechanisms and a system that encourages (a) forgiveness of those that have failed us, (b) sacrifice on the part of all, in our efforts to re-emerge as a collaborative nation, (c) kindness on each other rather than the current dog-eat-dog mentality, (d) respect for human lives, (e) honest communication in its purest form possible and most important, (f) love for each other and the nation in general. These practices we must adopt for the future of our nation and generations to come.

To my question on which the bigger criminal is between the pen robber and the armed robber, the answer is none because they are simply both criminals of abominable acts. The biggest criminals are the leaders of the nation that should eradicate both the pen and armed robbers. If the leaders are of questionable characters, it becomes an issue of law. The only way to address the problem of robbery at all levels in Nigeria is to ask the big spenders how they make their wealth out of their daily jobs. As a professional in American for almost two decades, I haven’t even seen the luxury of wealth. Though comfortable, I have realized that day-to-day basic hard work does not create overnight wealth without a solid investment. What does the so-called wealthy Nigerian invest in? Where are all the honest men and women? I am pretty sure they have been left behind because they were too integrity-filled to fit into the operational modules of the key charlatan operators in the country. It is sad because the honest Nigerians are the ones that should be encouraged to participate and lead the key sectors in the nation.

Perhaps the only option available is a true leadership that we have realistically lacked the last few decades. We need a sincere, dedicated leader who knows how to practice tough love with a passion for result and an understanding of how to reenergize the nation under a new sense of well-planned direction towards recovery for all. We need a leader who reports only to the people. We are not under a set of rules that can’t be changed. We are under a system that must be changed to follow a new set of rules that will make Nigeria a better place to live in. The nostalgia displayed by most Nigerian-American who would love to (a) visit frequently, (b) invest in the nation, (c) relocate back to Nigeria or (d) contribute more to grow the nation is enormous. Is the environment right for them? Sadly, it isn’t because our leaders made it so. Patience is a virtue and I am one to recommend patience always but time may be running out for positive change. Nigerians everywhere need it now and the president can’t take too long to enact a mechanism to address the problem. Andrae Crouch’s song “Count the years as months and the months as weeks” is perhaps a song the president should take to heart.

Simply singing praises of the police each time they kill armed criminals is not a success. It is a patch of the deep-rooted problem that can only be resolved when our leaders open up to an elastic leadership that encourages:

A. Openness to change
B. Openness to creative and great management ideas
C. Objectiveness in decision making
D. Creating opportunities for the citizens
E. Encouraging old-fashion subsistence living
F. Bringing values to education in the country

If the president believes that executing the armed robbers and giving chieftaincy titles, accolades and honorary degrees to the pen robbers will resolve the problem, he is mistaken. If he believes that ignoring the problem and ignoring the recommendations of professionals will resolve our safety problems, he is in a dream world. Nigeria needs a referendum on who the criminals are and how they will be placed in check. OBJ needs to develop an action plan to protect the citizens immediately. Anything short of full protection will be deemed unsuccessful.

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1 comment

Olarewaju Jegede Townson April 2, 2005 - 8:22 am

Awesome article. It really hit the nail on the head about safety and the real criminals in Naija.


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