By Sunny Ikhioya
JAMES Comey, former United States of America FBI director, in his new book, A Higher Loyalty -truth, lies and leadership, made the following statement: “…there is a higher loyalty in all of our lives – not to a person, not to a party, not to a group. The higher loyalty is to lasting values, most important the truth.” As it is with the USA, so is Nigeria. It is a Pandora’s box, the more you dig, the more troubles and confusion.
Too much lies, too many manipulations, too much propaganda. The people are dazed. In fact, more confused than they have ever been. Where is the one that can really unearth the truth and stand by it? Therein lies the salvation for this country.
Everyone is just pretending to be a patriot. Where are the true patriots in this country? The likes of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Beko Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi and others are nowhere to be found. All of them have been eaten up by the guile and deception of those leading us. Some of them presently do not know how they got themselves in this situation.
Imagine a Festus Keyamo as the spokesman of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation. What an irony! The whole noise about anti-corruption fight is just what it is, a media and propaganda play, directed towards silencing the citizenry, but the citizens are not fooled. If your standard of living this year is worse than what it was last year, nobody needs to tell you that you are going down. If you were eating three square meals last year and you are barely managing two this year, you do not need anybody to make you understand what your life has become.
It is not as if those in authority do not know where the problem lies but they dare not address the truth. Some of them in position of leadership are using their positions to cause more confusion, like the compulsory introduction of Arabic language in our higher education curricula and the noise about the exclusion of the Arabic language in some of our naira denominations. That is the problem with Nigeria and that is why our anti-corruption fight will remain a mirage. The leadership we have is not bold enough to handle the fractious nature of our union. Until this country is truly united in word and in deed, we will keep on deceiving ourselves about this anti-corruption fight.
The likes of Itse Sagay and his ilks will cry to high heavens but they will see their efforts undermined by their strange bed fellows, their political comrades who have better and deep-rooted sentimental attachments to their ethnic and religious roots than to the geographical expression called Nigeria. It has been obvious in all past governments since the attainment of independence and even worse in the present government.
The leader who will successfully tackle corruption in this country is the one that will be despised by his own ethnic and religious brothers, his decisions will go beyond ethnic and religious considerations and his people will not like him for this, his life will even be at risk. Such is the one who will be able to turn the fortunes around, that he will be able to lay down his life for the survival of this nation. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time, the nation will crumble like a pack of cards.
That is the challenge of a fractious nation state, that a man who was declared wanted for the monumental pension fraud was quietly smuggled back and reinstated to service by his ethnic and religious brothers. It is a monumental challenge for Nigeria, that of converting from an agglomeration of nations, forcefully annexed to become one country, to a truly nation-state, united in purpose and focus and free from religious and ethnic interference. Is it possible for it to happen in Nigeria? It depends on a lot of factors.
The President was abroad the other day telling the whole world that the killings going on in Nigeria attributed to herdsmen, were people that the former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi trained. We all know that it was the desire of Gaddafi to divide Nigeria into two, along ethnic and religious lines. Do we still have men in Nigeria with that kind of thinking? Yes, there are.
There are also some who think that apart from their territories, the rest of Nigeria is theirs for conquest, and whenever the opportunity arises, as it is now, they push for it. How can unity exist under such circumstances? Unity is the foundation for a successful nation-state, when this is absent, nothing else will work. When you elect or appoint people in government based on ethnic and religious considerations, you are laying the foundation for corruption.
A man that gets into office fraudulently will never see anything wrong with corruption. It permeates through all of our cultures. We relegate our best to the background and promote mediocrity. It is a very big challenge for the country. For Nigeria to become a true nation-state, every ethnic group or nation must agree to be part ot it, willingly. Every nation, no matter how small the population, must be accorded their due respect. It is enshrined in the United Nations charter, Nigeria must adhere to it.
The beginning of corruption is injustice. When you deprive a weaker brother of his right, you are practising corruption. Only a leader with a holistic approach to governance can get this done. Is it possible in Nigeria? We had the opportunity when Obasanjo took charge on his return from prison. Given his background and experience, a lot was expected from him along that line. Unfortunately, he fell into the trap of the politicians, got consumed, tainted in the process and all our dreams and goals went along with it. The National Assembly got more powerful and corrupted under his regime and it will never be the same again.
As for Buhari, we do not know if he is aware of what is going on in his government. Things keep getting worse and he keeps blaming past governments and then, you ask; what was he voted to do in the first place? Is it not to cure the ills of the past? Until we get these very significant distortions sorted out, Nigeria’s corruption challenge will linger on.