Oct. 18, 2013
By Bassey Isoh
We have descended into a dangerous socio political era where it is becoming a herculean task to distinguish between “what is” “what is not” “what ought to be” and “what ought not to be”.
Gone are those days when it was unimaginable to say “this old man lied.” Even the unlettered elders of our then traditional African Society were men of integrity, they rather die than tilt to the side of dishonesty; their words were their bond. It was a thing of pride for elders to make reference to the age long aphorism “The words of our elders are the words of wisdom”. Their words were indeed filled with honesty and wisdom.
Perforce, the integrity of our elders past impacted positively in virtually every facet of their communities; Crimes, deceit, criminals and their loots were abhorred ostracized, and never celebrated.
“According Tamuno Tekana, “…. native restraints, circumscribed anti-social behaviour,…… social sanctions imposed by gossip and other institutional economic and moral pressures exerted by the community constituted the native restraints”.
It was unheard for chieftaincy titles to be conferred on any fellow with questionable character or wealth.
Today, the converse is the case. Our leaders and elders have no shame. They lie through their teeth without batting their eyelids and without an iota of ruffle to their conscience. They lie “needfully”, they even lie needlessly. Ethnic and religious bigotry have become the syllogism of the day; the new order of reasoning.
Sometimes, it is difficult to make much sense of your education and learning with this present dispensation. I remember vividly my first year in the university when I was taught philosophy and logic in the general studies department. The lecturers made us to understand that the essence of a university training is to prepare the student for leadership responsibilities and nation building. I was particularly fascinated by Francis Bacon’s four idols i.e. idol of the tribe, idol of the cave, idle of the market place and idol of the theatre.
For Bacon, these idols represents dangers to understanding and impedes the power of reasoning. Today it is frightening the way and manner our political elites throw away age long rules of logic to the wind and make nonsense of objectivity, education and learning.
Few years ago, I prayed fervently for a graduate president and graduate political leadership for Nigeria. My reasoning was simple; with all the cognate leadership training acquired in the higher institution, a graduate president will acquit himself well.
I celebrated the late president Yar Adua, who came in as the 1st Nigerian graduate president. True to some extent Yar Adua upheld the rule of law and obeyed court judgements. He kept to constitutionalism to an extent. But for ill-health which slowed him down and some usual human failings, he probably was on the path of true ethical transformation. One of the few negatives I read about Yar Adua was his alleged shielding of James Ibori who was said to be one of his major election financiers.
Today, we see the already overtly corrupt police force and other government agencies been dragged further down the dregs of impunity. In most cases when they shamelessly indulge in illegal activities their only explanation is that “it is order from above”. Fallacy of Argumentum ad verecundiam” (appeal to authority). A clear error in reasoning. Public servants by their calling are not supposed to obey unlawful orders. The way and manner the government of the day flagrantly disobey and give their own interpretation of court orders is embarrassing. The way they illegally employ the full weight of government machinery to suppress any politically opposing group is democratically shameful. What civilized democracies do is to win elections through testing their popularities on election days by marshalling out their views, programmes, projects and convincing the majority of electorates to cast their votes favorably . Querry ? why cant Jonathan, Lamido/Amechi, Buhari, Tanbuwal, Atiku et al test there popularities at the polls come 2015 and allow the electorates decide who should rule rather than subjecting us to this dangerous blackmailing politicking and ridiculing our already poor performing government agencies ?
Again, the struggle is clearly to contest on a particular political platform where all the so called captains of industry and the usual political godfathers will pull all their resources together to ensure their preferred candidate is returned by crook or hook come 2015 in order to sustain/retain their continuous devilish vicious grip on our economy at the expense of the masses.
We have reduced ourselves to a point where arguments are no longer evaluated by objective reasoning and the content of the premises. Tribalism, religious bigotry are issues permeating everywhere, polluting the political space and minds of the electorates. It is common place to hear distasteful words like,” if my brother from the south is not elected, we will go to war. You will equally hear distasteful response like “the presidency must go to the north though the heavens fall”. What a shame! No consideration for performance, merit, track record, competence, integrity etc. If you ask any of these fellows why their oga at the top is making such inflammatory statements they respond, “when the other man was saying what he said why didn’t you caution him? Argumentum at Bacullum Tu quo. (you too) they don’t address the merit, they just attack the other party.
My only concern is that the hapless Nigerians cannot see that these political elites are only in pursuit of their personal interest. They don’t care whether the institutions are permanently shut. They don’t care whether armed robbers besiege your community ever other day provided they have a retinue of over ten heavily armed mobile policemen for their personal security and that of their families. They don’t care whether you pay exorbitant electricity bills even as you remain in perpetual darkness. They don’t care if you waste six man working hours in traffic everyday due to the deplorable state of our roads, they don’t care. They don’t care If you earn N18,000 which is the minimum wage they pay while they increase government owned university school fees to N220,000 systematically depriving your children the opportunity of university education . All of these political elites can afford to send their children to choice schools in Europe. They use the ethnic and religious games to make us fight for them while their primary intention is to protect or enhance their illegal share of our commonwealth which they will never let us benefit from even as their tribesman and church man.
When I was at Command day secondary School, Ojo, students related to each other based on socio-intellectual compatibility. When I got to the university I expected a higher standard of objective reasoning and socialization. , Disappointingly, I found all sort of tribal groups like federation of Igbo students, Calabar Students Association, Arewa students congress, middlebelt students forum etc. These groups were not just promoting their cultural heritage they became grooming institutions for fierce political groups/inclinations with the primary interest of championing any tribal course notwithstanding how absurd or regressive it maybe to the collective interest and progress of the country. The result today is that performance and merit have been relegated to the dregs. These same set of tribal jingoists graduated into the macro society to continue their parochial tribal wars on a national scale.
There is so much poverty in the land and it’s shameful we the people of Nigeria cannot see through the façade of these insincere political class.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is on the precipice of the cornerstone of its very existence. Corruption! Corruption!! Corruption!!! Corruption that vicious cankerworm is gnawing and destroying the very root of our commonwealth unimpeded.
The long period of military rule did not help matters. As the hierarchical command and obey structure would never permit their subordinates to querry even the most bizarre corrupt practice. 15 years after the demise of General Sani Abacha, authorities are still globe trotting from country to country and have berthed in Liechtenstein to identify and retrieve part of the now famous Abacha loot simply because the man is not around to have his say.
Ironically, we celebrate even bigger looters who are visible in every length and breadth of our nation. The vogue today is to buy up all the national assets our heroes past labored so hard to erect. Their modus operandi is to render these national assets comatose by placing them either in the hands of saboteurs or inefficient administrators thereby paving the way for their outright sale to the same people who programmed these assets to fail.
Take P.H.C.N for instance, some of the new owners include a former military head of state, a former Governor of a state, a director of Nigeria Communications Commission, Directors of Transcorp (the same fellows who bought Nitel) and some of the players in the oil industry who were recently fingered in the oil subsidy scam.
Will they allow for robust and productive privatization of our electricity? your guess is as good as mine. These same fellows and their proxies did the same thing to the oil industry and have succeeded in making us believe we cannot build and operate refineries in this country. Nigeria, an oil producing nation that had functional refineries about 30 years ago has been condemned to importing these products while making very few citizens billionaires therefrom.
Already they are telling us the current electricity charges cannot sustain their investments, the signs are there for all to see.
When government say they don’t know who the oil thieves are, I laugh! Let me give them a clue, the present Naval Chief, Vice Admiral Ezeoba was the A.D.C to Admiral Allison Madueke when he was Military Governor.
When Admiral Madueke became the Chief of Naval Staff, Ezeoba became his Naval Assistant. Few years ago Ezeoba was indicted for massive oil bunkering, he was court Marshalled to be retired.
However, Ezeoba was redeployed and some years later in the typical Nigerian style became the chief of Naval Staff.
Today, our petroleum Minister is the wife of Admiral Madueke. Ezeoba as Naval Chief is in charge of water security while Tompolo and Asari secures the pipelines. Simple logic, Tompolo just bought a private jet and Asari, built a University in Benin Republic and yet they don’t know the oil thieves. What a coincidence!
Corruption transcends the ruling party. Everyone of them are involved. Take the National Assembly, for instance, the symbol of our sovereignty. The elected representatives vested with the responsibility of checking the excesses of the executive. Stakeholders have been consistently alleging that our legislators are about the highest paid in the world albeit the majority of our citizens wallow in abject poverty. For so long a time we expected even the progressive ‘honourables’ amongst them to tell their electorates the true position of things and/or to apologize, make amends and purge their conscience. No! not these honourables! They all kept quiet. Everyone of them from the P.DP to A.P.C to APGA to the Labour Party etc. The representatives of the people, kept mute preferring to keep their loots while the masses shout themselves hoarse..All 109 senators and over 450 house of reps members all preferred to keep their loots and keep mute. All of them spread over all our geographical space; Hausa Fulani, kanuri, ijaw, Igbo,Yoruba,Efik,Middle belt, everywhere !! all of them honorables kept their loot and kept mute. However, it is in their habit to always go back to their constituencies to fan the ember of tribalism and religion simply because they will always find the poor, the jobless, the gullible, the fanatics and the ignorant to keep the system busy create animosity against similar less privileged persons from other geopolitical zones.
Even the governors are not left out of this issue. They only complain recently when they did not get their monthly allocation. They woke up to their responsibilities demanding for the N.N.P.C to furnish them the actual details of oil investments, income and expenditure. As soon as their excellencies got paid the outstanding, they all left for their various states leaving the N.N.P.C to be the way it has always been, one big fraudulent organization that controls the mainstay of the Nigerian economy and is not accountable to any authority except those who have been initiated into the inner circle.
On paper, we claim to practise the federal system of government where the centre is independent from the federating units and where we have coordinate and complementary powers clearly spelt out in the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists.
In practice, we operate a unitary system of government where so much resources and powers are allocated to the centre thereby setting every component units fiercely against each other in the struggle for the scrambling and partitioning of our commonwealth.
There is need for us to sincerely dialogue. Not the kind of dialogue that will be thrown under the shelf like the previous ones, not the kind of dialogue that a few wise men will seat at the end of the day to determine what and what is right for Nigeria. We the people of Nigeria must come together to answer the vexing persistent question; if we choose to live together as Nigerians, how do we want to live? How do we ensure we create a nation where there is order, justice and the citizens are afforded the opportunity to compete favourably and aspire to the height of their abilities with merit as the standard gauge. We need to properly re-define Nigeria.
We the people of Nigeria are good people, we only need to come together to see this country as ours to say no to these vampires and to repossess our country. We have only one country and posterity will not forgive us if we watch a few selfish people destroy Nigeria. I conclude with the words of Stephen Grellets I cherish so much. “ I expected to pass through this world but once, any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature let me do it now let me not defer or neglect it. For I shall not pass this way again”
GOD BLESS NIGERIA.