by Henry Chybuzor Igwe
From all indications, it appears there is a grand conspiracy against the masses on the issues of tackling the menaces of corruption and wide-spread poverty.
The question is: at what point exactly would we reverse current trend? Till date, there isn’t any one sector as “enriching” as the political sphere. Nigeria has produced more political billionaires than from any other industry. The current course of inveterate looting, corruption and fraud shows that the race is now to the swift; to acknowledge the first trillionaire ruler (if there aren’t some already).
Otherwise, how do we explain the surge in public lootings like the infamous pension scam and Oscar-worthy drama of Lawan Farouk, the former chairman of the House of Reps ad-hoc Committee which probed the fuel subsidy regime.
Nigeria is one of the only countries where these atrocious acts are perpetrated and nothing happens whatsoever. It’s a crying shame. Personally, I didn’t blame the Zenon boss, it was the “innocence” and “confidence” and “integrity” that Farouk smacked of that I found irksome. And in the wake of the brazen revelation, Mr. Farouk ‘Integrity ‘Lawan managed to hide his worries (if any) behind an air of insouciance. I shuddered.
Folks, ours is a problem-laden nation, with some of the poorest; subhuman and most bizarre living conditions for an oil-rich country and no sector, not one, is rid of this corruption virus. We should be worried.
The health Sector, for instance, despite the billions pumped into it from the federal and state levels, is still as murderous as a war-ravaged state. But our officials would have us believe it is any less barbaric.
Sometime in February 2009, at the UNICEF launch of the state of the World’s Children Report, Punch Newspaper reportedly quoted former first lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua as having “taken umbrage at the report’s frightening statistics about Nigeria.” The report further explained that she “didn’t like the gloomy picture that the statistics painted, and the fact that Nigeria was only second to war-torn Congo, as the world’s most dangerous place for infants and expectant mothers.”
But what was the fuss about? That a report said Nigeria loses around 144 women and 778 newborns to pregnancy/ child-birth related complications was definitely not out of place. If you have doubts, perhaps you should stop by at a public hospital someday and have all doubts erased. I have been to a number of “General Hospitals”, I have colleagues in some of the nation’s teaching hospitals; the experience is bad, people. The operational structures in some of these Hospitals are an eye-sore. The facilities are outmoded, the hospitals are chronically under-funded, very much akin to a creaky shack; a decrepit bus, with seats held together with a friction tape.
The power sector is a total mess. Our roads are bad: slaughter slabs at best. Need I remind you that insecurity is at an all-time high? This nation is ailing. This is the hurtful irony of the Nigerian state.
Perhaps, we shouldn’t be perplexed that corruption is this endemic; seeing as there’s never been any serious move aimed at combating it. You see, the very body considered as made up of interdependent components, forming the unified whole called Nigeria is one of the most propitious on this earth for the growth of corruption. How you (and me) expect this plague to die beats me.
Let’s revert to the Farouk Lawan saga, as I’m particularly pained by its proportion vis-à-vis how it was shoddily handled. The way and manner in which the powers that be treated the case is self-evident that corruption will NOT die. Let’s take it, hypothetically, that $3M or N480M (at the rate of N160 = $1) was demanded by Farouk, and some 15 oil marketers obliged, Farouk would have bagged around N7.2b, with no sweat. Now, what could any public servant already on an undeserving salary scale possibly need a billion for?
A little mathematics might be needed at this point. First, at a minimum rate of N18, 000 per month; it’d take an ordinary civil servant some 4,629.6 years to save up a billion. Alternatively, N1billion naira should employ 4,630 workers a year at N18, 000 per month. Switching to skilled labour, which leads us to the second situation, we can state that with a N6million per annum salary, N1billion should cater to 166 Professors for one year. And I doubt if ANY University has such academic “luxury” at present (please correct me). Yet just one man, or a group of persons, can conveniently shackle hundreds of millions of others to depravity and gross deprivation.
And then we’re the most “religious” around, proclaiming “Holy! Amen! And Hallellujah!” in loudspeakers; as though the Angels are hard of hearing. Such “holy proclamations” ought to transpose our myriad of problems to the front burner of God’s To-do list. But alas, with the series of catastrophes plaguing us in respect to widespread insecurity, shoddy governance, kidnappings, insurgency attacks and flooding; it is lucid that the Almighty abhors playing ball with the “dirty”.