By Kayode Oladeji
The contraption called Nigeria is a nation that has become popularized by its matchless feat in corruption. It’s a nation that daily shimmers and glitters in mired prisms of controversies.
Kilishi, on the other hand, is an Hausa delicacy made from meat often thinned and desiccated. Its Siamese twin is Balangu while their “family member” is the popular Suya known to virtually everybody. For the purpose of this piece, Kilishi shall be treated as a metaphor for failure.
To the Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, “Good order is the foundation of all things”, while to Gordon Hinckley, “You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you must have a super structure”.
Absolutely, something never exists on nothing or vacuum. Nigeria is built on what the Yoruba describe as egbinrin ote, bi a n se pa’kan, ni’kan n ru (the weeds of rebellion don’t get fully routed because as you clear some, others will begin to sprout); it was built on debauchery and plundering, and as such, the feasting has continued in all staggering dimensions.
Week in, week out, Nigerians have continued to be treated to different dramas. Nigeria is now an unfortunate one- drama-per-second nation. Different twists and turns on a daily basis with different dramatis personae mounting the stage of our national soap from time to time.
Recently, the nation was treated to some comic reliefs by the 5th Director-General of the Raw Materials Research Development (RMRD), Professor Hussain Doko Ibrahim, who assumed office on 8th April, 2014, when he had cause to face the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.
Appearing before the Senator Uche Ekwunife-led panel on Monday, 8th June, 2020, at the National Assembly, Professor Ibrahim further popularized Kilishi by making it to gain promotion of being listed on the stock of our national lexicon.
The panel had charged the DG of the agency to apprise Nigerians with what it had been up to, stressing,” Your core mandate is to develop local materials: Can you tell us materials you have developed in the areas of health, brewery, construction, science and technology or agriculture?
Enthusiastically, Professor Ibrahim listed the production of Kilishi as the major breakthrough of the agency in its 33 years of existence.”In our last 30 years of research, we are still the largest research institute. But to be candid, with you, we are making progress. For now, we have optimized Kilishi production”, the DG vaunted.
Do you blame him? Nobody does above his/her knowledge. Nigeria is a country of anything goes. Quota and other primordial sentiments, take precedence over merit in appointments and other things that can make our country to develop. This explains why we have been stuck on a spot since independence.
Today, like Coronavirus pandemic, an average Nigerian, is a suspect of corruption. Is Naira Marley, the popular rapper, right when he sang, “Ole ni everybody, eniti ile mo ba ni barawo”? (Everybody is a thief; it’s whoever gets caught in the act that’s a real thief)
A rundown of a few of these cases may make even the late Benin born dare-devil armed robber, Lawrence Anini, who held the nation spellbound with his nefarious activities in the 80’s,to be weeping now in his grave. This is because, since Anini was felled by the bullets, corruption in Nigeria has continued to mutate like Coronavirus and flare uncontrollably like gas. In fact, from the look of things, corruption will only give way in Nigeria only if Nigeria no longer exist.
Magu’s macabre dance
The ongoing ripples generated by the former acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on account of sleaze and sharp practices within the Commission, the hunters have become preys now being hunted. Since Magu has been forced to “step aside”,revelations of how seized money and properties running into billions of naira have allegedly been re-stolen, are mind-boggling and heart-melting.It is tending to the proverbial case of ole gbe e,ole gba a (a thief stole and another thief re-steals)
NDDC’s unending drama
Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is a product of agitation occasioned by marginalization, among others. It came into being to enhance the development of the Niger Delta area. Unfortunately, however, since its creation, over N15 Trillion is believed to have been sunk into the Commission. But is the development on ground in Niger Delta, today, proportionate to the money so far released by the Federal Government?
Shamelessly, there have been accusations and counter-accusations from the parties involved. On account of the “heat” being generated by the suffocating allegations, the acting MD, Professor Pondei, even fainted at the National Assembly on Monday, 20th July, 2020, while answering questions from the lawmakers.
While watching the Channels TV on Wednesday,10th June,2020, my heart bled due to the deplorable state of Bayelsa East West Road awarded 14 years (2006) ago by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. I don’t know whether such projects fall within the core mandate of the NDDC but the existence of such deplorable road in the area is a disservice to the people of the zone. I wondered that day how the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, would be feeling, seeing the plight of his people on the road.
Is it not shocking with the revelations of humongous amounts of money being bandied as having gone into private pockets at the NDDC? For instance, in the last few months, over N100 billion Naira has allegedly gone down the drain, particularly into private pockets.
Seriously, these are not the best of times for people like Senator Godswill Akpabio, the former Akwa Ibom State Governor who already has an alleged case of N100 billion hanging around his neck as charged by the EFCC. In the NDDC sleaze, his name and others have continued to ricochet. Billions have become chicken fees in the hands of our leaders! What heartless wickedness, or should I call it wicked heartlessness, or both?
NSITF vs Ngige
As the gas of NDDC slush funds is flaring, stealthily, there is the creepage of the feud between Kemi Nelson, the suspended Executive Director of Operations, Nigeria Social Investment Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige. Nelson has thrown a serious mud at Ngige who she has already reported to President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly padding budget to the tune of N1.2 billion.
Though the Minister has rubbished her claims, she however insisted, “It needs to be revealed that the Minister, single-handedly, amended the 2020 Budget of the NSITF in connivance with his stooge who is the board Chairman, and inserted N1.2 billion as commissions to contributors who do not require any commission, because their contributions are statutory. There is evidence of corrupt practice and budget-padding”.
Dr Ngige on the other hand, has accused the management of the agency among other things, of allegedly squandering the sum of N3.4 billion between 2017-2019 on trainings that only took place in the dreams, that’s non-existent. The issue is still raging.
Pray, why are we antithetical to sanity and modicum of standard behaviors or are we really anathematized, created only for profanity?
Orji Kalu’s Shenanigans
“Going to prison is honour for politicians”, said our House Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbayabiamila while solidarising with the former Governor of Abia State and the current Senate Chief Whip, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu who was in the gulag for 6 months on account of N7.1 billion he allegedly stole from the coffers of his state while in the saddle as the helmsman.
On Tuesday, 6th June, 2020, when I read the Speaker’s comments, I told myself, indeed, Nigeria is done for.
On 15th March, 2010, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Governor of Osun State,while receiving the then Assistant Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Prison Service, Zone E, Mr. Idris Muhammed, narrated how he saw a young girl languishing in prison for allegedly stealing N5 (five naira) worth of pepper.
In Oyinlola’s words:”Recently, when I visited Ilesa Prion, I saw a young girl who has been remanded for the past 6 months for allegedly stealing N5.00 (Five Naira) worth of pepper. She has not been tried and yet, was imprisoned for such a misdemeanour. If care is not taken, by the time she leaves the prison, she might have become a hardened criminal because of those she might have interacted with”.
Kalu allegedly stole N7.1 billion. His case took the court 13 years (2007-2019) before he was jailed for 12 years. He spent only 6 months at the Kuje Prisons before he was freed on 8th May, 2020 by the Supreme Court’s 7-man Panel headed by Justice Amina Augie.
No sooner was he released, than the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives, visited the Kuje returnee. They swam around him as if he (Kalu) just returned from Queen’s land with some alluring goodies for them.
What are these people taken us for? Or are we being mirror punished for our known and unknown sins/offences? Most of our leaders are pretentiously killing the nation and this permeates all facets -politics, academics, religious circles, etc.
Indeed, these are laughable times in Nigeria. Late fiery lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi and Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo are greatly and sorely being missed in times like this. This is because the nation has more than ever before, become freebies for our leaders entrusted with the keys to our common vault.
Just last Wednesday, July 15, 2020, as reported by the Daily Times, Mr. Ezekiel Agaba, a former Executive Director at Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment by the Federal High Court, Lagos,for laundering N1.5 billion.
Besides, Agada, is facing another 12-count charge of forgery and stealing of N687 million alongside the agency’s former Director-General, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Sometimes ago, in the course of my discussion with a brother he described Nigeria as a project that does not exist in the mind of an average Nigerian. With happenings, here and there in the country -insecurity, corruption, and the like, coupled with the way the fibre of anything that represents Nigeria is debased, can anything be truer than the above assertion?
The basis of our togetherness as a people, is faulty. It’s a marriage of strange bed fellows; a union of inconvenience foisted on us and midwifed by the Colonial masters who rail-loaded us into this constantly storm-assailed ship for their own selfish interests.
Since the foundation of this country, the shape of our complaints and agitations, have not changed. Rather, it’s worsening. The nation has been deliriously groping like a somnambulist. Over 20 years ago, maverick rapper of the defunct Remedies, Idris Abdulkareem, sang in one of his efforts on the vinyl; “Nigeria Jaga Jaga, Everything Scatter Scatter……” Is Abdul Kareem not right, or has anything changed?
Kindly take a cursory look at the reasons advanced for various coup d’etats in the country, you will see a thread of similarity.
Equally, go through the campaign promises of our politicians before and after independence, they have some correlations.
Yes, it has been the same thread and trend, couched in different tones, tenors and times. The other day, I listened to one of the campaign jingles of MKO Abiola of 1993, that was 27 years ago, and I shook my head. The late Abiola’s main kernel of wanting to rule us was because things were bad – no good roads, no light, no water, no jobs, etc.
Are we not still grappling with these critical items, the decay of which have gone cancerous,in the pan Nigeria? Of a truth, even more than then, we are very much barefaced, contending with these issues like coronavirus disease whose cure, seemingly, has not been found . Nigerians have grown to live with them -l ack of employment, good roads, water, etc.
Ours is a nation whose consumption pattern is import-dependent. We import virtually everything, including toothpicks! What a shame of a nation. Chinese don’t eat pounded yam, yet, they have manufactured pounding machine for us. Any wonder most Nigerians are only living and not existing?
Right from the incipient, the foundation of the Nigerian nation had been weakened by the unholy and fraudulent marriage put in place by the Colonial masters.
In the comity of nations, Nigeria and Nigerians have become laughing stocks owing to our ingenuity in corrupt practices. We are always in the news for the wrong reasons. This has made Nigerians to become ready-made object of ridicule to other nationals around the globe. Our flanks have been widely opened for jeers. We are no longer frithed and protected as it should be.
Seriously, Buhari’s programmes, particularly the anti-corruption war, are on trial. Here again, Naira Marley comes to my mind when he sang, “Ole ni everybody, eni t’ile mo ba ni barawo”.
Though I am not a fan of the eccentric singer, Charlie Boy; however, I think I agree with him that our mumu don do. This ‘kilishi’ has not only turned sour, it has distastefully become insipid.
May God save us.
By Kayode Oladeji