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[FROM THE DOCTOR’S DESK] CORRUPTION WAR: MASSES VERSUS THE ELITES

By Dr. Ignatius Odianosen Okosun (PhD).

CORRUPTION WAR: MASSES VERSUS THE ELITES

The old wise saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step” has overtimes been
enacted and re-enacted. Yet many do not make this simple but crucial quote part of their
everyday lifestyle. Life itself is a journey, with everyone living each second of their
lives as if in a race, the trend of survival of the fittest abounds everywhere. However,
several people have failed to take that step in pursuing their goals. Although Lao Tzu reported that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step but a journey of a
thousand mile begins with a bold step, because it takes boldness and courage to take
that step to achieve the desired goals. According to Joseph Campbell, if you can see your
path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it is not your path. Your own path
you make with every step you take, that is why it is your path. This therefore depicts
the importance of taking that bold step in reaching your dreams in life. Every point
in life you find yourself is a journey, and that bold step you take determines the result
achieved.

The reparative imprimatur and the bright sunshine of generic development and economic bliss
illuminate the lives of the vast majority of people in any nation with sound economic policies
devoid of bad leadership and corruption. Economic prosperity, peace and progress are the quid
pro quo which the people get in return for their commitment to the tenets of ‘Social
Contract’. Hence, the economist Dr. E. Schumacher (1911-1977) posited in his book “Small
is Beautiful” that, “call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation of man,
peril to the world or to the well-being of future generations as long as you have not shown
it to be “Uneconomic” you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow and prosper.”

We need no econometric synopsis and catechism to know that the egregiously cataleptic
and corrupt disposition of the Nigerian Leadership at all levels right from 1960 till
date has left the Nigerian masses anaesthetized, indurated, castrated and asphyxiated
by the scorching pangs of poverty. This is against the backdrop that Nigeria
is the 6th  biggest producer of oil in the world. It has earned trillions of petrol-dollars
from 1956 when oil was first discovered at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, till its commercialization
in 1958.

The economic strangulation of Nigerians has been pursued and still being pursued
with robust gusto by the ruling class right from independence, so much so that, it is now
the fundamental objective and directive principles of state policy. The quintessential
entrenchment of poverty in Nigeria has become our National anthem.
The Nigerian project and by extension the African agenda has been a still birth, a
gridlock and a cliff hanger running in concentric circles because of the intravenous
incapability of Nigeria to create a leadership focus.

Existing figures shows that Nigeria is cascading down the horrendous economic quagmire of weird poverty. In 1970, then 10 years after independence, Nigeria was ranked 37th  in the world with per capital income of US$1.00.  But today, at more than 54 years after independence Nigeria is ranked the second poorest country in the world with a yearly percentage income of US$300. Poverty in Nigeria is catalytically fuelled by the bane of corruption,
which has become our national ethos. The political leadership is unrelenting and
religiously devoted to the god of corruption. The trial of corrupt government officials,
right from independence till date is always manipulated and now still being manipulated
by the Machiavellian antics of the government in power.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) syndicate has rendered the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies impotent through the spider web
of judicial intrigues. Nigerians are consigned to the ineluctable fate of dreadful poverty, economic subjugation and arrested development. The exigently execrable hand of corruption will definitely accentuate the penumbra of darkness over shadowing our nation.
The case of the recidivist and irredeemably criminal politicians are so unthinkably
bad that we hope that their inability to learn from the lessons of history will not
take the hands of our political clock backwards like in Yugoslavia and the
Hobbesian state of nature manifested in a revolution, youth restiveness, communal
clashes, riots, political unrest, religious schism, secession and Rawlings-like
killing of the past and present leaders.
The failure of Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to position the country on the right track in its 16 years of leadership is certainly a reason for one to be disorientated of being a Nigerian. Despite spending billions of dollars, there is a little or no visible achievement to justify how PDP led-government spent at least 15-20% of the total budgetary allocation since the return of democracy in 1999. Nigeria with all its goodwills and fortunes kept sliding back in all areas of developmental indexes, thus forcing the electorate to elect a different leadership which perhaps impelled the election of President Muhammadu Buhari from the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC).

President Muhammadu Buhari, unquestionably breeds sanguinity and hopes of a more
improve nation but unfortunately, there remain several number of exasperating areas where Nigerians expect positive changes. These critical areas affecting the life of the common man including; unemployment, a demoralized health sector, absence of standard educational system,  insecurity, as well as an undesirable rate of corruption and impunity which has almost wrecked the whole country apart.

Apart from superfluous and debilitated leadership, Nigeria is pitifully blessed with the most loyal followers on earth. An extremely rich nation that has all it takes to be the envy of the world is deficient in all aspects of human and social accomplishments, as a result of an unchecked corruption that has virtually taken over the affairs of the entire country. The plethora of attacks by supporters of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) against anyone who dare talk about any corrupt APC leader is simply repulsive, hypocritical and vexatious. Much of the stories making National headlines lately include exposing fraudulent activities of APC leaders, just as it was the case with the new opposition party since President Muhammadu Buhari came on board on May 29th 2015. However when the PDP led government was accused of corruption, fellow APC faithfuls celebrated on the streets but since the clock has turned around, they have resulted to  insulting and calling people all sorts of names.

I find it incomprehensible when people go all out to defend a politician, even hurriedly trying to stop others from asking questions or voicing their own opinions, similar to what played out few
weeks ago when Hon. Rotimi Ameachi was accused of diverting about N70bn of Rivers state fund. The same scenario played out when ex Lagos state governor Barrister Babatunde Fashola was accused of constructing two bore-holes and a car park at a whopping sum of over N736m. Instead of my APC friends to support President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade by calling on Fashola and Ameachi  to publicly clear their names, we are now ignorantly castigating those demanding for accountability. The motives that might have prompted these allegations against Ameachi and Fashola should not be given much emphasis, the need for both men to prove their innocence should be our top priority as Nigerians should not be selective in our crusade against corruption.

Defending any past or present APC political office holder in Nigeria of corruption charges will not do us any good as individuals or as a nation but rather, it will only depict our monumental hypocrisy, when we already associated former President Jonathan government with corruption and even went on to demand for their prosecution but failed to accept the fact that several APC leaders that equally embezzled public funds also deserved to be brought to  justice.

We should come to terms with the reality that electioneering periods are over, it is now time to focus on the progress of Nigeria and the transformation of lives of ordinary Nigerians. Moreover, almost all those in APC today are former PDP members and were involved in  siphoning the nation’s wealth before cross-carpeting to APC after nursing grudges against former President Jonathan, therefore, an unbiased analyst will place most APC leaders on the same scale with their PDP counterparts when it comes to corruption barometric evaluation.

Most of my fellow progressives are sympathetic to one APC leader
or the other, insisting that some of them should be spared of corruption probe being
that they were part of the instruments that brought President Buhari change to reality via the election. Though it may be true to some extent but this market women theory is completely laughable and out of point. It is undeniable that the unprecedented goodwill on which APC rode to victory was not for APC as party but for President Buhari as a person, coupled with the
conscience and conviction of Nigerians to throw Jonathan’s government out of power to
deter him from taking the nation to catastrophic  financial grave. If truly we are the change agents we mockingly called ourselves, then I see no reason why we should be perturbed if any of ours is being called to give account of his or her stewardship  but jubilate when others were being sent to jail. Therefore, whatever Diazeni Madueke is docked for, Aliyu Wamakko must not be applauded for it. Whatever Stella Odua is investigated for, Ameachi should not be exempted unless proven otherwise by the court.

Whatever Sule Lamido was being castigated for, Murtala Nyako should not become a saint. Is time we move on from this sentimental politics associated with our old political style to the reality that true change has taken over the political landscape of Nigeria.

President Buhari’s current fight against corruption knows no boundary, it cuts across all sections of the country irrespective of tribe, gender, age, religion or political affiliations. It is a fight  not between Buhari and Jonathan or PDP but rather, a fight between Nigeria and  the ruling elites whom have nearly took the nation to total economic doom. It is simply a ‘masses’ versus ‘elites’ war and definitely, the latter will always want to have their way through media propagada. Therefore, in order to compliment and support President Buhari’s war against corruption, we must learn to ask questions and demand accountability from those we elected to serve us and whomever fails to account for his actions, the full wrath of the law should take it course. Only then would the thieving elites wake up from their power intoxicating euphoria and realize the masses would never be taken for a ride again. Proudly, Nigeria now have a responsible and well disciplined government, a promising and coordinated leadership, under the governance of an incorruptible, active, honest and a non-nonsense gentleman but alas, the same cursed followers are still doing what they knows best, our stupidity and foolishness is rampantly on the rise.

Conclusively, in a bid to curtail corruption in Nigeria especially among the elite political class, an effective anti-corruption agency should be fully empowered by the necessary legislations and must command public respect. She must also be credible, transparent accountable, and fearless. Such courageous agency must mobilize the necessary political will as well as enjoy considerable operational independence. Since the war against corruption formally resumed in Nigeria for years, the verdict is that it has been less than effective. Our Political elites irrespective of party affiliations should restore purity and sanity into the system and reduce the rate at which they perpetrate evil in the country and other sector officials should as well refine and redefine their minds of corruption and bribery.

Dr. Ignatius Okosun is a researcher, prolific writer on various national/global issues and a social

commentator. He resides in Toronto-Canada.         Email: odyseries@gmail.com