WEDNESDAY Column by Israel A. Ebije
firstname.lastname@example.org | @ebijeisrael.com
The war on corruption championed by the president Muhammadu Buhari led administration has suffered countless setbacks despite his courage against stacked odds of gluttonous officials, and failed institutions. A combination of crafty few, faulty institutions has indeed undermined Buhari’s change effort and corruption war. Buhari will be remembered for his change mantra, but that’s how far it may go amidst calls to “change the change”. It is instructive however to note that war against corruption is not reserved for Nigerians alone, the fight has gone round Africa. Jammeh, Mugabe, Zuma, many more have been edged out to propagate a corruption free system, which has been the bane of the continent. How this could happen in the future in Nigeria, will has to be within the context of vibrant, workable institutions.
What many Nigerians have failed to realize is the fact that our institutions are failed – I am talking about social, political and economic structures. Failure of the system has affected Nigeria in the area of progress, development and economic growth. For ordinary
Nigerians, it has killed the spirit of patriotism, common sense, collective developmental aspiration. For the political class, it has made them all powerful, invisible, untouchable even almighty. They have been able to condition an average Nigerian to belong to a side of broadly split ethno-religious platforms, which makes it easy for the leadership class to gain votes, services, taxes and votes. With taxpayers monies in the pockets of politicians, the minds of the hungry majority is in their firm control. That is why a failed system may remain so to empower a few, constrict the majority.
War on corruption is not about unleashing agencies and commissions on people or groups, it should be about taking deliberate steps to strengthen existing institutions to encourage probity and accountability then, everything will fall in place. We have lost count of monies recovered and suspected to have been re-looted by officials of this administration and those before it. We have seen so many corrupt officials arrested yet money not recovered. Sadly, many Nigerians are willing to steal and go to jail because they are poor and hungry. The failed System has made the ruling class so powerful, while ordinary Nigerians are weaker, hungry and largely left to exist. No change can be effected once the people are hungry, and find themselves groping in a system where infrastructures, medical care, education, job opportunities are not available.
We must accept we have faulty institutions, a society that celebrates mediocrity, bigotry sustained by ethnic fiefdom. We have to accept that our institutions will continue to underperform based on our hypocrisy as a people, while our leaders will continue to smile to the banks with ill-gotten wealth, enthrone stooges, recruit family and friends at the expense of service, competence and patriotism. There is no competent system or institution to check the skewed appointments, employments and faulty executive policies. Even the National Assembly couldn’t get Mr. President to sack the acting chairman of EFCC despite reports against him from DSS. The NHIS boss was recalled despite allegations against him are still under investigation. No strong institution to check executive excesses. Sadly, nobody sees all the anomalies as corruption because the masses have been conditioned to think stealing money is the only act of corruption.
The system is so weak politically that politicians make a carrier out of it. Most of them have no other means of livelihood except hanging around the winning political platform, hence no conscience or commitment to a particular political party except their pockets. The ruling party at all times only waits for the right time to receive harvests of hungry opposition members. Yesterday it was PDP, today it’s the turn of the APC to reap from the harvest of “internally displaced” politicians ahead of 2019. There is no internal democracy or rules set and respected against decamping. Political parties are not anchored on ideologies. Every politician seeks relevance, which cuts into any party that can pay the bills. Followers are always available to clap their way to feed from the crumps, which the failed System has reduced them to on the food chain. Jacob Zuma was removed by his own political party, a party not afraid to confront him regardless of his effort at fighting against apartheid. How marked Naija?
A combination of a faulty system, bad leadership and mediocre/hypocritical populace simply encourages impunity. Today it is Buhari, before him were leaders who were piloted on the wings of above-mentioned fault lines. That is the reason why it is no longer about Buharis performance but the number of people comfortable with him regardless of administrative ineptitude, which were identified by his colleague retirees (OBJ, IBB). For some, Buhari is their god on earth. Some see him as the holiest Muslim who cannot go wrong. His aides see him as the next meal ticket. The other broad divide sees him as the devil, the man brought in to destroy Nigeria. Still on the other divide, some feel he took the national cake from their mouths too early in 2015. A vibrant institution would have gone beyond mere talks, gossips, and cleavage based sentiments to address lapses and effect necessary changes.
For the system to work, good people must be voted into sensitive position of leadership. Nigerians who have common sense, commitment, competence, devotion to nation building must be given the chance.
People with integrity to serve Nigeria with zeal using logical, transparent and rational means to build an institution that will live gazillion years after them. Finally, it is indeed instructive for every religion to stop being in competition with each other. It’s a sign of failure on their God-given role to appeal for stability, peace and progress. Politicians and political parties must eschew vengeance or zest for ill-gotten resources and seek service. Politics must never be a carrier opportunity and should never be sustained by failed institutions.