If corruption were to be an academic field of study worthy of been awarded a nobel laureate, then the whole world need not travel far but come to the entity referred to as “Africa’s Giant” in their quest to understand the intrinsic nature and probably earn the highest degree of a doctorate.
Apparently aware of the above scenario, an erstwhile cum respected Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden had described the deadly but highly revered disease in Nigeria’s context as “a cancer that eats away a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity”. Scientifically, cancer is a disease caused by uncontrolled proliferation and duplication of the cells of a tissue. In realistic terms, Biden’s definition is worthy of been used in a scholarly perspective.
The just-concluded week had been more of a haywire and of scuffles both in the political and social contexts of Nigeria. It was one in which the hunter became the hunted or bushmeat ready to be used as a scapegoat to avert ugly occurrences. No thanks to the nefarious and despicable actions of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, who was literally meant to be a law enforcer but who situations coaxed to be a lawbreaker.
For a long while, Nigeria has been a top-notch entity that that has proved as a fertile ground for the vices of corruption, impunity, financial misappropriation inter alia to thrive without restraint and uneasiness. Out of a total of 180 countries of the world used for review, she ranked 146th most corrupt country. This was based on a fact-finding report by Transparency International in 2019. This is one out of the many reports which has tagged Nigeria as a red zone and hot spot for the condemnable actions of insecurity, corruption and moral decadence.
Consequent on the saying of Rigoberta Menchú, a Nobel Prize laureate, that the absence of strong watchdog institutions is a foundation to erect and build the structures of corruption, several administrations had contributed their quota in an attempt to heal the nation of this deadly disease.
The Olusegun Obasanjo administration during his civilian rule from 1999-2007 had in the early days of his tenure established the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) on the 29th of September 2000. This commission was set up to receive, investigate and prosecute offences and crimes related to corruption. As a further to the above, he also established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to wage maximum war against corruption.
Subsequent governments sustained the tempo against this fight. However, many of the cases reported to be prosecuted were just a cut on the stump as the root of the problem was left to grow steadily with the speedy passage of time. A classic example was the case involving Stella Oduah who had purchased two BMW Cars That Cost $1.6 Million from the coffers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).This was condemned widely across the nooks and crannies of the country.
The coming on board of the Buhari administration was a sigh of relief as the former Military administrator promised Nigerians to fight corruption with the last blood in his spine. This led to the emergence of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC. This was however in acting capacity as the Saraki led senate refused to ratify his appointment. A seemingly undeterred Buhari left him to function in the acting capacity since this was preferable to rejection.
In a purported show of diligence and to justify the confidence put in him, an elated Magu swung into action breaking the coffers of looters and recovering stolen funds. He and his cohorts seized houses, expensive cars and golds. To many, he was the Messiah who had come to assist the President in fighting corruption headlong.
In the nick of time, a shocked President began to hide under the guise of excuses making it known to Nigerians that what he met on ground was far more than he expected. To him, corruption had eaten deep into the nation’s fabric and would require a pragmatic approach to nipping it in the bud. The disappointed citizens didn’t wait any longer to express their grievances on the strategy used by the President in fighting the assumed war on corruption. It became clear to all that the President was fighting his own enemies.
To them, it was more of a lopsided, uneven and unbalanced approach. No thanks to individuals who are still able to walk down Nigeria’s streets freely like saints despite gross charges of corruption leveled against them. Such included Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Jagaban), Godswill Akpabio, Danjuma Goje and more recently Orji Uzor Kalu who are still occupying enviable positions in the present cabinet. Basking in the euphoria of corruption no doubt, in Nigeria requires paying homage to the “gods”. Hence, you pay the price and win the prize.
The whole situation is as though the President is been controlled by a “cabal” who decide those who are fit to be slaughtered and those who are fit to live. Isn’t it ludicrous and unthinkable for peasants who steal paltry sums of money in a bit to appease the goddess of hunger be docked in prisons or probably have their throats slit on a guillotine, while those who stash away public funds in foreign bank accounts walk like kings out of courtrooms and are ushered into the streets? Do we then say the popular Street mantra that “everyone Na Mallam, Na who them catch be thief” is practically applicable?
While we are still struggling to comes to terms with the #hushpuppi mirage and nightmare, the #maguefcc movie scenes are gradually unfolding. One cannot tell who will be the next big fish. From the vantage point of reality, the structural arrangement of the entity called Nigeria is deliberately designed for the seed of corruption to thrive and flourish effortlessly and unabated.
Well it is no use trying to preach a sermon which Nigerian congregants have heard countlessly. Now that the hunter has put on the garments of the hunted and power has switched hands, Nigerians are eagerly waiting for answers as to what will be the aftermath of Magu and who will be the next big catch in President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumed and renewed fight against corruption. Let’s keep waiting.