LET us, in this prefatory, establish an incontrovertible fact: there is hardly any Nigerian that is not corrupt! At different levels and in various circumstances, corruption is innate in us, right from conception. At the risk of overgeneralization, no top government functionary, politician, public and private sector players, professionals and artisans—even the clergy!—can exonerate themselves from unwholesome indulgences.
The credo is: play smart and do not be apprehended. One and all, young and old, do it: the only difference is the nature/scope of the criminalities and the platform! Leadership and corruption have nothing to do with age.
This is not to say, however, that we should condone such reprehensible propensities because of their commonality. The essence of man’s existentialism is to strive after perfection and conquer our environment. The point to be underscored is that only persons of impeccable character should have the moral profundity to point the finger at the thievish clan. Not a man of questionable antecedents hallmarked by pretentious stupefaction.
If anyone should haughtily pontificate on corruption in Nigeria, certainly Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the least person to do so because of his pedigree in and out of government. How much was Obasanjo worth when he came out from incarceration in 1998 that he is today a multi-billionaire? Nigerians should ask questions—it is our docility that is making the roguish cabal in this country to outlandishly fiddle with our patrimony.
Last week, Obasanjo took his regular swipes at Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, DSP Alamieyeseigha, James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Salisu Buhari, declaring that they all lack youthful integrity and symbolize leadership failure. This charade from the former president has become so monotonous that there is hardly anything newsworthy about it. It is unfortunate that some newspaper editors still dignify the bullish and rustic Ota farmer with precious space for sterile and vacuous postulations instead of devoting such pages to multifarious developmental issues.Lest I am misconstrued, I am not dismissing the controverible point against Obasanjo’s victims.
The truth of the matter is that Obasanjo is probably worse than these fellows! The pot cannot be sermonizing onthe blackness of the kettle. Of all of them, including their accuser, there is no saint. I am surprised he left out another of his regular butts, General Ibrahim Babangida, from the latest tirade. Eighty-year-old Chief Tony Anenih, a chummy of OBJ, as Works Minister, was given N300 billion by the disastrous Obasanjo government to fix Nigerian roads. It is no secret that a large chunk of that money went into the prosecution of campaigns by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the balance to your guess! The result: all our roads today are unsafe at any speed!
How can anyone forget the abuse of office Obasanjo committed when he used his office as president of this country to coerce fabulously opulent Nigerians to donate to (or, ‘invest’ in) the building and equipping of his multi-billion naira private library in Ota. All the ‘big boys’ jumped over one another to demonstrate their loyalty, financial commitment and expectations from a vindictive president. I am sure that was where President Goodluck Jonathan borrowed a leaf for his village church during its recent fundraising in Lagos. In sane climes where propriety and ethical conduct mould public officials’ behaviour, both Obasanjo and Jonathan would have been impeached and made to face the full wrath of the law for their felonious acts.
Corruption comes in different shapes. When a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, there can be no greater corruption before man and God. A marriage breaker is also a corrupt person—it is not only when money exchanges hands that corruption has taken place. It comes in copious ways. Sexual perversion is just one of the forms.Which other type of corruption is greater than Obasanjo’s genocidal and unilateral interventions in Odi and Zaki Ibiam where the entirety of families, communities and flora and fauna were wiped out on the wicked orders of Obasanjo? For a man who is used to fatalities, precocity of life does not mean anything to him hence his reputational callousness.
At this point, it is pertinent to note that Obasanjo had a golden opportunity to make a difference in this country but ended up squandering it! And instead of keeping dignified silence, he is still kicking up dust and mudslinging all those who had the guts to look him in the eyes and challenge his iniquitous dispositions and invidious inclinations.In apparent confirmation of the clay-footed efforts at combating corruption by the Obasanjo administration, Transparency International (TI), the respected global watchdog on issues pertaining to corruption, consistently listed Nigeria among the 10 most corrupt nations in the world throughout his tenure!
Apart from, possibly, members of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet and sleaze beneficiaries, the TI ranking could not have astounded most Nigerians because the magnitude and dimension of corruption under the nose of Obasanjo was so scandalously benumbing. Even without the global watchdog saying it, most Nigerians knew full well that corruption was so endemic during Obasanjo’s tenure that it became a way of life.
In fact, the more wishy-washy attempts his government made at fighting the scourge, the more cases of corruption were recorded: Halliburton, Siemens, Willbros, Jefferson scam, et al. And government at the time did not help matters with its kid-glove handling of established cases of corruption. Obasanjo’s attitude towards battling corruption was so weak, unserious and reeked of duplicity. Those who bled this country through all sorts of nefarious activities were (and still remain) friends of Obasanjo.
There is no doubt that other nationals look at us with scorn and relate with us like everyone here is a criminal. This explains why our countrymen and women are quarantined whenever they travel out. Obasanjo laid the foundation for such ghettoization. Official pronouncements and behaviours in Obasanjo’s tenure entrenched corruption in Nigeria after Babangida’s years of clownish generosity. The situation was so deepened that it has become almost insurmountable.
Those in authority and power seemed to be at their wits’ end—hapless, confused and almost clueless on the way out. Indeed, not to be corrupt in Nigeria attracts a toga of foolishness! In local parlance, it is regarded as a national cake and must be grabbed by the few who have no business with morality or sanctimonious preachments on the need for propriety.