Jun 24, 2014

Corruption Wasn’t a Campaign Promise

Goodluck Jonathan courtesy www.Huewire.com
I hear that the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan wants to contest again in 2015. There are two reasons why he may not be President on May 29th, 2015. First, in the depth of their gluttony, politicians have failed to lay bare the self-restrain essential for a desired democratic stamina and as such democracy may not be with us by mid-2015. If you have the conviction that democracy is the desired political ideology, then you should not only use it but work to sustain it as well.
The most recent toast in Nigeria’s political space is the dust stirred by Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, when he tried to dispel rumors of a the prospect of a military takeover in Nigeria. There is no smoke without fire and the dire layback pose of the administration has created an ambiance where certain persons have started thinking that the seeming political power failure in Aso Rock has pushed too far that a forceful takeover may be looming.

The happy-go-lucky attitude of Nigerian politicians has always been the impetus behind the shortening of democratic regimes in the history of the country. The records are not hidden -the longest interlude of military tolerance of political recklessness in our history is the current spell (1999 -2014). Until now, the life span of a democratic regime in Nigeria has never been anything beyond five years. On January 15, 1966, a set of juvenile military officers of Ibo extraction revolted against Nigeria’s independent democracy as, according to them, it was unfavorably skewed against the Ibo tribe. During the Second Republic (1979 – 1983) politicians manifested lack of discipline and led an intellectually bankrupt democracy. The Nigerian edifice, built through the hard work and discipline of previous administrations crumbled exponentially as a result. Two gun-wielding soldiers, Mohammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon, “came to the rescue” on December 31, 1983.

The second reason why Jonathan may not be president in 2015 is if Nigerians decide that they have had enough of the use of Nigeria as a laboratory for the simulation of apocalypse.

No administration has ever been welcomed like the Jonathan administration in the history of Nigeria. The much talked about religious/regional dichotomy of the voting pattern was never perfect; there were many ordinary Muslims in the North who voted Jonathan, tired of the disappointments of series of northern leaders since independence. Internationally, there were powerful visitations to show support for Jonathan. I watched on the Nigerian Television Authority the visits by President Obama’s precursor, George Walker Bush who came in company of his Secretary of State while he was the President: Condoleezza Rice. There was also a visit by David Cameron and Angela Markel of Britain and Germany correspondingly. Later, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair showed he wasn’t going to be left out.  

The opinion here is that the Jonathan administration failed this breadth of supporters, starting from the voters at home to the world powers. In addition to its terrible habit of deferment of action needed to fix fraying ends until it is belated, the bane of the Jonathan administration is its anomalous tolerance of corruption.

The same foreign powers warned that corruption will be the bane of the war against Boko Haram in Nigeria. This, in my opinion, is the first show of support. Brazenly, however, the administration brushed aside the warnings and acted as though corruption was a campaign promise it made to Nigerians. The administration ensured corruption spanned across its sub-domains: oil and gas, pension, defense, aviation, presidency, the prisons, the police, etc. Perhaps Jonathan thought he would find continuous support from Nigerians by tolerating all manner of evil aspirations. This leadership style, where people’s support is won by the tolerance of all manner of wishes of the people, has been used in some states of the country. It seems that the Jonathan administration is making the first attempt to make it universal, failing to understand that the mentality of Nigerians actually vary from region to region.

If only the administration had taken, seriously, the warning that corruption will only feed Boko Haram, it would have known that the option would only lead to a sort of apocalypse for the nation, a situation in which we now find ourselves. We have heard stories of the military taking bribes to allow contrabands destined to Boko Haram enclaves. It explains why soldiers would fold their hands even after receiving warnings notifying them of an advancing army of Boko Haramists to a town.

The obligation of building a prosperous nation rests, equally, on the shoulders of every Nigerian. While the leaders have a role to play, ordinary people, at the bottom, also have an indispensable role to play. When leaders fail to execute their own tasks fairly, common people ask why they should be the only ones discharging their portions of the obligations, honestly. Hence there are always protests from the bottom in the form of disregard to law and order. In the northeast, enrolment into Boko Haram (going by its history) represents a protest for the carefree attitude of administrations in Borno State and in Abuja. Elsewhere, the protest could take the form of sabotage to oil pipelines to steal its contents, scam, stealing of ballot boxes, “jungle justice” by citizens who have lost faith in a corrupt police force. The painful ripples of “jungle justice” come in the form of religious, tribal and communal clashes. In the end, the nation is ungovernable.

Each time one logs into Facebook and condemns the administration for building a stage for corruption rather than undermining it, our friends form the South-east and South-south will argue that corruption did not start during the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. That is true! A lot of Nigerians, however, voted Jonathan believing he was going to fight corruption; they are conscious that corruption is behind the electric power shortages, poor quality of education, bad roads, hospitals with absence or inadequate doctors and drugs, the proliferation of bogus drugs, an ineffective police force, proliferation of firearms that undermine security, violation of human rights, etc

Nigerians have always known that the successions of leaders they have had in the past are unpatriotic; every action or inaction of theirs always find roots in covetousness. The Jonathan administration has demonstrated this more than all its ancestors. One thing that is obvious, however, is the fact that one has to place a limit to how much luxury he wishes to enjoy. Anything contrary will involve the constant search for means to support the endless desires and any effort to abstain from corruption becomes unsustainable. For a president who once paced barefoot, it should have been easy for him to teach Nigerians how to place limits on their love for luxuries.

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