FEATURE ARTICLE

Babs AjayiFriday, May 27, 2011
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Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

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END OF OYO BUFFOONERY BUT FLAGRANT CORRUPTION CONSUMES NIGERIAN CUSTOMS

wo events caputred my interest this week. The two are grotesque and appear unimaginable, albeit they will appear normal to a lot of people in Nigeria. First, Alao-Akala, the former governor of Oyo State traveled to Lagos to commission the state's liaison office. He said at the ceremony that he personally designed the new liaison office that will serve as the state governor's lodge in Lagos to his taste. Alao-Akala, the falstaffian figure then lamented that "another person will (now) enjoy" the lodge! How can any sensible person personalize the property of a state? Governors come and go, but the state and the people remain.

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The governor is expected in a democracy to be the servant of the people, at least that is the way it should be, and the people's desire must take priority every time. It appears Alao-Akala's interests and personal needs come right before the interests of anyone else in Oyo State while his reign of the locusts lasted, which was one reason he needed a governor's lodge in Lagos and he built the lodge to his personal taste, a lodge that would have become his brothel branch in the commercial capital of Nigeria. Buffoonery just cannot be more than that.

The second event was the birthday of Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, a civil servant and the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs and the invasion of Nigerian newspapers by congratulatory messages from customs offices and locations around the nation and from importers, smugglers and trans-border traders in Nigeria! Congratulatory messages and adverts in newspapers by public servants are strangely normal in Nigeria. Civil servants buy pages in newspapers to congratulate themselves on their birthdays, the award of chieftancies, promotions and even congratulate their bosses such as their governors, commissioners, corporation chief executives and local government chairmen. Some members of the public and private businesses also put up adverts to congratulate civil servants and public office holders. But this practice is very wrong and unethical; it indicates that all is not well within the civil service and the Nigerian system, and massive corruption is going on and being encouraged right from the top of the Nigerian public service. This is the way we should view the loads of congratulatory birthday adverts in several Nigerian newspapers that wrongly celebrated the birthday of the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service. This man is unfit to hold public office.

The people of Oyo State are finally free from gregarious buffonery. A very lousy and crude socialite that was fostered on the state by the late godfather of Oyo politics and the estwhile garrison commander of amala politics and thuggery, Alao-Akala will ended his reign of locust on May 29, 2011. He is now gone from Agodi for good and the female civil servants will be free from persistent sexual harassment and abuses this sick man put them through. He saw sexual exploitation as part of his fringe benefits as governor and nothing was more important and fruitful for him, beside the state treasury that he looted, than sexual perversion. Epicureans are never to make any impact on the lives of the majority for as long as their personal pleasures are far more important than any other business. The philosophy of faji and owambe were upheld to the very last, or how would anyone decribe the crude drama that played out at the commissioning of Oyo State's Lagos Liaison Office a few days ago? Mr. Alao-Akala declared at the commissioning of the N170 million Oyo State Lodge: "I personally designed the lodge to my taste but now another person will enjoy it"! That was stupidity at its worst.

Why will a governor design a state property to his own taste? Obviously, this is another Sabo Bakin Zuwo. Keeping government money in government house is essentially the same as designing government lodge to the taste of the governor, or using government money for governor's needs. How did it get to this in our dear state? But any state where elders connived with a governor for their own greedy and personal benefits the state and its people will suffer, and that was why. The liaison house project was one of the wasteful ventures that were to give Alao-Akala maximum comfort. The project will do nothing for the people of Oyo State and they are not likely to find any reason to go there or use the place. In view of this, and for finanical prudence, it is better for the in-coming administration to sell off the building and recoup the money spent on it. The state will need to vote funds to maintain the lodge and employ staff to manage it, and there is no need to maintain what you do not need or even waste human resources on a structure that will do nothing to improve the lives of our people.

Alao-Akala designed the state's property to his taste? How dumb is that and how irresponsible! I just cannot get over this. What else in Oyo State did Akala designed, planned or developed to his taste? This man definitely saw himself as one and the same with Oyo State; there are no boundaries and one easily take from the other at will. Alao-Akala truly have problems. Illiteracy is paramount among his problems. Where and how did this man get to Agodi? The answer is clear: through the back door Lamidu Adedibu made available. But the madness is over now and the empty arrogance laced with dumbness and grand hollowness has finally come to an end. Goodbye to buffoonery and the champion of emptiness.

The shock of seeing dozens of newspaper adverts and congratulatory messages in honour (more like dishonour) of Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs in Nigerian newspapers is still with me. I did not realize that such spectacles are still put on display in Nigeria. A civil servant is celebrating his birthday and his subordinates all over the nation, the borders and customs districts paid hundreds of thousands of naira to buy pages in newsapers to congratulate him! Messages came from the Tin Can Port, Apapa Port, Port-Harcourt Port, Seme Port, Abuja Office and several other Nigerian Customs offices and locations to congratulate Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde. There is also the question of how "Inde," all of a sudden, came to be added to Dikko's last name! Such sudden change of name can smell of rat and lead to suspicion. Suddenly Dikko is now Dikko Inde! But I am more worried by the lack of values and morals concerning the newspaper adverts bought by customs men. It cost an average of N250,000 to place a full page advert in most Nigerian newspaper and you must wonder where the customs officers found the money in this difficult time to buy so many pages in Nigerian newspapers.

Things are surely rotten and corrupt from the very top when stuff like these are taking place on a regular and alarming basis in an establishment. Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs lapped up the congratulatory messages from his officers and men around the nation. He did not see anything wrong in such open show of irresponsibility and he did not care about the values he is presenting and showcasing to the nation. He is no doubt unfit to lead the customs. Trans Border Traders Association of Nigeria also took a full page in one newspaper to congratulate Dikko Inde. The border traders praised him - no one will expect them to curse him - to high heavens about his wonderful work which, I guess, is making their own border trading easy and smooth; the engine of corruption is being well oiled and everyone is happy. I wonder what else did the border traders sent to the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs for his birthday? How many customs agents and importers showed up in his house with envelopes and other gifts?

Is this the kind of development and show shame Nigerians want to continue to display at this stage of our development? Misfits are placed in very high positions of authority and given responsibilities that are too big for them to cope with, and such is the case with Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs. The Nigerian Customs is so corrupt that international retail giants such as Walmart, Saintsbury, Target and many other food retailers and distributors will not venture into our space. They know our customs service is very corrupt, incompetent, crude and without values. If we want to join the big league and succeed, then we need to clean up the customs and the immigration. International corporations and companies cannot fathom and are not ready to deal with headaches such as those presented by corrupt customs men and women. The current Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde has shown that he is corrupt by accepting dubious congratulatory messages that cost well over two hundred thousand naira each from employees of the customs and business men who deal with his organization. Dikko should not spend a day more than necessary in office.

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