E O EkeFriday, June 15, 2012



s the days go by, Nigeria continued to look like a car crash in slow motion. Once again Nigeria has witnesses another senseless and unnecessary loss of lives through air crash, the intermittent and now regular terrorist activities if Boko Haram persist and the looting by the politicians goes on. It would seem that Nigeria are accepting terrorism, high level of violence, government corruption and preventible deaths as Normal way of life which they can only pray to God to change. Recently it was Dana air crash which has claimed more than 151 lives many of the victims young people in their primes. In places where life means something, this preventible accident will trigger a revolution in the aviation industry which would make Nigeria sky the safest in the world. This is how many developed countries made their countires better, by learning from mistakes and accidents.

Unfortunately we are talking about Nigeria where everything, including the laws of gravity and supply and demand work in the reverse. A country whose leaders have simply refused to learn.

Predictably, the instinct of the government has been to declare three days of mourning. since there is no clear idea of what the government intention for the aviation industry is. All we have had are, prayers and shouts of, 'oh it will not be well with the devil, the devil is a liar, 'God Knows sha' and the rot has continued and it would be business as usual as the current exploits of our legislators become public. In places where people act in honest and rational manner, the government would call on the air accident investigation agency to get to the root of the accident and then set about implementing it's finding. It would not just be a response to calm the people and in the end kicking the findings into the long grass where many of the recommendation of the countless number of similar investigations have ended. The leaders would be saying that they would ensure that the same problems would not cause another crash and would be seen to be acting to make this a reality, but not in Nigeria as this will be against our tradition.

For the past 40 years Nigerian aviation industry has been plagued by corruption, poor service record, lack of safety culture, cavalier attitude to maintenance and safety, and putting profit before safety. It has been the reign of greed and contempt for rules. The Nigerian Airways NA which should have been competing with British airways BA was killed by corruption, and since then, those who killed the NA have floated private airlines which specialises in using old planes which have come to the end of their flying lives in the west. In Nigeria it is like the road, like the air. Like the planes like the cars. Nothing works in Nigeria the way it does in developed countries. This is one of our many problems. Our democracy has more in common with Zimbabwe democracy than the American system we claim to operate except in the cost. Our governors behave more like Robert Mugabe and Slobodan Milosovich, than champions of equality, social justice, fundamental human rights, development, enlightenment and the rule of law. They show no sign that they are real democrats who understand that power belongs to the people and those who exercise it should be held accountable. Our legislators make laws to protect their loot and guarantee them immunity while they are committing crimes against the people and country. They device ingenious ways of practicing the act of graft and orchestrate their self defeating attempt to investigate corruption which they are perpetrating. They have allowed money to play such a determinant role in politics that an ordinary citizen cannot take part in Nigerian politics. Once this happens, and there is no place for enduring values in the politics, such a democracy is condemned to a radical change; unless the judiciary is prepared to be the last hope of the common man and the people refuse to accept the tyranny of the corrupt few. .

This is why Nigerians should be concerned at the selective and abusive way and manner, our elected politicians conceptualise and exercise the power which they hold in trust on our behalf and the way our judiciary has been corrupted and compromised. We continue to sleep walk into disaster and we have no one to blame but our leaders and our cold indifference. This is what makes me wonder if Nigeria a crime scene. Three tribunals of inquiry set up by the national Assembly are themselves embroiled in allegation of corruption. From the presidency to local government areas, every sector is littered with allegations of monumental corruption easy to investigate, but never brought to court. The agences set up to tackle corruption remain impotent to carry out its constitutional duties because of emasculation by corrupt politicians. The question is, can any honest man be found in Nigerian politics? If they exist, why are they silent?

Nigeria is drowning in a sea of corruption, violence, crime, greed and impunity, and only help from it's patriotic and honest citizens who have integrity and sense of responsibility can save her. The corruption in Nigeria stinks to high heavens. There is perhaps no word disgusting enough to convey the banality, and atrociousness of the evil. Nigeria has become a bye word for corruption and this has given the country a very bad name and reputation indeed. Nigerians are expected to be corrupt and unscrupulous. when found to be honest with integrity, those who have stereotyped them as corrupt would respond, 'I don't believe you are a Nigerian. Many see this as a compliment and recognition of their honesty and integrity. In reality, it is an indictment of their country, a reflect of the very low esteem we are held by the world, and an index of the extent to which corruption now define Nigeria and Nigerians. This is something we should all give more thought. You don't expect a Nigerian to be humble and honest, do you, they would ask, and add, you must be an exception. No, No,No, honest Nigerians are not the exceptions. They are the silent majority which must now speak up and act to end this sordidness. In fact, the typical stereotype of a Nigerian, is a loud, over confident, aggressive and egoistic person without scruples'. This is how the world has come to see Nigerians because of the way and manner successive governments have allowed corruption to fester and become institutionalised in our country. They have made our laws respecter of persons and failed to demonstrate that corruption is a reproach, which no country or people can tolerate in any individual or organisation no matter how rich or powerful. Unfortunately, recent developments have not helped this sorry and unfortunate image.

No country with a sense of purpose would respond to corruption the way Nigerian government has done so far, and survive. No serious country will continue to extend immunity from prosecution to those it knows are stealing from it, at the time they are most likely to do so, and still claims that it is sincere in it's attempt to ride itself of corruption. So far the government has only demonstrated that it is more interested in protecting the personal interests of the politicians at the expense of the overriding interest of Nigeria as a country. This is the tragedy of our situation that we have a government that places party interest above national interest. A government that prefers to cover up the corruption of it's members to deny the opposition ammunition to attack it, instead of purging corruption because of the danger it posses to our corporate existence. It is like doing nothing while one's house is on fire and expecting to salvage anything from the house. Corruption is a disease that is destroying Nigeria from within and requires systemic treatment that will reach all parts of it's body. It will not respond to preaching, fasting and praying alone, even though they have their place. It will not respond to rebranding or transformation agenda if the motive is not sincere and the leaders leaders involved in corruption. Selective and half hearted attempt made by the government to give the impression that something is being done, when the government has no real intention of fighting corruption will not suffice. The government and the people will have to unit against corruption and empower and support the appropriate institutions to bring this scourge under control. Whatever we do, if we are honest and sincere about fighting corruption, must include mechanism for holding our politicians, police and army officers and all our leaders accountable while still in office. The system must be robust enough to enable tribunals to summon the president, governors and legislators to give evidence under oat in a public enquiry.

Because of the amount of tribunals that has been set up, It would seem reasonable for the government to consider setting up one public judicial inquiry into corruption in Nigeria, where all the witnesses will give evidence under oat so that Nigerians can get to the root of corruption and decide the best way and manner to address it. It will also provide a national catharsis for the people to vent their feelings and revulsion in a civilised manner by watching those who they believe are behind this disease held accountable publicly before being subjected to due process. This is the civilised alternative to bloody revolution like the one that took place in Libya and now unfolding in Syria. Meanwhile the police should be purged of criminal elements and allowed to continue their normal duty of investigating offences and crimes and brining law breakers and criminals to justice. They army should be modernised and turned into a democratic army under the rule of law and accountable to the court.

All responsible Nigerians, who are working in various sectors and past and present Nigerian politicians and military leaders should be invited to give evidence. This is one way of clearing the current mess. The government should give the assurance that at the end of the inquiry that it would implement all it's recommendations, except of course, when such implementation will endanger national security in which case; the implementation should be modified to negate this specific outcome. This is one way of moving things forward and generating the necessary interest needed for democracy to flourish. If not, at this rate, there are going to be more tribunals investigating allegations and counter allegations of bribery than the number of local government areas in Nigeria and the cost implication will be very huge. The government should show leadership by providing initiative and direction out of this vicious circle of corruption lack of development, abuse of power and office, impunity and corruption.? Nigeria cannot move forward when an over bloated executive and over paid and corrupt national assembly is bugged down with investigation of allegations of impropriety, and the police force whose duty it is to determine when offence or crime has been committed and bring prosecution against suspects, is in league with organised crime and the criminal fraternity. We need to act wisely for once. Arms producing countries are waiting for us to degenerate into arm conflicts to enable them sell arms to us to recover from their economic recession. They need more wars to survive and we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be used in this way because of our corruption and idiocy of our leaders.

We have to accept the way such matters are addressed in developed countries and then seek ways to make it better. Nigeria cannot reinvent the wheel in the fight for corruption. All we can do, is start with what has worked in other countries and then, modify it to suit our culture and values. No Nigeria will experience true happiness and self pride, unless we have a good government based on the rule of law which respects due process. The Government of Goodluck Jonathan has no excuse for it's inaction against corruption. He may not have created the Nigerian problems as he has argued, but he was elected to do something about it and this, he is not doing. The president should remember that the only right way to exercise power is to use it to either do good or fight evil. The choice is his', it is his watch, and as at today; he is the president if the Federal corruption Republic of Nigeria and the commander in(C) 'thief' of it's arm forces and the buck stops at his desk. Mr President you are responsible for the type of leadership in Nigeria today. Nigerians should not say We did not cause the problem, but asking, what can we do to solve it. Nigeria needs its honest and good citizens now. Indifference will be criminal.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.