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E O EkeWednesday, July 17, 2013
eoeke@aol.com


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NIGERIA, THE MAKING OF A PARIAH STATE (PART 1)

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t has been a terrible month for Nigeria. In Ondo state, armed robbers attacked a prison, freed more than 190 prisoners and killed 10 innocent citizens. In Borno state, Boko Haram struck many times leaving in its trail tens of dead pupils murdered in cold blood and hundreds of dead Nigerians who were going about their normal business. In Abia state, kidnaping, murder, extra ju1dicial killings and ‘ochichi nchigbu’ (tyrannical rule) continues with the government officials growing richer each day will the people get nearer to their graves in towns that have virtually died because of neglect and crimes. In Edo state, a senator dies suddenly from poor attention to his health and undeveloped health care services in Nigeria. In Rivers state, free for all fight broke out as Jonathan and Ameachi proxy war continues, amid echoes of Uba and Ngige Fight in Anambra during Obasanjo term. The list is inexhaustible.

In the international scene, the reputation of Nigeria continues to be battered. Obama snubbed Nigeria because of institutionalised corruption and inability of the government to inspire hope and provide the visionary leadership the country needs and instead, visited a smaller country in West Africa whose populations and is about that of an average state in Nigeria. Meanwhile, Jonathan heads to China to sign one sided agreement to further open Nigeria market to Chinese goods which would be a final death nail to manufacturing in Nigeria. As if he has not irritated the west enough, he invited the Sudanese president on a visit to Nigeria. It is as if President Jonathan has pressed a self-destructive button in international affairs. Anybody with understanding of how the international community thinks would wonder why the Nigerian president thinks that China, Sudan, Iran and many other autocratic states with questionable democratic credentials, human rights records and whose contempt for the rule of law, probity and liberty are well known, are better allies to Nigeria; than those on whose innovations and creativity the world depends. This makes me wonder what type of advice the president gets on international affairs and what type of books his advisers read.

The Jonathan administration is destroying Nigeria’s hard won international standing. His fraternisation with Omar Al-Bashir, the Sudanese leader, indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur is an unnecessary antagonisation of the west which Nigeria can ill afford at this time. Omar Al-Bashir sponsored the Janjaweed who waged a waged a war on Darfur with the sole aim to cleanse it of ethnic Darfur. The burnt down villages, killed women, children and elderly men. The atrocities the Janjaweed and the Sudanese army carried out in Darfur is regarded as genocide which is why Omar Al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes, the same crimes Hitler was charged with. This is the man, President Jonathan has invited on a visit to Nigeria. Maybe, Jonathan’s next move would be to invite Robert Mugabe and the North Korea leader to Nigeria on state visit to complete his alignment with what George Bush Junior once called the axis of evil. By inviting Omar Al-Bashir to Nigeria on, Jonathan is continuing the demonstration of his contempt for the rule of law and democratic values which he started with failure to address corruption, accentuated with the pardoning of Alamieyeseigha, and now the mayhem in Rivers state house of assembly. All these do not augur well for the reputation of Nigeria and future of democracy in the country. Of course there are die hard nationalist who only view the world in one dimension who may argue that Nigeria is an independent nation which no one should dictate to. They may be right but forget that no country is an island.

Meanwhile, the government is embroiled in various schemes, like submitting additional budgets to enable it siphon state fund into private pockets and political party accounts, control of governors’ forum and internal politics that subvert democratic principles which enthrone tyranny and deepening the role of ethnicity and religion in the politics of Nigeria. It is indeed very clear that all is not well with Nigeria in spite of what presidential spin doctors and religious leaders of fortune would like the people to believe. Where else in the world will a state governor donates millions of tax payers’ money which is supposed to be invested in improving the lives of the people to the military oligarchy to share amongst themselves? Where else in the world, will an elected president site a university in his village, when there are many federal universities not up to international standard, grossly underfunded and without any real plans of how to provide jobs for existing graduates and then wonder why the world are shunning degrees from Nigerian university. Where else in the world will a government preside over a corrupt system that channels public fund into party coffers the way the Obasanjo and Jonathan has done without questions asked? Where else in the world will politicians indicted for fraud be crisscrossing the country seeking elective office without first clearing their names? Nigeria is indeed on the ropes and in need of urgent help. Right thinking Nigerians should stand up and take responsibility to preserve Nigeria for the future of our children. As Wole Soyinka said, the man dies who keeps silent in the face of tyranny. The evidence would suggest that Nigeria is not being governed as a true democracy, but a democratic dictatorship which caters for the interest of the elites, which is why People like Obama, who understand how democratic leaders should conduct the affairs of the state shun countries like Nigeria and visits countries like Senegal, which are showing commitment to democratic principles and values. No country inspires confidence when the speaker of its national assembly who has the mandate and power to lead in the countries legislative revolution, cries out that the country needs a revolution because of misrule and continues to draw his excessive and criminal remuneration set by the decadent government. When those who are in positions to provide leadership for the country publicly declare their helplessness, it is a clear sign that all is not well with the country. It undermines faith in the future of the country and imperils its democracy. It is tacit signal to those who are imposition to seek change through none democratic means that there is justification for their action. This is very bad and a terrible way to undermine democracy. When I hear the speaker of the national assembly say that Nigeria needs a revolution, I wonder what he thinks he was elected to do in the national assembly. It is like a stable boy complaining that the horse keep bolting because the stable door is not locked. Nigeria is yet to have a government with clear vision capable of ushering in a culture of economic and social justice, and guaranteeing the security of all, which would not justify corruption, excessive pay of politicians, and the astronomical cost of government, executive profligacy and impunity under any guise.

Nigerian leaders need to wake up to the serious problem Nigeria has. It is more serious that the struggle to free Nigeria from colonial rule. Nigeria is under criminal leadership that is content to fraternise in birthday parties, conferment of spurious chieftaincy titles, marriage ceremonies and funerals where they display their stolen wealth, while the country slides into anarchy. Nigeria has a leadership which draws up budget but pays no attention to it as it spends and shares money amongst the ruling elites under the guise of carrying out many fictitious projects. Many of the people who misappropriated large sums of money earmarked for various developments in past administrations are still in government doing the things they know best to do. Nigeria has leadership that has no regards for accountability, probity honesty and justice as fairness, and whose real loyalty lies with their individual ethnic groups and religions instead of to Nigeria as a country of equal citizens under the law. Successive Nigerian government have fathered a culture of tolerance of corruption, and harsh treatment of the people by the police and armed forces and disproportionate punishment for acquisitive crimes caused by poverty. This has destroyed the faith of the people in government. It is astonishing that Nigerian leaders appear content with a criminal justice system that sentences a person to death for armed robbery, and give tacit support to instant lynching of petty thieves and their incineration by tyre fire, but grants immunity from prosecution to politicians who steal billions which destroy the economy. Is it not it ironic that the Nigerian president earns more than ten times the salary of the president of United States of America and has more planes in his fleet than any other president in the world? Does it mean that Nigerian politicians do not know what this says about Nigeria as a country? How can any normal human being with conscience and a sense of responsibility to the people justify such profligacy in the face of the type of poverty, deprivation and inequality in Nigeria?

Why should governors give money to the Nigerian army when they have a budget? Why should a country which claims it is serious about fighting corruption make laws that continues to give the president and governors right to dole out patronages? Why should the president have power to award oil blocks, when no presidents in developed countries have such power? Why should wives and relatives of the president and governors be free to exploit their positions to make money in ways that constitute corruption in developed countries? It is institutionalised corruption like these that make the likes of Obama to avoid Nigeria like plague? Nigeria is indeed on the ropes and in need of a moral revolution that would enthrone democratic values, probity and accountability in office. Without the removal of power to apportion patronage from the president and such power given to an independent agency, which will exercise it in the way such power is exercised in developed countries, or simply returning the right to natural resources to those who own the land it is found as natural justice demands; corruption will finally destroy Nigeria. The questions are; what should Nigerians and the government do? How long will the people remain frightened by the oppressors? When will the majority of the disfranchised and abused poor realise that they are living dead and decide to die rather than continue in slavery? When will the pipe bust and the torrent let loose? How long will this anarchy and criminality in the name of governance continue? When will hope return to Nigeria? Should we continue to allow a group of politicians of fortune to continue the destruction of our country in pursuit of their selfish interest, or do we stand up to say enough is enough by participation? I believe it is time to confront bad government, which the Igbos rightly describes as ‘ochichi nchigbu’ in Nigeria by democratic and civil means. “The man dies who keeps silent in the face of tyranny” as Wole Soyinka said.

I believe in democracy. Not just because it gives people the opportunity to play a part in choosing who exercises power over them, but because its processes, principles and dispensations, guarantees individual freedom and enthrones rule of law and equality of opportunities. I believe in the democratic values, of tolerance, liberty, accountability, responsibility, rule of law and restraint because they are the values that best create the enabling environment for a people to develop and pursue happiness. These are what make democracy the best of the imperfect systems of government. Democracy is not perfect and it is only as good as values, integrity and enlightenment of those who are in power. I do not want a Nigeria where the president and governors have rights to order the arrest of citizens, but one in which the police are alive to their responsibilities and have the independence to investigate crimes and infractions of the laws, and when necessary, arrest and prosecute anybody who has broken the law. I do not want a Nigeria, where the governor or president can directly order the disbursement of money, but one where there are strong institutions to enable the government implement its manifestoes and not able to divert public fund into party coffers. I want a Nigeria where the president and governors will account for the security vote and have no power to spend it as they please but according to the way the constitution stipulates.

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.

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