Friday, July 1, 2016

A Few Heartless Men

By Simbo Olorunfemi  
There is a reason why the rule of law, as opposed to rule of men, is fundamental to the entrenchment of all-round development of a nation. Should men be given the impression that they can get away with infractions and breach of the law, their hearts swell with impunity, they become heartless. They live by their own rules. They take on wings to do as they like. They assume that rules exist to be broken and other men are lesser mortals before them. They become gods. Six years back, I was in some other part of the world to supervise the production of a print job.
One of these days, the General Manager of the company asked if I was familiar with a particular Nigerian and I responded in the affirmative. Who does not know him? On our way out of the factory, he made a detour towards the warehouse and pointed in a particular direction. Seated there were cartons of goods ready for shipping, being held back. He told me that job had been commissioned by this Nigerian several months back, but because he had refused or neglected to make the outstanding payment of $10,000, the company was holding on to the goods. My host asked: “Why are Nigerians like that?” The same man, he said, had called him when he came into town.
He flew into that country in a private jet. He lodged in the penthouse of one of the most expensive hotels in town, but rather than pay the $10,000, he pushed it off the table. Rather, he dwelt more on dropping names of the President, state governors, ministers, and all sorts of irrelevant side talks. Rather than pay the outstanding, he takes on the outlandish, promising some future business, on the strength of connections with the high and mighty. A man will not meet his present obligations, but has no scruples in living large at the expense of tomorrow.

When we talk about the reign of impunity that had been over this land for many years, our man is obviously a poster boy. When the hero claimed to have done well, having produced more Billionaires and private jet owners, it is this kind of man he is showcasing. They are Advisers and friends to every government in power, guiding them to doom.
Men who, rather than pay salaries of staff will opt to pay a foreign musician. Men who rather than pay salaries so that the staff are able to afford to drink ‘pure’ water, they will rather waste it on Champagne.
Rather than pay off the $10,000 he owed, he will rather fly a private jet and pay much more for a space in the hotel. They seek to impress people who can never be impressed, people who wonder if there is something chronically wrong with the brain of some of our people.   They borrow without any plan to pay back. They grow fat on debt. You need to see their names on the AMCON list – billions and millions of Naira listed against them. How they are able to sleep, you really wonder. These are the men determined to hold the country down. They hold the courts, the banks and institutions of government down while sections of the media and ignorant and not-so-ignorant bootlickers celebrate them as Captains of industry and entrepreneurs.
A few heartless men, determined to hold on to a meaningless life of luxury on the backs of majority of the people, deprived of the basics to be able to lead a meaningful life. Now that the law is finally catching up with some of these men, some misguided people are quoting the law, upside down, ignorantly querying lawful process of debt recovery.  We go out there and people wonder at the level of sanity of some of these ‘Big Men’ who will rather buy or fly private jets, rather than offset debts owed banks and meet obligations duly entered into. They treat us to a more stringent standard, deny Nigerians routine facilities and business terms that patrons from the other parts of the world enjoy simply because a few heartless men have chosen to take abroad the lack of integrity and reign of impunity that govern their operations at home. If the only thing achieved by the new government is to put these men in their place, that would suffice. If only we can let these heartless men realise they will no longer be able to get away with the reign of impunity they have become used to, that would have been a major step forward for this nation.
* Simbo Olorunfemi works for Hoofbeatdotcom, aNigerian Communications Consultancy.  

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