Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Before We Destroy Nigeria

By Malachy Uzendu
Nigerians are superbly interesting set of people. Every moment presents itself as placebo for throwing away serious punches. We seem to love to be dribbled; we enjoy flash in the pan situations. We seem not to have deep thinking faculties. Our handling of situations is always on the ephemeral plane.
A few months ago, the issue on the lip of Nigerians were “Senate Standing Rules” forgery or no for­gery; whether it was the national leadership of the ruling All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) that holds the prerogative of determin­ing who becomes a principal offic­er of the National Assembly or not. It did not matter that people who were elected to that arm of govern­ment from the different constitu­encies in the country have even if we chose to call it some form of pedigree, neither did it matter that they have a contract with their var­ious constituencies. A privileged few must determine who becomes what and what happens there.

Nigerians made a lot of noise on this issue: some people called for the public execution of Sena­tors Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekw­eremadu. Some people who were obsessed by their self righteousness even postulated that National As­sembly members should not on their own aspire to any portfolio in that arm of government but should wait for portfolio to be assigned to them by the executive arm of gov­ernment either directly or indirect­ly through the instrumentality of the ruling political party.

Conversely, some persons who hold alternative view points insist­ed that capitulating to that level was dictatorial, diversionary, myopic and banal and had nothing to do with the essence of true democracy.
After several months of legal fireworks, propaganda and pub­lic odium for Saraki and Ekwere­madu, the executive arm of gov­ernment, withdrew the forgery lawsuit slammed on the two prin­cipal officers. To Nigerians it was a matter of case closed; no qualms, life moves on to the next issue. The master has spoken and so be it. The public never bother about the eco­nomic and social costs. This was a typical case of the executive dis­tracting the legislature and the pub­lic, the polity pays the price.

Next issue was the hullabaloo of protests in favour of or against Sena­tor Dino Melaye, for purportedly insulting Senator Oluremi Tinu­bu. There were verbal and written missiles thrown here and there and suddenly, the noise fizzled out. Dino is still in the Senate representing his constituency the way he knows best how to do. Maybe, Senator Tinubu no longer see him as a misogynist; maybe, a repentant politician who has learnt to submit to the master and lord.
Even as that distraction raged, there was the other distraction: Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin vs Yaku­bu Dogara. Budget padding accu­sation and counter accusation, coming at a time, a clean copy of the budget had been passed. Again, the executive arm was drawn into the fray and they sent one of their attack dogs - The Nigeria Police Force. Within a jiffy, several peo­ple wrote statements (did Saraki and Ekweremadu write?).

Whether budget as passed with­out distortions after presidential as­sent can suddenly become padded and the point at which a budget can become padded and the differ­ence between padding appropri­ation and legislative lobbying did not matter. The gullible Nigerians fell for it. Again, they got distract­ed; real issues of governance or mis-governance not on the front burner.

In between these distractions, other forms of placebo: abduction and conversions to Islam of teen­age Christian girls. Within the pe­riod, no report of any Christian male (adult or teenager) was re­ported abducted and converted. Maybe they are all bad boys; none good to become a Muslim. How­ever in all these conversions, Emirs were always fingered. Denial and counter accusations; intimidation and succumbing to superior pos­session of instruments of coercion. Police and other security agen­cies become so lily-livered and sometimes, like in the Katsina epi­sode, transform to attorneys and the mouth piece of people who should preserve both traditional and re­ligious laws but who brazenly violate the Child Right Act with impuni­ty. Who can query His Royal Maj­esty but God?

Yet, another distraction: Fula­ni Herdsmen. Killing people, de­stroying communities. Rather than being encouraged to organ­ise their businesses in a modern, mature and more profitable man­ner, they are being encouraged through their umbrella body, My­etti Allah Cattle Breeders Associ­ation, to see nothing wrong in in­vading peaceful farming and even urban communities, destroying everything on sight and killing everyone they could see, includ­ing infants and unborn children! They must engage in nomadic cat­tle rearing at all costs and whoev­er that attempts to stop them from doing so must pay the price. Is it a case of one sent on robbery esca­pade by his father? It’s either their cows eat up your crops and they rape or abduct your wives and female children, or kill your adult male or every other thing becomes “haram”


Continuing with our dis­course, we brought up the consequences of nomad­ic cattle rearing. And our inept local government and state gov­ernments chose to remain arms akimbo, not knowing there is IGR untapped in the business. Terribly inept they failed to real­ise cattle rearing provides them opportunity to collect Business Premises Fee from the rearers.

If they chose to operate every­where and everywhere, you cal­culate the Business Premises Bill based on the space they occupy in business like every other busi­ness concerns in the area. But it seems government is afraid of their AK-47, since the Police, DSS and other law enforcement agen­cies do not see threat to national security in continuing to operate in such a manner; only money in judges apartment constitute “se­rious threat to national security”.
And now, the mother of all distractions: Nigeria’s judicuary is corrupt. Several judges serving in all the judicial strata, except yet the magistracy, are extreme­ly corrupt.

They alleged that our reverred Justices now keep mon­ey: foreign and local currency at home. It did not matter how they got such monies. Important thing is money is at a judge’s home and so, they are suspected money laundering goons or “pen rob­bers” using their privileged po­sitions to pervert the course of justice. Ghana-Must-Go ju­diciary. Is that so? Interesting! Places where monies were hith­erto kept safely, now exposed to armed robbers. Next is rob­bers invading judges homes in search or hard currency. Nige­ria we hail thee!

Again, the executive arm did what it proved how best to do. Unleash it’s arsenal against the “corrupt judges”; those “stink­ing elements”, who according to the executive, are non-mor­al, depraved human beings. And to properly decimate the judi­ciary, the operation must be in a Gestapo style; like vicious armed robbery attacks. Break the doors, bring down the walls if the doors prove too difficult or if the effect will not be felt, the id­iots must be humiliated!

And so, the hitherto eternally taciturn justices, who belonged to the sublime are humiliated and have become parrots. They now expose what they had kept to themselves, or shared in their dingy chambers with strict in­structions that such remained top secret. Failed attempts to purchase electoral verdicts.
But, the bring them down mentality did not allow for a sec­ond thought: who attempted to purchase justice? “We must deal with these bastards, after all, they made us pass through harrowing experiences with ‘several miscar­riage of justices’ before we got here”. It did not matter if the en­tire system is brought down after all, who needs a corrupt judiciary anyway? Is a corrupt judiciary not worse than armed robbers, hired killers, pipeline vandals, armed Fulani herdsmen or kid­nappers?

And so, the DSS had to do the job and they did it “expertly well”, shamelessly. In what they dubbed on-going “sting opera­tions” (don’t know if the mean­ing of such words differed in their lexicon), took pride in to­tally denigrating an important arm of government. The con­stitutional imperative of separa­tion of powers or independence of the judiciary as enshrined in our Military-imposed constitu­tion did not matter. The judges are all corrupt and remain cor­rupt and guilty as alleged; what they bargained for, they got.

All these taking place in an economy in recession. Maybe it’s the legislature or the judici­ary that brought the economy to its knees. Or, they are the ones that have failed to perform their constitutional duty of managing the economy well or growing the economy as expected.
Who knows the next act in these drama scenes? But, did anyone see the link between the foreign trips and all these hap­penings? Did the West bring dawn Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Con­go, Somalia, etc through subter­fuge activities? Is anyone analys­ing the similarity or reading the handwriting on the wall?

If this self-proclaimed “giant of Africa” and twice acclaimed largest economy in Africa is al­lowed to get its acts together, where would the West sell their technological output and war arsenal? Since it seemed Nige­ria has been able to curtail the rampaging Boko Haram creat­ed by the West, is this not the right time to instigate internal instability, knowing the manag­ers have no intellectual capacity to analyse and track the process?

If Nigeria succeeds in black­mailing and denigrating the leg­islative and judicial arms of gov­ernment, would only one leg of the tripod carry the weight of na­tion building alone? And in any case, is it not an executive arm that is so bastardised and spews corruption, even more than the other arms of government? Like the popular adage succinctly captured: can anything of sub­stance stand on nothing? Your guess is as good as mine. We wait for the next drama.

*Uzendu is Editor, The AU­THORITY on Saturday

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