By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
To make it big in the contemporary Nigeria you need to be exceedingly a smart politician or duplicitous ‘man of God’. It is safer to be both to fire at both ends. The society has made these zones the only possible safe zones. In these home zones, you are impenetrable by infiltrations of poverty, indestructible by serious criminal charges, immune from correction or criticisms in the spirit of ‘touch not my anointed’
The foundations of weak and dysfunctional institutions, bad national polices and programmes, mass poverty and progressively uncontrollable challenges of insecurity in Nigeria are traceable to debased inclinations of top public servants, political and duplicitous religious elites. It is irrefutable that in Nigeria corruption and mismanagement of resources are robust obstacles to getting things right whether it is in terms of infrastructure development, creation and distribution of wealth and inclusive education. The civil servants are treacherous evil- counsellors for politicians. They tutor, embolden and back-up imprudent politicians in the rampage to ground, in absolute terms, Nigeria’s national institutions.
It is with active connivance of civil servants that many Nigerian politicians are irredeemable bad. The fact that Nigerian crucial national institutions are dysfunctional and scandalously unfit for purposes, and that elections are shameful travesty are more explanatory of the national plight. 2019 general election epitomised the degree of decomposition of the nation’s institutions. All Progress Congress, APC, used the police, the army and every other security agency in Nigeria to falsify election results in favour of government in power. We have Independent National Election Commission so biased and overt in its determination to slant the electoral processes in favour of the ruling party. Electoral umpires are the civil servants, the same reprehensible syndicates that pad the national budgets, approve payments for non-existent projects, host thousands of ghost workers, abuse procurement processes, falsify dates, facts and make false statements that impact the nation catastrophically. The public enemies are the ones providing platforms for themselves and politicians for mismanagement and expropriation of national resources; they are the ones surreptitiously impoverishing Nigeria. The civil servants in question are the deans of corruption, bad government and national tragedies.
It is an indisputable that the inclinations to cheat and rig elections, falsification documents for power related reason and criminal diversion of public funds reside in most of Nigerian politicians. However, none of these politicians can effectively put these crimes into practice because of imperfect skills and dreadful fear of chastisement. But on assumption of office the civil servants offer them orientations on how to mismanage and expropriate public funds without trace. The greenhorns have willing accomplices in the ranks and files of conceited Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Ministries, Public Procurement Officers, etc in the plundering and wild defoliation of Nigeria. As the economy is actively defoliated, the social system is impact substantially by the degradation. The immediate expression of the anomaly is joblessness, pennilessness, and hopelessness. The increasingly difficult stride for survival has driven many Nigerians to acts of desperation. Treacherous religious elites thrive by fishing on the pools of the desperate citizens and circumstances and make good harvest of men and women they clone. In the predominantly Islamic north, the mass of the cloned are used as political weapons.
The double-dealing religious elites offer the gullible folks religious livener and discharge them to fight their political wars free of charge. Thousands of Nigerians have their lives cut short by the religious zombies and properties of inestimable values destroyed. This is why during and after elections in parts of the north there are frenzied movements of citizens in search of safety of their lives. In the Christian dominated areas are proliferations of unscrupulous men and women of God with churches at every corner of the street. The religious charlatans prey on the congregation feeding them with empty and divesting all them of their material possessions.
The diversions, suspicions and mutual antagonisms among Nigerian citizens are the legacies of their religious elites that intensely divided Nigerians along religious lines. They religious elites kept Nigerians so divided and mutually combative that it seems practically impossible for the masses of the oppressed to unite for cooperate efforts to shake-off the yokes of slavery, deceit and oppression. Corrupt civil servants, politicians and religious elites live and maintain sphere by debased means. The intensely difficult life and excruciating economic hardship in Nigeria today are chastising effects of wrong ways of doing things in the country. We have our values turned upside-down, thus, corruption was allowed to infiltrate the society and fester out of idiocy.
The subversions of corruption are palpable reasons for the humiliation of the national economy. Social cohesion and development instruments were made dysfunctional as ignorance and quantitative values of religion are encouraged. Religion and politics are two delicate subsystems of the nation’s life that have been significantly tampered by the disorienting phenomenon, corruption.
Nigerian nation is wobbled in discord orchestrated by harmful ambitions of few folk clutching religion and ethnicity. The vilest of the damages of religion and ethnicity is the evolving moral relativism. Today it is becoming clearer that nothing is really bad until the religion or ethnicity of the wrongdoer is established, we are caught in a web of rationalising national sins and evil habits. We have become so sophisticated to the point that Nigerians generally see heinous crimes from the relativity of who committed them. In the complicated behaviours as a people, we have transited to a point where crimes are not condemned as crimes but the individual behind them. Atrocities in one end of the society are tolerated or condoned but denounced with passionate tirades in the other.
Today more than ever, the lines polarising Nigerian are progressively weaponised for the egos of a few. The outcry and the prosecution of crimes notwithstanding the gravity are subjected to religious or affiliations of ethnicity. Today, there is a longer list of religious tacticians in Nigeria than we have of true Nigerians. The nation’s religious tacticians are so sensitive that they see need for religious divisions in everything and affiliate anywhere as long as religion is concerned. However, at the veneer of this expressive religious activism are shocking disbelieve and atheism. It is always a disoriented self-interest looming large. Is it not revealing that the same people that spend billions yearly on religious tours, pilgrimages to ‘ holy lands’ are the ones stealing and diverting public funds? And they are the ones rigging elections and changing election results, they are the same people killing and maiming fellow citizens for power related obsessions. The injuries done to religion by these vainglorious folks are becoming expressive in the bourgeoning atheism and cultism among the youths.
Nigerians are more religious than political, but trust is the hardiest and the most expensive commodity to find among the vast majority. This situation is also blamed on the nation’s intractable brands of depravity. Corruption manners, corrupt piety, corrupt politics and decades of corrupt government undermined trust, peaceful coexistence, slaughtered accountability and transparency in the management of national wealth and caused both political and religious rulers to fall short of their commitments to the people and to God. The crowning of the contemptible situation is the fact that the mass of citizens are impoverished and insecure as lives and properties are under unrelenting threat by religious zealots in various identities.
As Nigeria’s politicians introduce ego-oriented policies and programmes that exfoliate the weakened economy, religious rulers spew on the people discord, confusions and vicious violence. By the actions of the powerful, it is debatable whether the majority of the citizens are safe anywhere in this country. Ordinary Nigerians have been attacked and destroyed praying in the mosque or singing in the church. Citizens are stolen on their way home, those kidnapping for ransom and ritual purposes are ubiquitous, markets are bombed by terrorists, banks are robbed successfully notwithstanding all the police and military check-points and billions of dollars budget for security gadgets. This situation is demonstrably baffling, mysterious.
Even more threatening is the rapidly growing scourge of employable but unemployed youths who are effectively instrumented by the potent enemies for their religious or political dirty jobs. Many have been made to accept that brilliance does not guarantee access to anything worthwhile, what matters is endorsement of a man of God. Everything is prayer, you have to be prayed over by a powerful man of God and be re-anointed to be suitable to use your God given talents. To make it big in the contemporary Nigeria you need to be exceedingly a smart politician or duplicitous ‘man of God’. It is safer to be both to fire at both ends. The society has made these zones the only possible safe zones. In these home zones, you are impenetrable by infiltrations of poverty, indestructible by serious criminal charges, immune from correction or criticisms in the spirit of ‘touch not my anointed’.
The most immediate impact of corruption in contemporary Nigeria is, without controversy, the large scale perversion of values, revolting economic and political atrocities, lethal ethnic and religiously motivated violence that go unpunished, the impunities of those in charge, the implausible desperation that precipitated unprecedented spate of anarchy or mayhem among the nation’s security agents, the armed robbers who are unstoppably on rampage attacking police stations and banks without real challenge. Robbers, political jobbers and religious zealots have been killing and maiming the victims dispassionately and sacrilegiously. Several police officers have been indicted for drunkenly executing defenseless victims for an effrontery to delay their twenty-naira bribery at whimsical checkpoints.
‘The police and the courts are the very agencies needed to enforce human rights, but there are deeper levels of corruption within these agencies. Delayed and/or shoddy investigation of crimes and incessant adjournment of cases by courts are both acts and effects of corruption and make nonsense the right to fair hearing enshrined in our constitution and other international instruments. Justice delayed often translates into justice denied. Our prisons are terribly congested, with the result that inmates are denied the basic human rights to dignity.2 In a July 2002 transparency international corruption barometer survey reported Nigerian police as the most corrupt institution in Nigeria, now the situation is worse. With the compulsive attitudes of the Buhari’s government to power, the military has been besmirched, a ghost of its former self and a pliable instrument at the whims and caprices of reprehensible politicians. The army terrorized, harassed, killed and rigged 2019 elections for their paymasters.
The chances of ‘advancing all human rights in Nigeria depended on effective institutions such as an independent judiciary, functional and efficient ministries, good labour relations and efficient security institutions. A vibrant and independent media is also necessary for promotion of human rights through education and exposition of the abuses. The consensus among many commentators is that ‘most Nigerian institutions have failed to deliver, due to structural weaknesses engendered largely by corruption. Corruption is weakening governmental and non-governmental institutions and rendering the realisation of basic human freedoms difficult, if not impossible.4 It is an assumption sufficiently popular among scholars that corruption and marginalisation in Nigeria create continual opportunities fertile enough for criminally minded Nigerians to thrive in criminality.
The tribulations in Nigeria’s development are known and measurable, and remain collectively and individually expressive in the diminutive genuine national advancement. There is no advancement in a country where a few are superlatively comfortable on the cadaver of the others. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil but has no kerosene for her ordinary folk to cook, no electricity, no good road, or functioning water supply system even when it is soaked with petro-dollars. It is probably only in Nigeria that a section of her work force collects millions and the other N5, 500 monthly for doing about the same work. Here, it is common for a judge to declare a criminal or a murderer free and acquitted in spite of mounting credible evidences, while on the other hand, evidences are doctored to imprison and punish the guiltless. There are many intensely corrupt politicians and villains who are carried shoulder-high as people’s heroes.
In brief, it is permissible to conclude that corruption inflicted very deep cuts in the corpus of Nigerian society. These petrifying wounds actively debilitated the strides of the nation to authenticity, genuine self-direction, and the realization of the legitimate targets as a nation exceptionally endowed. ‘Make no mistake about it; corruption remains the most debilitating factor standing between Nigeria and its progress. It remains a decrementing tendency that has afflicted the Nigerian state since independence. Again, there is no doubt that Nigerians especially the downtrodden abhor corruption for the corrosive effect it inflicts on them.5 It is infinitely sustainable to attribute to corruption the spiteful state of the socio-political and economic atmosphere in Nigeria. Corruption has been indicted for the unresourceful use of the country’s abundant wealth for the benefit of the people, a brazen violation of the obligation to provide needed services to the people.