What Isn’t Interesting About Nigerian Corruption? - My FrontPager

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What Isn’t Interesting About Nigerian Corruption?

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Since the leakage of the video which showed the British PM, David Cameron, describing Nigeria as a ‘’fantastically corrupt” nation alongside Afghanistan, Nigerians (and indeed the world at large) have said a lot of things. From outrage to acceptance, almost everyone has had something to say.
As soon as it happened, I saw many people on social media calling the British PM, and indeed Britain, hypocritical and  two-faced for making itself a safe haven for Nigerian looters. I saw many others like myself who calmly accepted this qualification and only called that any outrage we felt be directed and employed at getting rid of corruption in Nigeria.

To be honest I couldn’t really muster any anger about this whole “fantastically corrupt” qualification of Nigeria. I just couldn’t. My own take away from this matter was that it was something that was said in private and for me, whatever is said (or thought) in private is usually an honest opinion.I believe that what Mr. Cameron said is really what many nations and their leaders actually think about us. While Nigerians shouldn’t allow ourselves to be so hooked on other people’s opinion of us, we should try to examine the source and validity of these opinions in guiding our understanding of how we are perceived.

So to take us further in this examination, I have taken it upon myself to do a very brief examination of the validity of David Cameron’s mockery of Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”.
The Merriam Webster learner’s Dictionary has three simple definitions of the word, ‘’ fantastic” namely:

1.Extremely good
2.Extremely high or great.
3.Very strange, unusual or unlikely.

I believe we can easily strike out the first one as not applying to this current situation and context but we can hold the two remaining meanings of the word “fantastic” as to determine whether or not they match the kind of corruption that Nigeria manifests.
If we consider “fantastically corrupt” to mean that corruption is extremely high or great in Nigeria, I think even the most die-hard defender of Nigeria’s integrity can concede some ground on this. If asked if the incidence of corruption, exemplified in occurrences like the  demanding, taking and giving of bribe, is extremely high or great, would any honest and well-meaning person who is truly in tune with what happens in our dear nation be able to answer “No”? For example, how often do policemen demand for bribe in broad day light even to the point of engineering false charges or illegal arrests and detentions? I rest my case, let us not talk too much.

Let us look at the last definition which describes “fantastic” as also implying something when is strange, unusual or unlikely. Do we not have cases of corruption that are just downright bizarre. Is it common place or normal for the National Security Adviser of a nation to divert funds, and brazenly too, meant for the prosecution of a protective-offensive against a raging insurgency to humouring, pacifying and encouraging  the gluttony of a few politically connected people in the nation. Is that normal? Is it a common place, regular occurrence? Or maybe we should talk about the humongous fraud that was uncovered at, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD); an agency that was created to oversee the judicious  management of pensions under the Defined Benefit scheme.

What happened? Didn’t we hear that the Director-General, Nelly Mayshak and a few others, had allegedly turned the place into their own money-making machine where she alone fraudulently received N50m monthly in salary and allowances. And this is in addition to the misappropriation of about N500m set aside as take-off grant for PTAD! Is this not strange enough to qualify as fantastic? Or is it not also strange how the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Barde just gets to order the Director of Finance, Nigerian Air Force to take out money from government coffers for the purchase of houses for his sons?!

These examples are just few and recent examples of stories of corruption that Nigeria has churned out for many decades now. And if that is not enough, where else in the whole world, do we have a senate president charged for serious crimes of embezzlement, fraud and false assets declaration still presiding over the legislature of the nation as if nothing is wrong and with many cheerleaders too with all sorts or stomach-turning and ridiculous justifications. Where else do we have a Speaker of the House of Representatives accused of budget-padding, strutting around without any real effort to explain. Where else do top members of the president’s cabinet like the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, involved in corruption scandals, get to have the Chief Executive of the Nation as their advocate and defender? If these cases aren’t fantastic, I don’t know what is.

For extra consideration is the case of Mr. James Ibori, the former governor of Delta state, who was convicted, jailed and recently finished serving his sentence in the UK. He’s returning triumphantly to pomp and celebration not just from ignorant citizens but from so-called statesmen and even official members of his state government. Isn’t that just incredible and fantastic?

So for those who are outraged or surprised or baffled by the “fantastically” in David Cameron’s “fantastically corrupt” remark (because I don’t expect that anyone is raising an eye brown on the is “corrupt” end), my advice is that you please  review these feelings as they may be ignorant or misplaced.
There is indeed a lot of fantastic corruption happening in Nigeria. Let’s get angry at why we have allowed ourselves to be at the receiving end of such mockery (and yes, it is a little hypocritical) and seek to change it in with this new found indignation. God bless Nigeria, fantastically.

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