Fren­e­mies on the prowl

Daily Trust - - OPINION - Ab­dul­razaque Bello-Barkindo opin­ion@dai­lytrust.com

Again, Nige­ria is at another thresh­old of its history. It is cel­e­brat­ing its fifty-fifth an­niver­sary as a sov­er­eign state. Need­less to say, Nige­ria’s he­roes past have la­bored to keep the coun­try to­gether in a way that it should be mea­sur­ing up to oth­ers in the comity of na­tions but at 55 Nige­ria is just ris­ing from a deep, long and em­bar­rass­ing slum­ber.

Nev­er­the­less, we must con­grat­u­late her for re­main­ing one, against the odds. How­ever, there are dis­turb­ing sig­nals from Nige­ria’s in­ner re­cesses which fun­da­men­tally have to do with its trust and jus­tice. Jus­tice is a con­cept that we can­not touch, see, hear, smell or taste. But when there is jus­tice, we of­ten feel it. When there is in­jus­tice we all suf­fer it. Ev­ery time the courts strike a blow at cor­rup­tion we en­joy a sense of re­lief. But make no mis­take about it, each time cor­rup­tion is ac­costed it strikes back with a vengeance. Pi­o­neer EFCC boss, Mal­lam Nuhu Ribadu who once fought cor­rup­tion to a stand­still in the coun­try and de­clared that when you fight cor­rup­tion, cor­rup­tion fights you back will for­ever live with its bit­ter taste.

When his words came to pass with cor­rup­tion fight­ing him, the anti-cor­rup­tion czar had to run out of the coun­try to es­cape the cold claws of evil. It is a mir­a­cle to­day that he lives to tell his tale. Things re­mained that way for a while un­til now that Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari re­sumes the fight against cor­rup­tion again. As a na­tion, we should find great com­fort in the idea of the cor­rupt pay­ing for their wrong­do­ings.

But do we? It is dis­heart­en­ing that many peo­ple in high places sup­port cor­rup­tion and de­scribe those fight­ing it as wizards, en­gag­ing in witch hunts. We have ev­ery rea­son to cheer on the fight against cor­rup­tion in Nige­ria which for Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, is a key fo­cus. We have ev­i­dence to prove that in the just dis­patched ad­min­is­tra­tion of Dr Good­luck Ebele Jonathan, cor­rup­tion had blocked the coun­try’s progress to­wards high-in­come na­tion sta­tus. Our peo­ple be­came largely im­pov­er­ished.

Youth em­ploy­ment was only for those who wore a bowler hat. Eco­nomic eman­ci­pa­tion was for a cho­sen few. It also did not hap­pen through hard work and per­se­ver­ance but through steal­ing which the pres­i­dent him­self de­scribed as not cor­rup­tion. So is it a sur­prise to­day that 83 sen­a­tors are gang­ing up to thwart the war against cor­rup­tion that the Buhari set out to pur­sue vig­or­ously? Don’t get me wrong. These sen­a­tors may claim that they are en­ti­tled to their opin­ions. They may also in­sist that they have the right to as­so­ciate with whoso­ever they wish and de­sire but they shouldn’t for­get that with­out the ex­press man­date of the peo­ple they rep­re­sent their feet might never have seen the paved streets of Abuja. In fact, it is my can­did opin­ion that short of be­ing de­scribed as an endorsement of cor­rup­tion, the vote of con­fi­dence, which is tak­ing place for the sec­ond time in as many months is un­called for. In ac­tual sense, it has fur­ther dam­aged the cred­i­bil­ity of the se­nate, which since the com­mence­ment of this democ­racy has been op­er­at­ing at vari­ance with the wishes and as­pi­ra­tions of the Nige­rian peo­ple. They are there­fore Nige­ria’s fren­e­mies. Cor­rup­tion erodes public con­fi­dence in the abil­ity of gov­ern­ment and other key in­sti­tu­tions in main­tain­ing a lev­elplay­ing field for all, and could dis­suade or­di­nary peo­ple from con­tribut­ing their quota to the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try. Cor­rup­tion dis­cour­ages greater par­tic­i­pa­tion in the na­tional econ­omy, and there­fore has an ad­verse ef­fect on Nige­ria’s tal­ent pool. There has al­ways been this grow­ing con­cern that cor­rup­tion is si­phon­ing re­sources away from the land. In the last cou­ple of years, small en­ter­prises were sim­ply van­ish­ing from Nige­ria just as en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills were be­com­ing scarce and unattrac­tive. Be­cause of the mon­u­men­tal over arch of the claws of cor­rup­tion, young Nige­ri­ans had aban­doned all av­enues for the ac­qui­si­tion of valu­able skills to sit at drink­ing joints and de­lib­er­ate the abil­i­ties of those who have stolen the na­tional pat­ri­mony dry and how they were able to dip their hands in the tills. In­dus­try be­came ex­tinct. Graft be­came dis­tinct. The youths be­came con­fused and the na­tion be­came com­pre­hen­sively de­stroyed. This is a scourge that af­flicts us all, and ev­ery­body has a part to play in the ef­forts to curb it.

While al­ways, we turn to the en­force­ment agen­cies and the ju­di­ciary to get af­fir­ma­tion that the rule of law is work­ing well and that no­body is above the law, these distin­guished sen­a­tors who lent cre­dence to the ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in the hal­lowed red cham­ber have shown with­out re­morse that Nige­ria can very well ex­pire, for all they care. What is it that Nige­ria’s sen­a­tors are miss­ing here? The fight against cor­rup­tion de­mands in­tegrity, courage and stamina. It is a long, tough cam­paign. Small or big, ev­ery vic­tory means some­thing. It re­in­forces our belief in do­ing the rights things and pushes us for­ward. But with an in­ter­loper group like

Nige­ria’s 83 “yes men” from the red cham­ber, it is nigh to ques­tion who needs en­e­mies? Me­thinks if this mo­men­tum is al­lowed to flour­ish, this might well be an an­niver­sary that Nige­ri­ans will not for­get in a long time. Happy In­de­pen­dence An­niver­sary, poor coun­try.

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