There is no denying the fact that corruption has reached a pandemic state in Nigeria. Even unborn babies can feel the pains of corruption right inside the wombs of their mothers. The situation has become so bad that no one can take for granted minor issues like electricity, road, petrol, kerosene, water, sanitation, education, and health care services that even small and poor nations have conquered decades ago.
Unfortunately, the desire by the larger Nigerian society to dislodge the growing culture of corruption has been hindered by the profuse insincerity mostly on the part of those saddled with the responsibility of managing our common wealth. We must not forget the fact that people are (in) government for different reasons. While some are in government to serve the interest of the wider society, others are there to promote their personal interest. There are also some who go into government mainly to advance tribal and religious sentiments. Of greater danger to the nation are those who stay in government to promote the agendas of third-party organizations and foreign countries.
Despite the gloomy impression most people have about corruption in Nigeria, we have the capacity to effectively check it. The problem has been that those who are supposed to champion the fight against graft end up just paying lip service. Take for instance the issue of corruption in the management of the fuel subsidy scheme. Surprisingly, the minister of finance/coordinating minister of the economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and the CBN governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi went to town painting a very sad picture of Nigeria being a country without citizens credible enough to be trusted with the mere management of her fuel subsidy scheme. It was partly on the strength of this flawed opinion that they both suggested the outright removal of fuel subsidy even though they knew quite well that it will create serious economic problems not just for the poor and unemployed citizens, but for the president as well. The other reason they prescribed the removal of fuel subsidy was to mobilize additional cash to adequately finance the transformational budget of the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.
As against the lies they (Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi) have been telling vulnerable Nigerians, the United States and EU all maintain different subsidy schemes purposely aimed at promoting production and at the same time protecting the purchasing power of the citizens. Ironically, the IMF and EU were the first to congratulate President Jonathan when the federal government implemented the fiscal policy of fuel subsidy removal on the 1st of January, 2012. The handwriting was clear enough. They simply wanted a situation where the already poor and suffering masses will raise up their voices against government. With such development, the nation’s political leadership will not have the required space to design and implement practicable fiscal policies that will help free the country from western economic slavery.
Quite frankly, most of the industrialized nations are not happy with Africa’s early attainment of political independence. It has robbed them of cheap access to raw materials from the continent. Therefore, the last “mistake” they (industrialized nations) will make is to allow Africa gain economic independence too soon. For decades now, western democracies have been hiding behind the World Bank and IMF to prescribe fiscal policies that will hurt than help grow developing economies. Examples of some of such policies include Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), currency devaluation, and anti fuel subsidy among others. In case we are not aware; much of the economic gains made by Asian countries did not come from prescriptions by either the IMF or World Bank. Rather, their economic experts and fiscal policy formulators developed indigenous strategies to meet their peculiar needs and circumstances.
No matter how deep corruption has eaten into the fabrics of our national life, the least one expected from Okonjo-Iweala and Lamido Sanusi was their painting of Nigeria as a failed country with no credible people. This writer will never agree that Nigeria does not have the capacity to manage a program as small as the fuel subsidy scheme. The best they did was to invest so much of half-truths and threats to stampede the federal government to removal fuel subsidy when there were better options that will not hurt the poor and suffering masses.
To Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi, the removal of fuel subsidy is the best way to fight corruption in the NNPC, PPPRA, and Customs Services. This opinion is not only wrong but carries long poles of insensitivity to the plights of ordinary Nigerians, most of who are unemployed, poor, and hungry. Perhaps, they should be reminded that a medical doctor worth his onions will not prescribe the amputation of the neck because majority of his patients were complaining of headache. What the House of Representative did with regards the fuel subsidy scheme is the best way to approach critical national issues such as corruption. This writer commends Honourable Farouk Lawan and members of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy utilization for charting the right course in handling sensitive national issues. At least, we have now known the truth. We now know who the real enemies of Nigeria are. We know those who have stolen our common wealth.
Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi are scared of the truth because of its bitter taste. Let them stop administering the prescriptions of the IMF and World Bank. Though they coat their tongues with sugar, and carry on as patriots; their minds are made of steel from the west. The time has come for all to look inward and develop fiscal policies that will address our peculiar needs and circumstances without placing more burdens on the frail backs of poor and hungry Nigerians. They are not helping the president at all. This was the reason behind my piece, “How technocrats destroy political leaders” and “The art of misleading a president” published on my blog and some off and online media.
CEO, Nigeria Democracy Watchtower
2, Greenvilla-Customs Link Road
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