Written by Joseph Imaku
The average Nigerian official will always enrich himself at the expense of the Nigerian people when entrusted with an office. The speed at which he or she does this could be quite baffling. It is even more so when such an office involves dealing with large amount of funds. Even those you least expect to muddy their hands will disappoint you and if you are one with expectations of seeing a Nigerian official or politician come out with clean hands, I am sorry to tell you, they are hard to come by.
As for me, I have learnt to tone down my expectations lest I end up being disappointed. Farouk Lawan was one man who screamed his guts out when he presided over a committee in charge of investigating corruption in the oil industry as it had to do with fuel subsidy only to be caught red handed demanding and collecting bribes? At the time, I had seen Lawan as a star, a rare breed in the House of Representatives, just the man we needed, and then, poof! Suddenly, just like the turning point in a Hollywood movie, the diminutive ‘giant’ with a tiny voice, the star in the green chamber, the man who just would not tolerate any form of corruption was recorded in a phone conversation. The mask finally fell and we all yelled ‘et tu Farouk?’
Nigerian politicians and officials sure do not disappoint. For me just as it is for millions of Nigerians, it no longer comes as a surprise when one big man somewhere is being probed and revelations upon revelations unfold. Nigerian politicians and officials are the same side of a coin. They rarely come to serve; they are chiefly there for themselves, to fill their already over-bloated tummies. One wishes something good will always come out of the many probes we see on our television screen or read in the papers but as you and I well know, nothing ever will.
The current trial or rather, investigation of Magu will much likely go the same way like the others, do you still hear of Farouk Lawan? If Nigeria were not a nation made up of dubious characters straddling the corridors of power, the hundreds and thousands of probes on our television screens week after week I can assure you, would have led to convictions in saner climes and our jail houses will be more congested than they already are. There is no week that goes by without one hearing of one probe or another, or the talk of financial malfeasance. If it isn’t NHIS today, it will be NNPC tomorrow. If it isn’t NNPC it will be NDDC and on and on it goes. It is always a story of one form of corruption or the other- the squandering of our commonwealth.
We are talking of millions and billions here either in dollars or in Naira denominations, it is never a case of thousands, but then Nigeria is a nation made up of men even women, greedy for the spoils of office, a result of the many years of rot in the system. The searchlight is presently being beamed on two important commissions. While one is saddled with the responsibility of fighting corruption, the other is saddled with the responsibility of developing a region, both having failed to perform to expectation.
Serious leaders build their nations to the envy of others. On the other hand, unserious leaders run it to the ground, which has been Nigeria’s lot. The Magu saga is nothing new. That place stinks of corruption. You bring police officers to man an agency and then expect clean results? The mindset of a typical Nigerian police officer is to make gains out of any situation. They rip you out of your hard earned money despite having no case against you. If you are in doubt ask the many young men and women who have been victims of the notorious SARS or of families who have lost their loved ones because they refused to part with money or of those languishing in prison without trial because they could not afford the bribes demanded by these men in black. To be on a safe side, one just has to part with whatever amount demanded if they can afford it. That way you spare yourself the unnecessary harassment that could lead to unending court trials and needless incarceration.
I think it is high time our legislators looked into the act establishing the EFCC with the sole aim of amending it. Come to think of it, the agency has become more of a political tool working at the whims and fancies of the government in charge. It has been used to fight political enemies either perceived or real. It needs to be overhauled in order to serve the purpose for which it was established. The ICPC, another agency charged with the task of tackling corruption seems to lack enough bite, if it does, we hardly know it. The EFCC has been the loudest mouthpiece of government in the fight against corruption the very reason why the spotlight is being beamed at it. If one claims to be fighting corruption, it is expected that such person or persons must be above board. As the probe of Magu continues to fill the airwaves, let us watch to see what the outcome will be, perhaps, something might happen to come.
Perhaps something might happen to come out of it, perhaps, nothing will.
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