Analog Nigeria In A Digital Age (2) By Temple Chima Ubochi.
Continued from Part 1
Buhari is clueless on how to solve Nigeria’s problems (Balarabe Musa)
To be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in thought or action. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)
All the commandments:…. You shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbor as yourself. (Jesus Christ)
If a snake can actually swallow ₦36 million, one day, we may wake up in this country to see that a snake has swallowed our foreign reserve or it has swallowed money that was gathered in the TSA. (Senator Shehu Sani)
I have been asking the question whether Nigerian politicians are brainless or are they thinking all Nigerians are fools. Imagine President Muhammadu Buhari stating that he has fulfilled all his major promises made to the electorate during his political campaign. He told the world this known lie when he visited Yola on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Imagine a president who has never completed any single project since taking office, lying to a suffering nation. He really takes Nigerians for fools. This man does not know why he’s in Aso Rock, and should be chased away in 2019.
Why are we hearing all sorts of stories which make the world to laugh us to scorn? Why are they telling us, in this digital age, things that can only happen during the Stone Age? The latest is that monkeys have swallowed ₦70 million Northern Senators Forum money! What kind of a country is this? Are they joking or what? If this story didn’t come from a reputed newspaper like Daily Trust, I would have ignored it.
According to Daily Trust Newspaper, on Thursday, February 22, 2018, “the ₦70m handed over to the Northern Senators Forum has been swallowed by monkeys in the farm of a ranking senator. Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) told newsmen minutes after Senator Abdullahi Adamu was removed as the chairman of Northern Senators forum. Senator Adamu was accused of mismanaging ₦70 million belonging to the Northern Senators. Shehu Sani said that it was alleged that some monkeys swallowed the money at the senator’s farm.
This is happening few weeks after a shocking confession of an official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, which claimed that a mysterious snake allegedly swallowed ₦36 million Naira, from the Board’s vault, which she made from the sale of scratch cards”.
No wonder that corruption is getting worse in Nigeria, according to the latest corruption perception index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The Cable wrote that while the country scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank of No. 148 out of 180 countries surveyed – a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year. This will come as a blow to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that came into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential.
Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national contact of TI, says it is “seriously worried” about the new but unfavorable trend in the fight against corruption in the country, as buttressed in the newly published CPI. CISLAC said in a statement released on that Wednesday evening:
“On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria hopelessly falls behind with 27 points. In West Africa, Nigeria is the second worst country out of 17 countries leaving only Guinea Bissau behind. This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels. It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian taxpayers around 25% of annual GDP. Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges”.
For now, the money-swallowing monkeys’ story is still breaking, so, let’s concentrate on the money-swallowing snake’s story.
Because Nigeria remains an analog country in a digital age is the reason they will keep a whooping ₦36 million in the office, and not in a bank; and then, one thief will tell us that a snake swallowed the money. We all heard or read it that “Snake swallowed ₦36m in JAMB office in Makurdi”. Only in Nigeria can someone make up such a ludicrous story in this century.
How come that no one saw the mysterious money-swallowing snake? Caleb Onyenso, in asking how and why they left such an amount of money in the office in this age of banking, saw this as a huge slap on the faces of Nigerians. It is such a shame that in a country where the present administration keeps talking about fighting corruption, the same corruption keeps coming in different forms. Last year, before the present JAMB administration took over, it was reported that the board had never remitted more than three million Naira to the nation’s consolidated revenue coffers, but then a new administration came in and remitted 8 billion Naira, so who is fooling who? The reasons they give for looting are always a joke and a big slap on the faces of Nigerians. Today, it’s a snake swallowing money and if the issue is swept under the carpet, who knows another animal that will swallow money in the future?
This is not the first time a JAMB official has concocted a story to cover-up his or her loot. The Public Relations Officer, PRO, of JAMB board, Fabian Benjamin, according to the Vanguard, said the board has heard similar startling and frivolous defense like the one given by Mrs. Chieshe over the missing fund swallowed by a snake. According to him, “There was even a case in Nasarawa when a staff claimed that on his way to come and submit the scratch card, he had an accident and the car got burnt with the scratch cards. The cards have numbers and when we checked we found out that those cards were used. There was another staff that said his signature was forged. He agreed that it was his signature but he wasn’t the one that signed and did not collect the scratch cards. We have many issues like that but all of them have been queried, they appeared before the disciplinary committee, they were interrogated. A report has been written. Once that report has been approved, we will recommend for their dismissal and prosecution.”
Only in Nigeria will they tell us such stories, and it started from the top. When they told us that rats chased the president out of his office, what do you expect from those below? On a Saturday Talking Point, Rose Moses commented that very strange things really do happen in Nigeria, and in quick succession, too. As the now popular saying goes, there’s no dull moment in the country. According to the Vanguard, she noted that in the same country too, a president, after spending over one hundred days away from the country and office, would on his return, be ‘chased away’ from his powerful office by rodents. Some stories, really, can only come out of Nigeria. And so, while the country battles with the menace of marauding, killer herdsmen, the mother of all oddities was released into the public space. In Benue State, which has remained in the news following mass killings by alleged Fulani herdsmen, a ‘fat’ snake reportedly swallowed a whopping ₦36 million that ought to be remitted to the coffers of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) from the sale of forms during the era of scratch cards. According to the report, the ‘mystery snake’ sneaked into the accounts office, did not bite nor threaten anyone but went straight into the vault where it swallowed the cash. Nothing can be more absurd! As laughable as the development may appear to some, it should also sound a note of serious concern to everyone on how low things could get in Nigeria. How does a snake swallow millions of cash, anywhere?
With incidents like this, which comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors in almost all sectors and aspects of our human endeavors, there is no reason why any government should question the ranking, by Transparency International (IT), of Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. There is also no arguing the point that anywhere a snake could creep into a vault of a parastatal to swallow ₦36 million must be a dangerous place to live in, with development far from its lexicon. Or where else can a clerk brazenly look a system in the face and make such bizarre statement just to cover fraudulent acts that may have hitherto been a way of life? If a JAMB sales clerk can come up with a story as stupid as a snake swallowing millions of public money in her care, you can only imagine the bigger picture that may have so emboldened her.
The Action Democratic Party (ADP) noted that this government has become a looting business center. The Party described the news of a snake swallowing a whooping sum of 36 Million Naira from the office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) as a huge joke and says that this has further solidified the party’s position on the looting business on-going in government. The Party noted that this has further exposed to all Nigerians how corruption is thriving in a Buhari government that claims to be fighting it. The Party then added that officials in ministries, departments, and agencies in the government have devised means of stealing in millions since top officials have continually gone scot-free whenever their corruption cases are exposed. The party then concluded that grand looting has become a norm under the current administration.
It’s not surprising that corruption is blooming now more than ever, despite the fact that Buhari was elected to “kill” it. Instead of President Buhari and his APC fighting corruption, they’ve been emboldening it – they’ve been clueless, corrupt and incapacitated. No wonder there’s stealing spree going on in this government. Someone copied this to me: Since Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau State, joined APC, his trial stopped like a locomotive train that knocked engines. Since Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC suddenly got a new brake pad. Since Sullivan Chime, former governor of Enugu State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC developed a cataract. Since Isa Yuguda, former governor of Bauchi State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC suddenly developed hearing problems. Don’t forget that Chief Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa State, recovered his 48 houses, seized by EFCC when he joined APC.
Quoting Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008), “lying, stealing, and cheating are commonplace” in Buhari’s government, and ironically, this government was elected to deal with corruption – to make a dent in corruption. If a sales clerk, Philomina Chieshe, can concoct a story about a snake swallowing ₦36 million she should have accounted for, think of what her superiors have been doing in fleecing Nigeria. Are you surprised? Babachir David Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Buratai, the Chief of Army staff; Dambazzau, the Interior Minister; Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ; and Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari; all have corruption allegations against them, but President Buhari has refused to take any action against any of them, rather, he has rewarded them for dipping their filthy hands into the nation’s treasury. This is a man “elected” to fight corruption (Mr. Integrity).
Assuming Buhari didn’t win in 2015, we would have been reminded, time and time again, how we rejected the Messiah who would have solved all Nigeria’s problem through his “body language”. Today, that Messiah is on the throne, and Nigeria has been taken back to the cave era. Even Prof. Soyinka claimed, in 2015, that Nigeria will not survive another four years of Goodluck Jonathan; but today, see how Nigeria is surviving Buhari’s rule. Can anybody compare Jonathan’s years and now (Soyinka has been shamed). Thank God Buhari won in 2015, otherwise, they would have claimed that by now the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram would have been crushed; the economy would have been one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually; all political office holders would have been earning only the salaries and emoluments determined and approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC); all the refineries would have been functioning optimally; and there would have been by now:
- Stabilization of the naira making it ₦1 to $1
- Reduction of fuel price to ₦45
- Free education at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions
- Public declaration of assets and liabilities
- State and community policing
- Ban on all government officials from seeking medical care abroad
- Implementation of the National Gender Policy, including 35% of appointive positions for women
- Revival of Ajaokuta steel company
- Generation, transmission and distribution of at least 20,000 MW of electricity – 24/7 uninterrupted power supply
- Empowerment scheme to employ 740,000 graduates across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory
- Establishment of a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses.
- About 9. 720,000 jobs created
- Provision of allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programme
- Creation of a Social Welfare Programme, of at least five thousand Naira (₦5,000), that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens
- Recruitment and training of at least 100,000 officers into the Nigerian police force
- One free meal (to include fruits) daily, for public primary school pupils
- Eradication of state of origin, replacing that with state of residence to ensure Nigerians are Nigerians first before anything else
- Establishment of crime squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, militants, ethno-religious and communal clashes nationwide
- The establishment of a conflict resolution commission to help prevent, mitigate and resolve civil conflicts within the polity
- Permanent peace in the Niger Delta and other conflict-prone areas such as Plateau, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, and Abia States
- No plans to Islamize Nigeria
- At least one functioning airport in each of the 36 states
- The establishing at least six new universities of science and technology with satellite campuses in various states
- Increase in the number of physicians from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000
- Increase in national health expenditure per person per annum to about ₦50,000 (from less than ₦10,000 currently)
- Increase in the quality of all federal government-owned hospitals to world-class standard
- Timely payment of retirement benefits for all pensioned senior citizens and creating a poverty safety net for all aged citizens above the age of 65
Buhari is here, and have delivered none of the above. Now, nobody is telling us “what Buhari would have done if he had won”. The Guardian, in its “Thank God Buhari won 2015 election”, not only wrote that if Buhari had not won in 2015, there would have been uncontrollable violence that would have been triggered by his supporters’ spontaneous reactions throughout the country; but…… (Read more)
To be continued!
Temple Chima Ubochi.