Nigeria and the curse of corruption comedy

By Bala Ibrahim

Any time a matter comes to the issue of accountability, some Nigerians seem extremely ingenious in devising the act of rascality, or shameless display of irresponsibility. The public is left to engage in discomfiture, noise and hysteria, that are always the companions of such theatrics. Everyone knows the motive of the drama is simply to distract attention from the very issue at hand. The chief cause is to create chaos or confusion, through the comedy of corruption. 

I now see the wisdom behind the decision to change the old national anthem of Nigeria, especially the stanza that start’s with, “Nigeria we hail thee”, because it seems to give cheers and salute, to those united in undermining our native land.

While I believe those who composed the old and the new Nigerian national anthem had a patriotic mission in mind, some bad Nigerians were reciting the old stanza that says, “Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”, with a mischief motive. These are the very people that are always quick to connive in defrauding, or looting the country dry. And when they are called to account, they are never short of shameless shenanigans of swooning, or faking a faint.

Yesterday Monday, Nigerians were treated to yet another comedy, this time by the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), Prof K. Pondei, who collapsed at the National Assembly, during interrogation by the committee of the House of Representatives, investigating alleged N40 billion irregular expenditure in the NDDC.

Pondei reportedly collapsed, when he was responding to questions about the N1.5 billion allegedly disbursed by the management, as COVID-19 palliative to employees. Witnesses said he failed to respond to questions from the chairman of the probe panel, on the commission’s scholarship of Nigerian students abroad. Instead, he dramatically collapsed and “fainted”. 

Being a planned and scripted comedy, people were positioned to rush to the rescue, with ready made improvised resuscitation tools and techniques, that were engaged with maximum theatrics. The producer must have given time and pattern per episode, and everything was played to precision in the stint.

In what may look like an irony, the opposition PDP, a party that had played such theatrics several times, and one that is always accused of encouraging corruption, said his fainting is as a result of the weight and shame of overwhelming collective guilt, brought on him by the exposure of massive corruption in the commission. 

Some of us enjoy seeing such saga without the feeling of being sorry, but they come with a cost, that could be unwelcome or even unpleasant to the credibility of the country. The more Nigerians engage in such misbehaviors, the more the country becomes subjected to general mockery or ridicule in the eyes of the world.

Yes, Nigeria would continue to climb high on the ladder of laughing stock league of nations. The consequence is, no one would take us serious, even when we want to be taken serious.

Nigeria is a member of the United Nations. In fact, the present President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ambassador Tijjani Mohammed Bande is a Nigerian. At the beginning of the decade, Nigeria contributed the fifth largest number of peacekeepers to the United Nations peacekeeping operations. And recently,  Nigeria finished serving a two-year term, from 2014-2015, as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council.

Amina Mohammed is also a Nigerian, currently serving as the fifth Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Before getting there, she had served in various capacities in the country, including being the Minister of Environment from 2015 to 2016.  

With the announcement by the current Director-General of the World Trade Organization, WTO, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, that he will be stepping down on the 31st August 2020, Nigeria had since nominated Dr, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former staff of the World Bank and former minister of finance for the post.

The question begging for answer now is, How are these diplomats, or internationally politically exposed persons feeling when they stand before global audience? The rating of their personal dignity and probably the dignity of the country they are representing, are undoubtedly questionable.

The famous inspirational author Shannon Alder said, “Your dignity is a reflection of who you are. It can be mocked, abused, compromised, toyed with, lowered and even badmouthed, but it can never be taken from you. You have the power today to reset your boundaries, restore your image, start fresh with renewed values and rebuild what has happened to you in the past.” 

Unless we choose to change and put a distance from our selves and these comical and embarrassing attitudes, the consequences of the misguidance of the Nigerian nation, are likely to be more disastrous.

The biggest task now before President Muhammadu Buhari, who in 2018, was entrusted with the responsibility of spearheading the awareness of the corruption fight in Africa, and whose famous quote against corruption in Nigeria is, “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria”, is how to first defeat this curse of corruption comedy in the country.

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