Following the Independence day celebrations back in 2015, news emanated from London suggesting former Petroleum minister Dizeani Allison-Madueke, along with four other people, had been arrested in the UK for money laundering after they were found in possession of a huge amount of money.
What surprised me was how the news brought joy to many Nigerians. All shouting, “crucify her, crucify her.” I found this surprising because when the Senate President Bukola Saraki was summoned to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on grounds of false declaration of wealth, many believed it was a ploy by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to make Saraki abdicate his responsibilities after he went against their wish to assume his position.
The opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also threw their weight behind Saraki to help him survive this alleged witchhunt. Ohaneze Ndi Igbo followed suit and marched in protest to the National Assembly, baricading the entrance & describing the trial as the trial of an Igbo man (whatever that means).
Both events have made me question whether Nigerians really have a problem with corruption. In fact without mincing words, it seems Nigerians don’t. We seem to have a problem with people involved in corrupt acts. We take sides; everything is personal. Maybe that’s why Ohaneze Ndi Igbo youths who claim to speak for all Igbo youths took sides with Saraki.
In the popular classic movie, The Godfather, there is a scene where Michael Corleone told his father’s (The Don) unofficial adopted son and consigliere, Tom Hagen that everything is personal. “Don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell.”
Politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, which is all about power and personal (not regional/tribal/religious) interests. When politicians are marked by an obvious personal interest, pro or against lustration, the public approach is deeply influenced by emotions and subsequently, rationality is thrown out of the window.
It is clear to every Nigerian that the level of corruption in the country is high but we only complain about corruption if/when it does not favor us. And attribute benefits of corruption to God’s favour, grace and blessings when corruption finally favours us.
Have you ever seen a student who copied his/her friend or sorted a lecturer (whether in cash or kind) to pass complain when s/he comes through with flying colours? Mba nu! Maka why? S/he will babble about his/her academic prowess and advertise the newly attained status on social media, all to the glory of God. S/he only complains when the result isn’t favourable and tries to point accusing fingers at others. Misery loves company after all.
Our partisanship towards corruption stems from the general belief in Nigeria that once one occupies a political position, be it the smallest, they have found El dorado. So, people tend to lend support to anti-graft war when charges of corruption are levelled against those in their black book.
People claim they are ready for change but question if Nigeria is ready for change. People only act this way when they can’t say that they are not ready to change the status quo. Even the idea of being ready is ridiculous.
The mission to cleanse Nigeria of corruption and subversives will take time; patience is essential. In words of President Muhammadu Buhari, order is more vital than speed. My question to you reading this today is – do you have a problem with corruption or not?