MOST OF THE time, one
cannot but wonder if something
is uniquely wrong with
Nigeria’s destiny, considering
that any forward step she takes
is immediately followed by a
thousand ones backward. We
are one of the few countries
whose leaders unashamedly
and openly display their
complete lack of trust in their
system and in the country that
they purport to lead; we are
one of the few countries in
the world whose healthcare
infrastructure is fitting only for
their unlucky, impoverished
and forgotten citizens, and not
their ruling class.
When would folks ruling
us realise that the healthcare
systems they admire and run to
each time they are ill are made
possible by fellow humans in
positions of public trust, just
like them? When would our
clueless and hypocritical ruling
class realise thatNigeria is
blessed with top talents capable
of replicating same medical
feats available in these foreign
lands that they constantly run
to? When would the ruling
class come to its senses, think
right and do right? Are these
folks so clueless as to not know
that some of the top talents in
these foreign lands – doctors,
PhD-level scientists and
engineers – are Nigerian-born
Nigeria: A snake without head
and Nigerian-educated? As such,
the problem is not the ruled, but
the rulers.
The doctors in these foreign
hospitals do not have higher
IQs than most of the doctors in
Nigeria; the doctors in the U.K
for example, are able to provide
better care and cure more diseases
simply because they have access
to more advanced medical
facilities at their hospitals. Period.
We are probably the only
country on earth, whose number
one public figure could just
leave the citizens guessing and
wondering, even in the midst
of what I consider the worst
economic recession of the
country’s life time. Our currency
has plummeted by more than 150
percent in the last sixteen months
with no halt in sight and with
no coherent explanations from
people in-charge.
Nigeria, right now, could be
compared to a snake with no
head. Everything, especially, the
economy and the Naira, is in a
very sorry state. What is wrong
and where are the vice-president
and the Finance Minister? Please,
could someone tell us what is
happening? What is happening
to the Naira? The Nigerian
people are in awe as they watch
the naira disappear so quickly
right in their presence. It’s simply
incredible that a country whose
citizens are among the brightest
in the world, a country that
has its citizens in some of the
world’s most prominent financial
and technology hubs – is just
unable to figure out how to, at
the minimum, put a halt to its
bleeding economy and currency.
Please, can someone swallow
his/her pride and seek the right
help in halting this national
predicament of an economy and
currency tumble?
While I would’ve loved to
spend no time on this piece on
our national bane – corruption
in our public service – because
it’s now almost a cliché, it’s
difficult for anyone with the least
ounce of conscience to ignore
the unimaginable revelations
out of Southern Kaduna. I am
referring to the recent report of
the conversion of a shack in a
Kaduna slum into a personal
foreign currency reserve by
one Andrew Yakubu – a former
NNPC chief executive. Such
a revelation would have been
shocking and incredible if it
were not true. Aside a grotesque
abuse of his exulted position(s)
in NNPC, I’m highly curious to
hear how a public servant like
Mr. Yakubu could have saved all
these millions of dollars from his
salaries and allowances. He will
surely be a top contender for the
2017 Nobel Prize in economics if
he is able to pull off a convincing
explanation.
Honestly, such extraordinary
kleptomania and primitive
accumulation of wealth are only
possible in our country – where
fat-cheeked and pot-bellied
folks in well-furnished and airconditioned
public buildings
rob the country with impunity
using their public pens and
privileged positions as their only
weapons. One would expect
that the suffering and jobless
Nigerian youth, whose future
is continuously mortgaged by
acts like these, would be very
outraged by this and would be
demanding for justice and an end
to this type of national robbery.
Yakubu and his ilk are the simple
reason NNPC has yet to live up to
expectation and why it can pass
as the most corrupt and inefficient
bureaucracy in the world. Over
the years, NNPC has remained a
well-oiled corruption conduit that
has been so successfully exploited
by successive regimes.
I’m hoping that maybe, just
maybe, Mr. Yakubu and his ilk
can pause for a second from
their expensive wine sipping in
their tastefully furnished and
expensive mansions and think
about the incalculable damage
that their unconscionable acts
have unleashed on their country
and on their fellow citizens –
millions of ready-to-work, but
jobless youth roaming the streets,
fathers and mothers watching
their children go to bed hungry
each night, mothers watching
their children die in their laps
due to poverty and non-existent
healthcare, darkness across the
land at nights and artisans out of
work due to no electric power
supply, children out of school
due to poverty, no access to
portable water, dilapidated
school buildings and substandard
education, run-away
inflation and tumbling Naira.
The list of damages is endless.
The opportunity cost of
corruption in our public service
is humongous; as such, it
will be quite difficult for any
country to survive with such
unfathomable level of stealing
and breach of public trust.
Today, people freely and
proudly enjoy their loot in
public glare with no shame and
consequence whatsoever. As is
well-known, impunity is the
biggest driver of lawlessness.
The difference between Nigeria
and any other serious nation is
that in Nigeria, laws are obeyed
strictly out of fear of God, in
contrast with serious nations,
where laws are obeyed out of
fear of the consequences of
breaking the law. Nigeria needs
the latter to survive.
At some point, we have to
begin to get serious about
fighting corruption in our
country. And this begins with
setting up systems that stop
corruption in its tracks as
well as ensuring that treasury
looters are held accountable
and maximally punished.
Dr. Ukah lives in the United
States.


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