By Rev. Fr. Ojaje Idoko
There is no doubt that Nigerians are a resilient people. We can adjust to any situation; political, academic, religious, economic and social. It is difficult to break a Nigerian spirit. We can accommodate so much that our memory card became full a long time ago. That is why we forget history quickly. We forget the atrocities of past governments immediately there is a change of government and we begin the talk show of the seeming inadequacies of the government in power. We did it after Shagari’s government was overthrown by the coupists on the last day of 1983. We danced and hailed the government of Buhari but not long, we forgot the pains of the NPN government. We did it when Buhari was overthrown by Ibrahim Babangida, we danced when Buhari left shortly after that we started longing for Buhari. We did it when IBB overstayed and Abacha took over. We started judging Abacha and wished the humane government of IBB stayed. Then Abacha died and the short stay of Abdulsalam didn’t allow for much judgment. Obasanjo came and we said nobody understands Nigeria like Obasanjo. It just took a year before the trouble started. By the time Obasanjo left in 2007, Nigerian could barely wait for him to handover. Then Yar’Adua’s regimes came and it was too slow for us. We wanted a government of action style of Obasanjo. Baba Too Slow” was the name we game him. Then President Jonathan came and it we described his government as one long night of armed robbery. We wanted Yar’Adua back. He was not a thief and was a good man. Nigerians earnestly yearned for a change. Sai Baba rented the air! Now, everyone talks of the good old days of President Jonathan. “Bring back our corruption” some are shouting. Truly our memory card is full.
Our successive leaders understand this much of us Nigerians that is why every one of them treats Nigerians as a thrash. President Olusegun Obasanjo would say of Nigerians, “Na dem toro” “I de Kampe”. He also told us after the attempt at the tenure elongation process failed to sail through in the National Assembly that if he wanted, he would have got the third tenure. President Goodluck Jonathan would tell Nigerians when asked if he would not declare his assets as required by the enabling laws of code of conduct bureau, “I don’t give a damn”. He eventually told us that Nigerians will only appreciate him after he had left the office. They all know that we shall only talk against them when they are in government and that immediately they leave office, we shall forget their misdeeds and begin to idolize them. We are a forgiving and forgetting people who concentrate only in the now. We think not of the past nor the future, but the now. If not for that national amnesia many of the people who are complaining of witch hunt today should be walking into the prison by themselves after returning what they took from us. See the facts.
General Sani Abacha was head of state for five years. The ferocity of his itchy fingers in the nation’s coffers we are told was legendry. They are still recovering what has come to be known as the “Abacha loot” from Bank volts overseas and countries where Nigerian’s liquid cash were stashed. There was a plea bargain (whoever came up with that concept must be sued) and his son, the heir to the looted funds was forgiven. What that means is that accept that yes I know I have stolen money from government. Yes I need to bring this money back. Yes, we can go on forever in the courts dragging this case before corrupt judges, (oh not again!). Let us agree that I keep some of the money and return the rest so that we can move on with our lives. Lawyers, I hope I am corrupt, sorry correct? I even heard that the younger Abacha tried becoming governor of Kano state at the last election. Ibrahim Babangida’s cases are no go areas. Who dares the godfather? His Excellency, Governor James Ibori of Delta state was given a cleanbill of corruption health by all the Nigerian courts. He relocated to Dubai from where he was to live and oversee his business concerns all over the world. His family was already comfortably settled in abroad, where they had fresh air, clean and steady water supply, nice environment, well stocked health facilities, good roads, steady electricity power supply, good public transportation system, adequate security provided by the government with the complements of whatever life can offer. Someone in the United Kingdom said something was not right in the Ibori case. The Metropolitan police in UK took it up. The case went back to the courts in UK where the judges were not political appointees and James Ibori has been a prisoner since then. It was Delta State people’s money that was stolen but the people seem not to understand that they have right to the stolen money. Some people in his community protested his arrest saying their son was innocent.
Rev. Fr. Ojaje Idoko
(Director of Pastoral Affairs, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria)
to be Continued Next Edition
We are the Victims of Corruption
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By Rev. Fr. Ojaje Idoko