Melaye: Dining with tigers
Nigeria’s 56th Independence celebration has come and gone with eminent personalities airing their views on how far the nation has come, its state and the possible projections for the future. The unenviable and avoidable recession the country has been embroiled in has taken centre stage in the scheme of things.
One prominent feature of the period was Senator Dino Melaye’s call on the Buhari-led government to give a six-month moratorium for the suspects in misappropriation of government funds in the past administration to return the funds, the expiration of which would see the full weight of the law coming down hard on them.
In analyzing this call in its full essence, it would be pertinent to put all the facts on the table, from the immediate to the remote causes, complete with the players and actors who performed in the script that put the nation in this economic coma. For starters, it would be necessary to note that while the hue and cry has been that the present administration has done nothing but cry wolf over the mistakes of the past one, the truth cannot but be far from the fact that the erstwhile administration was on all counts unhelpful to the saga we unfortunately found ourselves in. It is apparent that the policies of the present government aggravated the already inflamed economy and threw the populace in the low it currently is in.
It is without doubt that the nation suffered gross perfidy in the past government. But it would also be meaningful to chase this sin in a strategic manner as opposed to the hard formula, in a bid to speedily come to the rescue of a distraught economy and people. To this end, the funds should be the actual focus of the anti-corruption fight, and Melaye’s recommendation on many counts may possess some amount of merit.
First, the nation is groaning under a grinding recession that does not seem to offer any tangibilities of hope in sight, with businesses and interests packing up faster than the speed of gravity, with the attendant ripple effects spiraling nearly out of control. Funds are immediately needed to not just implement the budget, but to be immediately injected into the system for a form of economic first aid. This is one of the reasons the senator’s recommendation would hold some water. But the truth is that the submission is like a basket out of a river, in present-day Nigeria, for a couple of reasons.
First, the culprits in this massive corruption have to be scanned and their personalities analysed. These are people who are considered untouchables. Secondly, such a call coming at this time of our lives reeks so much of helplessness on the part of government, and frustration at the futility of their efforts to recover these monies. As such these individuals are among the people who coined the laws under which the constitution is enshrined, and can perceive the body language of the government by this call, and would further be emboldened and hardened instead of persuaded to return the country’s commonwealth.
These individuals would always of course have the funds to hire the smartest lawyers to art their way out of gaol’s way, bribe their way through institutions, pay hired crowds in the name of civil rights groups to stage protests on how one human right of someone is being trampled upon, and so many other things which will only end up making a tomfoolery of the entire drive and impoverishing the hapless masses all the more.
The way out would be a holistic strengthening of the institutions, massive enlightenment campaign of the definition of this monster called corruption, and a complete review of the laws that govern us. Until this is done, we would just be involved in a life-size and long-haul rigmarole; sweating without working, motion without movement.
On the flipside though, it could be time for the Almighty to do what He is known for; He might just touch hearts devoid of human effort or persuasion and the money would be returned, on the aegis of this call. The Nigerian people deserve respite, however, and whichever way it comes.
Ogbonna Nnaemeka Henry can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org