The Guardian
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Instead of corruption, let’s fight stupidity


The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo

I signed off rudely for two weeks without any prior notice. I am sorry. I was protesting the imperviousness of the Nigerian State. The protest was triggered off by a query by one lousy fellow who accused journalists, including me, of not writing adequately about the ills of society. When I asked him to state just one societal ill that had not been adequately reported in the media, he said: “why haven’t the media reported how much that was spent on keeping President Muhammadu Buhari in a London hospital for 50 days?”

“Is that all?” I retorted. He nodded with the satisfaction of a winner and launched into a sermon of how the media had under performed in critical areas since the advent of Nigeria. I was angry; very angry that is, but gathered enough composure to ask this simple question. “Man, is it the media that is not talking loud enough or it is government and Nigerians that are not listening well enough to understand?”

He was a bit unsettled because he was not expecting me to approach from that angle. He wasn’t even an avid consumer of media content and didn’t have the basis for such sanctimonious posturing. But outside this, what this fellow successfully communicated was that the labour of my hand and brain and many others in my shoes, including the man directly below me on this page, Alabi Williams, had been in vain.

What a damning verdict and who won’t be angry at it? Imagine, he asked why the media was not bringing to the fore the bills incurred from the extended medical vacation of President Buhari but forgot to ask why a nation of 175 million people could not settle for a better candidate than a sickly 73-old man as president in 2015. He pretended to have forgotten that the hospital is the place for all sick and most times aged people and medical bills must be incurred!

You see, it is only in this country that people bring home ants-infested wood from the bush and do not expect lizards to visit. People would cultivate cocoyams at planting season and when they failed to reap yams at harvest, they would turn around to ask innocent media practitioners why it was so. What do you call that? Stupidity, to put it mildly, and insanity to put it harshly!

Soon, there will be another opportunity to take stocks and review strategy. Specifically, if in choosing a new tenant for Aso Rock Villa in 2019, we decide to settle for a man who has deep affinity with VSOPs, as it was rumoured about Goodluck Jonathan, and the fellow chooses to spend a chunk of the foreign reserves to import a brand of brandy called Louis XXIV, which sells for about one million naira for a bottle of 75cl, we should not be heard complaining thereafter.

Maybe I should this. I had encountered this brandy at a shop in Abuja with the price tag on it. While I was still trying to make some meaning out of it all, one absent-minded shopper shoved me in the direction of the rack where the bottle was placed. My heart skipped severally as I made the best efforts to resist crashing into the rack. The fellow said “sorry.” I told him that “sorry” would have been grossly insufficient if it had happened. “What would have happened?” he asked foolishly. I pointed at the bottle sitting majestically on the rack. Upon full realization, he instinctively made the Cross sign and fled the spot as quickly as possible.

Sorry for the digression. But Louis XXIV is part of the demand for spirits in Nigeria where the best the local production capacity can deliver is ogogoro. I am saying here that we insist, almost like mad people, on rights and privileges without accountability. Does this have to do with our belief in miracles? As you very well know, it is only in Nigeria that people laze about all week from Monday till Saturday and then enter churches on Sunday to “claim my millions in Jesus name” in response to proclamations of impending prosperity by so-called men of God.

It is very annoying and I had had to sign off never to resume again until we start being accountable. But a delegation of elder statesmen from all the geo-political zones had intervened last week to assuage my anger and I am resuming today. However, I shall be doing monitoring and evaluation to see if Nigerians have changed from being free to contributory eaters. People make good food and then hope to eat very well. You don’t sit to eat well before making good food.

Having said this, I am happy to announce that there is a good side to my protest. While on hibernation, I had a revelation from heaven. I am very serious about this. God revealed to me that corruption is not the problem in Nigeria. It sounded strange and I was almost tempted to open a debate with God but He did something very quickly. He showed me the video of a man struggling for almost 60 years to build a high-rise on beach sand. Nothing was adding up to a definite structure. “What do you call this?” “Stupidity my God!” “You have answered rightly my child. Now, go ye and say to Nigerians to fight stupidity instead of corruption.”

You people will not believe me because I am not a registered General Overseer (GO). But I have done my part by saying it as it was revealed. For instance, God said it is not corruption to have about 30 able-body men feed on the resources of only six men. He said, it is absolute stupidity and even more so, when the 30 men dream big about robust growth and sustainability based on this feeding arrangement. He said that in the material world, it is not corruption to deny verifiable evidences of the senses and run on hopes of promised wonders and signs during political recruitment. “It is stupidity” He thundered.

Key decisions and events in our national life were flashed and I started on my own to underscore the depth of stupidity that has attended nation building in Nigeria since independence. I could understand for instance that, it is stupidity to build a thermal station outside a gas-producing zone and pay heavily for a secondary contract to lay pipes to connect gas to the station and pay heavily still to ethnic warlords to protect the pipes from being destroyed by vandals. It is stupidity to create a Petroleum Equalization Fund that has failed to equalize petroleum prices but still funded to operate.

It is stupidity to build a steel complex in coastal Warri and spend even higher amount to build a rail line from the source of iron ore deposits hundreds of kilometers away in Itakpe, Kogi State to feed the plant in Delta State. Just as it is also stupidity to site a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in some location in Ondo State and then hope to siphon the feeding element from gas fields in Delta State. It is stupidity to make Nigerian ports unattractive to do business and then turn around to empower the Custom Service to fight smuggling. Stupidity to have only one airport in the nation’s capital and wait till it was completely dilapidated and then closed it for six weeks to effect repairs.

There are a lot more stupid things that have been done and are still being done. The latest is a proposal to establish a development bank to develop the Niger Delta. This shall be in addition to already existing agencies and channels such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Niger Delta Ministry, Amnesty Programme and 13 per cent derivation tasked with the development of the region. Stupid! Was a development bank created to build Abuja or any part of Nigeria for that matter? It is the height of stupidity to do advocacy when what is required is intervention.

God does not lie. He told me that corruption shall die without a gun shot from EFCC if we rally and kill stupidity.

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