Thursday, 16 October 2014

Corruption Must Not Kill Nigeria

Corruption Must Not Kill Nigeria
Sometime a little over two years ago in Kaduna, the Kukah Centre, then known as the Centre for Faith and Public Policy, had, as guest at one of its roundtables the second republic governor of Kaduna state, Alh Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa. The subject of discussion was the whole issue of a confab and northern Nigeria; that was when the debate about whether or not to hold a confab to iron out some issues about the Nigerian nationhood journey was raging on. At that time, there were strident calls mostly from the south, especially the South-West, for a conference with equal suspicion from the north and, hence, reticence. The thinking among many northern elements at the time was that those calling for the confab were pursuing a hidden agenda that will lead to the disintegration of the country. Balarabe Musa was probably the lone northerner that joined voices with southerners in the pro-confab calls; therefore, he was always seen at fora in Lagos and other such places where the Wole Soyinkas and other proponents converged to reiterate their position.
The reason for inviting the elder statesman as speaker to the roundtable was for him to share his thoughts with others on the confab thing; especially being a visible northerner in the PRONACO circles. He did justice to the subject, especially as it pertained to his position in support of a confab. During time for questions and answers, someone raised the question bugging many quarters in the north as to whether a confab was not a hidden and calculated agenda to break up Nigeria, especially in the light of the threats that the Boko Haram sect had come to pose to the nation. Balarabe Musa’s response to the question was most illuminating, and that is the crux of this piece today. He said that there is no insurrection, be it Boko Haram or the Niger-Delta militancy or even the OPC thing, has the capacity to break up the country, and he marshaled his argument very poignantly. He ended up saying, in very emphatic terms, that the only thing capable of disintegrating this entity called Nigeria is nothing but CORRUPTION.
With the declaration last year May of emergency rule in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, Nigeria effectively declared war on the Boko Haram insurgents. At the beginning, very good progress seemed to have been recorded with much encomiums showered on the armed forces of the nation, however, things suddenly began to deteriorate again and it now seems as though the military has not even gone in there yet, given the spate and deadliness of the group’s attack. It has now come out in the open that elements in the high command of the military are in connivance with the insurgents and it is clear that is not simply for reasons of ideology but more for personal and financial gains.
Before now, Nigerians would only measuredly talk of corruption in the military either because of ignorance of the reality on ground or because of some unspoken fear that harm could come on them opening ugly cans. Whatever the situation, clearly, the masquerade is being unmasked and people now talk about it very much in the open and the situation of the military is such a travesty. The international community has come into it in the most humiliating of manners for the nation as a whole. The military has had no choice but to be seen to be dealing with corruption within its ranks, probably out of no other way out but to save face. Some Generals are now facing court-marshal.
The prayer is that this becomes a turning point in the life of this nation and that the insurgency is overcome. But a big question remains how civil-military relations will pan out after the foreign troops leave. Surely that hallowed regard for them has been depleted and no one can run away from that. The hope is that the military will see the need not just to purge itself of the huge blight but to be seen to do that; and this should not be done simply because of the global searchlight presently on the nation but as a matter of necessity, if not for any reason, to restore themselves to back to dignity.
But surely, corruption is breaking this country up.

Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper; June 5, 2014

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