Polscope with eddy Odivwri, email@example.com, 08053069356
Last Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan addressed a session at the Africa Business Roundtable (ABR), in New York, where he gave assurances to the international community about his commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and also growing its economy. He needed to re-assure the investing global public that Nigeria is indeed a suitable investor’s destination. According to President Jonathan, “Let me assure friends of our country and business men interested in investing in Nigeria that Nigeria is committed in giving you the support”. To prove his commitment to his pledge, he drew the attention of his audience to the reforms he has/is carried /carrying out in electoral matters, in which elections have been largely free and less rancorous, even as the ruling party, the PDP has lost some elections under Jonathan’s administration. He lapped it up: “I was ready to lose the election if Nigerians did not want me in 2011. If I was ready to be disgraced out of office to sanitise the system, that is to tell you I am ready to sanitise the system to bring about the investment in our country”. Good talk! With the huge market available for just any kind of business, Nigeria verily deserves all the attention of mega investors. But there is a snag. It is all about the trust factor. Do the investors trust Nigeria and her ways of doing business? Aside the fundamental challenges of infrastructure deficit, wherein companies and even wealthy individuals are like a local government unto themselves, as they provide every facility they need including roads, electricity, water, security, etc, lies the problem of the system.
More than two years now in the presidential saddle, how much sanitization has the Jonathan administration effected on the system? What kind of sanitization was the president talking about? With cobweb of corruption dangling in the middle of the system’s structure, how can Mr President claim to have sanitized the system? If anything, the system is getting more and more fetid. Ever since Ibrahim Lamorde came in as the anti-corruption czar, the EFCC seems set on the reverse gear, or at best on the pause mode. The EFCC has merely been marking time. We now hear of more cases of brazen affront on the system, essentially because those breaching the system know and believe that the system cannot do them anything. Lamorde has not secured any successful prosecution or conviction on the platoon of thieves in government and high places. He just seems to be playing along.
But Jonathan is promising sanitizing the system in far away New York. Mr President sir, check a few indices that will silently reinforce the confidence of the investing public. I will cite just two examples.
Example one— The Siemens Bribe Scandal. This scandal broke over four years ago. The German telecoms giant accepted they bribed Nigerian officials—some former Communication ministers and other top government officials. They named the persons bribed. They accepted guilt and even offered to pay a plea bargain fee of N7billion. Till today, those named in the bribery scandal have been shielded from prosecution. Two of them are former PDP National Chairmen. Does President Jonathan not know this? What has happened to those who compromised the system and took bribe? Is shielding them tantamount to sanitizing the system? Are they too big to be prosecuted?
Are they above the law?
Example Two—This example is like the first: The Halliburton scandal. This American oil servicing company confessed bribing top government officials to win choice contracts in Nigeria. The company was prosecuted in America for engaging in unethical practice, its officials who were involved were jailed. Before they were jailed, they had named their Nigerian collaborators, giving vivid details of the deals they had. Again, till today, none of the named Nigerian collaborators was ever arrested or prosecuted. Many of them are still gallivanting and pushing their bulk in public offices. It was such a smear that one of the former Permanent Secretaries at the time, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu, the elder brother of the present governor of Niger State, who was among those who received bribe from the Halliburton officials, offered to refund the $7.7 million bribe he collected. One of the charges against him had read:
That you, Ibrahim Aliyu, dishonestly received several payments of money in tranches totalling in the aggregate $7.7million not due to you through companies under your control thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 122 of the Penal Code CAP 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.
I do not know if he ever refunded the $7.7 million. But I know he was never convicted.
Mr President should know that those who come to do business in Nigeria have it at the back of their minds that whenever they quote for a job, sometimes as much as 30 or more per cent of the amount is meant to settle those who will approve the project, those who will sign the papers, those who will carry the files and all such warts. Many companies and countries cannot stand this practice. That is why they are pretty circumspect about doing business with Nigeria.
So it is gratifying to hear the President vow to “do everything possible to sanitise the system”. Beyond the euphoria of such gallery talk, we want to see the president really rolling up his sleeves and squaring up with those diminishing the potentials of Nigeria. The start-off point is to hound those known bad guys, haul them into jail, after prosecution and conviction. There are too many crooks parading as top government officials, whilst they are undoing the country. When this is done, investors will know, for sure, that it is no longer business as usual. But if Jonathan returns from New York and carries on with the same manner he’s done, treating corruption with padded kid’s gloves, Nigeria will be allergic to serious investors. QED!
‘My Wife was my Oxygen’
Last week, I wrote a post humous tribute on my mentor, late Dr Chuba Okadigbo, as I have done these past nine years of his passage. As it had always been, my friend and brother, Dr James Okoroma, with whom I am always on the same page as it concerns Okadigbo, will call and hail, “Odiwirrrrrri” (the peculiar way he calls my surname) and commend such articles. And so when I wrote last week’s, I had also expected James to call. But he did not. I was trying to rationalize his silence. That he may have been out of the country or did he not see it? The latter was not likely as he reads voraciously. So why did James ignore the article, was a running concern on my mind. Then on Thursday morning, a text message came in from an unknown number. It announced the burial plan of Mrs Martha Okoroma (wife of Dr James Okoroma) on October 5, 2012 at Akabor, Ahiara Ahiazu Mbaise LGA, Imo State. I screamed in utter shock on reading the sad news. She died in a road accident between Abuja and Lagos last August. I don’t have all the details, but I know James was like a six and seven with his wife. His wife was his other side of a pair of scissors. No wonder when he replied my text, he described the wife as his oxygen. Nothing can be more essential and crucial to the living. Hear how James put it: “My brother, this world is wicked. And life too is unfair. Most times, what one sows, is not what one reaps. My wife was my oxygen. My survival without her is doubtful, unless God intervenes. I need prayers to survive without that woman…..” I hadn’t finished reading the text when tears started dropping down my cheeks. I can imagine the hollow created by the sad loss. Who can question God? Indeed, terrible things do happen to even good men and women, whilst the wicked and the crooked, it seems, escape many troubles and trauma. But who can question God? James Okoroma “Nwogbo” (as I always hailed him), you will have to take heart. God intervention is assured. His Grace will flow manifestly to enable you soldier on. May madam’s gentle soul rest in peace.
Here Comes the 52-Year Old Boy
Did you see the naughty boy who just walked past now with some kind of swagger?
Boy? I did not see any boy.
You mean you didn’t notice that boy spotting green and white wearing a big booth, who just matched past now with the air of hollow importance?
Oh, is it that man you are calling a boy? Does he look like a boy to you? Didn’t you spot some grains of grey hair on his head? That is a full grown adult! Can’t you see? Even his size should tell you he is not in the class of boys. Please be charitable in your descriptions.
You are looking at the husk, I am looking at the substance. Look, that boy you call man , has outgrown the age of boys, but he is yet to warm up to the behavioural nuances of adults. Can’t you see how in the neighbourhood, even younger and weaker boys threaten him? Have you not noticed how he often shivers like a pusillanimous child? Don’t you see how the young and even smaller boys make jest of him? The other day, one of those mischievous boys on the other street called him “Big for nothing“
Look, you should know better. That those boys called him a boy, does not mean you will join them. In fact, you ought to rebuke them. That man is a giant in the making. Of a truth, if you know how much care his parents took in raising him, how they stuffed him full of so many precious virtues and potentials, you will realize that the man is a potential King of the Boys. His parents are late now, but the estate they left him is humongous; and I tell you that if he applies himself properly with the right carriage and conduct, all those silly street boys will be queueing to wash his feet in the years ahead.
Now you got it: “if he applies himself properly…” when is he going to apply himself properly? Don’t forget, you are addressed the way you are dressed. If he refuses to dress his age, he would be addressed as an underage. With all the things you said about his parents, innate virtues, great potentials, what is that boy still doing in this neighbourhood, a community of the lowly?
That man is full grown adult. Not one that should be counseled like a timid school boy. He has sense of self worth. He is 52, for crying out loud! In fact, he should have been a grand pa, several years back.
52? And he yet looks like this? OMG! What happened to him? Who bewitched him? His kindred hate him? Eeee yah, poor boy!!!
Stop calling him a boy! He is a man!
Where is his wife and children?
Must he have wife and children to grow into the status of a man? What if he is not interested in marriage?
That is why he remains boyish. That is why he is still battling with adolescent challenges even at 52. That is why he is not given deep regard by the National Association of Men’s Union (NAMU). That is why he is always looking for who will support him to realize his self esteem from NAMU. But even when NAMU provides all the aids and support, he is never able to manage the favours bestowed on him. He allows his siblings to fritter away the fortunes, while he mopes at them, sometimes overwhelmed. That is why his sibling take advantage of him and continue to undo him. Look, I am willing to address him as a man. But he has a role to play. Let him wake up from his slumber, shrug off the failings of the past and behave like a man.
I agree with you. Let us not denigrate him. He needs all the encouragement to brace up with life’s challenges. I guess I will arrange a psychotherapist to put him through corrective sessions, and by the time he is through, I am sure he will bounce out as a profound man, without doubt, to the cheer of all and sundry, including even those neighbourhood Area Boys.