RAGING AND DEADLIER THAN COVID-19
The Year 2020 has been inundated with several peculiar activities that seem to earn it the title of the “most dramatic year” of the decade. Plagued with prolonged ASUU strike, protests of different categories (#ENDSARS, missing penis, elderly in Calabar for Pension), accelerated rise in deaths and bandits attacks, incessant fuel price adjustments, unabated rape incidents and the most worrisome COVID-19 virus, one will believe that no other incident can be worse than the aforementioned. Yet, there is an unabated raging and deadlier virus worse than COVID-19 dominant and subtly killing the masses silently.
Having revamped, renovated and revitalized the health sector to a manageable degree, schools and boundaries ready to be shut at the least notice and all hands on deck in the sustenance of COVID-19 awareness and guide against a second wave, the question on all lips then will be: what can be a deadlier virus worse than COVID-19 virus with minimal publicity?
The reason for the seemingly minimal publicity is clear, since we abandoned the substance to pursue shadows, we failed to treat and subdue the internal, raging deadly virus innate in the average Nigerian in pursuit of the external virus. Little wonder, not much progress has been recorded in the cure for the external virus (COVID-19) due to the fact that it has been suppressed by the internal virus. The popular adage has it that charity begins at home. To make progress with the external is only feasible with an order a priori established with the internal, for how can a sickly plant bear healthy fruit?
Every average Nigerian citizen seems to have asymptomatic symptoms of corruption, which only materializes when vested with money and power. Yes, the raging and deadlier virus worse than COVID-19 inherent in eight out of every ten Nigeria is CORRUPTION.
The use of public funds, instruments or resources of the government by a person or group of persons for their personal aggrandizement is known as corruption. It is a persistent leech that has sucked the blood of several country’s development and progress. It has become a raging virus handed down from one government to another, from the Military to Democracy that it has become a neglected norm that cripples a Nation, with the unabated cries of the suffering masses left to the whirlwinds.
Though corruption is a universal issue, with tentacles spread across the globe, the focus of this analysis is on the Nigerian Government.
In defining corruption, Okunrimeta and Alabi in 2014, describe it as an occurrence that takes place with the weakening of the moral fabrics, thereby allowing the celebration by all and sundry the vices of materialism, glorification and approbation of ill-gotten wealth, avarice and shortcut to affluence, at the expense of honesty, commitment, hard work, patriotism, and selfless devotion which ought to constitute any Nation’s pride.
From Transparency International to all corruption indices, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous Countries continued from days of its Independence continues to wallow deep into the warp grasp of corruption. Hence, why it has not only remained developing, despite being endowed with rich natural resources; but also cripples daily with infrastructural and economic decay.
As a result of the Nation’s further deteriorating journey into the dark bottomless abyss, the current dispensation had a smooth ride into power in 2015 with the campaign strategy of improving the security environment and reviving the fight against corruption. The vigour exhibited by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation during Arise TV December 31, 2019, when he described the mantra of the current dispensation on corruption war as successful ascribing it to be total, comprehensive, dispassionate and devoid of any political sentiment and ethnic inclination, where no stone will be left unturned renewed the failing hope of the masses in a better Nigeria.
However, today, the elites will rather troop out of the country as a second class citizen, while the average graduate will be exhilarated to do menial jobs in a foreign land as long as he is privileged with a visa or citizenship, than remaining in a Country where titles of PhD, Masters, and professional degree holders can barely fetch them a take-home allowance that would reach home.
CURRENT CORRUPTION ANALYSIS
During the Arise TV morning show of November 15, 2020, Dele Farotimi in comparing corruption of the 1960s to present day corruption likened the former corruption to a toddler struggling to walk to the present day voracious, self-centred winged monster that is not only of consuming the masses present and future food, but also ready to consume the masses themselves in its insatiable appetite to abrogate power to itself in perpetuity.
Incidences from the current happenings to recent past activities abound to support the above claim.
In order to eschew unity amongst youths who were fighting the rot in the system through the #ENDSARS campaign, and superimpose it with anarchy, hoodlums were paid to rouse confusion amidst a peaceful protest. When all attempted machinery still failed, (in Fela’s words) the government unleashed “unknown soldiers” to shoot unarmed, peaceful protesters who with their National Flag were seated and singing the National Anthem. Their offence: demand for better government and uphold the rights of the Nigerian citizen in a democratically elected government.
As if the above scenario is not gruesome enough, the Head, Research, Strategy and Programme, ACT and Anti-corruption crusader, Mr Dele Farotimi has ascribed to NDDC as a cesspool of corruption. Due to the despondency that was rife in the Niger-Delta area, NDDC was set up in the Year 2000 to manage and bring back glamour and fruitfulness to the lives of the citizens in the Niger-Delta location. However, twenty years down the line, with the establishment of NDDC, fraud instead escalated at an exponential level. In the last 40 years, despite the fact that over 30 trillion naira has been spent to curtail the impact of oil spillage and gas flaring in the area, the suffering of the inhabitants have skyrocketed with massive pollution of air, land, and water being the order of the day that neither does the land yield its produce again nor the fish have the capacity to survive in the polluted water. The climax of the inhabitants’ deplorable environment is that the Niger-Delta citizens have no alternative than to drink the same water where they excreta, according to Mr Dele Farotimi.
While yet reminiscing the above examples, the Nigerian Immigration’s (one of the top five revenue arms of the Country) unbridled corruption that is worsening insecurity in the Country cannot be overlooked. Some of the allegations ascribed to the Nigerian Immigration Service as mentioned by Daniel Makolo, an ex-staff and Immigration Lawyer on Arise News July 9, 2020 morning show states that amongst others, the abysmal welfare of the Immigration Officers makes them susceptible to collecting peanut change at the borders to let in “aliens'' into the Country. These aliens infiltrate the Northern region as terrorists, and in other parts of the Nation, they engage in other activities detrimental to the lives and properties of the Nigerian citizens.
The above examples, though a surface scratch, suffice to drive home the glaring significance of the internal raging and deadly virus plaguing the progress of the Nation that has been left unattended in the pursuit of an external plague of manageable magnitude.
Relating the corruption virus to the COVID-19 and its workable remedy thereof, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s books come to mind. She has written on: “Reforming the unreformable” and “To beat COVID 19, Governments have to open up”, both published on Bloomberg. We would recall that the current WTO Candidate said: “I successfully tackled corruption during Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan dispensation and saved the Country several billions of dollars”. She is emphatic that every good leader worthy of emulation should be transparent and accountable, with all tenders and contracts awarded made public. During her tenure in Nigeria Government, she stated that she saw to a monthly publication in the Nigeria dailies of States' allocation, as to make them answerable to the citizens on how such funds were spent. She made this statement in the wake of procurement scandals, wondering how people could be heartless enough to engage in self-enrichment to the detriment of a sick Nation where irreparable loss of lives can be prevented if hoarders are escalated and penalized and all tenders made open. The aftermath of #ENDSARS protest brought to limelight the several warehouses that were hoarded with COVID-19 palliatives, while the masses who obliged the no movement order imposed by the Government languished in hunger, that deteriorated their health much faster than the virus itself.
For a government capable of engaging in self-enrichment with even COVID-19 palliatives, in addition to other unbudgeted and unaccounted expenditure, while the Nation suffers decay of infrastructure, Educational degradation, dearth of public utilities, economic rot and orchestrated loss of lives and property, you will therefore agree that unabated corruption constitutes a raging and deadlier virus worse than COVID-19, and hence, needs more attention than the virus itself.