African Outlook Online


Trekking To Teary Terminal

Trekking To Teary Terminal


By Femi Akintunde-Johnson, Lagos

It is illogical to pattern your democracy after established citadels of rule of law like Britain and USA; and then refuse to operate your laws - the grundnorm of democratic behavior - in the same manner as those older sovereigns.

How on earth will President Barrack Obama or Prime Minister David Cameron keep mute when a major national newspaper publishes its own investigation with a very damning revelation that five trillion (in any currency) has vanished into non-governmental holes and fiefdoms, under his watch?


I will imagine that spokesmen and talking-heads would be buzzing around the White House and Downing Street, disputing figures and dousing fire tendrils capable of permanently castrating the positive public perception of their principals. Of course, heads will roll all across the corridors of power; and where shame and punishment are not therapeutic enough, incidents of suicides and exiles would be part of the footnotes of such disgraceful spectacle. Five trillion naira! Surely, hell will break loose, somewhere!!


But not in Nigeria! To our greatest shame, our rulers and tinkers of our treasury appear to be immune to shame and perfidy. That Punch newspaper headline few weeks ago would have toppled a government in any sane environment… if indeed the revelation is no empty air, we would have witnessed transformational cleansing of the Augean stable - with grateful compatriots jumping on these allegations, from a credible news organ, to further investigate, prosecute, and start some sort of retributive house-cleaning. N5 trillion (about US$32billion) is not exactly a pittance! As Nasir el-Rufai recently pointed out, that money could build more than 40 brand new modular oil refineries! Or enough roads to double the entire current dilapidated major road networks in Nigeria!!


Hello… welcome back from the dream. To my knowledge, not a whimper has been heard from the Nigerian presidency. No stir… no air of bewilderment nor even exasperation at the brazen, majestic stroll of corruption across the canvass of our nationhood. And we call this a country - a federal union of developing states peopled by warm-blooded human beings? I have my doubts! About this Nigeria, I have my fears… I have my worry that this nation is calmly and foolishly treading the same odious footsteps of the headless, rudderless and prostrate mis-governance of former President Shehu Shagari.


Remember that insufferable regime of rogues led by a dovish misbegotten conservative who was clinically swept off the stage by some draconian dry-cheeks in military khaki? While no one is advocating the return of equally corrupt military adventurers in direct governance of Nigeria, it is part of our patriotic obligation to warn, loudly, that those same mistakes and acts of irresponsibility are now competing vigorously with mass unemployment, spiteful disregard for human lives and wicked, self-aggrandizing policies… the very ingredients that had led us to many coups in the short 52 years of this country’s existence.


Our politicians cannot behave in crass disdain of business best practices and good governance; our rulers cannot pilfer and fritter the wealth of the nation without even a pretended duty of care over the plight of the poor majority… Our administrators cannot keep spending money as if cursed from birth with bouts of profligacy… Our “first ladies” cannot go around the world disgracing our womanhood with wads of stolen currencies tucked inside their balooning wrappers and bou-bous…


The children of the filthy rich treasury-looters cannot flood our campuses with tons of cash to promote cheap sex, sleaze and cultism as distinct regular fare… Our religious men and women cannot continue to advertise shamelessly their profoundly profitable fraternity with sin-drenched, artful-dodger business moguls and their looter-leader, political godfathers… All these shimmering nonsense and carefree pillaging cannot go on and on, in the anguished faces of the famished, voiceless and fast depreciating common people of Nigeria, in their hopeless millions, and we still hope and wish that something tragic, something drastic, something unpleasant, but sorely inescapable, will not spring up.


We live in a fool’s paradise. We kid ourselves incessantly. In any case, why should the ordinary Nigerian worry or care what sort of intervention, human or divine, happens to put a stop to the ongoing pageant of madness? Apart from the arrowheads of this current contours of corruption in high and low palaces, and their acolytes, bag-men and minions, the vast majority of Nigerians have no portion or connection to this civilian misrule - all across the nation (without exception). So who will cry for this prodigal political class when their winter arrives? Who will protest on the streets when their convoy of conscienceless consumption is chased off the roads? Who will weep for lost thrones of incessant greed and budgetary abracadabraists?


Surely, a day shall come when the silent majority will roar in grave disapproval of the despicable acts of vagabonds in power and kidnappers of their common wealth. Surely, the days are not too far away that the so-called ‘wishful thinking’ denizens of the Nigerian wilderness will look back and sigh at how liberated orphans, former socialists, defunct mammon worshipers had misused opportunities to redefine and reset the sinews, bones and veins of this nation with a great potential to lead the continent and indeed join arms with other world powers in all that is good, noble and worthy.


May it not be said of our country that the least prepared; the least endowed; the least disciplined; the least remarkable now occupy and manipulate the heights of our control-tower; and we are unable to get them to come down to earth.


Such a testament, wherever it holds sway, will lure the occupants of such territory to toy with self-demolition; they may see radiance in self-destruction; they will therefore give consideration to desperate measures; lives will mean nothing; ambitions will befuddle senses, and madness will walk boldly on the streets. Is that a frame snatched from a writer’s imagination? Certainly not. It could be a place called Nigeria… our very own Dear Country.


Before you say “God forbid”, pick the next Nigerian newspaper… browse the blatant blogs and websites of Nigeria-centric attrition, and you’ll be amazed how deep down your country has gone in the self-appointed trek to tear-jerking terminal.


What a pity!


Is this the time to feast and dance?

What do you make of a country whose conquerors think of allocating a staggering 2.2b naira to erect a new banquet hall inside the presidential precincts, while people are routinely bombed out of houses of worship amidst abject absence of security or protection? Where thousands perish weekly on corrugated highways suffering mindless neglect...? Yet, one of the priorities of this government is to build a house of feasting and debauchery, in obvious salute to the gods of nihilism and opportunism...


Do they really know where the shoes are pinching most spite of their shoeless history of hazardous childhood? How did we get to this point where government people are so far removed from the common pains and wants of the vast majority, and still pretend to speak and work for them?


How do they go to bed and sleep soundly with the daily parade of billions and trillions(?) reportedly walking into thin air - supposedly missing, outrightly stolen, or stylishly misappropriated by one organ of government or the other?


Where do they get the strength to still walk boldly across the landscape of our collective numbness and long-suffering acquiescence, in soiled kaftan of ill-gotten wealth and failed soap box promises?


How do we as a people gather the strength not to run ‘mental’, and hack at these gangsters with a perplexing all-conquering mentality? Why do Nigerians wallow silently and absent-mindedly in excruciating poverty while few miscreants swallow wholly all the juicy, and even ripening fruits, still hanging on the unfortunate Nigerian tree? Who cursed us?!


Femi Akintunde-Johnson (Writer, Journalist & Author); can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.