If Nigeria Must Not Fall!

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BY SIMON REEF MUSA

Even the deaf and blind hear and see that Nigeria is cascading down the gorge of fearsome crisis. Galloping inflation, amidst worrying incapacity of leadership at all levels, is igniting anger among citizens. Just as the Nigerian economy is not responding to measures aimed at pulling it out of the woods, the poor are increasingly finding it difficult to survive. Armageddon seems nearer to us with the passing of each day.

Considering the mass suffering unleashed on citizens, following the removal of oil subsidies, the demons in hell seemed to have relocated to Nigeria; a nation cursed with poor leadership that is made possible through citizenry docility. Embezzlement, an offence in the Nigerian constitution, has now become envious national virtue.

Confidence in the anti-graft agencies has waned over the years as they have become incapable of catching thieves. Public officials that were once accused of theft are being venerated with traditional titles. With money, the dishonourable are cleansed of their sins. The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ola Olukoyede, recently accused his men of collecting money to compromise investigations on public treasury looters. When the catcher of the thief agrees to collaborate with the felon, then the chances of recovering stolen wealth is diminished. Little wonder, corruption has continued to be the albatross of our nation.

Considering reports of events in the last two weeks or so, the time has come to sound an alarm on the gradual crumbling of our country into the abyss of fragmentation. A new wave of insecurity ripping across our country has claimed hundreds of lives, including monarchs who were previously deemed untouchable. More than any other time in the life of our country, the sword of Damocles hovers over the nation’s skies as our security forces seem to have lost grips.

This week, Citizens throng the streets to protest hunger and deprivations as galloping inflation led to an increase in prices of commodities. While the removal of fuel subsidies has led to unprecedented suffering in the country, the rot in the foreign exchange market has witnessed massive devaluation of the local currency. For a nation that is import-dependent, the devaluation of the naira is a major driver behind spiraling prices of essential commodities.

The court this week, in a case instituted by Chief Femi Falana, SAN, handed down a 7-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to fix prices of commodities, including foods and petrol, in order to stave off further rising prices. No such pricing control measure can succeed under a liberalised economy where citizens have become worshippers of mammon. When a country refuses to reward the honest, but enthroned mediocrity and quest for money as national ethos, then, the collapse of that country becomes only a matter of time.

There was a report this week that a younger brother of the former Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, was arrested by the EFCC over a money laundering case. According to the report, the minister’s younger brother, a deputy director in a federal ministry, was allegedly paid a N8.3 billion-project through his company, but the work was never executed. Going by what politicians have turned our nation into, being in power is not an opportunity to serve, but to loot and empower immediate family members and cronies to the disadvantage of the country.

When perpetrators of corruption are treated with kid gloves, those who believe and act in honesty are endangered and frowned upon by Nigeria’s blemished system that promotes inequality. Criminals who enjoy protection of a defective system do cast long shadows on national growth. For as long as our systems are in love with perpetrators of corruption, so long will our dreams for national development continue to be a nightmare.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is now faced with an enormous task of retrieving the country from economic buccaneers whose only vision is to hold down the nation for their pecuniary interests. During Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years of misadventure in governance, appointments into various executive positions in government parastatals, among others, were sold in the market. If people had to bribe their ways into positions, why blame them if they resorted to underhand dealings to recover their investments?

Corruption is at the crux of Nigeria’s problems. Recurring problems of insecurity and the attendant economic challenges are all fallouts of corruption. Retrieving this nation from the jaws of insecurity perpetrated by non-state can only be realistic through a frontal battle against corruption. Acts of corruption may not be completely eliminated, but there should be consequences for those who violate the rules to game the system. If corruption is dealt with, punitive measures; it will go a long to serve as a deterrent to others who may be lured into stealing.

Nigeria can never move an inch forward without tackling the corroding level of corruption. Fraud now provides oxygen for the survival of the cursed system called Nigeria. Any nation that embraces corruption does not encourage love for the country. President Tinubu knew Nigeria’s problems even before he was elected. He offered – some say forced – himself for service. He should just cleanse the Augean stable called Nigeria. That is the only way President Tinubu can halt our nation’s drift into the abyss of disintegration. During the turn of President Tinubu, may Nigeria not fall!

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