The collapse of phantom integrity

The collapse of phantom integrity

Friday, July 17, 2020 2:04 pm

Sylvester Asoya

Sylvester Asoya

In 1999 when Nigeria began this democratic journey to nowhere, some people had high hopes of winning the war against inept leadership and clannishness. At the time, even with the wounds still fresh from the battles with the military, Nigerians were ready to put their troubled past behind. They wanted a country that would work for all, irrespective of tribe or tongue. But the toxic politics of the Peoples Democratic Party, the inheritor of our collective struggle, and the inability of politicians to innovate even under the right circumstances, dashed our hopes.

So, six years ago, some ‘smart’ guys in a dubious political alliance, came together and sold integrity and progressiveness to their anxious and unsuspecting country men and women who desperately wanted change. Naturally, Nigerians bought the big lie called ‘change’, promoted by the All Progressives Congress, APC. But the crushing part of the sad story of ‘change’ is that life today in Nigeria is worse than six years ago. More people now live in extreme poverty; depression and suicide are rife in today’s Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the issue of corruption which the APC promised to tackle has crippled our capacity to think. The APC also failed in its promise to secure Nigeria. Today, bandits are in charge of more territories than yesterday. More Nigerians are kidnapped and killed on a daily basis in 2020 than in 2015, and governments at all levels are performing poorly. This is the portrait of a party that promised change.

These are the consequences of barefaced lies. I am gladdened that some of the bearers of that false integrity tale of 2015 are now stranded. As we already know, many of them cannot even manage their respective families, yet they were entrusted with the serious task of running a complex country like Nigeria. In fact, Nigerians deserve an unreserved apology from the APC for the party’s misleading account of its capacity to lead.

Could we ever have imagined the on-going scandal and lack of ability in important government ministries and agencies like the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Niger Delta Development Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC? How about the primitive struggle for power and the regular clash of interest in high places?

To understand Nigeria and the culture of treasury looting, you must be colour blind. Look at the principal actors in the scandal rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission; is that gathering not a rainbow coalition? So, where is the honesty and strong moral principles that the APC sold? The disgusting part is that even some characters who were part of our decadent past under the PDP are now on the same podium with garrulous APC members who shout the most about the years eaten by locusts.

Anyone who wants to see a sneak peek of Nigeria’s bleak future should ask questions about our recruitment procedure in the public service and how public jobs are filled.
Recently, a member of the House of Representatives cried out over the problem of political connections in public employment and how people pay as much as 3 million naira for a job that may never come. According to him, the saddest part of this horror tale is the trader or middleman. “If you know the caliber of people involved in the sale, you will not be ashamed to weep in a marketplace”. Yet, we are operating on integrity and hoping to produce public administrators like Philip Asiodu, Simeon Adebo, Allison Ayida and Ahmed Joda through this fraud?

Where is the integrity in hiring a fellow like Ibrahim Magu who was rejected twice by the last Senate based on a damning report it received? How about Godswill Akpabio, the controversial and talkative two-time governor of Akwa Ibom State and a former senator who was a founding member of PDP? So, Akpabio who did not only keep watch over PDP’s sacristy but also served as altar boy in the chapel where everything was purportedly shared for 16 years, is also among the prophets?

If integrity is essentially the quality of being straightforward and just with strong moral principles, then why are appointments skewed in favour of a particular part of Nigeria? The question is: how far can these bearers of fake integrity story go with their incompetence, undisguised nepotism and recklessness in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria?

But the chickens are gradually coming home to roost. Everyone is now discontented and edgy on account of our realities. In fact, some people are beginning to suffer from what psychologists call boomerang effect. Unfortunately, in this shared misery, there are no chances of renewed hope.

Nevertheless, since Nigeria is now a big theatre of endless absurdities, I would like to recommend for our reading pleasure, Waiting for Godot, a two-act play written by Samuel Beckett, the great Irish playwright of pessimism and despair. A towering figure of the post World War 11 absurdist writing, Beckett whose works are harsh and deeply gloomy, violates every rule of the theatre fundamentally to convey the illogical nature of actuality. It is important to note that his realities during the war and the post war period, inspired pessimistic themes. Yet, these writings managed to change the politics and economics of Europe and even the world with works like his most famous, Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, Endgame, Watt, The Unnamable, Malone Dies and others that have endured.

Indeed, nothing captures our country’s character today like the theatre of Beckett. Billie Whitelaw, an actor, says that Beckett’s “work articulates a feeling as opposed to an idea, the feeling of thinking and being alive. That he did it with warmth, profound sadness, fluent silence and shattering, spluttering humour, creating some of the most moving moments that you will ever experience in a theatre, is testimony to his greatness as a writer”. In my view, what strikes the most in Whitelaw’s brilliant review of Beckett’s works is “the feeling of thinking and being alive”. Is thinking still taking place in Nigeria today?

If you really want to know how alienated and naive people in this regime of change are, read Buhari & South East: Arthur Eze Nails It, an article inspired by the private visit of a businessman to Aso Rock. Truly, power intoxicates. Power can also make one irrational and forgetful. If I may ask, how did this August visitor in July, nail it? I am sure this visitor spoke for himself and his big business interests and not for his people. Maybe we should remind this presidential spokesperson that leadership is responsibility, not raw power. By blackmailing and demanding unconditional support for President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC from the people of South East, he went outside his official duties as an appointee. Let it be understood that at all times, we must remember the fact that freedom of choice remains an important component of democracy; anyone is free to belong to any political party of his or her choice. After all, in 1999, All Peoples Party, APP and Alliance for Democracy, AD existed side by side with PDP and no presidential aide bullied people from the zones where they existed.

Yet, on a cloudy day like this, Nigerians can still chase away the gathering darkness because we are a big and open country. The siege yesterday on the premises of Joi Nunieh, former acting Managing Director of NDDC saddened me. The development also showed that we are running out of time to save Nigeria. We cannot afford to leave our affairs in the hands of politicians in search of fortunes at all costs. We can actually take full advantage of Nigeria’s size, energy, openness and hope to create real change. We must work together now to take back our country from these marauders or increase the risk of total failure. Enough is enough!

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