Lest We Forget

a commentary on socio-political developments and institutional policies

Teacher, Don’t Teach Me Nonsense

It was the vintage Fela Anikulapo Kuti in his characteristic anti-establishmentalism that likened government, in one of his timeless musical releases, to a teacher that was trying to teach (him) nonsense. He ended by telling off the teacher, ostensibly Government, that he and the teacher were not in the same category (class). In other words, that student (Fela) was definitely more knowledgeable, more enlightened, better educated and well informed than the teacher. Of course it takes only a student who reads and studies beyond the resrictive ambit of the curricular prescriptions to know when a teacher is digressing or, in fact, teaching utter nonsense. And such students are we, the people of Nigeria. We are not in the same category or class with our teacher, the government and her officials, being better enlightened and world-wiser than they know or think.

The other day, it was the Chairman of ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, that was trying to teach us what the Abami Eda would call “Babanla Nonsense”. Trying to reprogramme our minds and reset our thinking, Mr. Nta castigated us as nincompoops and dimwits for thinking that stealing public funds is corruption. “Stealing is not corruption” he thundered at us when a delegation from the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) visited the Commission in Abuja. (Punch Newspaper, Monday May 19, 2014 pp 3). I am sure the august guests must have been shocked beyond belief. For the confirmation of your knowledge, ICPC is Independent Corrupt Practices Commission on whose shoulder rests the onerous duty of stamping out corruption in Nigeria through the diligent prosecution of offenders. By the way, what do government officials think we are? A bunch of mongoloid idiots who can have any form of thrash or bunkum forced down their throats helplessly?

If Mr. Ekpo Nta does not understand his job, he should get out of the way instead of making us a laughing stock in the commity of nations. Can you imagine? A chairman of an antigraft Commission who cannot see a nexus between the corruption of the mind and the predilection to steal or embezzle government fund is unfit to head such agency! Probably, it is pardonable for a junior officer in the Commission to regurgitate such putrid and “whaat?!” kind of offensive odour, but not the Chairman who is supposedly the custodian of the policy thrusts and directions of the agency. Oh my God! Unfortunately, this Mr. Nta who, I think, would have been better off as Chairman of NTA, at least for the symbolism of his name is even dragging our educational system in the mud of his corrupt and twisted logic.   Hear him “Stealing is erroneously reported as corruption. We must go back to what we were taught at school to show that there are educated people in Nigeria. We must address issues as we were taught in school to do.”

Excuse me! First of all, as the Chairman of the Commission has he gone through the Act establishing the Commission? If yes, does he understand fully the work of the Commission? If yes, are there sections of the ICPC Act that are not in consonance with his own personal perception of what corruption is? If the answer is also in the affirmative, then the question is: What is he still doing there? If on the other hand there is, in spite of that divergence of perception between him and the Act, whose interest is his Chairmanship of the Commission supposed to serve? His own interest? The Commission’s interest? Now, if he is propagating an idea or a perception that is strange to and unaccommodated by the Act, whose interest is he serving? Clearly, he is no longer serving the interest of the Commission which is an embodiment of the interest of the nation.  

Secondly, how were they taught in school to address issues?  And by the way, which school was Mr. Nta talking about? Is it primary, secondary or tertiary? Or probably law school?  If the Chairman does not understand the law of cause and effect that is his own burden. If he cannot see elements of yellow inside the green colour of the flag it is not because he is blind. Rather it is due to the inadequacy of his knowledge.  As far as we know, a corrupt mind will take undue advantage of his position to enrich himself. He will use his position to corner the commonwealth. Institutional votes would be channelled into private pockets. He will deny the public its due service to his own pecuniary advantage.  He will embezzle funds that are allocated for certain purchases or purposes. Pension funds will dissappear through sleaze. There will be inappropriate and inexplicable virement of budgetary votes. In fact budget implementation will be frustrated at their desks. And finally, they will manipulate the system to obtain judgement and escape justice.  

In fact the ambit of corruption is so wide and inexhaustible. It’s an octopic phenomenon with poisonous tentacles. Stealing public fund is just one of them. When funds are stolen, projects become stalled, developments grind to a halt, lives become tedious and frustrating. These are the sociopolitical ecology of banditry, brigandage and terrorism.  

With a chairman like Ekpo Nta ICPC does not need another saboteur. Indeed, it is people like Nta that bring the nation into international ridicule and contempt. One can recall with glee the ICPC days of retired Justice Mustapha Akanbi as the pioneer Chairman of the Commission. One will expect that as corruption gets desperate and the people gets indignant, anti-corruption agents will also get more determined. But this is Nigeria! How did Mr Ekpo Nta get the slot in the first instance? Federal character? What are his pedigrees in social crusade? None! Apart from educational qualifications, what other values made him most qualified for the job? By the way how many convictions has the Commission secured since his ascendancy? This is Nigeria. A square peg in a round hole.  

Seriously speaking, there are thousands of Nigerians outside there, whose minds revolt at the mindless corruption and dare-devil sleaze, who will rather die than allow graft to escape. They are there in the North, South,  East and West. But will they be allowed to get the Chairmanship? They have no political connection, although, they care less. Those who have the political connection are grossly unfit for the job. That is the trouble with Nigeria. Our leaders care less whether corporate goals are accomplished or not . As long as they are drawing their salary and the perquisites of office all is well. After all it is government job. Our leaders need to reprogramme their minds to accomplish the goals of their MDAs. They should not try to reprogramme our minds. They should not teach us nonsense.

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