Dear Son of Man,
My conscience bleeds this morning for my country. Not because of the many upheavals, trials and tribulations we face daily, these could be surmounted by the repositioning of the human mind, but because the country completely wallows in indulgence that conveniently metes out justice as a selective, eyes wide opened sword wielder, rather than the blind lady with an impartial sword, ready to give it to anyone, irrespective of status, class or creed, according to the measurements of the scales in her hand. My conscience actually bleeds because I belong to a nation that has lost its soul. The irredeemable path taken by us as a nation had revealed our recidivism and only a soulful diagnosis and conscientious surgery of the root cause can redirect us from this annihilating path that leads to nothing but perdition.
Just few days ago, the former GMD of NNPC in whose house, nay the house of his uncle, was discovered a mouth-gaping sum of N3Billion in Naira equivalence stashed away as foreign currencies, filed a suit challenging the temporary forfeiture of ”his funds”, stolen funds, and our patrimony! His defense counsel saying the Kano court that gave the order for forfeiture had no jurisdiction to arbitrate on the said case in the first place, the alleged crime having been committed in Kaduna. Need you be surprised? It is just the first salvo in what could become another protracted and self-exerting case of looted funds that never gets the ultimate adjudication it deserves. Eventually, lessons are not learnt, institutions cannot revalidate themselves as corrective systems, where deterrents are served to those who may wish to embark on klepto –voyage once they aspire to positions of trust within the state’s many institutions of power and authority. To think in a sane society that a breach of public trust such as Andrew Yakubu could remorselessly be trying to reverse the forfeiture of stolen funds, enough to cater for some relatively low IGR states, is to say the least of the brazenness with which public officers, the supposed servants of the people, commit crimes with impunity. It also says much about our system, where thefts are categorized on the potentials of their weight. The heavier punishment goes for the less weighty pilfering, and lesser punishment accosts huge stealing. Such disproportionate justice, you would agree with me, is nothing but an open invitation to grand scale looting. Just tell me how on earth, a teenager caught along Mile2 express in Orile, Lagos, apparently for purse-snatching, deserves to be burnt alive in an incendiary fury of a roaring mob, while Yakubu demands to be patted on the back for a job well done? We stand logic on its head here daily, when street urchins caught with stolen mobile phones are either literally dispatched to the world beyond through jungle justices or when fortunate enough to be snatched from the jaws of death by our law enforcement agents, are sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour in some decrepit subhuman cells and government officials who stole billion times the amount stolen by the petty thieves enter into plea bargain or are confined to house arrest. Do you now see why I said we have lost our souls as a nation? My angst lies with the mob for exhibiting miscarriage of justice and wrong channeling of their savage energy. Their energy should be directed towards the politicians who pillage our common inheritance and condemn us and our children yet unborn to perpetual cycles of penury and poverty.
The actions of Yakubu reflect the ways in which our ailing economy is been undermined by treasury looters who stash away looted funds in foreign currencies. Their foot soldiers, the Bureau De Change, further put additional strain on the already distorted Naira to Dollar exchange rate through round tripping and speculations, thereby creating artificial scarcity that the demands for dollars could not meet. Little wonder, the directive from the presidency, after its NEC meeting last week, to the CBN governor to urgently review its forex policies yielded a positive market reaction that saw the naira gain a massive ground on the dollar within few days of the injection of almost half a billion dollars into the market. Other policy redirections that saw the return of the access to Personal Travel Allowance and Business Travel Allowance to Deposit Money Banks coupled with the lift of restrictions on dollar deposits and transfer of same into and from domiciliary accounts leaves the interplay between Naira and dollars to the dictates of market forces. The hoarders had no choice than to flood the market with the hitherto scarce dollars in realisation that the new direction embarked on by the CBN could spell doom for their business. The resultant competition between demand and supply had further ensured the consolidation of the Naira.
Commendable as this initiative by the Presidency is, the citizens are unfazed by such complex jargons. The only language tenable now in the midst of this hunger is a drastic reduction in the prices of essential commodities. How do we achieve this as a nation, when virtually everything we use is imported? Just recently, a concerned Nigerian cried out at the sight of a packaged Garri, labeled to have been imported from India, in one of the shopping malls, where he or she had apparently gone shopping. If a nation regarded as one of the biggest producers of cassava in the world could import Garri, a refined product of cassava, locally prepared and obtainable everywhere, then it says a lot about our culture as a nation. While India had perfected the technology of launching record breaking multi-satellites into the orbit at a go, we only perfected the act of importing basic products from them. We import ridiculous items, from tissue papers to toothpicks, and dot the entire landscape with imported consumer goods till our geographical space becomes a dunghill of foreign products.
The inaction of our leaders have become our albatross as a nation, hence the resultant human capital flight into other more conducive climes. It was in search of this elusive Golden Fleece that some Nigerians were caught in the web of xenophobic attacks by their supposed black brothers in South Africa. If you recall, this is not the first time some unguarded irate mobs would descend on the nationals of other Africa countries under the slightest pretense that their jobs are being stolen by the foreigners. The other time, it was a provincial king who, under the influence of whatever ancestral spirit, gave the order for such brutality. We have seen several other spontaneous reactions cum protests at home in solidarity with the victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, what we are yet to see is a decisive action from the governments of both countries. Much more than reprisals, both countries should stem the tides of hostilities and preach the gospel truth that there is only one race; the human race. If foreigners come to your country take your jobs, that could only mean that your people had trust in the abilities of the foreigners to do the job well and it is a signal for your citizens to acquire skills or resolves to make them more competitive in the labour market. The South Africa government also owes the continent a sense of duty to enlighten their citizens through historical studies to pry open their minds on the different roles those they now persecute all played in their long struggle against apartheid. It should be imparted to them that the freedom they now enjoy were paid for with the blood of so many patriots and sympathizers, who though distant from the bed of struggle, were actively involved in finally bringing apartheid to its knees.
I must not forget to inform you that there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the people in recent days. The absence of the president threw up his vice into the midst of chaos, and with tact and deviation from past approach, there seems to be a relative calm over the once restive Niger Delta. There is now a lull in bombing activities and a stall in pipeline vandalism, which had been responsible for low output in oil production since the inception of this dispensation. This could not have come at a better time than at a time when the prices of crude oil in the global market is looking up. The vice-president had shown willingness to dialogue with the militants rather than use a force majeure and in such willingness, he had visited them more than once. The federal government also rolled out a 20-point agenda for the region, which one can only pray not to go down the same lane of agendas of the past. The vice-president also demonstrated willingness to accommodate the opposition by visiting their strongholds and empathizing with the Nigerian masses during the face-off between protest organizers and the Nigerian Police in the build up to the “I stand with 9ja” protest by insisting that it is the fundamental rights of people to protest, which cannot be denied them by government. The phrase “We can hear you loud and clear” has become a pacifier to calm the already fraught nerves of the citizenry, who felt shortchanged by the government. While these had not changed the living conditions of the people, it is enough motivation that with the right mindset to leadership, the nation can head in the right direction. And the people can only hope that the lull and stagnancy in the country’s fortunes would turn around for good.
Let me spare you the stress of our too many woes for now. I am sending this letter through Iyabile, one of the numerous girls, contracted out into sex slavery in foreign lands. She was amongst the several girls sneaked through the desert of Libya en route to Italy, who never made it to the promised land. She died trying to make it through the arduous trail of trans-border sojourn in search of greener pasture. It calls to mind the desperation of a nation so blessed but still wallowing in nothingness in the midst of plenty.
Till you hear from me again.