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Monday, 24 August 2015

Building Bridges

That Nigeria is corrupt is not news; what will be news is when the authorities will grow enough balls to prosecute and convict those who have stolen our common wealth, and this includes their numerous collaborators in the clergy.
It has emerged that the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan paid a foreign consultancy firm $700m as consultancy fee for the second Niger bridge (the Niger bridge is pictured above). This bridge has been a source of political shenanigans by many governments against the Igbos of the South-East geopolitical zone. But that is not my interest today.
Prof Pius Adesanmi of Carleton University in Canada wrote this about the $700m stolen under the guise of consultancy fee that would have built the bridge at the, of course, inflated estimate of the equivalent of $490m. He was listening to a Canadian friend of his lament about the misappropriation of $90000 (Canadian) and comparing it to the monumental fraud and embezzlement of public funds that are daily reported by the Nigerian media. But the part that struck me, and that should interest Nigerians is the reduction of such brazen and wicked misappropriation of public funds to the ethnicity, religion and political party of the whistle blower, and the person(s) being accused of such monumental acts of corruption. The Nigerian civil war that resulted in the death of up to 3 million people, depending on the source of one's information, of which many of them were children who starved to death, was due to ethnic discrimination. This tendency to blindly support those accused of corruption because of their ethnicity has now spilled into defending them based on their religion. Prof Adesanmi had this to say: "The Nigerian will excuse the theft of seven hundred million dollars if your ethnicity, religion, and political party are right. The Nigerian will condemn the whistleblower and drag him to the ICC in The Hague for harassing the thief."
Politics and religion are intimately intertwined in Nigeria. This unholy alliance influences elections, policy making and of course the prosecution, or lack of it, of those who have been accused of embezzling public funds. The anti-corruption war, like I have previously written will not be effective if the political and religious elements are not separated, and it would do Nigeria and Nigerians a world of good to realize this and act on it.