Is the Nigerian Project Redeemable? By M. Babajide
Newspaper Column

No words to justify corruption in motherland

By Morak Babajide-Alabi

When the news of the illegal diversion of the funds meant for purchase of arms and ammunition to fight terrorism in Nigeria broke, I made a solemn pledge to myself not to run any commentary on it. Unfortunately, I had been called out by friends many times to give an opinion on what has now turned out to be a monumental fraud. To be honest the urge to contribute far outweighed the restraint I put on myself.

The decision not to write was based on historical experience. Nigeria is a vast country with millions of citizens and therefore different ideas and views on national affairs. Because of the diversity of the country, a simple story may have different perspectives depending on what tribal, political or social version you listen to or read. The effect of this is that most times the stories have been further embellished to portray the characters as devil incarnates or as saints being persecuted.

The task of sifting the truth from these myriad of news had been made further difficult with the proliferation of blogs and citizen reporting. Every blog has interests to protect, either subtly or openly. If you are a keen follower of the Nigerian social space in recent times you will definitely understand what I am getting at.  Some stories circulating on the social media more often do turn out to be the figments of the imagination of some creative bloggers whose aims are two fold- first, mischief and secondly to increase the ranking of their sites by attracting more visitors with alarming headlines.

You can therefore pardon my initial reaction when I put the “Breaking News” of diversion of “Boko Haram Funds” as one  of the many such stories. To be honest, the “cacophony” of news coming out from the opposition, the government, interest groups and many busy bodies did not do one any good. One can recall that the journey to this monumental “discovery” started with the arrest and detention of the former National Security Adviser to the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Sambo Dasuki. The arrest was turned into a song and dance episode when the opposition came up with an ingenious story of witch-hunting because of his role in the 1984 coup that ousted the former Head of State Muhammed Buhari.

Not long after this we were told that the principal character in the unfolding drama was dying and needed a medical passage abroad. You can therefore understand the plight of many Nigerians who found the whole episode confusing. However, as the days turn into weeks, we are getting the full grasp of what went down with the “Boko Haram funds.” Until recently the mystery of the “lack of political will” to defeat Boko Haram has been the biggest concern to ordinary Nigerians. In the past few weeks we have now realised why Boko Haram would never have been defeated. Not with the security apparatus in place under the advisory of Sambo Dasuki.

Now Nigerians are getting wiser by the day. It is getting clearer how some notable Nigerians had fought Boko Haram in their dreams. They needed no guns, bombs, machete or cutlass, all they needed was access to the office of the National Security Adviser. They got their allocations to fight Shekau and his band of terrorists.

What is happening in Nigeria is no fiction as dreamed by any blogger or aspiring journalist. It is a reality. It is not a film, but the whole episode is acting out like a well scripted  script from Hollywood. The characters are notorious real life celebrities who are (were) leaders in their profession or trade. So by any means they cannot be regarded as light weight.

These characters were people who at a point dictated the pace at which the country, Nigeria,  should progress. They called the shots from their high places while the mere mortals salute “ranka Dede” whenever they pass by. The ordinary citizens had no clue that these men were systematically killing them. They had destroyed many families and helped influenced the future of many to go the wrong way.

While I was still getting to the reality of this absurd drama in my motherland, a new neighbour turned up in my front garden. Simon, the new neighbour has just bought the property next to mine and as it is traditional over here, he popped around for a cup of tea.

As you might have guessed, the main purpose of the “Welcome Tea” is usually not for anything but to assess your neighbour and know if he or she would be a nut case or a  friendly and pleasant individual to wake up to every morning. Fortunately for me, Simon is an impressively well read and travelled British man in his mid fifties.

After the initial introduction, Simon and I have taken to  each other. We go for walks and had tea together often.  On one of the early days, Simon asked me where I was originally from. I was taken aback and for a second wondered what his train of thought was. It is not everyday you get asked this type of questions, especially by white folks as to them, it is not “politically correct” to do. I turned sideways and was about asking him why the interest, but the innocent look in his face gave him away as genuine. So I told him my motherland is Nigeria.

According to Simon, he had read and heard so much about motherland Nigeria in recent times that he had been searching for answers to some questions bothering him. Simon told me he grew up with the idea that Africa, including Nigeria needs  alms and offerings from the Western world.

He could not resist having a dig at me with 419 stories of years gone by and the Chibok girls. He recalled how many emails he received promising instant financial rewards if only he could help launder funds. After talking non stop about corruption and mismanagement among African countries for a while, Simon paused and looked at me. I could not offer any help in terms of explanation to Simon on the workings of the minds of Nigerian of Afrucan leaders on corruption or mismanagement.

I am as confused as he is. How do I enlighten him that the funds allegedly diverted and allocated to individuals was controlled by an individual who was not even the Minister of Finance in the government?  I was tight lip and no words to explain to Simon why the Chibok girls are still in the forest. I attempted but eventually gave up.

But Simon was not ready to give up. His body language and the frown on his face summed up his disappointment in Nigeria. He has heard a lot about the natural and human resources, yet all that is there to show is parade of failures. Simon had interacted with many intelligent Nigerians yet had not found any tenable excuse for the “rape” of the country by its leaders.

I have always struggled explaining the actions of individuals and governments in motherland Nigeria. I realised that the best solution to staying sane is to avoid justifying anything in Nigeria.

Published in Sunday Vanguard December 20, 2015. CLICK HERE






I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.