Election 2007: The Main Issue is Corruption

Being text of a speech delivered by Mr. Peter Pacqueens Aisagbonhi, Anti Corruption League, United Kingdom, at the 3rd Ralph Okpara Memorial Lecture of the National Association of Seadogs at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos on Friday, November 3, 2006. A critical view of what is happening in Nigeria no longer comes under the definition of corruption. Greed maybe! Thieves, oh yes! And robbery, certainly! Are they armed? Yes they are! Armed with the paraphernalia office; armed with the institution of government. The very tools for governance and leadership are debased to weapons of roguery. And of course, most of them go further than their armed security details to personally carry guns! What an abuse of immunity! A desecration of democracy! A continued plundering of our national patrimony! All continuing with the support of the citizens inertia.

At the annunciation of Lets Fix Nigeria Initiative, Mallam Ribadu struck a cord when he informed the gathering that the cost of a jeep is more than the cost for setting up a clinic in any Nigerian village. Also, according to Adams Oshiomhole, some states are using 25 million naira to drill bore holes that never work, when we all know, that less than 2 million naira will be expended to successfully sink a bore hole in our private compound.

Two million naira is less than the cost of a jeep. So, it is possible therefore to provide water in every community and even in every ward in the country; at least in all the local government headquarters. The country has the resources to achieve this good for its citizens. Unfortunately, we are spending it on our greed, our ego and shamelessly on “owambeism”.

If we are serious about the unity and progress of this country then we can not postpone fixing Nigeria. EFCC is doing its best. Like minded organizations and indeed the citizens of Nigeria must play their own part. We must not put up with S-H-I-T. Excuse the use of the word, but that is how bad the corruption of bad governance is. We definitely must not put up with it no matter how small, no matter the community, no matter the government agency, no matter the arm of government. For the sake of the survival of our country, the future of our children and the sustenance of our resources, WE MUST NOT.

We of the Anti Corruption League UK, advocate that every Nigerian should participate in the country’s election process. Not necessarily by going into politics. Last week Friday at the National Association of Seadogs Anchor Point in London, I made people present to realize that sending money home is no longer enough, we must follow it up with insistence on good behaviour and purposeful living for the youth and better expectation from the adults. If Nigerians in Diaspora actually insist on our loved ones going out to vote for a candidate with proven integrity, record of service and wisdom, we will be listened to over any of the business-as-usual politicians. We may say that is not enough, as the elections can still be rigged. But if a cross section of Nigerians gets involved en-mass, it will ensure that the votes are not tampered with.

Those of you in Lagos and other major cities have influence too, on your relatives in the villages. At least we can raise our individual awareness and that of others around us. This is essential because public looting and rigging of election thrives on our people’s ignorance. Enlightening the masses about the gains of a free and fair election can make a difference.

Interestingly, most houses in Nigeria have satellite or cable TV. Unfortunately people here are more interested in CNN, BBC2 and Sky News than in AIT, Channels, NTA or local news. We cannot help but opine that we, the enlightened class are too scared of what we may hear. So the less we see or hear the better for our conscience. Yet, the island of poverty, perpetuated by greed, thieves and corrupt officials surround us all threatening to swallow us.

The good educational system we enjoyed is gone and we are happy to send our children to private schools instead of fixing it. The roads are bad, we are begging, borrowing or stealing to buy jeep and travelling by air instead of fixing the roads. There is not light; but we are happy to use generators, pollute the environment instead of at least protesting or even fixing it. We are complaining of politicians, but we allow agberos and touts into elective positions to take over governance.

Enough is enough. We must revive the aged old chivalry. We must fix Nigeria! We must fix Nigeria! We must fix Nigeria, at least for the future of our children. Election 2007 is going to be the defining moment because the main issue is corruption. After all we have enough for our needs but not enough for our greed.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria