Barely 48 hours ago some of the holiest men in Nigerian politics gathered together to make a concoction to purge our beloved country of corruption.
Although the business of medicine making is the exclusive preserve of pharmacists and chemists, the patent owner of this new curable drug is an upcoming Grammy award hopeful, the Ajekun Iya crooner.
Truthfully, when we board a plane we are almost sure of getting to our destination in one piece. However, we do not care about the origin nor the sexuality of the pilot flying us.
In relations this becomes all the more intriguing when we contrast it with the Nigerian condition. A country with amazing diversity with nearly 70 percent of its 182 million population living in near poverty, occasioned by poor infrastructure, misgovernance, poor leadership and above all prebendal driven corruption in high and low places.
Nothing can be more refreshing at a moment like this, when some of the Federal legislators, who have been in the news for every imaginable negative reason bordering on corruption, certificate forgery, etc, decide to turn a new leaf and embrace the war against corruption.
So, it was all greeted with surprises and fanfare when the Senator representing Kogi West at the 8th National Assembly,Dino Melaye, one of the most controversial politicians in recent times, launched his much anticipated book “Antidotes of Corruption”.
The book was forwarded by the Senate president Bukola Saraki, and has a total of 14 chapters spread across 600 pages. In attendance at the launch were the creme de la creme of Nigerian legislative arms (whom some are known to have questionable bearing).
The gathering included, but was not limited to Bukola Saraki, the senate president, his counterpart at the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, the minister of Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Bello Mohammed, his labour and productivity counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige and former secretary to the government of the federation, Dr. Anyim Pius Anyim, amongst others.
Bastion Of Corruption
No doubt at some point it beholds on us to take the message and discard the messenger with his impurity. But often it depends on what form of message is being passed altogether.
To start with Senator Dino, and to a large extent the assemblage of people at his book launch, has left less to admire about the content of the book due much less to the characters of those involved.
Senator Saraki is dubbed as the Senate president although born and bred in a political household where the Father was once the leader of the Senate during the first republic. With a résumé boasting a two term tenure as Kwara State Governor, he sure has a great insight into Nigeria’s political scene. However, with a trail of Senate standing rule forgery and recent allegation over diversion of a Paris refund to states, that raises the credibility question as to the sincerity of Mr Saraki fighting against corruption and by extension writing a forward on Senator Dino Melaye’s book.
Talking about the Kogi born Senator, who isn’t new to controversy, can be amusing. But it becomes all the more daunting when we place the reality of a 600 page compilation written by a man who only until recently was alleged to have forged a number of his degrees, including a disclaimer from Harvard University over his alleged claim as an alumnus. Comically responding to the allegations Mr Melaye wore a full academic gown meant for academics to the plenary. How low can we go on as a nation?
Surprisingly, at the feast on corruption an August visitor made a grand entry into the premise of the book launch at the Shehu Yaradua centre, setting momentum back by nearly 30 minutes. Though subtle, but yet assuming, Dame Patience Jonathan, the erstwhile Nigerian First Lady, isn’t a stranger to controversy with a running battle with the anti-graft agency over 5 .7 million dollars found in her account under questionable circumstances.
One begins to wonder what patriotism means to a symphony of people who claim to be making antidotes to corruption on one hand and give a standing ovation to an ex First Lady facing corruption allegations on the other.
According to official counts there are at present about 52 members of the Senate currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) (The nation’s foremost anti-graft agency) on allegations ranging from misappropriation to financial impropriety.
Indeed there is more to be learnt from the drama of making Nigeria a corrupt free society.
Whilst these distinguished senators are genuflecting in camaraderie under the disguise of an elaborate orchestra against corruption in the form of a book launch and sequent patronage by a privilege class, how then do we contrast a situation where the minimum wage is pegged at 18 dollars per month and a book purportedly meant for mass education over corruption sold for 164 dollars at the launch?
Come May 29th (the country’s Democracy Day) when the stock of democracy with its dividends will be taken, so too will the issue of corruption be brought to bear for national discussion.
Awesu Olaniyi Williams is an award winning public speaker, a Marxist – feminist writer; whose writing is laced with biting sarcasm as a satirical tool. Occasional poet, lover of books, art and human sexuality discuss.