In a ‘padded’ nation, no one is responsible

August 8, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

State House Photo



Prince Charles Dickson

This week, my admonition would be on the recurring subject of corruption in Nigeria…without sounding repetitive like the proverbial broken record, I would look at it from a nation’s inability and refusal to take responsibility. For starters, let me share the following story…


The day when the jobs were handed out was one of the most exciting for all the children in the class. It took place during the first week of the term. On that day, every boy and girl was given a job for which they would be responsible for the rest of that school year.

As with everything, some jobs were more interesting than others, and the children were eager to be given one of the best ones. When giving them out, the teacher took into account which pupils had been most responsible during the previous year, and those children were the ones who most looked forward to this day. Among them Rita stood out. She was a kind and quiet girl; and during the previous year she had carried out the teacher’s instructions perfectly. All the children knew Rita was the favourite to be given the best job of all: to look after the class dog.

But that year there was a big surprise. Each child received one of the normal jobs, like preparing the books or the radio for the lessons, telling the time, cleaning the blackboard, or looking after one of the pets. But Rita’s job was very different. She was given a little box containing some sand and one ant. And even though the teacher insisted that this ant was a very special ant, Rita could not help feeling disappointed. Most of her classmates felt sorry for her. They sympathized with her, and remarked at how unfair it was that she had been given that job. Even her father became very angry with the teacher, and, as an act of protest, he encouraged Rita to pay no attention to this insignificant pet. However, Rita, who liked her teacher very much, preferred to show the teacher her error by doing something special with that job of such little interest.

“I will turn this little task into something great,” Rita said to herself.

So it was that Rita started investigating all about her little ant. She learned about the different species, and studied everything about their habitats and behaviour. She modified the little box to make it perfect for the ant. Rita gave the ant the very best food, and it ended up growing quite a bit bigger than anyone had expected…

One day in spring, when they were in the classroom, the door opened, revealing a man who looked rather important. The teacher interrupted the class with great joy, and said,

“This is Doctor Martinez. He has come to tell us a wonderful piece of news, isn’t that right?” “Exactly” said the Doctor. “Today they have published the results of the competition, and this class has been chosen to accompany me, this summer, on a journey to the tropical rainforest, where we will be investigating all kinds of insects. Among all the schools of this region, without doubt it is this one which has best cared for the delicate little ant given to you. Congratulations! You will be wonderful assistants!”

That day the school was filled with joy and celebration. Everyone congratulated the teacher for thinking of entering them in the competition, and they thanked Rita for having been so patient and responsible. And so it was that many children learnt that to be given the most important tasks you have to know how to be responsible even in what are apparently the smallest tasks. And without doubt, it was Rita who was most pleased at this, having said to herself so many times “I will turn this little job into something really great.”


By December this year it would be exactly one year that a ladder was used to bring down passengers from an Aero Contractors Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft at the conclusion of a charter flight to Bauchi State. The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika directed an immediate investigation into the use of unauthorized equipment (a ladder).

The Minister said the act was inconsistent with Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).

The investigation will determine the immediate and remote causes of the incident with a view to developing and implementing measures that will prevent a reoccurrence of the unsafe and unacceptable procedure that exposed passengers to a high risk of serious injury. “He reiterated that if the airline is found culpable, the full weight of sanctions within extant laws and regulations would be applied on it.”

That incident came and went, and I stand to be corrected, no one was punished.


Beyond the current mantra of kwaruption or corruption of Mr. Buhari‘s administration, the fact remains that like the administration before it, no one is ready or willing to take responsibility. We blame, PDP, blame APC, blame IBB, castigate Abacha (even though we are still collecting his savings), we blame Jonathan, blame the Niger Delta Avengers, blame the drop in oil prices, we blame Adeboye (for asking that only women who can cook and pray be considered marriage materials).

Fayose blames Aisha, we blame the clothes (Aisha wore)…no one wants to take responsibility. Even the positives, like the Abj-Kaduna railroad we fight over who is responsible…

So, it is not strange that speaking with Journalists after a meeting with Mr. Buhari at the Villa, Hon. Dogara, the Speaker of the lower chamber of the Nigerian Legislature said as a lawyer and old hand in the legislative affairs, ‘padding’ was not an offence under the law. Asked if the peddling of his name in the allegation perturbed him, Dogara said he was not in any way worried, saying that the onus of proof rested with Jibrin, the person who accused him. No one is responsible!


In other words, like many things Nigerian, when it comes to gross indiscipline, and corrupt practices, what we get at most is an…Investigation that will determine the immediate and remote causes of the incident with a view to developing and implementing measures that will prevent a reoccurrence. We just love to speak all these sweet sounding grammar and finito. No one is held responsible!

Every governor has accused his predecessor, of looting, of corruption, infact a governor somewhere in the East doing his second and last term accused himself of leaving an empty treasury, and no treasury looter has gotten the Chinese treatment. Is it possible by remote chance that our leaders, both in business, political and personal life get to the point where just the sense of guilt and sense of shame is enough to even push them towards suicide?

You are arrested, two or three days in detention, and a few more days in court, bail is set at millions, and the rest becomes tales by moonlight. If we are quick to forget that passengers in an inter-state flight disembarked from the plane via a ladder and no one was held responsible or got punished, then what are the odds that by 2019 there would be a Dasuki conviction or any at all, will anyone give a hoot about what happens to the ants, in a padded nation, will anyone take responsibility?—Only time will tell.











Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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