Fighting Corruption the Pot and Kettle Way

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It is quite ironic that, instead of curbing corruption, the bizarre exposures of extremely scandalous corruption cases perpetrated by Nigerian thieving elites have only made them more determined to plunder the country further, by devise more ways to perpetuate their crimes with impunity.

Yet, what is particularly interesting is how they have gone to the extent of virtual war against one another in their desperate bid to escape justice (if ever there was one in the first place). Every one of them betrays, plots against and exposes one another including his own accomplices, in order to not only escape the already toothless justice, but to also possibly takeover the recovered loot from his “victims”.

Incidentally, this is what -to a large extent- informed the comparison between that scenario and the Hausa slogan of “kura taci kura” Interestingly enough, during Ramadan fasting period, there are some Hausa traditional entertainment activities known as “tashe”, when some small teams of mostly children and young people go around performing some entertainment shows and plays, which the public appreciate by giving them some tip.

Obviously, some teams would make more proceeds than others depending on each team’s ability to entertain its audience. Therefore, sometimes, on running into one another, a team that has made fewer proceeds would shout “kura taci kura” and harass the other team who has apparently made higher proceeds in order to dispossess it of its proceeds by force.

Anyway, perhaps the most obvious ironic impact of Nigeria’s funny war against corruption is how it only succeeds in substituting some sets of looters with other sets of looters at much speedier rate than what it used to be. Also, granted, it might have also reduced the number of holes on the country’s already hole-riddled treasury, the amount of money constantly lost has ironically been always on the rise anyway.

This scenario in a nutshell has simply given an undue “advantage” to a fewer number of corrupt elites to loot more than what they could have otherwise looted, while “disfavouring” some others i.e. the “disadvantaged” who though are equally eager to loot, can’t do it to their satisfaction having been “unlucky” to find themselves in rather “dry offices”. Hence the “advantaged” accumulate massive loot to the envy of their “disadvantaged” counterparts.

Interestingly, to be “advantaged” one does not necessarily have to occupy a matching position or level in the hierarchy of civil or public service. For instance, a much lower official in a ministry, department or parastatal for example could have much easier and bigger access to the nation’s treasury than even some top civil or public officials “wallowing” in such “dry offices”.

Predictably, this evokes envy in most of the “disadvantaged” government officials particularly who happen to have some supervisory power over some lucrative government enterprises. This explains why some of them descend too low to literally beg their “advantaged” inferiors to include them in the equation of fraud, so that they can get their shares of the loot in return of their i.e. “disadvantaged” connivance to cover it up and/or frustrate any probe likely to uncover it. Meanwhile, some of them prefer to employ blackmail tactics against their “advantaged” inferiors or counterparts under various pretexts e.g. public probe, to extort as much money as they can.

In any case it sometimes goes “wrong” igniting huge public scandals between them, even though it is obvious that no scandal is actually scandalous enough to evoke the slightest amount of shame in Nigerian theft addict elites. Perhaps this is what also informed the average Nigerians’ apparent addiction of news about highly scandalous corruption cases of monumental proportions, which they mostly greet with indifference, having realized in advance how it would eventually end up.

For instance, the recent episode involving the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh and Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions, Mr Herman Hembe during the public probe of alleged wrongdoings by the former, was yet another practical illustration of how “kura taci kura” is increasingly defining Nigeria’s corrupt elites’ struggle against one another.

However, what was particularly striking was how it revealed the very dynamics of the whole public probe deceit in the country. For instance, it confirmed that, all such public probes are funded or at least substantially funded by the very agencies under probe, which by implication rules out the possibility of impartiality from the probe panels and committees. Because after all, from the amount of money requested by the Hembe-led House panel as well as his alleged personal request of N5m, it is obvious that probe panels are largely out to share the very loot they pretend to work in order to recover.

This explains how when the DG apparently resisted such extortion and blackmail attempt (notwithstanding her alleged culpability of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds), the chairman apparently decided to grill her more “seriously”, which apparently angered the DG hence divulged such serious secrets and allegations.

In any case, I really wonder how a probe panel or investigative committee could maintain its presumed neutrality and indeed integrity while it has literally begged the very agency under its probe, for fund to purportedly conduct its duties. Certainly, the issue is not about the particular case of Oteh and Hembe; instead it is about the whole dynamics defining such probes in the first place.

It is sadly clear that, Nigerian ruling elites are simply engaged in a complex game of highly conflicting and interwoven vested interests, in which their personal interests constantly oscillate and indeed determine their positions at any given time, along the lines of deceitful loyalty, betrayal, witch-hunt and victimization of one another; each one hell bent on getting away with his crimes at the expense of another.

The unfortunate irony of the phenomenal rise in corruption cases in the country despite the much touted fight against it, which is also decorated with such fake probes, evokes frustration no matter how one tries to prevent or overcome it. Because in the absence of any light in the gloomy tunnel into which Nigerian ruling elites have plunged the country, it will be naïve of anybody to expect any meaningful change from within the tunnel.

Copyright © 2012 Daily Trust. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

In : Scandal