By Eze Eluchie
At a time when Nigeria’s airspace ranks as one of the most dangerous in the world with high plane crash and fatality rates and our major airports lack basic air-conditioning, luggage and passenger handling facilities and in an era when our public universities have been on strike for over 4 months on account of poor funding of educational institutions, the news that the Minister for Aviation commandeered the purchase, at public expense, of 2 bullet proof luxury sedans at the cost of over 225 Million Naira (US $ 1.6 million) is not only sacrilegious, but bothers on criminality.
The matter is made more sordid by the fact that similar vehicles could be purchased at less than one-quarter of the amount paid.
If the sum deployed to the purchase of these vehicles had been deployed to ensure safer skies and conduct better audit on equipments operated in our airspace, surely, many lives which perished in the various plane crashes in Nigeria would have been saved.
The ease with which this and several other quasi-criminal procurement scaled through all the so-called procurement regulatory mechanisms at various strata of governance in Nigeria, gives a clear indication to the magnitude of fraud, robbery and impropriety going on in the name of governance in our polity.
Questions we should be asking ourselves include:
1. How many public office holders (inclusive of Ministers, State Commissioners Members of Boards of government agencies at the Federal and State level and civil servants) have undertaken similar scandalously quasi-criminal purchases?
2. Of what import is the continued retention of the Office of Due Process at the federal level, and by whatsoever name similar agencies are referred to at the State levels, in our polity when such brazen criminality continues unchecked?
3. Do these public office holders who engage in these heinous crimes realize that, whether the vehicle is bullet proof, bomb proof or whatever proof, that they will still, at one point in time have to get out of that comfort zone and still be within the grab of their worst nightmares?
4. Do these rascal public officials who indulge in these perfidious acts realize that their greed and profligacy is directly contributes to high unemployment and high crime rates we witness in our polity?
5. Do these public officials realize the direct link between their criminality and youth militancy and terrorism?
6. Do these public officials who indulge in these large-scale looting of public funds really look at themselves in the mirror? What do they see?
Often times one is taken aback as to the level of criminality which flourishes in our climes. What for instance would one be doing with a million dollar vehicle in a country where equally corrupt practices has made the roads impassable for more than half of the year?
Of what use would such profligacy be when equally corrupt practices makes basic emergency personal and health care services impossible – no public ambulance, fire services or rapid police responses are available.
Of what use is it to live ostentatiously in a cemetery?
How do you tell the youths to refrain from crime and corruption when the system rewards criminality and corrupt practices? In a lawless polity such as ours where no arrests or effective prosecutions will follow scandalous crimes, how can any meaningful progress be made?
In a recent media chat forum, President Goodluck Jonathan had sought to downplay the gigantean negative impact of corruption on the Nigerian contraption – in the event that Mr. President was under a delusion previously, I hope he is beginning to awake to the unfortunate realities.
I have always advocated that large-scale corruption, as a major precursor to most heinous crimes, ought to be treated as crimes against humanity – that assertion holds most true in Nigeria, where corruption has assumed a life of its own and now threatens not only the present but also the future of the contraption.
Again, most unfortunately for our contraption. The biased reportage of corruption-related stories by some elements of the Nigerian media tends to polarize the polity and present some segments of our population as though they are more susceptible to corrupt practices than the other – whilst in reality it is a general societal malady.
Similar, and at times worse acts of corruption by others deemed ‘favored’ gets little or no attention from the same media outlets which are vociferous over the present matter.
Sadly, our contraptions free fall continues…..
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