By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Nigerians are horrified, and rightly so, for what passes for corruption in today’s Nigeria. It’s important to keep the horror of our corrupt nation up front, to keep highlighting the lies and stealing that have become the trade mark of our politicians.
Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) discovered a cache of $50 million cash at 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos following a tip-off by a whistle blower. The ownership of the huge sum of money was a mystery until the Director-General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayodele Oke came forward and claimed the ownership on behalf of his agency.
We are startled by the awfulness and the raw dishonesty of Mr. Oke when asked by SaharaReporters to confirm whether NIA had claimed ownership of the money, “Mr. Oke said he had not read any report linking the agency to the $50 million cash…” He said he could not speak on the matter at the time SaharaReporters called on him because “it was too late in the night and that he had a headache.” But three days after, Mr. Oke knew the money belongs to his agency. He said the money was approved by the former President Goodluck Jonathan for “covert operations. The lexicon of contemporary corruption in Nigeria may have acquired a new word or phrase: Abracadabra – the more you know, the less you know.
As a kid, I was unimpressed by magic tricks, probably because I never saw any good ones. I saw magicians pulled money out of people’s ears. I saw them grabbing people’s nose, then wedge their thumbs between their index and middle fingers and pulled out money from people’s nose. Not until I saw Nigeria’s best and foremost magician Professor Pella, that I developed a new appreciation for the craft of magic. A good trick takes time, practice, and dexterity, and an understanding of the supernatural.
The claim of ownership of the $50 million by Mr. Oke on behalf of NIA sounds like abracadabra of an amateurish magician noted for poor and unconvincing tricks. Definitely, Mr. Oke is not a gifted, seasoned, and creative magician. The NIA is the new face of corruption in Nigeria. The claim by Mr. Oke that the money belongs to his agency puts me at odd with Nigeria I grew up in. I grew up in Nigeria where I never thought this could happen. But from the time the present band of native tyrants and thieves came into power at local, state, and federal levels, something odious, bizarre, and dangerous took over the pristine moral and cultural landscape of the country I grew up.
There is more to the NIA’s ownership claim of the money than meets the eye. The hurriedly cooked up and hotly coughed out claim of Mr. Oke that the money belongs to NIA is nothing but a 419 cock-and-bull story of a scammer in order to hide the true identity of the owner or owners of the stashed cash. The shrouded secrecy and the dizzying velocity surrounding the ownership of the money and the final claim by Mr. Oke forced Nigerians to react with spontaneous outrage to the bold faced lie. Everyday, we’re bombarded by news of corruption that clutter our brains and senses. The claim by Mr. Oke that the money belongs to NIA is not only bogus, false, and flat out fabrication. We’re transfixed by his laughable statement that the money was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for “covert operations.”
To be sure, Mr. Oke thinks Nigerians are daft, brainless zombies who would swallow hook, line, and sinker his utterly fictitious claim. Such a self-serving hallucination by Mr. Oke provokes an overflow of jaw-dropping wonder and amazement from Nigerians. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the money belongs to NIA. Why was the money not kept in the bank in the name of NIA? How many “covert operations” has NIA been involved? Is the “covert operations” against Boko Haram or ISIS? Does NIA operates his budgetary allocation by cash and carry? Does it mean NIA has no bank account to transacts its business? What’s the annual budget of NIA? Did the President and his defense chief, security adviser know anything about the money? Is Oke trying to convince us that whatever he says about the ownership of the money we must accept as the reality?
Each fresh astonishment of news of corruption from Nigeria overrides an old one, as if it were a new file on a hard drive that has reached storage capacity. The accumulation of astonishment of news on corruption from our corrupt politicians lowers the bar for what’s to be expected the next day. For how long as a nation can we continue ton operate in this way? How long will the government and politicians insult our collective intelligence? How long can we continue to endure brain damage caused by toxic concoction of lies by interpreters of maladies?
I stopped long ago believing anything from Nigeria. As a people, we have lost the ability and the willingness to separate truth from lies. We have become Abracadabra nation of scammers and the scammed. Nigerians are adrift in an ocean of lies. We are always bamboozled and estranged from facts. The questioning of leaders and government is a democratic virtue. A skeptical lack of deference towards our government, politicians, and appointed public officials is the first step. We must be brave to challenge the official lies and propaganda. Like many Nigerians, I have been losing sleep over the news of the $50 million heist from corruption. What Oke did was a denial of reality and he wants us to believe his stupendous lies. Deception by Oke to justify an obvious societal aberration – corruption – must not be tolerated. We have the right to know who owns the money.
As a nation, we cannot survive driving a car forward by looking at the rear view mirror. We cannot use shoes as hammers, newspapers for umbrellas, and finger nail to tight a screw. Nigeria is in palpable trouble.