Cultural Africa on the Wings of Corruption

The grave sides of post-independent African Leaders must be dotted with fresh footprints. And if the human eyes were spirituallyAfrican culture powerful enough, they would be able to see that the footprints point in many directions and belong to different sets of foots.

Recent alarming developments in Nigeria, where the judiciary, in search of desperate avenues for fare adjudication on corruption charges brought against politicians and corrupt civil servants, leading to judges demanding the involvement of first class chiefs as part of their bale conditions must have caused a stir in the great beyond Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello must have together visited Jomo Kenyata and Gamal Abdulnasir of Kenya and Libya respectively.

The late Owelle of Onitsha Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe must have stopped by the “home” of Senator J.S Tarka in Benue State, north central Nigeria on his way to Bauchi State home of Late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. These post independent African Statesmen who laid their lives and comfort down so that Africa could be free from Colonial bondage cannot have failed to do what time tested cultural obligations had imposed on them – pay condolence visits to the berieve-minded, to condole each other on the inferno that rages across the soul of Africa, consuming her life and spirit – corruption.

From South Africa where the not-too-distant-past vice-presidential contract scam in which the former Vice president lost his seat on account of his personal aid’s alleged involvement in illegal deals whose value was far beyond what a presidential aid can initiate and close without his boss’ consent; to Kenya where former president Moua Khibaki had to painfully relieve one of his longest political ally of his cabinet position as a result of alleged involvement in a contract scam whose total value could have impacted positively on the life of the average Kenyan had it been invested in a relevant sector of the economy; to Liberia where lady Johnson Sirleaf once allowed the motherhood in her to get her better side by not cramming the very top echelon of the previous government into prison instead of restraining them from traveling out of Liberia until they were able to account for the reported millions of dollars aid-money which seem simply took a walk out of government vaults without a single sign of where they went.

. The most unsettling tragedy of it all is that custodians of African cultures which forbid acts of corruption (explaining why most of the continent’s post colonial leaders sacrificed their personal gains and comfort for the emancipation of the their peoples) have either directly or indirectly encouraged corruption, benefiting from funds known to have been acquired through corrupt practices.

The Guinness Book of Record grade of looting of public funds perpetrated by General Sani Abacha’s military administration is not on record to have drawn any public criticism from the traditional leadership of his residual home-base of Kano, North western Nigeria nor his ancestral home base of the Kanuris, North Eastern part of the country. As a matter of fact, our findings indicate that these traditional rulers, upon pressures from politicians, have had to lead emissaries to the presidency to plead on behalf of hapless members of the Abacha family that were made to face the brunt’s of their father’s misdeeds.

The much vaunted Yoruba culture, given international prominence by legendry literary icons like professor Wole Soyinka and the richness and depth of its own history did not exercise any restraining powers on the very top custodians of its tenets and norms when their son, who was the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria, Inspector General of police Tafa Balogun found himself on the devils menu having dined with it “successfully” during the 2003 elections. Allegedly caught with acres of farmlands parked full of state – of – the – art jeeps said to be “ gifts” from “winners” of 2003 elections, and bank accounts allegedly containing billions of naira meant for starving police officers across the nation, the near impossible bail-conditions set for him was reported to have included the involvement of a Yoruba High chief as his surety.

This must have been done with the intent to keep Balogun in goal permanently in view of the near impossibility of a Yoruba High Chief ever getting the revered stool involved in such a scandalous misadventure. To the chagrin of Nigerians and certainly the gods in Ife , that very bail condition was the first Balogun could provide.

Since 1999 when the present democratic governance in the country took effect, the open confessions of direct involvement in dangerous deals involving money and political power – sharing by cultural deities such as the OKIJA shrine in Anambra State, makes nonsense of the Igbo nation’s tendency towards the worship of God the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the North Eastern state of Kebbi state, the dethronement of the Emir of Gwandu, his eventual exile from his domain which led to a dangerous state of ill health that nearly claimed his life was not unrelated to the hundreds of millions of Naira allegedly stolen by top government officials in the State who consequently ran to him for intervention as if the offence of stealing public money is not condemnable by the Emirate.

His reported “Kindly” insistence on a resolution of the problem in ways disagreeable to the laws of the land set him on a coalition course with the Governor, thus playing into the hands of the federal government which had been at the receiving end of the deposed Emir’s scathing criticism on national issues.

NIGERIAN Culture

Researched information puts the amount being lost daily to corrupt practices across Africa by governments and the industries at between 980 million to 1.5 Billion naira most of it occurring in oil producing countries like Nigeria and Angola. This figure is equivalent to the amounts spent on education and health annually in most of the countries that make up the continent. In Nigeria, no government employee, except a teacher, goes to work every day for the purpose of earning his or her legitimate salary but for how much he/she can siphon from government funds through false claims, under-declaration of revenue or out right stealing of government properties for sale to members of the public. The oil sector is the worst hit with government loosing an estimated average of 200 million Naira every day.

In Eastern Nigeria more than anywhere else, but also including other part of the country, looters of public funds often look forward to the glorious moments that await them in their hometowns. Traditional rulers across Nigeria have thrown their cultural tenets and norms over- board and are engaged in a timeless hug with monstrous corruption. Analysts who spoke to our representatives across Nigeria, Ghana and Niger Republic blame poverty for this state of affairs. They also hold the opinion that cultural institutions in Africa are caving in to corruption for the same reasons that affect the citizenry.

Facts on the ground however do not justify their conclusions. About 5% of federal monthly allocations to the local governments are often remitted to traditional rulers to meet their upkeeps. Prudently used, this amount should be enough to keep them way from open embrace of corrupt practices and be in the position to set minimal standards of moral rectitude for their subjects. On the part of corrupt civil servants, the theory of poverty can only be true up to a point. While failed economic policies are responsible for ever-plummeting values of national currencies and run away inflations across the continent, making it quite impossible for the average government worker to choose to live an honest life without jeopardizing the welfare of his family, the same cannot be said about political office holders and senior civil servants who loot shamelessly.

The most charitable commentators who spoke to our reporters are of the conclusion that African custodians of cultural tenets (traditional rulers) can still pull the rod out of the fire. They can do this by first washing their own hands clean and then catapulting their subjects at home and in the Diaspora back to the good old days when public thieves and their families where called disdainful names behind their backs and right into their own faces by brave men and women who pretend to be community clowns, but who are actually the gadflies propelled and protected by the people’s cultural norms and tenets.

On the other hand, according to commentators, governments across the continent must stand up to their responsibilities and make it possible for a government worker who chooses to be honest and upright in his workplace to be able to stay alive and up to his family responsibilities. Presently, this option does not exist, for instance, amongst the majority of Nigerians, where a police man who stays in the rain and sunshine all day long with a loaded gun in his hands is paid the equivalence of less than 200 dollars a month.

The most monstrous enemy of social and economic reforms anywhere in the world according to historical facts is corruption. The soul of Africa, her cultures, must rise above this all consuming virus.

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