• Perverted National Institutions And Nigeria’s Failure – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

    Perverted national institutions and nigerias failure independent newspaper nigeria - nigeria newspapers online
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     When people complain inces­santly that nothing seems to work in Nigeria, they often wholly fix their accusatorial gaze at the politically visible citadels of power where high State officials like the President and state Governors operate. Those palaces are only symbols of power and the occupants, little more than mere figureheads, are individuals which you as a private citizen may actually never physically encounter; instead, real power lies elsewhere and it is with those large­ly anonymous men and women who are paid to do government work in delegated capacities in the various public offices. Unlike the President or even the minis­ter, you encounter them daily and, sadly, their actions make you feel that the gov­ernment is only there to frustrate you.

    While it is true that the top echelon of the nation’s leadership sets the pace in the areas of policy formulation and execution and, therefore, ultimately polit­ically responsible for whatever happens to the governing system, the real sources and causes of the systemic failure which we all suffer everyday as we deal with government institutions and other con­stitutional agencies of the State, are the endemic public work ethics characterised by unfathomable truancy, indolence and graft. They are the voracious termites who silently eat up the nation’s budgets year in, year out, through intricate bu­reaucratic tricks, feigning wretchedness while billions of ill-gotten Naira/Dollars lay under their pillows.

    When letters are not delivered on time, the government has failed you; when you have no regular water or electricity sup­ply, the government has failed you and when you cannot travel from one point to another in relative speed, comfort and security, the government has also failed you – big time. But come to think of it. Is the President or your state Governor even aware of your predicament? Are there effective institutional feedback mecha­nisms that adequately put their “Excel­lencies” on the know about the hell that citizens are going through?


    In today’s governance assessment scheme, how well the citizens are satis­fied with government services delivery is a critical barometer for determining whether or not a particular administra­tion has succeeded or failed. Particularly with respect to the developmental cancer of corruption, global assessors of govern­ment’s degree of corruption are not go­ing to concern themselves only with how much cabinet ministers are fleecing from their departmental budgets but they are more likely to base their verdicts on the corruption status of the country through their casual and routine encounters with immigration personnel, police officers, customs officers, taxmen, regulators, etc. The policeman who mounts an illegal roadblock on the highway just to extort money from road users is, for example, an open testimonial to State failure.

    Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan

    Nigeria cannot escape the shameful toga of corruption when, for example, a citizen makes an application for a travel passport and he cannot get it unless he bribes someone. In fact, when you arrive at a passport office, you are likely to hear something like “express, who is assist­ing you?” The person asking that solici­tous question is a uniformed officer and if you do not submit to his touting, you may never obtain your passport on time. The processes for obtaining official docu­ments like passport and licenses are still deliberately complicated with unofficial banana peels and God helps you if you think you can simply walk in, complete the designated forms, pay the necessary fees and be done with. You are mistaken as you may never get whatever it is that you have applied for and if you eventually get it, it may have become too late for the purpose that you needed it.


    For some time now, successive govern­ments have been asking Nigerians to go and get the National Identification Card. Last year, I decided to apply for one but as you read this, several months after my biometric capturing, I have not still re­ceived my card. I have visited the office several times and the result remain the same: “It is not out yet.” While I was com­plaining loudly the last time I was there, I met a gentleman who told me that he applied for his own three year ago! They are still telling him: “It is not yet ready!l” Really?

    That is a national disgrace. It is even more laughable when some government departments find it convenient to threat­en that henceforth they would be insist­ing on the possession of the National Identification Card as a precondition for the rendering of their statutory services. This is a blatant blackmail and it is one of those things that gives Nigeria the de­meaning sobriquet of being a woefully corrupt nation. Until government offi­cials in this country learn to serve the people with some degree of loyalty and conscientiousness, no amount of cam­paign will pull us out of this deep miry clay of corruption.

    The National Identification Card serves almost the same purposes as the individually unique U.S. Social Security Number, SSN. I recall that years ago when I was engaged as a Visiting Professor at the elitist Dickinson Law School, Penn State University, Charlsie, I was advised that US law requires that any lawful em­ployee must have a social security num­ber before he could be paid. Hastily, the then Associate Dean (Administration), Professor Del Dulca, offered me a ride to the nearest Social Security office where I promptly completed the forms and oth­er processes and I was told to go home and wait for it in the mail. For this par­ticular purpose, only home address, no postal address is allowed, and in less than two weeks, it arrived, early enough for my first pay cheque and it has remained applicable for all my subsequent official transactions since. This is about the same thing that Nigerians would have to queue to apply for and they would have to wait for it endlessly. Same with Passport, Na­tional ID and Drivers’ License issuances and also for such mundane thing as tran­scripts retrieval from some of our public universities.

    If institutions like NNPC, FIRS, NCC, NPA, etc., were to be minimally patriotic and fiscally accountable to the nation as per their legal/constitutional mandates, (possible exception of JAMB recently), the subsisting narrative about corruption would have been quite different. It would seem that the incident of ‘State Capture’ is more evilly perfected at these levels of government business. So deeply en­trenched is their corruptive culture that no administration, deploying traditional tools of “reform” and “restructure” can overcome the institutional disposition to corruption that is deeply embedded therein.

    When a new minister comes in, they obsequiously welcome him and stealthily proceed to bewitch him with their unde­tectable Corruption Handbook. And if it appears he is not willing to allow for the continuation of business as usual, he is promptly blackmailed and hounded out of his desk with mysterious information leakages, insinuations and destructive rumours. It is therefore obvious that institutional corruption in the country has become so deeply-entrenched that the only way that we can hope to stop it is if the government can just start listening to the people who actually deal with these officials daily through credible Ombuds­man mechanisms instead of relying on official “reports” that are often doctored to hoodwink the system.

    The President in whose name the Pass­port-man, the Policeman, the Tax-collec­tor heartlessly defraud the nation is never going to understand what the people be­low are suffering and he would therefore most certainly not understand what they mean when they say that the government is too corrupt because he is evaluating their lamentations from his insulated cocoon while the customs-man along the Ore-Benin highway or the immigration man at the passport office is busy destroy­ing the good name of Nigeria.

    • First published on January 9, 2019

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