By Samuel Oluwole Ogundele
Endemic corruption is at the core of a multiplicity of factors militating against the maturation of Nigeria into a world power or at least, a regional champion. According to Leonard and Straus (2003), corruption and ‘patronage’ politics are inseparable in a neat way. In this context, nepotism and electoral fraud are some of the corrupt practices bedevilling Nigeria. Consequently, dire material poverty remains one of the difficulties being faced by the citizens especially the youth. More and more youths are emigrating from the country to such places as Europe, America, and Asia. This is in addition, to African countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa. This mass emigration for greener pastures derives from leadership failure at home. The gods are unhappy that a few politicians and their business friends, are solely enjoying the available natural resources while approximately 200 million Nigerians are experiencing unprecedented material poverty.
Even Ghana whose citizens flooded into our country due to its collapsed economy, in the late 1970s up to the early 1980s, now treats migrant Nigerians with disdain. All kinds of obnoxious business laws at variance with the principles of pan-Africanism, are regularly crafted and re-crafted in an attempt to send Nigerians away from Ghana. Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians are imminent. Other African countries like Kenya and South Africa are also harassing Nigerians in their midst. These African countries are largely jealous of the huge entrepreneurial skills of Nigerians which are second to none. Nigeria needs a major socio-economic and political reform that will make it investment-friendly among other things.
It is a pity that patriotism does not occupy a conspicuous space in the vocabularies of leadership discourse in Nigeria. Political leaders, like baboons, are ravaging our collective corn field. This is a country, where the health care sector is in shambles and yet a minister who also doubles as medical doctor, could tell Nigerians that doctors who wanted to emigrate should just go. This is most worrying given the fact, that one doctor handles about six thousand patients, contrary to the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of one doctor to six hundred people. According to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), about 3000 medical doctors leave Nigeria for Europe, America, and Saudi Arabia among other places every year while Nigeria continues to bleed profusely.
Starting salary for a doctor in a federal hospital in Nigeria is between N195,000 and N220.000 monthly. However, in Saudi Arabia and other serious countries, a doctor earns between one and three million naira or much more monthly. Apart from this, the foreign hospital system is state of the art, thus paving the way for greater efficiency and more job satisfaction. Currently, Nigeria is proud to be one of the leading exporters of medical personnel- doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and radiologists. Sometimes, salaries of doctors are not paid for months until they go on strike.
Again, it is most disheartening, that after six decades of political independence from Britain, a Minister of Education could tell university lecturers to quit their jobs and start farming. This nauseating comment also irritates the gods. The government continues to shamelessly flex its muscles with regard to the on-going ASUU strike, at the peril of innocent students and Nigeria as a whole. Are the academics and students approaching the rendezvous with destiny? Nigerian gods are for equitable distribution of wealth and responsiveness. They detest a situation whereby some mediocrities and near-complete “area” boys masquerading as politicians take
close to N30 million monthly per person when in fact, the minimum wage in Nigeria is just N30,000. The gods are ready to take Nigerians out of the woods if we approach them with sobriety.
On a daily basis, the government paves the way for more corruption as if Nigeria is under a curse. How can government be talking of constructing low-cost houses for teachers in the rural areas? Is this government living in a dream world? Who are the financially disciplined Nigerian business men and political office holders to manage such projects across the country? Are they not going to be telling Nigerians stories about how large pythons eat or swallow huge monies for the projects?
Why is the Nigerian government treating us with so much disrespect? President Buhari should just increase teachers’ salaries instead of creating more and more billionaires at the expense of the working class. The so-called low-cost housing scheme is doomed to failure.
According to their devotees, Nigerian deities eat, drink, and wear dresses among other things. They become active once these things are provided for them. Patterned after human-beings or geographical features (mountains, ocean etc), these gods punish evil doers. They are the intermediaries between the people and the Supreme Being (God). They also have the capacity to deal decisively with thieving, lying vice-chancellors despite their fine English grammar. Indeed, the gods are well known for giving good rewards to incorruptible, disciplined people with the approval of the Supreme Being called Olorun or Olodumare among the Yoruba. The Hausa refer to this mega force as Ubangiji while it is called Chineke or Chukwu in Igboland.
Each of the gods/goddesses has its own area of specialization. Ogun (god of metals and warfare), Shango (god of thunder and lightning), Olokun (goddess of the seas), and Osun (goddess of the earth, fertility, and water) among the Yoruba. Amadioha (god of thunder and lightning), Ikenga (god of warfare and power), Ala (goddess of the earth, fertility, creativity), Anyawu (god of the sun), and Idemmili (goddess of the ocean and seas) are some of the most powerful deities in Igboland. Maguzanci is a powerful god among the Hausa. All these gods and goddesses also serve as social control mechanisms before the collision of Nigerian cultures with the Euro-American world.
The artifact types associated with these divinities, have parallels in the two world religions-Islam and Christianity. This is a world away from conservative grammars in search of jaundiced lexicons, to further bamboozle Africans and Nigerians in particular. This scenario can be explained against the backdrop of the concept of the “Psychic Unity of Mankind”. Contrary to what obtains in the Euro-American world, indigenous African religions are located deeply in the sphere of spirituality. Medicine, travels, politics, agriculture, conflict resolution strategies, and culinary tastes/preferences are inseparable from spirituality. The neglect of this trait encourages unbridled corruption in Nigeria today.
Nigeria has to critically return to its roots despite our mandatory participation in the international community. Our leaders must stop swearing on the Bible or Koran whenever they are about to start their assignments. Oath taking with the local gods and goddesses is the solution to corruption and bad governance in the country. Ogun, Shango, Maguzanci, and Amadioha deal with all criminals with alacrity and without an application of a double standard of morality. These deities are saddened by the unwarranted agonies of most Nigerians today. But are the leaders ready to embrace the ontology of our spirituality? Currently, Nigeria bleeds profusely and our ancestors weep. Who will take us out of the woods?
- Professor Ogundele writes from University of Ibadan.