And so it is now official. Contrary to the thinking of a majority of local and foreign observers, the principal problem of Nigeria is not corruption but attitude. According to our President, what Nigeria requires most urgently in order to make progress is not an end to corruption but a change of attitude. We have this on the authority of a newspaper report captioned 'Attitudinal change not corruption bane of Nigeria’s progress –Jonathan.' The report goes on:-
‘Most of the problems that Nigerians blame on corruption are not caused by corruption, but a wrong attitude among Nigerians, President Goodluck Jonathan has said. The president, who made the remark in Yenagoa on Saturday during the burial of the former National Security Adviser, Owoeye Azazi, said that corruption was not the only challenge to good governance. He stressed the need for attitudinal change among Nigerians for the country to make progress.
Mr. Jonathan made the statement in reaction to a remark made by the Catholic Bishop of Bomadi, Hyacinth Egbebo. The clergyman had attributed the cause of most accidents on Nigerian roads to bad roads created by corruption in government. Mr. Jonathan refuted the clergyman’s claim. “If Nigerians would change their attitude, you will realize that most of these issues being attributed to corruption are not caused by corruption,” the president said.
“Recently, I met with officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps who told me that they had discovered that majority of the road accidents are recorded on good roads. So you can see it is not a matter of corruption, it is an issue of the people’s attitude,” the president added.’
Just a couple of days before the President made this startling ‘attitude-declaration’, the Governor of Kogi State in Nigeria was involved in a ghastly motor accident which claimed the life of his aide – de – camp and left him with a broken leg. Perhaps if we investigate a little bit we may discover that the accident occurred on a good road but that the governor’s driver had a wrong attitude.
A couple of weeks ago, the former National Security Adviser, Owoeye Azazi who the President went to bury when he made this ‘attitude-declaration’, together with the Governor of Kaduna State Patrick Yakowa, perished in a naval helicopter crash on their way from the burial of the late father of a presidential aide. Investigations as to the cause of the helicopter crash are still going on but if the Presidential declaration is anything to go by, the odds are high that we may discover at the end of the day that the naval pilot who likewise perished in the helicopter crash had attitudinal challenges.
The pilot’s assistant and the aide of Governor Yakowa who lost their lives in the crash presumably also had attitudinal problems. This is why the President went personally to sympathize with the Yakowa family in Kaduna and the Azazi family in Lagos without extending the same gesture even if for only five minutes each to the families of the other deceased persons.
We now understand that the reason why Nigerians cannot enjoy uninterrupted power supply in spite of the billions of Naira pumped into the electricity generation, transmission and distribution industry is because of our attitudinal inhibitions. Our President who knows best has probably been advised by officials of our electrical utility that if Nigerians enjoy uninterrupted power supply, out of sheer exuberance we may misuse the opportunity and one would no longer be able to tell the difference between day and night in Nigeria.
Wives and children would no longer see their husbands and fathers at night since most men would be ‘working’ round the clock thereby endangering their health. Politicians and businessmen who secretly visit witch-doctors in the cover of darkness to make sacrifices and swear to oaths about securing government positions, winning elections or winning contracts would no longer be able to move about freely at night since there would be light everywhere and all their movements might be tracked by inquisitive journalists working on 24 hour shifts. Even our good roads would suffer as they would not have 6 hours of rest from the relentless traffic of one day before being subjected to the restless traffic of the next day.
We equally now understand that the reason why Nigerians cannot enjoy standard world class health facilities is that we would abuse the gesture due to our poor attitude. The officials of our health ministry have probably advised the President that if we have standard world class hospitals, Nigerians would over-indulge themselves confident that if their stomachs get too enlarged and distended they can easily check in to a local hospital for a tummy tuck operation. Worse still they may have convinced the President that with excellent medical facilities, Nigerians particularly the wretchedly honest ones would refuse to die thereby stretching our population to unsustainable levels and consuming the space meant for conformable people.
Well Mr. President is entitled to his opinion. But he who feels it knows it. We who feel the lash of corruption on a daily basis cannot mistake the hand wielding the whip. In this matter of corruption we do not need anyone to tell us otherwise for we are very certain that as our Lord Jesus Christ declared, what has been hidden from the wise and the learned has been revealed to mere babes and sucklings.
One of the ways the President seduced gullible Nigerians in the last Presidential elections was to reveal that out of poverty as a child, he was forced to go to school without shoes. Well Nigerians are now beginning to appreciate why God in his infinite wisdom permits certain things to happen. Perhaps God had all along seen something which the seduced Nigerians could not perceive. Nevertheless, we should be grateful to God for if people, who went about barefooted in their youth and who are now in a position to change things, can look on unconcerned or persist in outright denial while their nation is reduced to its knees by greedy, capricious elements, what would have happened to the nation if such people did not know suffering even for one day?
Speaking of being in denial, we have it on the good authority of the pre-eminent psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) and his daughter Anna Freud (1895 – 1982), that denial is a psychological defense mechanism in which a person faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to be accepted, rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Three forms of denial have been identified (Wikipedia). In simple denial, the individual denies the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether. In ‘denial by minimization’, the individual admits the fact but denies its seriousness. In ‘denial by projection’, the individual admits both the fact and its seriousness but denies responsibility of the fact by blaming somebody or something else.
It would appear that Mr. President is victim of one of the latter two forms of denial. It can be argued with merit that his ‘attitude-declaration’ admits the fact of corruption but denies its seriousness in causing the socio-economic turmoil in Nigeria (denial by minimization). It could also be argued with merit that the President’s attitude-declaration admits both the fact and seriousness of corruption but denies its responsibility for socio-economic turmoil in Nigeria transferring the blame on Nigerians’ attitude (denial by projection).
Whichever may the reality of the President’s condition of denial, what is irrefutable is that his utterance has injected a massive energizing boost to the franchise of corruption in Nigeria. There is a popular proverb among the Igbo (?) or Yoruba (?) people of Nigeria (I am curious to know its provenance) which aptly describes the situation. The proverb has it that a young urchin whose father has assured that there would be no consequences were he to burgle a particular house, does not bother with the usual niceties of inserting himself gingerly into the house via the roof or through a back window. In his zeal to impress his father, he marches confidently to the main entrance and tears it down with his bare feet.
That is the prevailing situation in Nigeria regarding the corruption franchise. And so courage, rejoice I say to all the looters in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the extortionists in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the kidnappers in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the petty and grand thieves in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the terrorists in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the rapists in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the blackmailers in Nigeria. Courage, rejoice I say to all the 419ers in Nigeria. Courage, you who persist in evil acts, take heart I say my brothers and sisters.
Take heart I repeat. For when the history of Nigeria is written by future generations; when the annals of the strange happenings in Nigeria are recounted by future historians, it would be said of the period 2010 AD to 2015 AD (?) about you looters, about you extortionists, about you kidnappers, about you petty thieves, about you grand thieves, about you terrorists, about you rapists, about you blackmailers and about you 419ers, about all who persist in evil acts – it would be said that this was their finest hour.
Happy New Year 2013 and as always May God bless Nigeria – in – distress.
Engr. A. C. Konwea, P.E.