Analysis & Opinion: A Nation’s Perpetual Self Subversion

By Sunny Awhefeada


Nigeria is anguished and knocked into an existential cul-de-sac that is fastened to hopelessness. Our anguish as a nation is not inflicted on us by outsiders. We wield and use the whip that lacerates us on ourselves and we do so daily, if not hourly or even every minute! Our existence is a lie which again and again runs against the grain of how life should be lived and how societies are organized. We are marooned on an island of chaos, rot, malevolence and other indices that are antithetical to orderly existence. Our anguish has become an ordeal that defines us as a people and as individuals. Life for us is absurd and irreversibly chaotic and not even the most fertile and imaginative of minds could script a play or a narrative that could have envisioned our predicament. We are a people high on self-destruct. Time there was when the trend was to lay the blame of our underdevelopment on Europe. More than sixty years after the dismantling of colonialism we have not been able to get our bearing right. We have managed to land ourselves in a malignant whirlpool which we devised.

The bizarre character of our existence threw up the almost unbelievable incident of a police officer under suspension for his involvement in financial crimes now getting arrested for a drug related offence! Once upon a time, police officer Abba Kyari was a celebrated super cop credited with crime bursting no matter how tough. He was also the blue eyed boy of the establishment. His name was on every lip and the media, conventional and new, saw him as a darling to be drooled over. That was before Hushpuppi, one of Nigeria’s most celebrated internet fraudsters, landed in hot soup in the United States of America. American investigators smelt Abba Kyari all over Hushpuppi. The smell was stronger than that of ishani and they requested for his extradition.

That was in July 2021. The Nigerian establishment dithered, and between the Police Service Commission and the Federal Ministry of Justice nothing was done beyond merely suspending the guy. Eight long months later after the Americans indicted Kyari, Nigeria was still pampering him and he enjoyed the luxury of attending the five star wedding ceremony of the incumbent Inspector General of Police. He also had the guts, despite the arrest warrant hanging over his head, to get involved with a drug ring!

This is Nigeria and the sordid if not absurd story can only happen in Nigeria, a nation heavily be-medaled as the world’s most corrupt. The tragedy of Abba Kyari’s case inheres in the sad and painful reality of the crime buster being a kingpin of the underworld. My generation cannot forget the tragedy of Deputy Superintendent of Police George Iyamu who was charged with the responsibility of eliminating armed robbery, but turned out to be a leading figure crime circles.

He was in cahoots with the deadliest armed robbery gang led by Lawrence Anini. Iyamu provided information and logistics support to Anini and his gang. He gave them security cover and also arranged to spring arrested gang members from detention. Iyamu lucky run ended one day in 1985. He was to be executed together with Anini and in 1986.

The Iyamu and Anini saga is just one angle of the yarn of our proclivity to self-subversion in Nigeria. Nigeria’s predominant ordeal today derives from the very individuals entrusted with the task of manning her many public institutions. Name them: the armed forces, police, the civil service, health, education and more. The worm that devours the kola nut lives inside it. Those who should drive these institutions have turned out to be the destructive cankerworm gnawing at their souls and by extension the very core of our existence as a nation. Ours is a tragicomedy that is daily mired by pessimism of the worst kind. It is in Nigeria that a kidnapper called Wadume will have a commissioned army officer of the rank of Captain on his pay roll. A soldier that was trained and who swore allegiance to defend his fatherland turns around to be enlisted in the services of a notorious kidnapper. Truly, Abba Kyari has good company in that Captain and their ilk all over Nigeria. That is why the flourishing, but dangerous phenomenon of bunkering and illegal refineries in the Niger Delta has been sustained.

The armed forces personnel collude with perpetuators and get paid handsomely. In the end the perpetuators smile and the soldiers smile, you chop I chop, while the nation’s economy bleeds and the environment sinks into further degradation.

Unbridled impunity has egged on the tendency to self-subversion. No “big man” gets punished for an offence in Nigeria. Everybody seems to be involved in the “under-develop Nigeria” cartel. We are daily informed about mindboggling stories of corruption, discoveries, arrests and prosecution that turn out to be pampering and nothing more. Some noise is made after any such major discovery. A week passes, then two or more and the furore evanesces.

The “big man” goes on to commit another heist. What has happened to Ibrahim Magu, Babachir Lawal, Hadiza Bala Usman, etc? These guys that were not too long ago fingered in massive fraud now walk freely as if nothing happened. Abdulrasheed Maina of the pension fund fame also enjoyed the same status of the untouchables until he was given a mild sentence that was not commensurate with the offence he committed. As I write, the nation is agonizing over toxic fuel importation, an act of economic sabotage deriving from self-subversion. That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is not able to function is an act of subversion. The same goes for the old National Electric Power Authority later Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria and other national assets that should have put Nigeria in the premier league of economic development.

The danger in the foregoing, which is what now holds us down as a nation, is the brazen tendency to abuse public trust and pillage public funds. It has become the norm. Others seeing the impunity with which perpetrators live and enjoy their loot also enlist in the rank of “lutocrats” and thus the looting continues and Nigeria continues to fail and groan. Government often tells Nigerians that there was no enough money to meet all our development needs or aspirations. The truth is that such a claim is not true. There is more than enough money, but the problem is that too much is being stolen. As I write the social media is awash with the story of an army general who forfeited over 10 billion naira stolen funds in properties to the Federal Government.

Another story says that an accountant in charge of the 13 billion naira discovered in Ikoyi some years ago has stolen 10 billion for himself. What about the 40 billion allegedly stolen form the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) by a former Managing Director? The list of such incidents of self-subversion is interminable.

No nation develops when she perpetually subverts herself. Nigeria is no exception. We must all enlist in the vanguard of moral gatekeepers and fight for the soul of Nigeria. We must reinvent the wheel and make self-subversion an anathema. We must rescue Nigeria from the vice grip of those asphyxiating her. The time is now!

Related posts

Leave a Comment