Tuesday 22 March 2016

#CBNGate: Let's Arrest The Culture of ‘Na mu ne’, ‘Rankadede’ in Nigeria! (1)

Quote:  Entrenched poor leadership, impunity, corruption and nepotism are more dangerous in the long run than terrorism – Don Okereke

Preamble: Before doing justice to this essay, a caveat, and clarification suffices. Granted he is a politically conscious ‘change agent’, a devoted advocate of security and social equality, writer has zero political or parish-pump affiliation, at least for now. Don’t dissipate your energy trying to figure out where he belongs; whether or not he is anti or pro status quo. Born across the River Niger, writer relates with our brothers on the other side of the Niger. As someone that has ‘served with the Colours’, traversed the country with a stint across the Atlantic, he is unapologetically eclectic, broadminded, abhors injustice and bootlicking. This essay is not about individuals; it stems from unflinching passion, a bent to speak truth to power, hold leadership responsible and to proffer solutions to societal malaise inherent in our clime. Superior argument and tolerance are the hallmarks of civilized societies. We all don’t have to see things the same way, if you disagree with the writer, do a rejoinder with sophisticated arguments rather than troll or take to stereotyping. By the way, to the uninitiated, ‘na mu ne’ is Hausa for ‘our own’, nepotism if you want to be blunt while rankadede, more appropriately put, ranka ya dade is also Hausa expression which reads ‘may you live long’, sort of sycophancy meted out to eulogize more often than not, affluent folks.

Connecting The Dots: Youth Unemployment in Nigeria and Insecurity
Aside the wanton insecurity – indiscriminate kidnappings, armed robbery attacks, the unrelenting Boko Haram miasma, amongst others ravaging Nigeria, one more time-bomb with latent national security consequences is the unprecedented level of youth UNEMPLOYMENT and restlessness in Nigeria. Latest ‘guesstimate’ by the National Bureau of Statistics says the number of unemployed and under-employed persons in Nigeria surged to 22.45 million in the fourth quarter, Q4, 2015, about 1.75 million higher than 20.7 million recorded in the third quarter. At the risk of been simplistic, some of the aforesaid challenges are multiplier-effects of youth unemployment. Tertiary institutions in Nigeria fork out scores of graduates annually and there are very few new job openings. Simply put, supply dwarfs demand. The few jobs out there, especially those in government establishments are exclusive preserve of well-connected and ‘quota system’ candidates who sometimes lack the prerequisites. Devoid of some cushioning handouts like food stamps, unemployment, housing allowance or benefits, the situation in Nigeria is comparable to a jungle where only the strongest (well-connected) survives.

Enter The CBN: Now A Quintessential Club of Affluent Kids
From one tiring and uninspiring script to the other, the Nigerian public space is currently awash with revelations that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) secretly allotted employments to some children of affluent Nigerians and the beneficiaries were allegedly asked to choose any department in the CBN they wished seconded to, in flagrant disregard for extant provisions of the law and best practice. The list is a roll call of the sons and daughters of the crème de la crème of the Nigerian establishment, past and present. Conspicuous in the scandalous list are the Dambazzau’s, Arase’s, Ibe Kachikwu’s, Atiku’s, Mamman Daura’s (nephew of President Buhari), Ghali Na’aba’s amongst others. The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 Civil Society groups recently described the shady recruitment of affluent kids by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a ‘grand betrayal of the change mantra of the Buhari’s administration’.

Don’t Sacrifice Excellence At The Altar of Nepotism, Mediocrity!
Though the United Kingdom is way sophisticated and imbued with technocrats in all field of human endeavor yet the Governor of the Bank of England – Mr. Mark Carney was headhunted from Canada because of his know-how. Inter alia, Carney was also a former Governor of the Central Bank of Canada before his recent appointment. The British government wanted someone that can get the job sorted out and they traversed continents to fetch him. In Nigeria, the yardstick for employment is who you know, nepotism and how well you can kowtow to the powers that be. It’s high time we overstepped such primordial mentality. This culture of ‘na mu ne’ (nepotism), ‘rankadede’, ingrained fondness for perpetual servility, is our bane in this part of the world. Please let’s put square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes. There are better ways you can ‘look after’ one of your own than making him say, an M.D when there is a better qualified candidate. In the words of Dele Momodu, ‘a nation that fails to consult and use its best brains is doomed and may be permanently jinxed like we seem to have been forever’.

How Not To Sweep An Elephant Under The Carpet
The extremely lame alibi, hogwash that the CBN dissipates energy bandying, is to say the least, an invitation to ridicule, an insult to our collective intelligence. The ensuing outrage that greeted the #CBNGate stems from people’s expectation that such brazen influence peddling will be lacking in President Buhari’s administration. Nigerians are watching how this #CBNGate illegal employment bazaar will be handled by President Buhari, whether he will order the redeployment of the beneficiaries within the CBN or to other government MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies)? It won’t be surprising given that Nigerian elites are adept at entrenching impunity, exonerating their own and sweeping even an elephant under the carpet. Under erstwhile President Jonathan, a whopping N104 million was reportedly seized from one Nancy Ebere Nwosu who allegedly deposed to an affidavit to the EFCC to the effect that she was laundering the said amount for Dame Patience Jonathan. Till date, nothing came out this matter and nothing happened.

A Culture of Employment Racketeering, Nepotism and Bootlicking
It is so brazen, an open secret that employment racketeering is deep-rooted in Nigeria. Federal and State vacancies are for the highest bidders, reserved for affluent Nigerians. Do a census of cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy or those in the pay roll of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Office of the National Security Adviser, Department of State Security (DSS), the EFCC, ICPC and so on and so forth and tell us how many got there by merit. A friend of mine, a Christian who served in the intelligence corps of the Nigerian Army narrated how he was routinely bypassed for deployment to critical and ‘juicy’ positions because of his name, religion and refusal to convert to Islam at the behest of his boss who was a Muslim. There are environments, situations too where a Muslim is expected to alter his/her names, religion, to fit in. Who does not know that to be considered for some roles, appointments or to be awarded certain privileges, contracts in Nigeria, you must ‘belong’? This may entail kowtowing, belonging to the same cult as the powers-that-be, switching religion, name change, mode of dressing. While President Jonathan held sway, the Ijaw or Bayelsa attire was popular amongst politicians in and around Aso Rock. Now under President Buhari, politicians, power brokers, and hangers-on have swapped Ijaw dress codes for babanriga, danchiki with a cap to match.

Punch Newspaper of November 7, 2012, Page 9, recounts, ‘’the Federal Character Commission says it has started investigations into 16 federal government agencies for secretly employing people in violation of the Federal Civil Service guidelines’’. As usual, nothing came out of the so-called ‘investigation’. Recall that a while ago, the Nigeria Customs reportedly smashed a fake job syndicate in its fold. ‘’An audit committee in the Nigeria Custom discovered that 44 Cadets on training got their appointment letters by bribing corrupt officers of the Service’’. Multiple employment racketeering scandals came to the fore in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) - during the tenures of erstwhile Comptrollers-general Mrs. Uzoma and Mr. David Parradang. Similar to the #CBNGate, the aforementioned recruitments were shrouded in secrecy with employment slots appropriated to powerful politicians and their cronies. Mrs. Uzoma was sacked by President Jonathan; the latter was suspended and later sacked by President Buhari over   alleged recruitment of 1,000 immigration officers by the NIS in clear violation of due process. Then Minister of Interior – Abba Moro is currently been prosecuted for the ill-fated NIS recruitment exercise that claimed the lives of young Nigerians. Also bring to mind that citing cronyism, upon assuming office in 2015; President Buhari’s administration terminated the recruitment of about 65 Cadet Officers of Basic Course 28 of the Department of State Security (DSS) who were already ten months into their training at the State Services Academy (SSA) in Lagos.

The Bane of Nigeria
Nigeria is satiated with disingenuous rulers, people who benefitted and continue to benefit from the country. They are not ready to make sacrifices but implore the citizenry to make sacrifices. Nigeria has been and continues good to be good to the OBJ’s, Gowon’s, Buhari’s, IBB’s, Abdulsalami’s, TY Danjuma’s, Dambazzau’s, Atiku’s and the rest of them. They owe their material possessions and academic attainments to Nigerian tax payers. No wonder they and their ilks are profoundly evangelical about project ‘One Nigeria’. From enlisting to the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), paying zilch tuition fees to automatic employment in the military and subsequently holding plum national assignments through deft maneuverings. Upon retirement, they are entitled to mouth-watering benefits, pecks extended to their family. It’s very plausible that none of these geezers have ever sat for a job aptitude test their entire life nor do they appreciate the anxiety that comes with applying for a job and praying, waiting endlessly for a feedback. While these affluent Nigerians are busy embedding their spoilt wards in strategic and sensitive positions across government and private sectors, they order savvy, ambitious but hapless Nigerian graduates, youths to embrace agriculture, artisanship. They tell us foreign education is not for everybody, that it is the exclusive preserve of those that can afford it, forgetting the tax payer took care of their own education and still paying (indirectly) for that of their wards. They tell us to make sacrifices for the country, to think what we can do for our country and not what our country can do for us but their flamboyant lifestyle and disposition reflects the opposite of their preachments. My father – Ochiriozuo reiterates an aphorism, ‘’onye aghogburu ka agbara’’.

End Impunity and slap-on-the-wrist-punishments!
Nigeria must not compete or condescend to the level of a banana republic with segregated laws depending on one’s social status – for the rich and another for the poor for similar offences. A 31 year old man was jailed 45 years for stealing a fifty thousand naira phone belonging Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State while one Yakubu Yusuf who stole more than N23 billion from the Nigeria police pension fund was jailed two years or an option of seven hundred and fifty thousand naira (N750, 000.00) fine which he promptly paid within the court premises and walked away a free man. This is an insult to common sense and jurisprudence. A review of Nigeria’s penal code, judiciary is exigent.

Please click on this link to read part 2, concluding tranche of the essay:

Better still, copy and paste the link below on your browser: 


Written by: Don Okereke

Follow Don on Twitter: @DonOkereke

No comments: