Devil, the supreme spirit behind all evil acts, is indeed, working very hard in this country. Its converts and disciples are ever on the increase. Look around you. Most of what you see and hear are manifestations of devil’s rising allure. Theft, robbery, murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, rape, frauds and corruption in all forms – some of the vices pulling down this country – are gaining more strength and followership while the proverbial Good Samaritans, people who will rather lend a helping hand than take what does not belong to them, let alone kill in the process, are in short supply. You may wonder why I’m sounding like a pastor this week.
You need not to. It is because I’m bothered by the unfortunate direction that our various societies and our country, are heading. Good men and women are getting fewer by the day. Many people are giving up on the virtues of honesty and patriotism in pursuit of those negative things that society has promoted, unfortunately, to extraordinary prominence – money and power. These, rather than integrity, uprightness, service to humanity and selflessness, define the attitudes and character of most people today in our country.
Money and power and the quest for them rule and ruin the conscience of most Nigerians. People are ready to give up anything which, sometimes, could be their most highly prized possessions to have money and power. We have had cases of mothers selling their own children and fathers taking theirs to the cult shrines for ritual sacrifices that would spin money or pave the way for them to positions of power and authority. In our craze for money, we often forget to ask questions about people’s source of sudden wealth even when those sources are manifestly suspect.
We see paupers go into public office and come out heavily loaded with cash that was evidently stolen from public coffers and all we do is to hail them and welcome them back home with highly prized positions and titles that are meant for men and women of honour and integrity. Before I’m misjudged, let me quickly say that my views on money and power do not translate to a personal aversion for the two.
Far from being the case. Money is good. And so is power. What is bad is, and which is my reason for labelling them as evil, is the unfortunate act of promoting them, as many Nigerians have done, to a position that they are even competing for prominence with God Almighty in our personal lives. In other words, they are the roots of virtually all the evils that pollute our country today.
Money and power are the reason for almost all the strife that make peaceful co-existence among various ethnic and political groups difficult, if not impossible in our country. They are also the reason that our elections and electioneering process have remained controversial, why our country has failed to rise and to take its rightful place in the comity of nations. Public funds are almost always misapplied while the people we send into public offices abuse their mandate. Money and power are turned into the seeds of evil that threaten peace, unity and development. Look at what those evil seeds have done to our legislative houses.
They are eternally torn apart by arguments on the formula for sharing money and positions. It has become a tradition for members of our legislative houses to bicker and even impeach their leaders over money and power sharing. In the process, precious time is wasted and wrong decisions taken that have very fatal consequences on the Nigerian social condition.
It is the reason the country is unable to meet its responsibilities to its citizens. High rate of unemployment, low quality of education being offered by our schools and universities, poor health facilities, bad roads, lack of stable electricity power, reliable transportation system and several other social amenities that are lacking are all a product of the wrongs that our public officials commit under the influence of the evil spirit that money and power have been turned to. Governance in this country is always a frustrating betrayal of public trust. And that’s because it is driven by a consuming lust for personal wealth and power. It provides no reliable social services.
This leaves people with no other option but to look for ways, foul and fair, to provide for themselves. And, if people must generate their own electricity, provide their own water, pay children’s school fees in local and overseas institutions, seek medical help abroad, build their own houses and also provide for their graduate children who are unable to find jobs, something must give.
Their integrity must yield place to the supreme spirit called Devil. This may not be justification for theft in public office but it underscores the need for our governments to struggle to provide social amenities and create an economic environment that makes it possible for people to work and earn their own money. To achieve these, leakages in the management of public funds must be effectively plugged. Public funds must be judiciously applied to provide services and drastically change the social condition. It is only when the people can trust that government has the capacity to provide services and amenities that the forces that turn people into agents of the devil chasing after money and power can be checkmated.
-BALA DAN ABU e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org