by Ife Adebayo
Professor Achebe’s rejection of the recent national honour by the PDP led government of President Goodluck Jonathan is a testament to the fact that he died without his dreams for Nigeria being fulfilled, neither did he see any hopes that these dreams will be fulfilled in the near future…
October 1st, 1960, a new nation was born, Nigeria gained independence from its colonial masters. It was the dawn of a new beginning. Hopes and aspirations were high. One of those celebrating this feat was the late Professor Chinua Achebe, the author of ‘Things Fall Apart’. In an interview with the Guardian UK in 2010 he had this say – “when independence came in 1960 it was as if the rains had come after a long period of harsh winds and bushfires”. However by 1966, 6 years after independenc,e Achebe felt there were already “far too many indications that we might not be going to have a good time. There was theft, corruption and even some violence”. At this time though, he felt it was not yet a complete failure, he said “we still thought we could get things right”.
Were Professor Chinua Achebe’s hopes dashed? You can judge from his further statement – “the most recent estimates of the cost of corruption suggest that since independence $400bn has been pilfered from the national treasury. That is greater than the GDP of Belgium and Sweden. They have stolen more than the entire economy of a European state, which makes it impossible for civic society to exist. Twenty-seven years ago I wrote a pamphlet called ‘Trouble in Nigeria’, which was about corruption. Today matters are worse because they have been allowed to get worse”.
When Nigeria was being ruled by the military it was soldier go, soldier come. Obey before complain. Corruption was institutionalized. However after the return to civil rule in 1999 Nigerians were optimistic. Once again in Professor Chinua Achebe’s words “it was as if the rains had come after a long period of harsh winds and bushfires”.
But where are we today? Nigeria was ranked 139th most corrupt country in the world in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report of 2012, same position as Nepal and Pakistan. On a list that has our neighbour Ghana as 64th and the Southern African country Botswana as 30th. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2012 scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Botswana’s CPI score for 2012 is 65 while that for Ghana is 45. For Nigeria it is a dismal score of 27. In 2011 Nigeria ranked 143rd most corrupt country with a depressing score of 2.4 out of 10 possible points while Ghana was ranked 69 with a score of 3.9. Comparing the 2011 and 2012 scores shows that Ghana has made significant strides in its CPI rating with a leap of 24 spaces up the rankings while Nigeria made only a minor leap which can be ignored due to the difference in number of countries surveyed. This is not surprising as the country has not made any significant changes with regards to corruption.
Professor Achebe’s rejection of the recent national honour by the PDP led government of President Goodluck Jonathan is a testament to the fact that he died without his dreams for Nigeria being fulfilled, neither did he see any hopes that these dreams will be fulfilled in the near future, to make matters worse, the current government decided to grant a State Pardon to former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The pardon showed the absolute lack of zeal by the current government to fight corruption; the government has sent a message to Nigerians that it is okay to be corrupt. Granting a presidential pardon to a man who embarrassed the whole nation by jumping bail in a foreign country and who is still being tried for money laundering in the United Kingdom. This poor judgement by the Goodluck Jonathan administration will certainly have a negative effect on the country’s corruption perception index both within the nation and internationally.
Professor Chinua Achebe like many others before him died without seeing the Nigeria of his dreams. The only way to truly honour him will be to start working now to ensure a new Nigeria, a Nigeria where corrupt practices are punished. The Nigeria of our dreams. One of the most efficient ways of ensuring a new Nigeria is by building a formidable opposition, an opposition that can give the people an alternative. As we work to build the All Progressives Congress (APC) I enjoin all Nigerians to come on board and be a part of this new party. Come 2015 Nigerians want something different from the PDP, something different from the corruption laden government we’ve had since 1999 that has led us nowhere. Now is the time for change.
Ife Adebayo is an IT Consultant with work experience in Germany, United Kingdom and Nigeria. He currently runs his own IT firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an ardent believer in the Nigerian project and encourages all Nigerians to become actively involved in making Nigeria a better place. A registered member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, he was an active member of the UK branch of the party, holding the post of Youth Leader for the year 2010/2011.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.