PDP, corruption and betrayal of democracy

Father in heaven, you always provide for all your creatures so that all may live as you willed. You have blessed our country Nigeria with rich human and natural resources to be used to your honour and glory and for the well being of every Nigerian. We are deeply sorry for the wrong use of these your gifts and blessings through acts of injustice, bribery and corruption, as a result of which many of our people are hungry, sick, ignorant and defenceless. Father, you alone can heal us and our nation of this sickness… We beg you; touch our lives and the lives of our leaders and people, so that we may realize the evil of bribery and corruption and work hard to eliminate it. Raise up for us God-fearing people and leaders who care for us and who will lead us in the path of peace, prosperity and progress….”

The above is the Catholic Prayer against bribery and corruption in Nigeria. We have dutifully recited the above every Sunday in the last 16 years counting from around 1997 when Abacha the maximum ruler literarily took custody of the key to CBN fault. But while stealing was a secret act perpetrated by Abacha and some of his ministers, today, corruption appeared to have been legitimized by successive PDP administrations who since 1999 presided over the sharing of our national patrimony among their members. Contracts are awarded by the executive and even by the National Assembly to phantom companies and contractors are paid in advance. We saw this practice in Osun State in the dying days of Oyinlola’s illegal administration. When the Alaafin of Oyo complained about sharing of Oyo State choice properties among privileged members of government, Adebayo Alao-Akala, the then outgoing governor justified it by claiming senior civil servants presided over the sales to civil servants. Children of PDP stalwarts allegedly forged papers to fraudulently steal billions from government. Government itself is now seen by many Nigerians as an accomplice in the rape of Nigeria.

Only last week, ‘Madam Due Process’ Obiageli Ezekwesili, a co founder of Transparency International and former minister of solid minerals and later education, all in Obasanjo’s PDP administration, wanted the National Assembly to ask the president why it has suddenly become his duty and that of the Federal Executive Council to hold meeting over award of contracts when there are statutory bodies responsible for such duties.

Whilst urging us to keep on reciting our weekly prayer against corruption, the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaiye, last week said ‘corruption among Nigerian leaders has become a source of embarrassment to Nigerians living outside the country’.

For maximum effect, it was at the Ekiti Government House Chapel during a special thanksgiving service to mark the 50th birthday of the wife of State Governor. The Bishop probably expected Fayemi, an acknowledged decent governor to pass the message to them in Abuja.

Perhaps the Bishop should have added that even friends of Nigeria are equally embarrassed by the hypocrisy of our leaders over their lip service towards fighting corruption.

Donald Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain where many celebrated Nigerian felons have had encounters with the British judicial system had late last year, tongue in cheek, asked our leaders to account for over 10 billion pound sterling, an amount he said was more than all the aid to sub Saharan Africa, which they squandered in the last two decades.

Corruption is the major reason the name of Nigeria, the giant of Africa was not listed among countries to be visited during President Obama’s oncoming African tour.

But what do our leaders ask of God when they pray in Abuja church where they sometimes justify their actions, inactions and even sometimes make policy statements amidst presidential palace church congregation? Or is it that the jet flying prosperity prophets, regular visitors to the presidential palace only beseech God to rain thunder and fire on the perceived enemies of the president’s 2015 yet to be announced ambition? Do the people in Abuja and their pastors really give a damn about fighting corruption?

Our second reading last Sunday is from the second book of Samuel where Nathan gave God ‘s message to David “I anointed you king over Israel, and I deliver you out of the hand of Saul, and I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the land of Israel and Judea, and if this were little, I would add to you as much more…you have struck down Uriah the Hittite with sword and have taken his wife to be your wife…”

Our presiding priest, Father Ogunniyi reminded us that God was speaking to all of us including him. That the message is that sin is ugly. And that is why we often try to cover them up by committing more sins just as David did. But my mind kept straying to Abuja. Do the professional praise singers and prosperity prophets allow our president to remember he was a shoeless boy who became deputy governor, governor, vice president and president with little or no personal input as others fought his battles for him? Did they allow him to remember we all voted for him because he told us he understood our pains? How come there was no Nathan among the jet flying prosperity prophets in Abuja to remind him that those who expended massive funds on his election, only wanted to cover the massive theft of about N1.7triilion by forcing him to declare war on Nigerians through imposition of fuel tax?

The second reading was about Jesus Christ, the teacher from Nazareth’s encounter with a very sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee. If he were a true prophet, Simon thought, he would have known the woman was a sinful woman. But the Teacher from Nazareth told the woman of the world that her sins were forgiven.

Father Ogunniyi once again told us, the great teacher from Nazareth was addressing all of us. Jesus was only asking of what value is our much touted virtue if we are unable to forgive others. It is only through love and acceptance that we can win people to our side.

Once again, why there was no doubt we are all guilty, my mind drifted to Abuja. How come there are so many disharmonies among PDP family members? In Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos, and elsewhere in the country, prominent PDP members have lost their lives trough assassinations. Timipre Sylva, Rotimi Amaechi and Wamako are beleaguered members of PDP riotous family. But do they really pray in Abuja? Is it possible for those at war with their family members to love outsiders?

As I left the church last Sunday, I could not but reflect on Edmund Burke, the 18th century British parliamentarian, political thinker and philosopher founder of modern conservatism’s scepticism about democracy where ‘wishes, opinions, business’ of electorate should ordinarily take priority over the ‘repose, pleasure and satisfaction’, of the elected representative. But precisely because democracy also allows ordinary people with limited knowledge to be elected, ‘their dangerous passion often lead to violence and the confiscation of property’ of others. In place of ‘order, justice and freedom’, democracy promises, our nation has fallen into Burke’s “antagonist world of madness, discord, vice, confusion and unavailing sorrow”.

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