Dana Air Crash: The Metaphor

As long as we are content to accommodate and nourish mediocrity.

As long as a former president can announce that within four years of his leaving office, $35 billion has disappeared from the country’s foreign reserves in the hands of the current government, and you cannot even hear a pin drop.alt

As long as questions are not asked, and the right questions, once asked, are not asked again and again, selflessly and loudly.

As long as men and women, when they assume public office, suddenly become gods to be feared, and goddesses to be worshipped.

As long as hundreds of human skulls can be removed from a crime scene, and the shrine priests carted away for trial, accompanied by massive evidence in in their handwriting, but nobody is ever tried or even embarrassed.

As long as a governor can say, “The President, here in this airport, declared that N300 billion went into the air [but he] allows the people who collected this money to walk the streets [in freedom].”

As long as a president can claim he is championing a transformation, but cannot find the strength to put it on paper so that his plan is accessible for implementation and evaluation.

As long as our electoral machinery is the Pied Piper, who is unashamedly beholden to the man with the money.

As long as we comforted by promises rather than by performance, and we lack the outrage to challenge duplicity with a robust “NO!”

As long as a Nigeria ruler can proclaim, “We need a revolution in the power sector,” but ignore the deeper need for a revolution in the ethical and moral.

As long as a Christian can find justification in his heart, in a Christian Church, not to say “Amen” to an earnest prayer about public good.

As long as the Senate can level heavy allegations of corruption against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at a public hearing, including the spending of $600 million without the approval of the National Assembly, and those allegations and the report of the Senate simply vaporize.

As long as issues are many, and causes, few.

As long as it is neither what you say, nor what you do.

As long as the people are leashed by men of easy virtue, and herded by women of shallow philosophies.

As long as a governor can say, "My only regret is that history will put me as part of this blood-thirsty government because the Nigerian people have asked for bread and you have given them bullets… and people are sitting, laughing in paradise called Abuja.”

As long as the federal government can casually take a $140 million World Bank loan towards “strengthening governance and accountability, reducing corruption and improving service delivery to the population,” and the funds vanish, with nobody accounting for them, and nothing strengthened, reduced or delivered.

As long as a governor can say of a N17 billion Paris Club loan allegedly obtained by his predecessor, "There was no record of expenditure by anyone, there was no legislation backing any spending of it and there was no project sited anywhere in the state in the name of the money."

As long as we think that the same old cowardice, manipulation and patronage that stymied the journey to El Dorado and yielded us failure, shame and squalor will yield differently for our children.

As long as an outstanding, outspoken and selfless aviation safety advocate such as Jerry Agbeyegbe can be silenced by police bullets on a Lagos street, and justice is silenced by indifference.

As long as visitors to government house are lavishly enticed with “Transport Fare” that is large enough to repair roads, provide water or build schools.

As long as government reports and White Papers disappear as soon as they are announced, and you do not need to blink to be one of the fools.

As long as an internationally-respected Attorney General and Minister of Justice can be shot to pieces in his own home, the killers never found, and nobody is ashamed.

As long as a national leader, asked why he is not stepping up the war against corruption by prosecuting former governors known to have looted their states, can say, “they are my friends.”

As long as a national leader can own a $10 million house in central London and exclude it from his public declaration of assets, and that country, finding out, does not—like Libya claiming and then winning the rights to Saadi Gaddafi’s ┬ú10m luxury mansion in the same city—immediately file a suit to recover it.

As long as the CCB can ignore a written complaint that Nigerian public officials stashed away about $2.2billion in foreign banks in just four years.

As long as some of Abuja’s richest are—right in front of the police, the EFCC, the ICPC and the CCB— the country’s best-known thieves.

As long as an internationally-celebrated Minister of Finance can be a member of a government that claims to be transformational, but never breathe one word about Nigeria’s betrayal of the Millennium Development Goals, or shed a tear about the devastation of corruption and contempt for achievement.

As long as a presidential candidate can make a multitude of campaign promises but having taken office, is not vigorously and rigorously held to them by journalists and editorial writers.

As long as the Minister for Planning can promise that the Transformation Agenda, when published, will change our ethical standards for the best, but never publish the agenda.

As long as the National Security Adviser believes in his heart that the party he serves is at the heart of the country’s most intractable troubles, but would neither resign nor be sacked.

As long as prosperity-preachers emerge among the country’s most prosperous, but prosperity remains furtherest from the people, and answers become far fewer than questions.

As long as government finance officials lavishly live above their legitimate income, and Transparency International can announce that Nigerian civil servants alone accounted for over $3.2 billion in bribes in 2010/2011.

As long as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, among others, are the subjects of scandalous corruption allegations that are not investigated or discharged.

As long as we award National Honours to scoundrels and thieves, and ignore the principles of merit and honour.

As long as security personnel fulfill their functions by beating, maiming and shooting innocent citizens, while the criminals walk free.

As long as soldiers in full military attire can alight from a service vehicle in broad daylight and proceed to beat the living daylights out of a motorist whose sin is that he is unable to move his vehicle aside in heavy traffic for that of an oversized army officer.

As long as it is important only if it is on CNN...we will be embarrassed, betrayed, hurt and perpetually set back as a country and a people. Our culture, prospects, institutions and infrastructure will continue to decay, our homes will be in danger of collapsing on our heads, we will lack roads to travel on, and our planes will always be in danger of falling out of the sky.

In the end, and with love and respect to all the families and friends who lost their loved ones last Sunday, that was not just an airplane crash: It was a metaphor for whom we have become: a primitive, submissive people who must rethink and remake their under-developing country.

We should not have to live in a country in which, to paraphrase Spiro Agnew, we would rather sit in hell than be standing up in paradise.

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