Monday 28 February 2011

Nigeria: Celebrating Honour Amongst Thieves

This blog was first published at Nigerians Talk under the same title.

A wrong comparison

They wore T-shirts proclaiming him the ‘Joseph of our time,' pretty much sums up the occasion to which I will provide a backstory. [News Story [1]]

Joseph was one of the 12 sons of Jacob in the bible who dreamt dreams of him being the leader of his brothers and created such envy amongst them that they sold him into slavery. In Egypt, he was a servant of high official whose wife fancied him and when he rejected her advances he was falsely accused of sexual harassment and dumped in prison.

A whole range of coincidences of fate occurred where he interpreted dreams of inmates and that reputation lead to him doing the same favour for the Pharaoh of Egypt, which culminated in his becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt and his dream coming true when famine in his homeland brought his siblings to Egypt and had them bowing to the authority of his office.

A thief of the lowest order

The said “Joseph of our time” has no such illustrious biography; as the Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, he along with many members of the board of directors were found to have grossly mismanaged public funds and were duly charged then justly convicted and jailed for their offences.

However, on release from prison this weekend, he made no speech expressing remorse apologising for his errors of judgement and the criminal acts that landed him in jail but was lauded, praised and feted as one of the wronged, in concert with many of the ruling and breaking bread with the presumed respectable of the country.

They are no role models

Indeed, one is surprised that the tide is changing in Nigeria where now there has been great revulsion at the fanfare that accompanied this event, we have had people who have long since gained respectability though having a provenance of criminality.

Lots of the moneyed who have unaudited sources of wealth, who cannot account for how they have become so rich having only held public office or worked in public service and are the brood of literally pauper parents and possibly poorer relations.

They have never been involved in industry and whatever qualifications and professions they might have could not have provided for the treasure troves they now dip into with reckless abandon, they have no scruples and with impunity they have milked and bilked the Nigerian Treasury, stolen and squandered, swindled and cajoled, creamed and scraped as they worshipped the god of corruption with body, soul, reputation, character and integrity.

The need for polite society

This was the modern-day Joseph that got thronged as he left prison hardly repentant but definitely defiant, beyond rehabilitation and perfected for the next possibility of corrupt enterprise that gives him honour amongst thieves of the same ilk.

Sadly, Nigeria has lost its polite society, the non-egalitarian reserve of snobbery that shunned people who were tainted with gossip of impropriety, talk less of allegation, indictment, conviction and the ultimate social death of imprisonment for crimes committed.

To crown the affront to all that is good and wholesome they congregated at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos – the cathedral of all that was once respectable, commendable, honourable and deserving of fawning obsequiousness by reason of breeding, pedigree, old money and social industry for a thanksgiving service which had in attendance a former president and some governors whose reputations should rank lower than the value you get out of manure.

However, the Nigerian narrative is changing, this event must be the one that opens our eyes to rejecting the celebrity of the criminal, those who find support amongst the powerful and are shielded from due opprobrium just because they have money and clout earned through their abuse of office to avert our gazes from the fact that they are criminals, thieves and are worthy of nothing but disgrace.

Thieves must not find honour in Nigeria anymore.


[1] 234Next | Bode George's triumphant return shocks Nigerians

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