Dokpesi’s N2.1b: Kini Big Deal?, By Bamidele Johnson

imageFor weeks now-and it is yet to abate-social media platforms have whooped, mostly, with joy at the arrest of some people in connection with the $2.1billion arms purchase contract scandal. So have drinking dens which, with heavy downpour of liquor, are matchless as venues of impassioned topical discussions.

Adults have behaved like schoolgirls in the presence of Justin Bieber. The glee has been astonishing, calling to mind a group of Barbarians beheading their rivals. Almost everyone with internet access wants to lynch the accused.

Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, the self-styled Emeritus Chairman of DAAR Communications, despite not being the one whose office is being investigated, became the star of the show. It was hardly surprising that Dokpesi has displaced Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and immediate past National Security Adviser, as the headline act of the latest corruption gig. Dokpesi enjoys a lot more visibility than Dasuki, whom he eventually admitted facilitated the payment of N2.1billion for “media and publicity” to his DAAR Communications, an outfit towards which President Buhari/All Progessives Congress sympathizers bear a hefty amount of ill-will.

Even those who would have wished the organisation well, on account of being on the side of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the elections, are happy that Dokpesi is in a jam. Almost every post reminds us that Dokpesi has been owing the staff of DAAR salaries for more than a year. Nobody seems to know exactly how long that has been the case, but his admission of being paid N2.1billion (and failure to pay salaries) greatly robbed him of sympathy. Some others in the same boat, according to reports, were paid bigger sums. Former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, was reportedly paid over N4billion to take the war against terror to the spiritual realm. $2.1b, N4b or N2.1b are all huge sums.

However, I suspect that the outrage being expressed is feigned and much of it is driven by politics. Many have carried on as though making public funds available on a “serve-yourself-basis” (and at all levels of government) was premiered by Dasuki. Public funds have always been served a la carte, with countless government agencies at federal, state and council levels functioning as buffet tables.

imageThis has been with us and will continue because beyond being entertained by disclosures such as those we have been served by arms contract probe, they do little more than offer us “vindication” that those we do not like are genuinely unlovable people.

We are not a people given to vigilance and lack the stamina to sustain an outrage. In May 2012, Vanguard quoted the Plateau State Information Commissioner at the time, Mr. Abraham Yiljap, as saying that the government discovered a fake commissioner on its payroll. Ghost workers are one thing. Ghost commissioner? The ghost commissioner, Yiljap said, was earning the salary and allowances attached to the office.

“I mean somebody appointed himself as commissioner and has been receiving salaries and other perks of office as one,” Yiljap was quoted as saying. Thankfully, he was not attending Executive Council meetings and had neither an official car nor accommodation.

A year before then, the Nigerian Tribune quoted the Attorney-General of Zamfara State at the time, Alhaji Garba Gajam, as saying a one-month old baby had been found to be a civil servant in the state. The baby, an obviously gifted child, possessed an Ordinary National Diploma and was employed by a local council. She has probably bagged an HND and participated in the mandatory youth service scheme.

Till today, I am not aware that anybody was punished in either Plateau or Zamfara. Indigenes of the two states simply moved on, probably to fast and pray that their turn of ghost commissionership or baby civil servant should not pass them by.

More often than not, our outrage is confected. Our disapproval arises from being kept outside the lootocratic loop. I am willing to bet that if all the state governors were replaced with randomly chosen pastors and imams, we would not move one inch closer to transparency. Nigeria is an ethical free trade zone, a society crawling with big and small-time hoodlums, perhaps the largest number per square metre on the planet. Dishonesty is by no means exclusive to Nigeria, but the degree here is exponential, condoned and even celebrated.

The dodgier you are, the more likely you are to be held up an advertisement of the “can do” Nigerian spirit and lauded like a Nobel laureate, even by the theocratic elite.

You will be an icon or amazon, a philanthropist gushing with milk of human kindness, an entrepreneur par excellence. From your mid-60s, you are an elder statesman, especially if you have a penchant for non-stop chatter, offering inane views.

Your record as a certificate forger, resume falsifier, issuer of fake job completion certificates as a civil servant or in the private sector, importer of fake/substandard goods, large scale pirate of intellectual property and counterfeiter of Alomo Bitters is deodorised by the tiny fraction of the ill-gotten wealth shared with those waiting for their turn to con the society.

That we often get defensive when the issue of corruption is raised shows that we are not exactly opposed to it despite all the noise we make. Nigerians are wont to argue, correctly though, that corruption is takes place everywhere, even in those countries we refer to as “saner climes”. But in those countries, it does not seep into every institution, office or authority like we have it here. No place is graft-free in our society. Parents buying exam papers for their kids or getting them to write exams in the so-called special centres, family members- qualified and not so qualified-getting employed/promoted ahead of others, having to bribe before your dead is accepted in a morgue or the sick in a hospital and having your townsman mangle the rules to make way for you are considered terrific. The list is a mile-long. Sickeningly so. The Nigerian sees nothing wrong in any activity-legal or otherwise-from which he/she benefits.

Commuters are happy when a bus they are in goes up against the traffic in the “one-way” fashion. They consider the driver smart and thank God that they are able to cheat law-abiding road users. Yet, they want those who have been implicated in the arms contract scandal to deal straight. They could not have deal straight because they are similarly convinced that gaining advantage via foul means pays. They play the same game, but in a different league.


Source: News Break

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