By Osa Director
It has receded into the backwaters of national discourse. As irrelevant as a scorned bride. But it remains a vital link in solving the nation’s intractable and, indeed, deplorable state of security.
Yet, those who vowed to fight corruption and protect our national treasury have chosen to look the other way, as if it doesn’t matter. It’s business as usual, a government for nobody but for somebody special.
The alarm raised by the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major-General Babagana Monguno, that arms and ammunition that cost the nation billions of naira were missing and in actual fact not purchased would have been a top priority for investigation by any serious government, especially that which promised to fight corruption!
But in a deliberate act of connivance, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has decided to gloss over the scandal. It is hoping as usual that, with time, Nigerians will forget and move on as if nothing happened.
As the young writer, Esosa Osa, noted in his article, “A Nation of Amnesia”, when our leaders commit crimes against the national interest, they are least perturbed. They know that after a while Nigerians will forget and move on.
In some cases where the people are taking more than a passing interest in a particular misdemeanour and crime, the leaders commit more heinous crimes. When that happens the earlier crime is forgotten, not probed, as the latest becomes the focus of fleeting attention.
According to Esosa, the national canvas is littered with forgotten crimes, and in moments of restored sanity the people embark on selective remembrance, coloured by ethnicity, religion and nepotism. Therefore, it is safe to say that Nigeria is truly a nation of amnesia.
Hence, it is not surprising that, in a country where insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and total lawlessness are the order of the day, the people and government have kept quiet over a serious allegation as the arms deal scandal. We have been told that the tools and equipment needed to tame the spate of crimes and violence in the land were diverted by evildoers who occupy strategic places and nearness to government, yet no one is bothered. Nobody is being called to account. Even the self-righteous government of anti-corruption is tongue- and hand-tied!
Truth be told, the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, was right when he said the nation was at war! Nigeria is a nation at war with itself and with everything, especially the truth. The national ship is teetering at the brink, yet we are living in denial.
The Buhari government and most of its officials are delusional and pretending that all is well. Propaganda is deployed as a tool to solve complex and complicated national challenges. Anyone with a contrary opinion is either a fraud, blackmailer or failed contract-seeking irritant in the eyes of the delusional presidential aides and political journeymen in the corridors of power.
The high level of insecurity in Nigeria today, whether in the form of Boko Haram terrorism, Fulani herdsmen-farmers’ clashes, kidnapping and other violent crimes, is propelled and accentuated by corruption and nepotism. While soldiers and other security agents are being killed in the frontline, the few officers saddled with the responsibility of purchasing and providing weaponry, in collaboration with their civilian godfathers and ‘thick’ men of power, are busy helping themselves and lining their pockets with the money meant for arms purchase.
The nation shouted hoarse for almost five years before Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai was removed as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), along with the other Service Chiefs, as it became obvious that they had no solution to the insurgency war.
Sadly, Nigeria is a country where failure is rewarded. Consequently, the removed Service Chiefs were immediately recommended for ambassadorial positions by President Buhari. Promptly, they were cleared by the Senate, whose leadership is largely an extension of the Presidency.
No serious country on Mother Earth will overlook such a grievous allegation by its NSA, whether it was later discounted as a slip of the tongue or not, especially as it concerns such a sensitive matter as arms meant to fight the raging insurgency and general insecurity in the country. Also, the colossal amount of money involved in the alleged sleaze is mind-boggling and needs addressing with a sense of justice.
No nation, not Nigeria, can survive with such a monumental scam and corruption. The country cannot advance the frontiers and wheels of growth and development if it allows every of its actions, decisions and inactions to be driven by the vices of corruption and nepotism.
Therefore, if the Buhari government is to be taken seriously for once in recent times, it should set up a high-powerd Special Investigation Panel to unravel the facts, figures and persons behind the arms and ammunition that were “purchased” but not supplied. That is a sure way to honour the memory of our fallen soldiers and heroes in the battlefield.
•Osa, a journalist and lawyer, writes from Lagos