From perfidy to perfidy
By Theo Adebowale
The house resolved that since we age by the day and tomorrow holds no hope, we must begin to take steps that would minimize hardship at retirement. One contributor said the new management at his workplace had dipped its hands into the pension fund and depleted it. With the aid of the Board of Governors, all accounts of the organisation had been fleeced as such, no assurance that the organisation would be able to meet any of its obligations anymore beginning from now.
Recruitment of workers continues all the same. Another contributor from Skill Acquisition reported that though their honorarium or whatever it is called, bothers on the ridiculous as some take N7,500 per month, some N10,000 per month, yet the public agency has not paid any of the trainers in the past six months. Then, the third group comprising farmers, livestock and crop farmers submitted its report.
Having raised capital from savings, gratuity and loans, a multipurpose farmers cooperative was founded. Forty contributors raised over N3million for a start. They set out to till the ground. With allocation from a River Basin Authority, they secured some hectares of land. Then access to farmland showed up as a major challenge to surmount. With some laborers from that neighbourhood, they made to cultivating the land. It proved so laborious, expensive, and frustratingly so.
They looked up to the mountains, but help refused to come. Farming activities were seriously hindered. Coupled with dishonest laborers it seemed returns would be minimal. Then the last straw, timber ‘hunters’ sighted some mature trees on the farmland. They mobilized to the farm, felled the trees and vandalized the hectarage. Reports were lodged with the security agency nearby. Vandals escaped and it was the end of an investment.
Another farmers’ group was accommodated by the Airport Authorities. They specialized in maize and cassava. They are lucky with transportation. The road is motorable and location is just at the outskirt of the city. Activities were commenced in earnest. That investment would be productive and profitable, they assured themselves. Thank God they did not go the way of the River Basin. Some of the farmers even took family members to the plantation during midterm and Easter breaks. But that was until one Monday morning, one of them went to the farm only to meet some shepherds and their ranch. They were uprooting the cassava roots to feed the cattle. Two of them were carrying AK47 guns. The gentleman farmer beat a retreat and ran for dear life. A female farmer nearby was not as lucky. She was matcheted but rescued by passersby. A report was lodged with the police. They effected arrest, brought victim to the Primary Health Centre, held her assailant for some hours, and let go of both.
This extract paints a picture of a socio-economic situation in a typical South West Nigeria human settlement. Government appears incapacitated by nefarious activities of its servants while citizens are consequently subjected to the tyranny of incompetent fraudulent and negligent agencies. Legitimate business is becoming less and less profitable and uncertainty thickens by the day making self help justifiable and acquisition of riches by any means whatsoever an option. The justice delivery system often fails to impose deterrence on big time rogues.
The other day, on conviction, a public official prosecuted for stealing over N170million was sentenced to six years imprisonment on each of the seven count charge, with an option of N6million fine on each, it was a more severe punishment than that on a similar conviction some six years earlier.
In this era of anti-corruption war, we are all aware that caution is the word. Imagine a Chief Executive who knows that an organisation has been factionalised by its management. He would be expected to disband that and appoint a new management. However, one with high quality wisdom might spare its tenure and allow it to run its full cycle more so, to discourage further factionalisation! But it is also good for that management, if its books are in a shambles. To prevent future scandal, there could be damage control and reconstruction. Characters who were fingered in frauds and were frightened by likely consequences of their actions could now regain confidence and shout it to the hearing of their adversaries that; man proposes but God disposes. Who knows, that may be a way of giving our institutions academic freedom to become centers of excellence? Who knows, that may be a sure route to academic break throughs?
And there are authorities. A former President published it some years back that his deputy stole a humongous slice of wealth from the national treasury and recommended that the politician must be prevented from occupying public office any more. He pointed out several fraudulent attributes of that politician to buttress his position. Perhaps out of remorse, the politician never contested what seemed as defamation of character. Those who expected him to approach the judiciary for redress were sore disappointed. A few months ago, that deputy hired some highly placed citizens to accompany him to his former boss and accuser. After their meeting, the former President announced to the whole world that the former criminal had repented, asked for forgiveness and so stands forgiven. According to the President emeritus, the man is now eligible to be elected President.
My forecast is that our public institutions are endangered, because those occupying leadership positions are a different breed of creatures. In their sophistication, the marginalized middle class that would normally disseminate their message to the larger population may be too confused to understand the message. Whereas so much danger seems imminent, we may draw solace in the fact that the dark cloud has a silver lining as, dialectic materialism is for real. In collective amnesia we may not have a thought for the darkest hour. Not that it would not come, though a system may tolerate input to the extent of processing garbage in, garbage out, when poison or nuclear waste pass through, there would be no remedy.
Agriculture appears capable of minimizing the calamities of the darkest hour. The Nigerian state can make out parcels of farmland in each of the 774 local councils. These parcels can be allocated to those who want to participate in farming according to their competencies and preferences. Settlements should be on specialization. They should be a product of collaboration between families, council areas and state governments. To reduce further misapplication of scarce resources budgeted for agriculture, Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Agriculture and relevant ministries and agencies should do business with the registered settlers. This would serve as a place of refuge during the darkest hour. It is an essential fall back position.
Unless we are privileged to operate at the same level of wisdom as do some public officials who are swift to overlook and forgive trespasses of criminal gangs, we may continue to see their actions as treachery. We may even form the opinion that criminal elements may be offered greater responsibilities and such an assumption would continue to gain ground to our eternal damnation. All the same, we must keep remembering that one opening of legitimate business with potential for national spread is agriculture. With meticulous planning to accommodate herders, breeders and crop farmers under modern technology before this system sinks further from absurdity to treachery from perfidy to perfidy. Remember, the Bible says: When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.