Connect with us

AFRICA

Nigeria as a peacock society. By Okey Ndibe

Published

on

Nigeria as a peacock society.
By Prof. Okey Ndibe
Special commentary to USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow Twitter.com/Chido247,  Facebook.com/USAfricaChido
The dramatic risein popularity of the so-calledselfie—the self-taken photograph—strikes me as a symbolic way of understanding a dominant aspect of social behavior in the world. Theselfie has, I suggest, further encouragedthe inflation of the ego and spawned narcissistic attitudes. In making it chic to aim the lens of a camera at oneself, the selfie has helped toempower the cult of the self, even a form of self-worship.

President-Goodluck-Jonathan-and-former-President-Obasanjo

President-Goodluck-Jonathan-and-former-President-Obasanjo

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a sourpuss out to scold people for cleaving to a fad. I’m interested in the craze at all only because I have recognized in it a metaphoric handle for explaining a particular malaise in Nigeria.
I have often argued that Nigeria is a form of peacock society, a society where the show-off is venerated. Anybody who attends a Nigerian party and sees the way people dress—men and women—would understand this aspect of social display. From the agbada that sweeps the floor to the gele (head wrap) that scrapes the sky, the scene at a Nigerian party often looks like a human attempt to recreate a gathering of peacocks. There’s the lushness of the Nigerian party scene, its unapologetic celebration of color, its unabashed air of gaudy exhibitionism, and the infectious gaiety of its atmosphere.
Depending on one’s taste, the Nigerian party scene can be resplendent or repellent. But it’s always visually fascinating. It’s as if the get-ups are in a contest, each determined to outshine the others.
This competitive spirit is present in other areas of Nigerian life. Years ago, on a visit to Nigeria, I ran into an old acquaintance on the streets of Lagos. I had known him in Enugu the year after I finished secondary school, and when he and I were junior level employees in a state ministry. In those days, he and I earned N100 per month. After paying rent and putting aside some money for transport to and from work, we had very little left. I remember how he and I often pooled money if we wanted to treat ourselves to roasted groundnut and banana.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I met this young man in Lagos and he was driving a brand new Pathfinder sports utility vehicle. It was his car, he assured me; he was eager to disabuse me of the impression he had borrowed it. And then he informed me that he owned three other cars. He was still single. When I expressed astonishment, he told me that four personal cars meant “nothing.” “There are other people like us who have 10, 15 personal cars,” he wanted me to know. His desire, he said, was to put money together to buy a fifth car, a Mercedes Benz, “for Christmas.”
As we talked, I got to know that the young man had not earned a degree from a university. Nor was it clear that he owned a profitable business. How, then, could he afford four cars—and aspire to buy a fifth? He’d joined the breed of youngsters who used a variety of scams to prey on the greed or gullibility of targets in Europe, North America, and elsewhere. That answer emerged when he attempted to sell me on forming a partnership with him. Since I lived in the US, he said, I should help him identify targets who had some money. He’d go after them with his “419” schemes, and we’d split whatever cash he was able to get. I said, thanks, but no. We parted in mutual incomprehension. I could not understand why somebody would do what he did in order to collect more cars than he needed; he, I suspect, could not fathom my disgust—much less my lack of interest in owning a variety of cars.
That encounter has struck me, lately, as providing a prism through which to illuminate certain compulsions in Nigeria. Why is it that too many Nigerian officials take to the predictable, sordid path of corruption? Why do too few public officials view their exalted offices as opportunities to make a significant difference in the fortunes of society? Why do the vast majority of public officials in Nigeria disdain the idea of legacy, the notion of acting as agents to make their environments better than they found it?
I think that a great deal of the answer is to be found in the craze of the selfie—an obsession with the self—and the preening, peacock sensibility that’s dominant in Nigeria. There’s no question: other societies are captivated by wealth and the wealthy. Some Americans go bunkers when they see a Hollywood star. Professional basketball players like Lebron James and Kevin Durant haul more than thirty million dollars for their ability to drop a ball through a hole. Even the communist leaders of China finally figured out that it would serve their country to enable aspects of capitalist investment and the attendant reaping of profit. (It’s to be noted, though, that the Chinese people are paying a huge price in environmental degradation for the gains of capitalist expansion).
However, I don’t know of another society where so many citizens, including ostensibly educated ones, are quite so complacent about the open, mindless looting of public funds by men and women who are addressed as “Your Excellency” or “Honorable This & That.” On the Internet, for example, a growing number of commentators can be counted on to defend, justify or rationalize every act of corruption, abuse of office, or sheer impunity by Nigerian officials.
I am a fairly attentive student of the ways in which language changes over time to express or accommodate equally changing social attitudes. In this regard, I find the Igbo phrase, “O na eme ofuma” (“He/She is doing well”) particularly intriguing. Years ago, that phrase was often used to make a moral judgment, to applaud a person for acting in a morally admirable manner.
In recent times, however, the phrase has come to denote—almost exclusively—that one has accumulated material wealth. I am disturbed that a phrase that used to specify and applaud excellent moral conduct has been hijacked and coopted to the service of lauding material enrichment. It’s even worse when one considers that the statement does not discriminate between wealth earned through honorable means and wealth that is illicitly acquired. Whether thief or entrepreneur, the same phrase applies.
It speaks to this evolving ethic of the individual, this apotheosis of the self, this sanctification of wealth as the ultimate, singular end. In order to serve this self-centered, money-based standard of achievement, too many Nigerians embrace the absurd. When former President Umaru Yar’Adua lay comatose in a Saudi hospital, his cohorts kept up the absurd impression that he was as fit as fiddle and providing dynamic leadership from his sick bed! The men and women who made that weird argument were not looking out for Nigeria; they were serving their pockets. They reeled in a lot of cash from that depraved enterprise. Yet, in a certain Nigerian parlance, they were “doing well.”
In October 2012, GovernorDanbabaSuntai ofTaraba State was seriously injured when a plane he piloted crash-landed at the Yola Airport. He has received treatment in three foreign countries, including the US, but anybody who sees or hears him can tell that he remains enfeebled. Yet, a small group of political operatives in the state are insisting that Mr.Suntai is ready to take on the challenge of running his state. It’s all part and parcel of this ethic of the self. It’s the kind ofillogic that makes sense in a society where theselfie has met the peacock.

  •Ndibe, a professor of African literature, is a contributing editor of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com. The second part of his commentary will be published next week. Follow him on twitter@okeyndibe

———

VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public policy networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira, on May 6, 2014.  

USAfrica MEDIAWATCH

On Nigeria’s Boko Haram, New York Times Nick Kristof misanalysis on CNN Fareed Zakaria’s GPS.  By Chido Nwangwu

Special commentary to USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow Twitter.com/Chido247,  Facebook.com/USAfricaChido

boko-haram-Islamic-militants

A few minutes ago, today May 11, 2014, on #CNN@FareedZakaria, the continuation of fanciful misanalyses and non-factual views about the root causes and “explanation” for the unrelenting mayhem unleashed by the violent Islamic sect #BokoHaram in#Nigeria were repeated by the award-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof @NickKristof and Eliza Griswold, author of the new book The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam.

Kristof especially, wrongly, argues that Boko Haram and similar groups are driven by economic disparity in Nigeria. not true in fact and logic.

Griswold says with a certain antiseptic disdain that Boko Haram is a “mess.” Simply a mess? After killing at least 2,000 Nigerians within 5 years.

Griswold adds it is more a struggle between moderate and extreme Muslims…. Seriously? I disagree.

First, I know that targeting and slaughtering and bombing, primarily, christians and demanding they leave the mainly Islamic northern region of Nigeria and visiting “unholy” fire and thunder on others they consider “Children of a lesser God” is mechanized, religio-political bigotry.  It is not economic; it is not moderates versus extremists.

Second, as a child survivor of the 1967-1970 Nigeria-Biafra war, I know the familiar consequences of mis-analyzing and understating the militarized, offensive moves of bigots, especially armed and well-funded groups such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram.Chido_Nwangwu-speaking-jan11_2014

I will close this brief response, for now; and available to debate the Boko Haram and Nigeria’s religio-political crises, here and elsewhere.                                                                         Dr. Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University in Rhode Island and former adviser on Africa business/issues to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; CLASSmagazine, AchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of AfricanChristians, Nigeria360 and the largest pictorial events megasite on the African diaspora www.PhotoWorks.TV . He was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn         e-mail: Chido247@Gmail.com wireless 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436).

——-
On Chibok Girls kidnap, terrorism and Boko Haram crises, President Jonathan should launch ‘Operation Iron Fist’, not this committee. By Chido Nwangwu. http://usafricaonline.com/2014/05/04/on-chibok-girls-kidnap-terrorism-and-boko-haram-crises-president-jonathan-should-launch-operation-iron-fist-not-this-committee-by-chido-nwangwu

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ 
IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary, exclusively, at USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

iCOMMENT

AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

Published

on

Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

Continue Reading

AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

Published

on

Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

Continue Reading

AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

Published

on

PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

Continue Reading

Trending

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: