By Ayeni Shamsudeeb
The past one week was not fairly good to the reputation and image of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Foreign countries played host to some of the melodramatic and ugly incidents that caused the nation both national and international embarrassment. In particular, there were four major events that paint the nation in very bad light on the global map in the past week. Each one of them tells a whole lot about us as a people and as a sovereign state. Without mincing words, Nigeria has never experienced such tumultuous and disgraceful week in her recent political history judging by the gravity of the consequential effects of all these acts.
To start with, the case of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky portrays us as a nation incapable of providing for the health care of her citizens. This is not good for us as a nation, that after 20 years of uninterrupted democracy, our leaders still have to travel almost all the time to foreign lands for their medical care for all kinds of treatment. This is because Nigerian leaders have high appetite for anything foreign including the education of their children. They do not only believe in our health system, they have also failed greatly in providing adequate and well equipped health facilities for the rest of the citizens who may not be able to afford their own medical treatments abroad. It is just too nauseating and highly pathetic that having spent so much money and time by both parties involved, the medical trip to India was unsuccessful and aborted as Sheik El Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah Ibrahim were returned home untreated amidst several accusations, counter accusations and diplomatic misunderstandings.
The Nigerian government has a record history of trying to dishonour and renege on her part of agreement she enters into with labour unions in the country. Bearing this in mind, one can say that Nigeria scored an own goal in the lingering legal battle between her and an engineering firm, Processing and Industrial Development (P & ID) Limited. The engineering firm (P & ID) got a favourable judgment from a U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. affirming a $ 6.59 billion arbitral award, plus $2.30 billion interest, against Nigeria following a dispute over alleged breach of contractual agreement by the country’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). If anything, all the people involved in the drafting and signing of this agreement on behalf of Nigeria should be queried, and thoroughly investigated and punished for putting the country into this kind of dire and regretful mess at a time the nation is still borrowing in order to meet her financial obligations.
This is necessary to save our nation from such embarrassment in future and teach other Nigerian officials a lesson to be more diligent and meticulous. I must also add that we should do all we could as a nation to pursue aggressively a political solution with a view to reduce the financial worth of the sanctions handed down on the nation. Appealing the court judgment might sound good, but should we lose the appeal we may worsen the matter and the current $ 2.3billion interest might increase further. Thus, Federal Government must act fast by not allowing another round of negligence and dilly dally.
In the same week, precisely 16 th August, the social media was agog and awash with the news of arraignment of a celebrated Nigerian entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke in an American Court bordering on charges of computer and wire fraud to the tune of $11 million US Dollars. The news came to many as a rude shock because Mr Okeke is an honouree of Forbes Africa 30. Mr Okeke is still assumed innocent until proven guilty. Cyber-crime has however, become a growing and shameful phenomenon among the Nigerian youths. On many occasions, the nation’s anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arrested and jailed quite a number of such internet fraudsters (popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo boys) across the country. Laziness, greed, moral decadence and failure of leadership at all levels of government are largely responsible for the upsurge of this dubious business model among the youths. Apart from the pains, untold hardship and terrible experiences the victims are faced with; cyber-crimes have also dented the image of this nation and caused the nation embarrassment.
Finally, as the week was about winding down, another bombshell surfaced on the social media space. A video clip showing the former Deputy Senate President and current Senator, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu being humiliated, harassed and beaten up in Nuremberg, Germany by some aggrieved members of the proscribed group (IPOB) went viral on the social media. I dare say that what happened to the Senator is not new in our polity at all. Have we forgotten that former Senate President, Dr Olubukola Saraki was pelted on Eid ground in Ilorin in 2015? Let no one also forget how the convoys of former President Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent President Buhari were stoned during their presidential campaigns of 2015 and 2019 in Bauchi and Ogun States respectively! All these unfortunate incidents both home and abroad have only shown the level of resentment and disrespect many Nigerians have for their leaders. Frustration, hopelessness, despair, hunger and bad governance are the fuels keeping the fire of mob attacks and assault on our political leaders burning in and outside the country.
We may condemn these attacks and even call the perpetrators all kinds of names, but without providing quality leadership and good governance, such attacks may not end any time soon. Our politicians should not only castigate the perpetrators, they should equally address the root causes of these attacks. We also need the same punishment given to the bullies of Senator Ekweremadu to be extended to the unscrupulous elements molesting and killing our innocent citizens unjustly. As we call on the German authorities to bring the perpetrators of the unfortunate attack to book, the Nigerian government must also ensure that those responsible for the killings of other innocent Nigerians in the country are brought to book. This is the only way we can build a just society.