Wale Sokunbi: The Many Ghosts Of Nigeria (Readers Beware!!)

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Nigeria is a country of many ghosts, apparitions, goblins, phantoms, spooks and spirits. Anyone who doesn’t believe this has probably not thought deeply enough about the Nigerian condition. If the daily happenings in the country are anything to go by, the nation appears remote-controlled by mischievous demons intent on leading it to the precipice, and tilting it right over.

If there are any doubts about this, the doubting Thomases will do well to consider the “invisible” spirits putting names of equally invisible and non-existent ghost workers on the payrolls of the Federal, State and Local governments. These ghostly payroll officers have been in the Nigerian civil service for several decades, and, as it is now appearing, they may be there forever, after all, ghosts do not die.

That is why ever since the media began reporting this phenomenon, many many years ago, the ghost payroll officers have been waxing stronger and stronger and putting the names of more and more of their ghost children, ghost cousins and ghost nephews on our payrolls, in what appears an interminable phantom plot devised to crash the Nigerian public service.

The result of this “ghostly enterprise” is that Nigeria is paying well over N100 billion to 45,000 non-existent ghost workers for work never done, and the government is unable to fish out both the ghost payroll officers who sex up the payroll and their ghostly offspring who collect salaries every month! What about the ghosts in the fuel subsidy regime in the country?

For over a year now, Nigerians have been entertained with stories of ghostly subsidy schemers said to have collected trillions of Naira in subsidy payments when they only brought “ghost fuel” into the country. Buying ghost fuel abroad and “shipping” them into the country in dead and abandoned “ghost vessels” that stopped sailing many years ago, these ghost subsidy scammers have all their “papers” for the “fuel discharges” and subsidy payments okayed by ghost officials of Customs, Ports Authority and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Not ghost officers really, but, for the purpose of bringing the subsidy scammers to book, they are as dead and ghostly as any ghost can be. What about the little troublesome demons responsible for accidents on our roads? Please, don’t mention the public works top guns and other officials that are supposed to ensure that Nigerians ply good roads. These officials are “unknown” ghosts, who are only too glad to let their little brothers and sisters, the goblins and demons, free on our expressways, tipping vehicles over, causing accidents and reaping a grim harvest of lives.

Yet, nobody can be held responsible for the carnage, because the officers that are supposed to rid our roads of restless baby ghosts masquerading as potholes are also spirits, you can call them “grandfather ghosts.” Why are many children becoming unruly these days, and parents appear to have lost control? You guessed right! It is the “ghost parent” phenomenom at work. Or, how do we describe a situation in which many parents leave their homes well before dawn, only to return late in the night, while the children and wards are left to their own devices, all day?

Like true ghosts, some parents prowl about at night, when they are supposed to be with their children. What about the great grandfather of Nigeria’s ghosts, the Boko Haram insurgents and their phantom sponsors? In the Northern part of the country, these restless ghosts have turned the region into a war zone. Innocent citizens are killed at will, churches, schools and police stations are bombed, thousands have died, all at the hands of ghosts. In a single day in a Northern city, sometime ago, devilish ghosts killed over a hundred people with guns and bombs.

Now, the Boko Haram kingpins want dialogue and amnesty, but can President Jonathan negotiate with faceless ghosts? Not at all. I bet he is as scared as you and I. Who would want to be caught negotiating with ghosts, especially the types that prowl about at noon with hand grenades under their babarigas? And, where does this leave Nigerians? We must continue to live with the Boko Haram spirits until we can devise an ingenuous way to stop the insurgency, since ghosts cannot be charged to court or jailed. In addition, the death penalty does not really apply to Boko Haram ghosts. Or, is it possible to kill a ghost? No.

That is “impossibility that can never be possible!” Strangely, however, the security agencies have been involved in killing of Boko Haram ghosts since this insurgency began. Now, let’s consider the ghosts of our power sector. Ha! These must be the most stubborn and recalcitrant ghosts that ever prowled the Nigerian landscape. Nigeria, for as long as I can remember, has been troubled by ghosts in her power utility (formerly National Electric power Authority (NEPA) now Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) that have held the country by the jugular. Who, indeed, will rescue Nigeria from the power sector ghosts?

I really cannot say. Several times, President Jonathan has vowed to lay these most restless of ghosts to rest and ensure stable electricity supply for the country. The president, himself, promised us about two years ago that we would soon throw away our generators and say bye-bye to candles and kerosene lamps but the stubborn PHCN ghosts of Nigeria said No. Who can blame them? Who, indeed, can wrestle with faceless ghosts and their even more spooky sponsors? In health, the education sector, employment matters and all other areas, ghosts are stalking the land and causing havoc.

Ghost employees have taken over all available job spaces, with ghost recruitment officers demanding money from job applicants in shameless cash-for-jobs schemes. Ghosts are responsible for poverty in the land, armed robbery, greed and the like. They are behind the obscene allowances of our federal lawmakers and other political appointees, which leave very little for other development efforts.

They eat up our roads and cause mass failure of our students in their examinations, such as the Senior Secondary Examinations conducted by WAEC and NECO. They are responsible for the stubbornness of polio in Nigeria, even when the infection has been kicked out of most parts of the world. How will Nigeria tackle these restless ghosts that are holding the nation hostage? Let our leaders eschew their phantom lifestyle and try to land on this side of reality.

They must stop handling the problems bedeviling the country with “ghost gloves”, and settle down to the task of exorcising the many demons troubling our country. The commotion at Ogun House of Assembly The Ogun State House of Assembly was in the news last week for the wrong reasons. The legislators were involved in a brawl, which led to the destruction of the mace, which is the symbol of the authority of the House.

Reports indicate that the problem in the House revolves around the bid by the State government to obtain a N150 billion bond and the attempt by the House to constitute a Tenders Board. The House became divided as a group of 12 legislators favoured the proposal, while another group, numbering 14, opposed it. Following resumption of discussion of the issue last on Tuesday, last week, four legislators, who were said to have walked out during a previous plenary session, were announced to have been suspended by the Speaker, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi, even when nobody had seconded a motion to suspend them from office moved by one of the legislators.

This led to bedlam as a group of 14 of the 26 lawmakers in the House also “suspended” Adekunbi and announced the appointment of Hon. Remmy Hazzan as the new Speaker, leading to the emergence of two speakers in the House. Security operatives had to be invited to keep the peace. The news that came out of the Ogun Assembly last week is embarrassing, to say the least.

It is unbecoming for lawmakers to resort to such disorderly conduct to make their points. Whatever point the legislators had to make should have been made through dialogue, without throwing the House into crisis that led to the invitation of the police. This latest crisis in the House is reminiscent of the one that marred the 6th Assembly in the state during the regime of Governor Gbenga Daniel. During that period, lawmaking in the state was stalled for several months, as the legislators were unable to seat.

Ogun legislators must guard against a repeat that situation. Although the legislators have since resolved their differences following the intervention of the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, they must guard against such conduct in future. The people of Ogun expect their legislators to be orderly in their deliberations and other activities at all times.

 

This article was first published in SUN News

 

Contact the author: [email protected]

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