A Cleric, Society Conflict Resolution Counselor and renowned human rights enthusiast, The Very Reverend Monsignor Livinus Ukah, is the Parish Priest of St. Alphonsus, Aboru, Lagos. He is unhappy with the political development in the country and has berated politicians for the moral state of the nation and lamented that Nigeria is swimming in the pool of crisis of values. GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR reports.
Visibly upset at the moral and intellectual chaos that have plagued the leadership of Africa’s most populous nation, Monsignor Livinus Ukah painted a picture of what makes a people and a nation.
“Values make a man and a nation. A country that has no strong values will not be attractive to investors, business men, tourists and holiday makers.
Nigeria today is no longer the pride of everybody. Many countries have negative concept of our country. From the stories they have heard about us, they feel that every Nigerian is a crook.
In fact it is said in the Diaspora that the only Nigerian anyone can trust is a dead one, and this polarising information cannot be wiped away at the drop of a hat.”
Crisis of values
“There is one general saying that “No one agrees that his mother’s food is not sweet”, but I will not agree to this narrative.
Nigeria is swimming in the pool of crisis of diminishing values that has plundered the psyche of the Nigerian citizenry,” Ukah said and asked: “Has Nigeria now any résumé or dossiers of integrity?
One of the philosophers said “that in the midst of moral crisis, those who maintain neutrality, the hottest place in hell is reserved for them”.
Still berating politicians, the Parish Priest of St. Alphonsus, Aboru, Lagos, said Nigeria is witnessing a wide spread of political scandal, corruption and social inequality and chronic economic crisis too.
“The electorate now feels that they have been abandoned by the main stream politicians who came to power with their votes. What is happening now is a recipe for disunity, hopelessness, frustration; many Nigerians now lack the ability to start life again.
“Politics in Nigeria is altogether polarised with selfish interest dominating the corridors of power while the political flocks are neglected.”
Carpet crossing is immoral
“Many break the rule of law and walk tall in the society and they do these things because the Divine is not in them; they are not conscious of Him in their lives. There is nothing we read from the national papers these days more than looting in stupendous degrees.”
“Imagine people burying millions and billions of dollars in the ground. That is not all; a new discovery of 15 billion Naira in a luxury apartment in Osborne in Lagos was made. This is a dicey situation.
The government should trust any investigation committee she appoints and maintain critical distance until investigation is over. We are in a pool of double standards.”
We need credibility
“We need credibility for the nation. Corruption cannot be wiped out if we cannot involve eminent Nigerians with proven dossiers and résumé to help the government in its mission.
Although many Nigerians have expressed their views over this giant anti-graft war, EFCC has been there with Nuhu Ribadu as its first boss and they acquired a wealth of experience; they should not be a toothless bull dog.”
However, the Monsignor worries whether the anti-graft agency still has the energy to stamp out corruption. “Although Ohanaeze and Arewa Youth pass a vote of confidence on the agency, but with all these happenings, one would ask if EFCC still has the energy to stamp out corruption.
They should encourage Nigerians by making decisive moves, otherwise, what we see discourages us and scandalises the youths who have appetite for everything, especially at this jobless time.
“Whenever there is double standard, it means some people are above the law and when people who commit crime are not punished, one can ask many questions about the law of that country.
When a law is passed, it must be enforced and obeyed by all and there should be no sacred cows. That is the meaning of equality before the law.”
Saddened by the trend whereby people break the laws but walk away free because they have some “big brother” in the system, the clergy man said, “These are the crisis of values we experience in a land where party affiliation should not exonerate anyone from receiving the same punishment.”
The criminal, he said, “is not the person who breaks into banks alone. Any citizen, no matter how highly placed that breaks the law of the land is a worst criminal.”
2015 election and cross carpeting
Visiting the 2015 election in retrospect, the priest frowned at the fallouts of the exercise. “The 2015 election created a lot of political confusion where there was political cross carpeting.
Politicians changed from one party to another in a twinkle of an eye and this is immoral! More unnerving is that many polarised personalities are in government and there is a lot of posturing among the old politicians.
“Many PDP big wigs crossed carpeted to APC and some of those who cross-carpeted had their fingers stained! They sought asylum in APC to escape the sledge hammer of EFCC, but in the end, some of those who crossed over are being caught by the law because of Buhari’s integrity; he is a no nonsense man.”
Defining corruption, the Canada trained psychologist defined corruption as a monster that feeds organised crime, “Therefore it is a social danger.
It imperils opportunities, especially for women and girls and facilitates environmental degradation. Corruption essentially contributes to human trafficking and undermines whole communities and destroys future generations.
“Also, corruption is not only stealing. It includes other moral pervasion, even doing the right thing in the wrong way. When people are not cared for, they become desperate and get things through fowl means.
People tend to do bad business and cheat others for personal gains. The economy is so bad that many people cannot continue to do their legitimate businesses,” he mourned.
Injustices in the banking industry
Indicting the banking industry, Ukah said there are injustices in many banks which employ young girls.
“There is a crude dismissal of them. If they cannot meet set targets, they are dismissed. Many have lost confidence in themselves as they have lost confidence in the economy.
“What would you say of a country where a young doctor would jump into the lagoon? People now head for the lagoon to “end it all”; a suicide tendency that was not common in Nigeria is now prevalent.”
Middle class is dying away.
Those who have ruled Nigeria before are still amassing wealth and they are central figures in deepening corruption. They still parade themselves as people who have made it in life.
The good people do not believe in the wealth of politicians today because their source of wealth is dubious. Wealth is not fashionable unless it is used for human development.
“In fact one should not be surprised to know that the rich can buy Nigeria when you hear of the amount of money discovered from the looters in government.”
We need a strong President
“We need to have a strong government and a strong president like President Buhari without shackles of nepotism to make things work. It will take years to fix things.
The miracle cannot come over night. Nigeria has many vulnerable people, people wounded in business and those dislocated by bad politics like people of the North-East, South-South and South-East, for example.
Hunger is everywhere and people are dying because they do not have money to pay great bills in private hospitals.
“The values are eroded when money has become a yardstick for measuring social status. Money is seen as a social symbol in Nigeria and those who have money are above the law.
It seems this is a social makeup in Nigeria and money bags will not enter where men of ideas are brain storming. Many Nigerians see politics as a game of numbers.
But in the Western world it is service. We will beg God to give us leaders for new Nigeria, to bring back the values that have gone, leaders who are trans-cultural to uplift Nigeria because where merit matters, money is not all.”
Assessing the progress of our democracy thus far, the priest said “Nigeria has been lingering at the door step of democracy, but has not really smelt democracy.
They tell us that they are democratically elected but there is no veracity in that statement. Democracy helps to liberate people, but in Nigeria, the bad use of democracy dehumanises the people.”
When the discourse focused on the economy, Ukah recalled that India is the fastest growing economy now. “Nigeria could be like India, but in this country, what belongs to all is shared by the leaders, unfortunately.
“This is one of the things that kill our values and they breed corruption and bad politics. In fact, Nigeria is not politically free unless it cuts its political apron from Britain.
Many politicians see Britain as their maternal home, where they deposit their loots. This way they see regionalism and parliamentary system as the best form of government even though, regionalism is nothing but euphemism for tribalism.
“When the power brokers are out of power, they still exercise great influence on politics. That is the hemorrhage of Nigerian political situation. You hardly see a young man from Harvard University with a first class honors asking the daughter of a politician for marriage.
He cannot encroach because the society is stratified, so much that daughters of politicians marry the sons of politicians. The social stratification is so visible that you know where you fit in.
“Therefore there is no salvation in politics, because politics is allergic to morality.”
His prophecy on the Nigeria of tomorrow:
“Time will come when people will work for the people and not for the party. At that time people will serve others to make good names instead of amassing wealth by dislocating our values.
“Time will come when the political equation will change and we will no longer have money bag politicians but men of compassion.
People will be elected to office because they are worthy of being there; they are not there because they are given a covering note, but because they want to and are ready to serve.”
We need credibility for the nation. Corruption cannot be wiped out if we cannot involve eminent Nigerians with proven dossiers and résumé to help the government in its mission. Although many Nigerians have expressed their views over this giant anti-graft war, EFCC has been there with Nuhu Ribadu as its first boss and they acquired a wealth of experience; they should not be a toothless bull dog.