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Between Alison-Madueke and her message

Between Alison-Madueke and her message
August 13
14:59 2020

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Maduke stepped on the tail of the tiger this last week. It is curious that Nigerian political leaders do not see how angry the people are at the continuous rape of the country and the mismanagement of people. Not just that, they also do not seem to see a nexus between this mis-governance and the frustrations that lead a lot of ordinarily hardworking youths into shadiness they would rather not dabble into.

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That is not to justify crimes, but the English man says that idle hands are the devils tools. Now, that idiom talks about a hand that is idle, what then happens when you have an untrained idle hand. That would be a crooked, reckless and ultimately lethal weapon in the hands of the devil.

Today, millions of Nigerian youths are not just idle but they are untrained for no fault of theirs. Every year, hundreds of thousand young boys and girls who obtain their school certificate qualifications, write matriculation examinations are unable to get placements into higher institutions because the country does not have placements for them. This year for instance, about 2.1million candidates were confirmed to be seeking opportunities into higher institutions through the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry. The country is believed to have just about 750 higher education spaces spread between universities, polytechnics and colleges of education! This suggests that about 1.4 million of these children will not be placed!

Yet, the country neither has guarantees that next year would be better nor alternative plans for the productive engagement of these able bodied, impressionable young people. They just roam the streets, sagging their trousers and falling into all forms of temptations including and mostly soiled by easy access to all sorts of cheap psychotropic substances. That is not to speak of the 13million or more out- of -school children, for which only a few leaders across the country spare a thought every now and then.

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How is it therefore that when Nigeria’s political leaders speak, they fail to see the relationship between the collapse of educational institutions, the mindless stealing of national resources by the political class, the wanton disregard from common democratic ethos of freedom of choice (and one man one vote) as well as their own ostentatious glorification of wealth as incentives for the warped societal values.

In Mrs Alison-Madueke’s case, she is being accused of haven stockpiled about $115 million in a bank with subsequent instructions for distribution amongst electoral officials around the country. The allegation is that these sums were meant to rig the 2015 elections in favour of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

While the former minister denies these accusation, two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC have been tried and sentenced in relation to alleged crime. In addition to that, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, last year ordered the temporary forfeiture of items said to have included 419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 189 wristwatches, 267 necklaces, and a customised gold iPhone all worth $40m believed to have been owned by her. Yet, the petroleum industry which Alison-Madueke superintended for five years remains one of the country’s most disgraceful stories in spite of the enormous opportunities of those years.

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But it is not just about this former minister who is also facing investigations in the United Kingdom. Recent revelations about the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC further shows the entitled and thoughtless mindset of some of those in public office in Nigeria. While youths, diligent with their studies enough to have obtained scholarships from the NDDC are left to wallow in want out of the country, the management of the commission is on a spending spree for which the Managing Director boldly affirmed that N1.3 billion disbursed as palliatives (for management and staff )for the COVID-19 pandemic. Such is the hypocrisy of the Nigerian power elite. They want to remove the speck in the eyes of the youth while pretending to be oblivious of the plank in their own eye.

That is not to say that Mrs Alison-Maduke does not have a point though. It is also not to say that she is not free to express her opinion as is being suggested by a lot of compatriots. It is indeed legitimate for Nigerians to be angry at leaders who may have contributed to the destruction of national institutions and values but that does not obviate their right to contribute to national discourse. It is even more so in cases like that of this former minister, who has denied the accusations against her. Even then, citizens of a country guilty of crimes are still entitled to express opinions about their country. One would imagine that such grace, which is endowed on every citizen by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) is one of the thinking behind the legal concept of allocution. In any case, the vilest of men is capable of making positive impact on society.

This reminds of the story of Alfred Nobel, founder of what could pass as the world most prestigious recognition of excellence today. The tale goes that one of his brothers, Ludwig had died of some ailment while visiting Cannes in 1888. Upon this man death, a French newspaper thought it was the Swedish inventor that had died and did a scathing piece entitled: “The Merchant of Death is dead.” The article condemned Nobel’s inventions and described him as the wealthiest vagabond in Europe who became rich by introducing ways to mutilate and kill innocent people.

Virtually every newspaper was said to have taken some glory in the assumed death of Mr Nobel and that rare opportunity to read his own obituary, changed his life. He was to have been horrified by the prospects of what posterity would record about him. The fame and fortune he had acquired from his inventions of dynamite and business in armament suddenly became a weight of burden and this influenced his decision to institute The Nobel Foundation to which he bequeathed 94% of his enormous wealth. The Foundation was mandated to reward excellence in Chemistry, Literature, Medicine, Physics, and Peace across the world. This important contribution to knowledge and global peace is what Nobel is today identified with.

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Most important however is the validity of the points made by Mrs Alison-Madueke and the audience that she addressed. Reports indicate that she was addressing the Ijaw National Development on the need to mentor youths. Before she became an emblem of corruption and the erosion of our national ethical values, this lady had risen to become the first indigenous female director of a multinational. She had made enviable academic achievements in male dominated discipline like Architecture in globally recognised universities in Oxford and Howard. That people like this crossed the heroine bridge to villainous in less than eight years of her foray into politics is a troubling sign that our politics and society have broken down. It also shows that concerted efforts are required to ensure that the country is never, never again allowed to get defiled through the poor judgement of our elites. She, like all other Nigerian therefore, has a right to her voice and the value of her message is absolutely relevant

Her intervention addressed the need for discretion amongst youth as to whom they model their lives after. She spoke about hard work and mental vigour needed for success as well as the importance of good parenting and family bond. The point she made about how critical it is to bring up boys to be responsible men, who will be responsible husbands and fathers to sustainable nation building is particularly noteworthy. Poor parenting plays a huge role in the devaluation of ethical conduct that has dragged Nigeria along the path of descent for long and the hope for any change must involve the family. This is therefore one occasion when no matter what we have against the messenger, the message is of significance. While at that, however, Mrs Alison Madueke would do well to honour that October date with the courts in Nigeria. Clearing her name of the allegations against her is a great service she owes herself, her family and the Nigerian people.

Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun

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1 Comment

  1. RA
    RA August 15, 00:13

    It’s sad that Nigerians, including the sentiments of this article, still think that higher education will help Nigeria develop. Thousands, if not millions, of Nigerians have received higher education locally and overseas. Hundreds of thousands also graduate each year, yet nothing has changed.

    Higher education only imparts vocational skills and not the type of managerial leadership displayed in developed countries and by expatriates from those countries who work in Nigeria.
    Everyone needs to wake up and realize that higher education in its current form is not working for development in Nigeria or in developing countries as a whole. So, providing more higher education is beating a dead horse. Nothing will change in Nigeria if every man woman and child has a university degree. Graduates will still be waiting for expatriates to lead them.

    I was made to realize this situation and how useless higher education has been for Nigeria after stumbling on the website called HUMANRETHINK. Fortunately there is a way forward, as outlined on the website. The question is whether it will be adopted by our leaders.

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