By Taiwo Adisa
On his recent foreign trips, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu reportedly secured several landmark deals, running to billions of US dollars. Many actors in the finance sector were elated each time the news landed on the front pages of the national dailies. The Presidential Villa also celebrated the breakthroughs and the myriads of “takeaways” from the economic diplomacy efforts of the president.
But if my memory won’t fail me, we also saw such “takeaways” in the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari. Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu was never tired of relating to us the benefits the nation stood to reap in cash and kind, brick and mortar, each time Buhari struck a deal.
However, the nation appeared never to have taken anything away from such deals because Buhari’s government only succeeded in dragging the country on a downward spiral of debts, insecurity, and backwardness.
A few months after Tinubu had signed the agreements, it is instructive that not much is happening in terms of implementation. It appears that the devil that sucked off the takeaways during Buhari’s era is at it again and I don’t think we need to look far.
As our elders would say in Yoruba; kokoro to nje efo, idi efo lo wa. Translated, it sounds like -the insect that destroys the vegetable lives with it. The real enemy of government is the insider in government. And as the saying would also go, the Tick thinks it’s killing the dog, not knowing it is committing suicide.
News about insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, killings, and fraud do more harm to the nation than anyone can imagine. The president should know that is his real enemy. Money they say is a coward, so the more the banditry, the more the economic doom. The problem is that sometimes the president hardly dropped the pen he used to sign the agreement when news would hit the airwaves about deaths and blood flowing in his country or how bandits visited estates in the federal capital. Tell me, which investor would carry his money, whether personal or sourced, to a location he is not assured of getting out alive?
I have, however, identified two potent Ticks that have hampered our government in recent years. They include fifth columnists within the security agencies and then the dollar merchants. While fifth columnists compromise security for pecuniary gains, the dollar merchants sell the Naira to whom it may concern for a plate of pottage. They smile to the banks and get agents to pontificate and postulate business grammar on national space.
When top security officials and the government refuse to wield the big stick as obvious security lapses occur, they embolden the criminals and their collaborators. The criminal gangs get away with daylight robbery and things degenerate.
A late cousin, who was DPO in one of the Lagos Divisions told me long ago that only small criminals work in isolation. The big ones always work in collaboration with insiders in the security. That much was practically demonstrated to me when I came in contact with an officer of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) in the heyday of guerrilla journalism. Somehow, the man, who was always going about in mufti got to know I worked with The NEWS/TEMPO magazines. He worked it out so that we became friends and also revealed himself to me. He was helpful in many ways.
But he confessed to me that he didn’t like the work of the police. He said that on at least three occasions, he had made efforts to leave the job, but God had used a combination of his wife and his pastor to thwart the moves. His frustrations include the difficulty of telling the truth in the police; how difficult it was to refuse compromise; the willingness of those who compromise to make you the victim and above all, criminals are always ready with incredible offers. He said that even though God supports policing, the above scenario makes Fifth Columnists thrive better in the Force. That was why he was always unhappy going to work. According to him, while the security sector can cleanse the society of bad elements, the fifth columnists won’t allow that to happen.
So each time he tried to leave the Force, the wife would have a dream about him embarking on a fruitless journey. Twice that happened and he abandoned the job interviews. On a third occasion, he kept it secret from his wife and pastor. He had attended the job interview and passed. He was to pick up the letter of employment on a Monday but after the Sunday service, the pastor approached him and told him a vision he saw and warned the policeman to avoid taking a step that could ruin his calling. He then confessed that he was about to receive an employment letter and then, he would resign from the Police. The man of God warned him from taking such a step and that ended his quest to quit the Police. I was told he eventually became a Pastor.
The above scenario is surely not restricted to the Police. Every security outfit has its level of fifth columnists and the more such bad elements collaborate with criminal gangs the more havoc they wreak on society.
That is why one must commend the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ola Olukoyede, for openly declaring that some investigators of the Commission were collecting bribes. It was a strange find so to say, but something we must commend him for coming to the public to bell the cat.
Hear Him: “At this point, I need to strongly reiterate the issue of discipline, integrity, and sense of responsibility in the way we do our work. Public opinions about the conduct of some of our investigators are adverse.
“The craze and quest for gratification, bribes, and other compromises by some of our investigators are becoming too embarrassing and this must not continue. Let me sound a note of warning in this regard. I will not hesitate to wield the big stick against any form of infraction by any staff of the commission.
“The new year promises to bring smiles on the faces of staff across all the commands. We will continue to do our best to put all of you at your best. However, to whom much is given, much is expected.”
I commend him for chastising the suspected bad eggs in his commission because I know that the evils that bedevil the nation have been fertilised by the failure of the authorities to blow the lid off the crimes in infancy.
Mr. Taiwo Adisa is the General Editor, Nigeria Tribune and immediate past Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Oyo State.