Print   |   Back
November 12, 2013
African Voice
Stashing Money Like Squirrels Stash Nuts
by Imo Eshiet

Recently, a participant in a Gospel Doctrine class recalled his grandfather’s attitude to money. His granddad, he said, often prayed that God should please not make his only son rich. Apparently God obliged, for the son became a teacher and spared the father the need to worry about the misery of being financially stable and potentially straying from his cherished faith.

As I sat thinking about that wise old man, I wished someone had offered that prayer for my nation when I was growing up. In my youth, Nigeria was far from being a rich country. Yet no aspect of its economy was on vital life support. Schools were excellent.

Through hard work we were able to acquire genuine knowledge so we could help build our new nation and improve on our chances in the world. Those who couldn’t stand the rigor of school returned to the land to farm. Others turned to the various trades to which their aptitudes were best suited.

In those days, it was easier to snatch the planets from their courses than to bribe a teacher for grades. Certificate forgery was unheard of. Now it is commonplace to hear of professors with forged credentials.

Where school systems ever run at all, courses programed to be covered in nine months are forced down the throats of students in a matter of weeks. The result is that we now have graduates who cannot recite the alphabets even if those letters were all written in upper cases.

Why bother with sleepless nights studying when it is easier to pay for whatever certificate one desires? State governors have been known not only to have rigged themselves into power but to also have brazenly purchased papers that certify them as literate men. If the public starts to catch on, these men have been known to simply have the schools they purportedly attended erase their records.

One such politician, a speaker of our nation’s House of Representatives, claimed he obtained graduate degrees from Toronto, Canada. When the college refused to support his forgery, he was eased out of his position.

However, the crook soon received a state pardon and returned from infamy to become a member of the governing council of one of the nation’s foremost universities. This Nigerian role model could easily transit from disfavor to favor because in that country money speaks so loudly that everything else including integrity blurs into insignificance.

This is a country where the rich stash money in refrigerators, in overhead water storage tanks, in coffins buried in deep vaults and even in crevices in the walls. The mania for money is such that human life has become cheap as custodians turn filthy lucre into idols.

The nation’s priorities are so skewed that the nation’s secretary for aviation recently coerced an agency under her control to buy two bulletproof cars for her use. Both vehicles cost $1.6 million. Meanwhile, Nigeria has a mean history of aviation disasters.

In a country where planes pop like popcorn in a microwave and fall from the skies like debris in a twister, it never occurred to the secretary that the money spent on her limousines could be better spent on airplane safety.

In tune with our culture of impunity, that secretary is still presiding over aviation despite huge public outcry.

There are other instances of corruption. The daughter of a former president who was caught with her fingers deep in the till when she was a lawmaker, still walks around freely. Another lawmaker (and her mother too) was also caught in similar circumstances; she only lost her position as Speaker of the House but continued in her business of lawmaking. The consequences of this flagrant misrule are dire. Many intellectuals unable to cope with the brazenness take flight.

A former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, puts the figures at “no fewer than three million” Nigerians living and working in the U.S. and Canada. These emigrants, he notes, have excelled everywhere in the outside of Nigeria but do not want to return home “for fear of corruption and growing insecurity.”

Peregrino Brimah’s statistics on the cumulative retardations in the country is worth quoting in full. “Nigeria,” he writes, “ranks proudly at the bottom 10 in the entire world” in several indices. He gives the following as his research findings:

#8 — General Corruption: Nigeria is 8th most corrupt nation in the world according to Transparency International 2013 Global Corruption Barometer.

#4 — Police Corruption: Nigeria ranked 4th highest in the world for perceiving the police as corrupt, according to the same Transparency survey.

#1 — Being Born: The Economist Intelligence Unit, EIU ranked Nigeria the worst place to be born in 2013.

#4 — Population in Slavery: Nigeria, with up to 740,000 in slave bondage, ranks fourth in the world in modern slave nations, according to the just released Global Slavery Index, fitting in after Pakistan.

#1 — High Sea Piracy: As the world records lower global stats, West Africa is now the world piracy capital. The International Maritime Bureau reported Nigeria had 11 of 66 global incidents for the first quarter of 2013. Some 966 sailors were attacked last year off West African coasts.

#9 — Maternal Mortality: According to World Bank data, Nigeria ranks 9th worst in the world, with 630 deaths per 100,000 from 10 years data collected from 1990-2010.

#2 — Software Piracy: The 2011 Global Software Piracy Study conducted by Business Software Alliance ranked Nigeria 2nd in the world, with software piracy costing the nation a whopping $251m (N39.4bn).

#1 — Exam Malpractice: Director General National Orientation Agency (NOA) Mike Omeri, whose agency partners with Exam Ethics Marshals International, in 2012 ranked Nigeria #1 in the World Exam Malpractice Index.

#11 — Good Governance: Nigeria ranked fourth worst in West Africa, 13th of 16, in Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development, in the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Nigeria ranked 41st out of the 52 countries listed overall.

#1 — Bribery: Nigeria ranks highest for bribery in the world on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) interactive map, online at-

#1 — VVF: According to United States Agency for International Development, USAID, Nigeria has the highest prevalence of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula in the world, with over 200,000 patients and an annual incidence at 20,000. That is 40% of the global cases are in Nigeria alone.

#7 — Terrorism: Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranks Nigeria the seventh worst in the world for terrorism over the past 10 years, according to its 2012 assessment.

#2 — Road Traffic Accidents (RTA): In 2012, Nigeria ranked second highest in road traffic accident (RTA) fatalities among the 193 countries in the world according to the Minister of Health.

#1 — Aviation Accidents for 2012: In 2012, with more than 153 onboard deaths and more on the ground, in the Dana Air Boeing MD83 airline accident, Nigeria had the world’s worst aviation accident.

#4 — Worst City: Despite aggressive transformation by the Lagos government, the EIU in its 2013 annual survey of 140 major metropolises ranked Lagos the fourth worst city in the entire world.

#7 — Growing Old: Global Age Watch Index 2013 ranking of 91 countries, put Nigeria at #85; the seventh worst country to grow old in. Nigeria in the report ranked third lowest for income security.

#2 – HIV/AIDS: With an estimated 3.4 million living with the virus, the National Action Committee on Aids (NACA) put the nation as the second worst in the world.

#2 — Electricity: Nigeria is ranked by the World Bank as the second worst in the world in power (electricity) supply. According to the report, 82.4 million Nigerians, half the nation lived without power. India is #1.

#1 — Kidnapping: In the first half of 2013, Nigeria had the most kidnapping attempts of any nation in the world, according to NYA International organization of Crises prevention and response, recording 26%, over a quarter of all incidents. Mexico was second with 10% and Pakistan 3rd with 7%.

#1 — Oil Spills Worldwide: From Vanguard on November 14, 2012: Nigeria has highest oil spills in the world; the nation records the highest number of oil spill incidents among oil producing countries with no penalty regime attached to such oil spills.

#4 — Oil Spillage Outages: Vanguard reported on October 8th, 2013, that with more than 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil being lost to pipeline vandalism, Nigeria ranks fourth worst in the world in oil spillage outages, according to Deutsche Bank and other shipping and industry estimates. Libya, Syria, Iran and lead Nigeria in outages for obvious reasons including recent wars and U.S. sanctions at Iran.

But there is a glimmer of hope in it all. Nigeria actually does take the first position in something great:

#1 — Highest Paid Legislators: The Economist magazine revealed that Nigerian federal legislators are the highest paid in the world, with an annual basic salary of $189,500 (N30.6 m).

Brimah grimly but rightly concludes, “With the current state and direction of both the government and the people of Nigeria — Africa’s largest nation and the world’s most populated black country — the nation is not headed for improvement on these shameful rankings, but more predictably to slide further down the ladder into the darkest crevices of the black hole of Calcutta.

“The question is: To act or to give up? And the follow-up question is: If we the people decide to do something, what should and can we do?”

Copyright © 2024 by Imo Eshiet Printed from