When the insane are normal, the normal are insane

By Bolaji Akinola

The wave of media cheerleading for Senate President Bukola Saraki, PDP mouthpiece Olisah Metuh, AIT boss Raymond Dokpesi and others facing trials for alleged corrupt practices is one of those moments that has a lot of us of looking around and wondering if the whole country has gone insane.

After more than 30 people died in a Lekki Gardens building in Lagos and the social media buzzed with #LekkiGardensBuildNotDestroy in solidarity with the promoters of a company accused of using substandard materials and flouting regulatory approval limits, I came to he conclusion that our morality crusade is not only pathetic and wrongheaded but maddening.

With a parasitic coterie of misguided youths promoting #BringBackCorruption trending for days on Twitter, I became convinced we have kissed sanity goodnight.

The Nigerian political elite has made a laughing-stock of the concept of leadership and service, making corruption the “new normal” for the country. Most young Nigerians want to hold political office to grab their own share of the treasury.

Yet even Nigerians don’t really understand what is happening to their country. They feel the temperature rising, but seem dulled to the danger.

Elsewhere, leaders are held accountable for their actions or inactions. For instance in 2014 shortly after an April 16 ferry disaster that claimed several lives, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his resignation over his government’s poor response to the mishap that claimed the lives of more than 300 people, most of them students and teachers from one high school on a field trip,

The Sewol ferry sank on a routine trip from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju.

“Keeping my post is too great a burden on the administration,” a somber Chung said in a brief announcement. “I offer my apology for having been unable to prevent this accident from happening and unable to properly respond to it afterward. I believed I, as the Prime Minister, certainly had to take responsibility and resign.” Talk of nobility and responsibility in action.

In September 2015, just hours after tendering his resignation as the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina was sent to jail to await the conclusion of a hearing examining his role in a multimillion-dollar customs fraud case that shook the Central American nation and sent reverberations throughout the region. For much of Guatemala’s violent history, marked by dictatorship and military repression, such a scene would have been unimaginable: a President forced to resign, then sit in open court to hear charges leveled against him and ultimately spend the night in a prison he once might have overseen as a top general.

Belgium’s Transport Minister resigned a few days ago after being accused of ignoring EU reports of security failings at the country’s airports that were laid bare by the suicide bombings in March.

The resignation of Jacqueline Galant stemmed from the attacks on March 22 that killed 32 people in Brussels, including 16 at the national airport.

After the April Panama Paper leaks, Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was honourable enough to resign from office after public outrage that his family had sheltered money offshore. An Austrian bank Chief, Michael Grahammer also resigned for the same reason.

But not so in Nigeria. The immediate past and current Presidents of Nigeria’s Senate were both mentioned in the Panama Paper leaks but they’re both still sitting pretty without as much an apology or show of remorse. Aliko Dangote, Wale Tinubu and several other notable Nigerians mentioned in this global scandal have been totally unperturbed so much so that it seems corruption, tax evasion and the likes have become the new normal in our part of the world.

I think aside the compulsory psychiatrist test recommended for Nigeria’s ruling elite, Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need? should become a compulsory manual.


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