Crooked minds beget a crooked nation

Casmir Igbokwe


An email message I received recently from a reader of this column aptly captures the essence of this piece. It is a joke about a machine invented in Japan to catch thieves. The inventors took the machine to different countries for a test. In 30 minutes, the machine caught 20 thieves in the United States of America. In the same 30 minutes, it caught 500 thieves in the United Kingdom. In Spain, it caught 25 thieves in 20 minutes. In Ghana, in 10 minutes, it caught 6,000 thieves; Uganda in seven minutes, it caught 20,000 thieves. In Nigeria, in five minutes, the machine was stolen.


This is not a laughing matter. In the US, UK and many other Western nations, there are so many good Nigerians doing wonderfully well in different areas of life. No need mentioning the Philip Emeagwalis, the Chinua Achebes, the medical doctors and nurses who have continued to project the positive image of Nigeria abroad.


In this world, unfortunately, negative news travels faster than a positive one. And that is why on the mention of the name Nigeria, it is the negative aspects of our life that flash in the minds of foreigners. Call it advance fee fraud, drug peddling, armed robbery or even black magic; we tend to give the impression that ours is a crooked generation, a crooked nation.


Take the issue of the free meal to students the government of Ekiti State introduced a few months ago for instance. Immediately I read about the free feeding, which involves giving eggs and beverages to students; I remembered what usually happens in some of our towns with regard to sponsoring of get-togethers. A few years ago, one particular rich man took it upon himself to always host his townspeople’s annual end-of-year parties in Port Harcourt. In one particular year, some of his fellow citizens kicked against the idea of one man hosting the event every year. They refused to eat or drink anything at the event, saying the man was indirectly collecting their blessings and good luck with his free food and drinks. In other words, he was using them for juju purposes.


This is why I was not surprised when some parents of Ekiti free-food students, last Tuesday, accused the state government of using juju on their children. They reportedly labelled the cups, plates, and spoons used in feeding their children as demonic items. Last Friday, the juju scare took a new dimension when some individuals reportedly attacked a class teacher, Mrs. Olayinka Falade, and the head teacher of a community nursery and primary school, Victoria Aladejana, and some other teachers. The alleged attack was sequel to the sudden illness of a pupil. Education authorities in the state have since closed down the affected school.


Until those individuals making this juju noise tell us how and why a governor would wish to poison all public primary and secondary school students in his state, that allegation remains bunkum. It has no place in a civilised society. Even at some higher levels where one expects to see mature behaviour, some Nigerians still stand reason on its head. Last Thursday, it was reported that the Provost of the College of Legal Studies, Yola in Adamawa State, Mallam Musa Nuhu, expelled nine students from the institution. The students did not steal. They did not cheat in the exams. According to media reports, they simply protested the suspension of three Christian students from the institution. The crime of the suspended male and female students was that they felt excited after an examination and hugged each other. The provost, who reportedly saw the hugging from his office, felt outraged and decided to suspend them for one semester. Another female student was also suspended for allegedly wearing a Fulani traditional dress with a necklace that has a cross design.


I had to crosscheck to be sure that the school is actually College of Legal Studies and not College of Religious Studies. The alleged action of the provost has exposed the quality of education the school is imparting on its students. It’s a shame that such a person is the head of an important higher institution as that. It is as if the man is not yet tired of the religious crises we have had in this country. The state deputy governor, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, among others, have asked the provost to rescind his decision. But they should go beyond this; they should replace the man immediately.


Almost in every discipline or profession, we have people who survive by being crooked. Car owners, for instance, will tell you what they suffer in the hands of auto mechanics. In March this year, my car air conditioner developed some problems. I took it to a man I thought was an expert. He first condemned the compressor and I had to buy another one. He fixed it and refilled the gas. The problem did not stop. He suspected the evaporator, and then the condenser. I gave him enough time to detect the fault and by early this month he did what I may call his final work on the AC. Now the problem is worse than before the man started his work.


If you are travelling on any major road in Nigeria, pray that your car does not break down, especially in the night. If you escape armed robbers or hoodlums, you may not escape dubious and crooked mechanics. Sometime last week, my car suddenly stopped close to Dopemu Roundabout in Lagos. It was about 10pm. I knew the problem had to do with the battery. All I needed was a battery to start the car. Suddenly, two young men who claimed to be mechanics came around. Pretending to be concerned at my predicament, they offered to hire a battery for me at N500. I paid. When they brought the battery, the car had no problem in starting. But the crooks asked me to turn off the engine, claiming that the coil was sparking.


To cut the long story short, they manipulated some electrical connections in the car, brought one iron they called coil and told me they had transferred the current there to my coil. They gave me a guarantee of two years. For this, they charged me N6, 500. Of course I made some argument with them, but when I noticed the hunger in their eyes, I parted with the N4, 000 in my pocket. It was when I bought a new battery the following day that I discovered that the fault was that the alternator, though still good, was not charging the battery fully. The only thing a good electrician needs to do is to connect a cable direct from the alternator to the battery. The first electrician I called claimed to know what to do. He ended up bridging two wires that eventually burnt the alternator. “Oga, you need to change your alternator o,” was all he could offer. For a minor fault that I should have spent less than N500, I ended up spending a total of about N11, 000.


It has become imperative that before ever we criticise our leaders, we should ask ourselves if we are not guilty of the same maladies we always kick against.

1 Comment »

  1. 1

    Interesting Read! Very detailed blog

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