The first civilian administration in Nigeria lasted from the 1st of October, 1960 to January 15th, 1966. This was period of Nigerian’s first five years of independence. The government and the destiny of the nation were in the hands of the politicians. Most of the key positions in the country’s public sector were now occupied by Nigerians.
However, it is important to note that political corruption was widespread in Nigeria during this phase of the nation’s development. It manifested itself in many forms and was found in various spheres of the government. This social problem was so pervasive in the country that Mr. Tokunboh, a former permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Establishment maintained that, “It is not an exaggeration of the tragic events of the years since independence to say that all efforts to establish a just and efficient administration have been frustrated by corruption. The evil exists in every facet of our society. You bribe to get your child into a school, you pay to secure a job and you also continue to pay in some cases to retain it, you dash the tax officer to avoid paying taxes; you pay the hospital doctor and nurse to get proper attention; you pay the policeman to evade arrest. This catalogue of shame can continue without shame”.
Political corruption that existed in Nigeria during the colonial era was significant when compared to what took place during the first civilian administration. An expatriate medical doctor who was in Nigeria then described the social problem as intolerable when he said, “Tricks bribes and corruption among politicians and government officials were the order of the day…it was the same fundamentally in every region and in the Federal Government in Lagos”. Don’t forget that we are talking about political corruption which in my words is the unlawful use of political or official power or influence by an official of the government either to enrich himself or further his cause and/or any other person at the expense of the public in contraventions of laws that are in force. The above definition has nothing to do with those of the private sector, but is concerned with the official corruption that is going on within the political system.
Today many in political positions are very ostentations and extravagant. Some live above their normal income and are sometimes seen pasting currency notes on the forehand of traditional dancers who entertain and welcome them to their different constituencies. A situation where a contractor will bribe his way through before getting a contract is a bugaboo. Today despite the well meaning effort by EFCC, ICPC and other security agencies, political corruption is on the high side. In Imo state for instance, the case is obvious as Gov. Rochas is said to have enriched himself within 7 to 8 years in office.
Morality in the politics of today is dead and any political leader whose principles of leadership are bereft of morality ends up a dictator. In his famous book Mother Teresa and Mobutu Sese Seko: The Beautiful and the Ugly, John Odey defines a dictator as, “…a person who holds complete and autocratic control of a nation or people in a given circumstance; a person who holds absolute power; a person who rules absolutely and oppressively; a ruler who has absolute authority especially one who has obtained such authority by force or on illegal means; a person who decides what he wants the people to have and to do, and they can say nothing about it except to carry out his orders, for better for worse; a person who controls his country as if it were his bedroom; a person who is prepared to do any harm, to commit any atrocity in order to maintain his hold on power”. It appears that John Odey hails from Imo state or visited Imo state before giving us this elaborate and descriptive definition of what is hitherto obvious in Imo state. In my term dictatorship is associated with a bundle of vices, megalomania and pathological ruthlessness. In the words of Professor Simon O. Anyanwu, “It is a political aberration which no country, nation or people can afford to tolerate on a permanent basis. Being a cult and false worship of power, dictatorship is not only immoral but also amoral”.
This kind of leadership negates all that political ethics holds as sacred, including a denial of the common good and democracy which we underline as the central ideas of political ethics from the Christian point of view.
When a dictator chief executive takes over power, morality is negated thus he works to impoverish others and mislead them. He does not obey court injunction. He puts his interest first and is gratifies by same. He is unjust and reacts to oppositions the way Pentecostals deliverance pastors react to demons. Ask Gov. Rochas of what I am saying. His knowledge is bereft of proper sense of justice. Justice according to Aquinas is ‘like other virtues, is a habit that is the principle of a good act, it needs to be defined by means of the good act bearing on the matter proper to the virtue of justice”. The proper matter of justice consists of the things that have to do with our relationship with other men. St Thomas Aquinas concludes that justice means ‘rendering to each one his right’. St. Isidore on the other hand affirms, “A man is said to be just because he respects the right of others”. The administration of a dictator does not have respect for the rights of others. O this is moral evil!
Imo people are crying. The market women are daily in pain of daily demolition. This (moral evil) in accordance with philosophical principles of theodicy is evil purposely or consciously perpetuated by man on his fellow men. In the description of Reichenbach, moral evil is all the instances of pain and suffering-physically and mentally and all states of affairs significantly disadvantageous to the organism which are caused by actions for which a (dictator) human agent can be held morally blameworthy. It is indeed the case of moral evils according to Professor Pantaleon that the reality of God is most put to question. Imo people are asking God certain questions that only God himself can answer. Why o God have you allowed us to be subjected? Are you still there o God? What wrong have we done? The gods of our various local government whose allocation monies were manipulated have joined Imo people to ask what wrong have we done?
Jesus would have been treated like many of us, if he was living in Imo state today. All great truths begin as blasphemies. There is an order even in the colony of ants. Like the sayings of Brahmana,”Any man may make a mistake, but none but a fool will continue in it.” St. Thomas Aquinas concludes, “When the conscience is purified, the will is strengthened”. Any chief executive should bear in mind that a leader is one who, out of madness or goodness volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people for no government can remain stable in an unstable and hungry society.