There is a sense in which Nigeria has become a ghost country, a country of ghosts where the silence is strained and eerie, with only the walking dead left to saunter in and out of streets.
There is a sense in which the Giant of Africa, a country that once promised so much prosperity has continued to deliver nothing but the shards of promises brutally broken to leave the promised bleeding.
There is a sense in which a country that that once gave the chills and creeps to those who thought the African continent was incapable of super countries has now shrunk into its shell to gift those determined to design its demise a day in the sun.
There is a sense in which the country that sprung out like an acorn and was supposed to grow into an oak has instead withered into obscurity, becoming a shadow in itself.
These days, only very few things work in Nigeria. As market forces have conspired to catch a planless country out and consign it to the sidelines of the world`s breathless, cut-throat market, it is the black market that has continued to thrive. In the butchery of that black market, the butchers are ruthless and their knives razor-sharp.
A country without data
In a country that has always struggled with basic arithmetics, finding something as elementary as a head count a staggering struggle, keeping count of anything, and consequently drawing from that information to make informed choices and decisions has unsurprisingly proven to be beyond it. In a world where data has proven to be the new oil, Nigeria`s poor handling of the abacus is costing it dearly.
Wherever there are benefits to be raked in, it appears there are people in Nigeria whose specialty it is to thwart the system, to tweak and tweak things until they milk some benefits for themselves.
Thus, in the payroll of governments at both state and federal levels, there are ghost workers: fictional people who have ever lived on the government payroll. Earlier this year, about 54,000 ghost workers had been discovered by the Federal Government. That many states are yet to conduct or are simply incapable of conducting transparent audits to determine actual workers from ghost workers on their payrolls eave frightening possibilities.
What would be turned up if every state government in Nigeria was to do a painstaking and dispassionate review of its payroll? How much fraud will be reveal? How many cooked figures will be turned up? How many fingers would be found to be in the till. However,that this exercise is beyond many state governments speaks to the degree of interests that may be invested in such fraudulent schemes.
However, with the shocking revelations that have recently crawled out of Nasarawa State, it would appear that it is not just just government payrolls that people have devised extensive means of cooking.
At the cradle of the current APC-led administration in 2015, the school feeding programme was set up to thunderous applause. That it was said to be proving enormously beneficial not just in keeping kids fed but in school too was enough to excite even the staunchest critics of the administration which was moving at a really slow pace.
The Federal Government recently revealed that so far it had spent $100 million in feeding 10 million school children. The question however is: how much of that humongous amount was well spent?
The enumeration committee of the school feeding programme which recently took in a visit to the the Nasaraw State Governor A. A. Sule in Lafia was in for a shock when the Governor himself disclosed that officials of the programme had listed 349 non-existent public primary schools in the programme and diverted the funds to their personal purses.
For anyone conversant with Nigeria`s rich history of corruption, the revelation was no surprise however. Nigeria has come to that stage where nothing in the country can escape the claws of corruption.
It appears that wherever money has been disbursed for public good, there are those who would readily form syndicates to ensure that some of the money is diverted to their private pockets.
Many of them continue to escape prosecution because they are connected to the high and mighty in the country. And unless they begin to go in for their iniquitous crimes, unless the marker is laid down that sleaze no matter how insignificant will never be tolerated in Nigeria, they will continue to have a field day.