By Tochukwu Ezukanma
The crime rate in Nigeria is inconceivable; it literally blows the mind.
Factoring in corruption, armed banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery,
ritual killing, Fulani herdsmen unhinged murderousness, etc, Nigeria
must have the highest incidence of crime in the world. Routinely, our
rulers bewail the spiraling crime rate; and attempt to address it. The
problem with their attempts at solving the crime problem is that they
train their focus on the symptoms, not on the causes, of the problem.
Not too long, the Kwara State Police Commissioner, Kayode Egbetokun,
evidently, expressing the sentiments of the police hierarchy, and, of
course, the Buhari administration, said, “Crime has become a huge
industry, attracting the greedy and absorbing the get-rich-quick, while
constantly tempting and … employing the unemployed in our
population”. To him, the solution is in augmenting the Nigeria police
with Community Police. This seemingly impressive approach to fighting
crime is, for all practical purposes, an exercise in futility. It is
another charade that ignores the causes of the crime, and targets the
symptoms. The problem of the Nigerian society is the criminality of the
Nigerian power elite. As such, no crime fighting strategy or policy can
succeed in Nigeria, until the criminality of the ruling elite is
successfully dealt with.
It is brazen hypocrisy for a ruling class steep in corruption, theft of
public funds, disregard for human lives, and contempt for the rule of
law to fight crime. In his condemnation of hypocrisy, Jesus Christ urged
the hypocrite to: first cast out the beam out from his eyes before
offering to pull out the mote out of his brother’s eye. The problem
with the hypocrite was that the beam in his own eyes was obstructing his
vision, and thus, distorting his perception. Consequently, he thought
there was a mote in his brother’s eye. If he removes the beam in his
own eyes, he will see clearly, and realize that there was really nothing
in his brother’s eye.
Once, the Nigerian power elite can deal with their own greed, thievery,
lawlessness, scorn for human life, etc, it will come to a consternating
realization that there is really no crime to fight in the Nigerian
society. That what they, all along, perceived as the crime of the
Nigerian society was only a reflection of their own crime. Thus, that
the evils they, all along, attributed to the people were only mirror
images of the evils of the ruling class.
In ancient China, a scandalously corrupt, extravagant and hedonistic
king, Chi K’ang Tzu, sought the advice of the Chinese philosopher,
Confucius, on how to deal with thieves in his kingdom. The philosopher
replied, “If you, sir, did not covet things that don’t belong to
you, they wouldn’t steal (even) if you paid them to”. He lucidly
expressed the nexus between the ways of the ruler(s) and the followers.
Rulers are role models; by their conduct and attitudes, they shape the
conduct of the masses, and their mindset towards money, work, honesty,
patriotism, and virtually everything. Their influence on us is profound;
it infuses our homes, work places, schools, even churches. Inescapably,
we behave like our leaders.
What can be expected of Nigerians, a people, whose rulers steal the
people’s money with the ruthless and avidity that will amaze even the
most hardened and conscienceless armed robber? Did the power elite not
steal and divert to private bank accounts billions of dollars budgeted
for the resuscitation of the power industry; and left an entire country
trapped in utter darkness? Although schools were closed down throughout
the country and no pupil attended school during the COVID-19 lockdown,
the federal government “continued” with its school feeding programs.
In its abracadabra, pupils that were at home were being fed at school at
the cost of hundreds of billions of naira. It was later alleged that at
least 267 billion naira “spent” in the school feeding program was
traced to a private account.
What can be expected from those whose role models – a former state
governor turned senator and his politically powerful son – stole 535
billion naira from the state coffers? And what can be expected of
citizens of a country where each state governor, in his inconceivable
avarice and condescending indifference to the economic misery of the
masses, in addition to his bloated salary and allowances, still,
appropriate for personal use, at least, 500 million naira every month
from state coffers? To give this brazen monthly theft a veneer of
legitimacy, it is called “security vote”. Still, some governors
refuse to pay the monthly salaries of state employees. States, like Imo,
Abia, and Kogi owe state employees many months of unpaid salary.
Inescapably, like the horde of brigands and insatiably greedy that we
look up to as rulers and role models, Nigerians are liars, thieves,
fraudsters, kidnappers, bandits, etc. Any genuine war against crime in
Nigeria must first be waged and won within the ranks of the power elite.
Once the war is won, the victory will immediately resound within the
ranks of the Nigerian masses. The new elevated moral and ethical
standards of our rulers will readily cascade to the masses and pervade
the entire society, and the crime rate will dwindle to the point of
But until there is this successful assault on elite criminality, no
crime-fighting theory, policy, and strategy can resolve the Nigerian
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria