For now, the open letter is closed. But those who are privileged to have had a peak at the open letter, including Mr. Trouble have made the following comments. But before we get to the comments, Mr. Trouble has been able to see this letter because of his opportune delivery of another letter, to wit ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s open letter to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo recently.
According to Mr. Trouble’s researches, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo had written in all, over the years, seven letters to serving heads of State of Nigeria. Not all the letters were delivered to the addresses. Two in particular are missing: the one to Chief Shonekan and the one to General Abdulsalaam Abubakar. It could be that these letters were misdirected, returned to sender or otherwise thrown away not because the address and addresees were unknown but that the writer was in prison. But we are talking now about Corruptions open letter to President Jonathan.
In this letter Corruption explains ‘eatself’ (surely I mean ‘itself’?) and asserts that President Jonathan and his party might be in power at the federal level, Corruption was in control. It is one thing to be in power and have all the motorcades scuttling all over the bad roads of the country, but it is quite another thing to be in control. And that is what Corruption has – control. Corruption is the final decision maker in anything and everything that happens in the federal republic of Nigeria, as at now. The buck, as the Yankees would like to put it, stops at Corruption’s table. You want to fight Corruption then take control and the decision-making authority from ‘eat’ (I mean ‘it’).
Corruption reminds the President in this letter about a number of decisions pending, which usually ensures that the in-tray in front of the President and the in-tray in front of his ministers, the in-tray in front of the Governors of the thirty-six states brims and overflows while the out-tray is empty. The reason, as the President knows well, and all the Governors know, is that Corruption had not made ‘eat’s own’ (I mean it’ own) in-put into the process. Just one example would do to illustrate the fact that all these fast moving personalities might be in power, they are feeble in front of Corruption who has control. The example has to do with rice, our local rice in competition with imported rice. A competent consulting local firm was employed to look at the problem and make recommendations to the appropriate organisation of the civil service in charge of rice production and distribution.
It took the consulting firm some time to research and study the problem, make comparisons where useful with best practice overseas and come to their conclusion. They wrote their report and submitted same to those who had engaged their services. This is not the place to deliberate on how they came to get the consultancy in the first instance. Such a deliberation would delay this short summary of the open letter of Corruption to President Jonathan. Sufficient to say that the officials of the consultancy firm knew some mates who knew that such an expertise could help solve the problem and so recommended for the job. Their report detailed the evil effect of using large milling machines in an environment where a medium-sized milling machine would do the job wonderfully.
The large milling machines needed more than the present growing amount leading to waste at different levels of the work that needed to be done. Medium-sized milling machines on the other hand would adequately do the job, save waste and encourage a gradual process of improvement on rice quality and increase in rice quantity as time goes by. In conclusion therefore, the consulting firm recommended that from henceforth the ministry responsible should buy only medium sized milling machines for use in the rice producing industry in Nigeria.
The consulting firm was paid and thanked for its professional job. Thereafter, the report lay on the table of the boss in power for fifteen months. The boss in power had looked at the voluminous report with its graphs and statistics and illustrations and references and confessed that he was not used to reading any memo longer than one page! How was he going to read a report that is two hundred and fifty pages long? The summary, in one paragraph, recommending medium sized machines instead of large sized ones was good enough for him and he would apply his mind to that recommendation.
In the meantime, Nigeria was spending billions and billions on the importation of rice from China, from South Korea, from the United States of America. Local farmers of our rice were becoming better contractors for the distribution of imported rice. It’s status had moved to essential commodity level, like air and water. Rice had become awaari, kori-kosun, if you find it please come and tell me so that I too can have some. Rice fields stood neglected. Seedlings became mouldy, grew inefficiently, withered and dried. Between those who eat rice and those who eat from the proceeds of rice, whose ‘eat’ is more important?
The process of milling rice benefits from medium sized milling machines. The process of buying medium sized milling machines carried no ‘eating’ possibility for Corruption. On the other hand, the process of milling rice does not benefit from large sized milling machines but the ‘eating’ from the process of procuring large sized milling machines was large. It thus happened that having read the report and deliberated on its recommendation, those in power asked for the Thing in control to give me them ‘eat’s’ (it’s?) decision. Corruption recommended that the ministry continue to buy and distribute to non-existent farmers the large sized milling machines.
Mr. Trouble was particularly tickled by the conclusion of the open letter to President Jonathan: “I don’t know about you Mr. President, when the buck stops at my table, I Corruption, take it and put it in my personal account.” Mr. Trouble waits to take President Jonathan’s reply back to Corruption. Perhaps one of the church leaders would advise that President Jonathan apologies to Corruption and beg ‘eat’ (it) make he no vex! He, President Jonathan would never again claim that he is fighting Corruption.
Professor Kole Omotoso, foremost scholar on Arabic literature, recently retired as a professor of dramatic literature. He writes from Akure.