Archive for October, 2008

THE ERA OF HYPOCRITES?

October 24, 2008

THE ERA OF HYPOCRITES?

Many principles are regarded as universal, time proven principles but some of these principles are either bent in Nigeria or affected by the “Nigerian factor”. I kept wondering what the factors are with our environment that made those principles look like they are not universal any longer. Some people said it is in us as a people, others said our leaders made sure those principles never worked so that they would not relinquish their stronghold on self-styled leadership. Many others said, many of those principles never worked because of corruption. Some are of the opinion that the corruption that made the principles not to work was caused by hypocrisy on our part.

Many believe that corruption had been caught in a tangled web and shrouded by the hypocrisy amongst leaders in our land. And that makes it difficult for the smooth running of the affairs of this nation. A friend told me that corruption can easily be expunged from our nation if we can effectively deal with hypocrisy among our people. It is very true that everything rises and falls on leadership. But the issue of corruption cannot only rise and fall on leadership in our nation. We all do have a part to play in the fight against corruption in our land if we must win or succeed in the fight.

A friend told me some days back that hypocrisy is not noticeable in advanced democracies because they are guided by political norms and values sustained consciously by centuries of practice of rule of law, individual sincerity and freedom. He said in Nigeria that both the leaders and the led are victims of the “Nigerian system” which kills dreams, backs up liars, fraudsters and preaches hypocrisy to the high heavens. He was quick to add though that the attack on Saddam Hussein and Iraq by the U.S forces was a form of foreign hypocrisy; because the weapons we were told they had was not discovered after all. But he faulted our own form of hypocrisy in policy formulation, governance, execution of policies, attitude to state, party or national issues, non-adherence to constitutional norms and values, and inability to sustain policies.

Leaders over here pretend to have moral standards or opinions that they do not actually have. Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang about some of our leaders who always mentioned or called the name of God in everything and every time, but were corrupt and did bad things. Many have not left that path even now. So the question is, “Are we in the era of hypocrisy?” It is very obvious that hypocrisy is noticeable in all areas of our national life; the leaders and the led display theirs at different levels. Many seem to look only in the direction of leaders but not the citizens. There are churches and mosques everywhere. But what are the real expectations of the people from their leaders? The truth is that the people expect their leaders to be corrupt. They do not expect them to obey the rule of law or defend the constitution. They expect the leaders to amass illicit wealth for themselves and consider them as failures if they do not become moneybags after their tenure. They expect them to be tribalistic in giving appointments and would not see them as true sons and daughters of the soil if they did not fix their people into positions of authority before leaving office. Is this our patriotism?

Selected people come out here to claim they were elected and have the people’s mandate. But it is very obvious that they are far from the people with their elitist policies, only near to their godfathers who they have their mandate. Corrupt people come out on daily basis to preach against corruption. Their preaching is an open show of our hypocrisy. The same people are picked randomly by the anti-graft agencies for questioning or being prosecuted for one form of scam or the other. It is becoming very difficult to distinguish between the lawyers, judges and the politicians in terms of attitude to civility and values. Even some lawyers who were championing the fight against corruption have become lead counsels to the corrupt politicians; speaking out loud against corruption and turning back to defend the corrupt politicians is great hypocrisy. Some human right activists are gradually turning to praise singers for politicians. Hope they are not joining the league of deceivers we have around the polity.

In the name of good working relationship the legislative arm of government are gradually turning to errand boys and girls for the executive arm. Many are applauding the moves by the legislators to probe the different sectors of the economy. Is it not an indictment on their part? Were they sleeping or doing their oversight function when those areas were mismanaged? And what are the results of all their probes? Were they just series of jamborees and waste of public funds? It is yet to be seen if anything would ever come out of those probes or they would go the way of the previous probes. We are all waiting to see what comes out of all these probes with all the allegations of bribery and inducement of members of the panels. The freedom of information bill had received several blows from the same people who claim they have the mandate of the people. The Electoral act has been faulted by different people and groups for different flaws yet many are not looking in that direction. It looks like the legislators are just bunch of self-centered, self-serving stooges of different anti-Nigerian folks with their attitude towards the freedom of information bill. They are only busy waiting for who to make comments about them and they would swoop on the people or media house. Discussing about their welfare package and reviewing upwardly on their budget allocation is the topmost priority. Everyone is busy struggling to head one committee or the other. How many bills have been passed that had affected the people on the street. When it is time to campaign, they would comb every nook and corner of their different constituencies. On assumption of office, they forget their promises, detach from their people and become elitist in attitude. This is great hypocrisy.

 

Our leaders all claim to have genuine love and vision to fix our nation. I do believe that it is an open show of hypocrisy for them to commission what they call ‘state of the art’ hospitals here and then go abroad for their medical checks and treatment. If those hospitals were really ‘state of the art’, why were they not good enough for our leaders and their families? They all need to tell themselves the truth; they are just deceiving themselves and not the people. Until our hospitals are good enough for our leaders, their aides and families, we do not have hospitals yet. Our leaders commission schools here good enough to accommodate refugees and destitutes. They all send their children abroad to the best schools, but make sure our education remains at the mediocre level; so that their children would come out from the best schools and be imposed on the people they built mediocre schools for again. Qualifications make little or no sense at all if your parents were not previously occupying one position of authority or the other in the land.

In the name of long term vision for the polity, many cook up policies they know very well would not succeed beyond their tenure. Doing business looks unpredictable because inconsistency of policies would not allow business to blossom into worthwhile ventures. One government would allow some things to take shape; another would destroy what they tried to put into shape. One would ban importation of some materials to favour friends and associates, another government would allow for the importation of same materials. Most bans are not for genuine or long-term reasons.  Before now, the tollgates were in place but were pulled down by another government. The new government is trying to sell the idea of having the tollgates back now to the people. Hypocrisy is behind all these; pretending to have moral standards or opinions they do not actually have. World leaders resign when such things occur in their administration but not in our land.

Nigeria is one of the most religious nations of the world. But the hypocrisy that shrouded the political scene is not absent in the religious circle. Religious leaders should at least not be caught in the web of hypocrisy but they are. The fight against corruption in our land should be championed by religious leaders because of their strategic positioning in the lives of the people. But here they have joined and often lead the way in singing the praise of the politicians who loot the state treasuries. Those corrupt politicians become committed faithfuls the moment they make out cheques or donate money to build mosques or churches. Their donations clear them from all guilt of corruption. Religious leaders in the name of ‘not to incite’ people keep quiet and are very silent on national issues. I do believe that corruption would have been much less here if not for hypocrisy on the part of some religious leaders. You cannot give what you do not have; most of them do not have the moral standards and so cannot give same to their faithfuls.

 If this is not the era of hypocrisy, our sports administrators would have lifted sports to an enviable level in our nation. Many sports are as good as dead in our nation because the administrators do not have genuine interest for development. Funds meant for development are diverted to personal accounts at the expense of the sports and the nation. Competence is no longer the criteria for even selecting the administrators; most of them know little or nothing about the sports they administer. Coaches field athletes who are ready to part with their allowances or who were imposed by one administrator or politician. Most athletes we parade for competitions do not reflect the enormous talents that abound here. Something is wrong somewhere. And it is just hypocrisy.

Leadership lacks authority, merit or respect when the cause of the people is treated with levity, and the leader adopts an elitist attitude. Governance lacks impact when it lacks input from the people and not near to the people. The government in our nation says it stands for the rule of law but their actions betray their very intentions. All claim that their watchword is transparency but having people take oaths of secrecy. I do think that this is surely the era of hypocrisy. Nothing seem to suggest other wise. It is said that Righteousness exalts a nation, I add that Hypocrisy is a reproach to any nation. It is time for us as a people to mend our ways and live right with right expectations from people in government. It is time for our leaders to be sincere, pursue genuine visions that will better the lot of the people and not be elitist with their policies favouring a selected few and making others look like zombies. Let’s push hypocrisy out of our lives as a people. Nigeria will be great again!  

          

ARINZE ALINNOR A.
P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.
08033001782, 01-8964893
arinze198@gmail.com
http://www.arinze198.wordpress.com 

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MEGA BANKS IN NIGERIA?

October 7, 2008

MEGA BANKS AND MEGA CHARGES?

 

 

 

Before the emergence of banks in this part of the world, there has been individuals or groups who keep or lend money to people. This was done locally without even machines or data devices. Our people had not much problems with that practice, and many of them stuck to it even with the emergence of banks. Then there was exchange of goods, property, services, for other goods without using money; trade by barter. The emergence of banks seemed to modify the mode of transactions between individuals, groups, communities, regions and nations.

 

 

When I was much younger, I thought everything about banking and financial services started and ended with the likes of First Bank, Union Bank, U. B. A and AfriBank. Back then it took longer time to complete transactions with those banks because of protocols that were in place. Many people preferred keeping their cash in their houses and business places for easy access to it instead of going through the rigorous protocols in the banks. My dad and some of his friends preferred keeping theirs with them for many reasons. I tried to know from one of his friends, and he told me they were scared. They were scared because of what happened to them after the Biafran war. They said for all they had in the bank, they were given only a few pounds after the war.

 

 

Many of them only went to the bank when the then military administration changed the colour and faces of the currency notes to have their cash exchanged for the new notes. Many of them started doing business with the banks after that exercise because those who had their money in the banks had little or no difficulty exchanging their old notes for the new ones. Many banks emerged back then with new technology and incentives the old generation banks never had. Many jumped into doing business with those new banks and dumped the old ones. Most of the new generation banks back then were owned by group of friends or some rich families. Not long after that many of the new generation banks went under. The era of distressed banks sent another phobia into the people. Many once again became afraid of having their hard earned money kept in the banks. Nobody could differentiate between the solid and the sick banks back then.

 

 

In the midst of all these, Prof. Charles Soludo came on board as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He came and injected new policies into banking to win back the heart of the people to the banks. The consolidation exercise of our banks was worth the while. At least people can rest assured that their funds cannot just vanish into thin air whenever any little thing happens. The consolidation exercise did put back confidence to the banking sector, and made banks really look like banks. Many of our banks now have international branches and are quoted on the international stock markets. The sector had witnessed tremendous growth and impact since the consolidation exercise was concluded.

 

 

But our joy may be short lived with the mega charges that came with the emergence of mega banks. It is now even a crime to deposit cash above Five Million Naira in some banks because you have to pay handling charges now. Every bank now does not want customers in the banking hall except for serious transactions. Customers now use the ATM machines to make withdrawals. But they also forgot that they have customers who are not literate who may not know anything about machine and figures that appear on them.I have helped elderly presons a couple of times use their cards because they cannot see the figures on the machines. Customer service in most banks need to be called bankers service because they do little to assist people like that; they even see those people as constituting nuisance around the banks. Banks like U.B.A charge N105 as current account maintenance inspite of the C. O. T they collect. Many collect ATM charges unknown to depositors. Intercontinental Bank collect N50 for any withdrawal from Intercontinental ATMs not from other banks which ordinarily attract N100. Many collect N500 for corporate account, N105 for individual account just for internet access per month. SMS charges are not left out for alerts. Are these the benefits of having mega banks? I do not think so. Where are the incentives?

 

 

The emergence of mega banks is just the emergence of mega charges. They are not encouraging the people to embrace banking but to rather go back to the old practice of carrying cash around and saving in their cupboards. Opening branches here and there does not mean being nearer to the people, the banks are just for elite in the society. The interest rates on lending can cripple many business men and women and their businesses. Someone said it is always the prayer of the bank that people do not meet up with their payment plan so that they can forfeit their collateral. Is that the benefit? All the hype about the best bank in Africa, rated among first 500 in the world, quoted on international market, local and international branches everywhere have not translated to making our banks customer friendly. C. B. N should look into all these charges that are arbitrary. Mega banks are not mega charges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARINZE ALINNOR A.

P. O. BOX 17985, IKEJA – LAGOS.

08033001782, 01-8964893

arinze198@gmail.com

www.arinze198.wordpress.com