Under GEJ is Corruption (egunge) worse or better OR the same...???
Now folks Please this is by NO MEANS endorsing corruption under GEJ, but rather to ask for us all to check and see if his administration is worse or better than those of the past.
So I lived in Ikeja prior to leaving Nigeria. One glorious day as is always in Naija we woke to to news that the Ikeja NITEL exchange had burnt to the ground. Practically the entire Ikeja and Ilupeju areas were now in total phone blackout. As a reminder this was before cell phone era where a common man or woman owed a cell phone, it was at the time still very much a high end luxury item. as some might remember Abacha only gave his Lebanese cronies and best friends licences to operate with MTEL at the time.
Now fast forward about 3 months later a temporary exchange was built and we were advised this was given mainly to businesses so we residents should not even bother, but of course the high and mighty got their phones back online at the time. About 6-8 months later ah, we the common man, residents could now get our lines restored. or so we thought and so the Naija drama began.
I would drive up to the Ikeja exchange almost daily to queue up just to make it INTO the gate of the compound. Standing under the hot Lagos sun and the high humidity of dear Eko for show. And of course right in the line is where your egunge journey started. The line was always occupied by TOUTS who offered you their space at a price...
Oga, how now, ah as you be busy man, you no wan waste time enta gate? Oya come stand for hia after you see my hand small... LOL
After shunning the line for about a week and realizing I was NEVER going to make it past the gate, (despite having an "Oga" to see once inside) my sef I see dem hand... well as usual no one told us that only got us into the "gate house". To get PAST the NITEL guards, ... more egunge had to flow...
Next stop the registration office... of course nobody had any records if you had a phone before you you had to register all over again. To buy the registration form, NEVER available at the official price or place, but the egunge price, miraculously right BESIDE the official location in the compound, ... more egunge had to flow...
To get the division managers office and that getting you to the engineering department to pay for and then BOOK an installation date and find out when they will come to your house, of course you be Naija you know now... more engage had to flow...
NOW it is important to remember none of this took place in ONE DAY, so imagine weeks and months of back and forth of this and the tally of all the egunge spent each day from outside the gate right up to the "engineering" office.
So finally the day came when the field engineering team showed up at the house to install the lines, one ordinary telephone line for one house in our block of flats. After knocking LOUDLY on the gate and introductions, quite NATURALLY, the team leader wearing his his french suit and dark glasses (with no NITEL ID CARD) and backed by his crew in NITEL overalls on their light blue NITEL pickup truck, proceeded to tell me, that there were no more MATERIALS and CABLES to be used to climb the pole and run the cable to the house. DESPITE my reminding the dear team leader that I recall paying for all that based on the form I filled out AND monies paid at the NITEL office, fro re-installation of an existing phone. I recall stressing I paid for everything for the line to be installed right up to the two phones handsets in the house. And the dear man smiled, and said:
Oga, ah, I hia you, but you no suppose pay dem for office, don't mind them, dat nah office moni, dat one is different for the moni that is needed to run cable in the field... Dem no get any cable, nah we dey get cable for field. If to say you have contacted us before, we for don make arrangement wit you... but without materials we have to go and ask them and come back later...So ask me, how the heck was I supposed to have "made arrangements" with a guy I had never met in my life? Well that is Naija for you! And they will go back and ask the "office people" what happened, Whoside, luckily I no be JJC for my dear countri, today that phone must be installed one way or anoda...
Cut and EVEN longer story short, MORE EGUNGE had to flow to the field crew. Suddenly, the scarcity of materials and cables were over, another NITEL truck arrives with the mysterious cable, after my purchase of some bottles of Coke and Fanta for the team, lord have mercy look at how my my phone was speedily installed and checked and working. Did the phone work flawlessly after this wonderful experience? Now that is another story for another day!
In summary just to get a home phone to work again, please keep in mind is NOT OUR FAULT as residents that the phone exchange burnt down, after all we did not burn it down right? It took about 3 - 4 months of thousands of egunge spent all the way from touts outside the NITEL gate right up through the division manager to the field crew to get ONE land line installed. Nice!
That is a snapshot of one incident of corruption on the SMALL SCALE that the common man in Naija over 20 years ago experienced more or less on a daily basis in Nigeria. Another quick example I recall is, if we needed a new transformer on any street in Ikeja, all residents would need to contribute to the egunge fund to "settle" NEPA to get the new transformer assigned and installed.
Forget the large scale corruption in large institutions, like the Minster of Education clearing out the monies meant for workers for expensive foreign trips. Or another lovely story I have of sleeping at a petrol station in my car for 3 days just to buy ONE TANK of petrol because the refineries had been left to decay and all the monies needed for maintenance had been cleaned out by the powers that be at the time. Despite the contract for repairs being awarded two to three times over and over again to different companies! Every common man and woman experienced the wrath of corruption every day in Nigeria in those days.
Finally I will like to throw this in that the PTF that has contributed in no small measure to Buhari's "glorious resume" today was created due to the corrupt nature of Nigerian officials who swallowed all the monies allocated to the maintenance of roads and bridges in the country at the time. People should remember that the PTF had its own offices with fully staffed workforce and equipment vehicles et al, and yet not ONE worker form the various state and federal ministries of Public Works et al were sacked they all continued to draw salaries for doing practically nothing. My question can that also be considered corruption and a waste of public funds?
So is today worse or better, or the same?