By Jude Atupulazi
For those conversant with happenings in our country, expecting anything good from here is much like expecting water in the middle of the desert. Yes, that is how, not just Nigerians, but others, see our country. This perception is no thanks to the activities of fraudsters and all manner of despicable people who abound in their numbers in this shithole of a country, apologies to President Donald Trump of America.
Because of this behaviour, Nigerians have lost the trust of other nationals. Even at airports, Nigerians are often subjected to more scrutiny by airport authorities who rightly or wrongly believe that we are all rogues.
The bad thing about all this is that we have even come to believe it and see ourselves as unreliable folks. Thus, over the years Nigerians have continued to wallow in that perception.
This is why whenever we experience the occasional display of integrity by any Nigerian, it makes headline news. Such headline news has been making the rounds of late. It is about two young Nigerian security men working at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, who recently had an opportunity to make good money from a bag filled with dollars and jewellery which was forgotten by a passenger at the airport.
The security guards, Messrs Daniel Achi and Francis Emepueaku of Halogen Securities Ltd;, were last Sunday rewarded with N250, 000 each for their act of honesty.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria report, Daniel was with his colleague, Emepueaku, when he found the bag on August 18 at the airport.
Daniel had said: ‘Inside the bag, we saw a mobile phone, jewellery and a huge amount of money in dollars and several other documents.
‘At that point, I went straight to the manager’s office who now put a call through to somebody in Atlanta, Georgia, and the person happened to be the daughter of the owner of the bag.
‘If the money was in multi-millions of foreign currencies, I would still have returned it.
‘I saw the bag on a trolley at the car park, and I said to myself that somebody must have forgotten it there.
‘It was not padlocked and without opening it, I went to the ground floor with the bag to meet my supervisor.’
The security guard said that it was not his first time of returning money in foreign currencies to their rightful owners.
‘When they returned (passengers involved), they were jittery that some of the items in the bag might have vanished.
‘But after crosschecking it, she (owner) discovered that everything was intact and the family attempted to give us some amount of money as a form of appreciation, which we rejected, telling them that we had only done our job.
‘It never crossed my mind to steal the money; I wouldn’t have done that because it was not my first time of finding such and returning to the owners.
‘No amount of money would make me to take what does not belong to me. I believe my own time will come and at the right time,’ Daniel said.
Also, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, said that several other related cases had been recorded at the nation’s airports.
Dunoma, who was represented at the event by the FAAN Director of Engineering Services, Mr. Salisu Daura, said that the duo’s act gave confidence and credibility to the agency’s security profiling system.
He said that the duo would forever be remembered in the annals of the industry as role models, reference points, shining lights and good ambassadors.
‘Some others may look at you and tag you stupid, but I want to assure you that by virtue of this act, you have secured seats for yourselves in the comity of those with credibility and integrity.
‘I want to advise other members of staff to emulate this great virtue and become role models, just like these two security guards,’ he said.
The action of these two guards came barely two weeks after a young Nigerian died while trying to save some people who were drowning following the capsizing of their boat in Bayelsa State. This young man, Joe Blankson, had already saved 13 people with whom he was in the boat but as he tried to save more, he became exhausted and drowned.
These two events, coming so close together, have at least temporarily assured the rest of us that something good can still be found in a country ravaged and rubbished by politicians.
The two young security guards, though poor, by Nigerian standards, ought to have caved in to the temptation of making quick money. But they not only refused to be tempted, they also refused to take money offered to them by the owner of the money in appreciation of their act. Indeed, these are things we often read and hear in the news from foreign climes.
They could have easily and conveniently taken the money and shared the spoils and no one would have suspected them, being that the airport is a busy place where anyone of the hundreds of passengers and airport workers could have taken the money. But they elected to do the right thing by reporting what they discovered.
Happily, these men were celebrated by their parent company last Sunday, an event that was fully covered by the news media. That’s the way it should be.
The wide coverage given to the event should show the rest of Nigerians that good things should be appreciated and celebrated; not just inanities as we see today.
The local government elections in Imo State have come and gone and the results were as expected. The ruling party swept everything in sight, or all of it. The ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC, won every chairmanship seat and only ”graciously” ceded four councillorship seats to four different parties.
Before that election, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, had pulled out of the contest owing to their lack of confidence in the Imo State
Independent Electoral Commission, IMSIEC. They already knew what the outcome would be.
But what happened in Imo isn’t an isolated case. It is the case in all local government elections in every state. Candidates of ruling parties always coast to victory and in many states, nothing is given at all to the opposition parties. It is simply cases of winners taking all.
It is clear that state conducted elections are the worst in Nigeria. At the national level, Nigeria seems to be slowly getting it right, even though she is not yet there. Thus we have been seeing parties other than the one at the centre winning in different states. In 2015, an incumbent party, PDP, lost at the centre and that was how Muhammadu Buhari emerged as successor to Goodluck Jonathan. If that election were to be a state election, no hell would have made the incumbent party lose.
The 2015 presidential election was a good boost for our democracy, just as other elections conducted by the Independent National Election Commission, INEC. There is no doubt that we need to have that replicated in elections conducted by SIECs.
The automatic victories of candidates of ruling parties in the states are only serving to rubbish our democracy rather than strengthen it. Because all incumbent parties’ candidates are guaranteed of victory, there is little effort to present the best candidates as would have been the case if the elections are free and fair.
This serves to rob the third tier of government of quality representatives. Some of the people there are even barely literate and are always at a loss when quality legislations are going on. I was once a player in the third tier and I know what I saw.
Our democracy can only grow and take root if the grassroots section is strengthened by having quality candidates at that level. People who don’t deserve being there should not be fronted by political parties just because they can front them. Doing that will amount to stalling the growth of democracy in the country.
The Imo State local government elections may have come and gone with its expected conclusion but let no one point accusing fingers at Imo State for raping democracy. This is because we all rape it in our own states.
It is therefore necessary that the necessary reforms should be effected so that elections will be what they are supposed to be and not end up being mere selections.