Between Sweden and Nigeria: A matter of honour

By Adeola Aderounmu.

After the new government was inaugurated in Sweden last year (2006), Maria Borelius, the Trade Minister left the new government only after 8 days. What were her crimes? In the 1990s, she hired a nanny and she did not pay any tax on the nanny’s wages. She has a Television but she had not been paying her TV license regularly. She had been involved in some irregularities in a share trade and she is also living in a house that is owned by a company based in the tax haven of Jersey. These were the offences that led Maria Borelius to leave the government JUST 8 days after its inauguration. In a press conference to announce her exit, she stated: “The reason is the pressure that has been put on those closest to me. My family, my friends, my neighbours and their children, business associates, relatives, even my children’s friends, have been put under close scrutiny which means that normal family life has become impossible.”      

Just about 2 days later, the Minister of Culture, Cecilia Stegö Chilò also resigned. She was found wanting in matters relating to her private finances. She had not been paying her television license fee for 16 years! This means she had withheld 15 000 Swedish Kronor (about USD 2 330) from the public service broadcaster-The Swedish Television (SVT). In addition, she had a domestic help who was working black when her children were small. As she threw in the towel, these were her words: “By not paying my television license fee and employing black market domestic help in the period before becoming minister, I have committed errors which are not acceptable, but which I have attempted to rectify as far as possible. Since it will not be possible to rectify the situation within a reasonable period of time I no longer see any possibility of repairing the damage I have caused the government.”     

In September this year, the Defense Minister in Sweden, Mikael Odenberg resigned in protest against the government defense cuts. The Finance Minister had presented a budget which will allow a savings of 4-5 billion kronor but the Defense Minister said such a decision was made without basis or foundation. Speaking at a press conference on his decision, he repeatedly stated his opposition to the fact that the government had announced cuts in defense spending without first analyzing Sweden’s military requirements. He also hinged his arguments on the following points:“You can’t just take away lots of defense procurement spending without it having operative effects. The cuts would damage Sweden’s capacity to take part in international operations and would make it impossible for Sweden “to belong to the EU’s core in defense matters.” He indicated that his decision to resign was a matter of conscience: “I want to be able to face myself in the mirror and look our military personnel in the eye.” Odenberg said he did not have any objections to other aspects of government policy and added that he was resigning “entirely without bitterness.”     

So, it happened that Odenberg was the third minister to resign from Fredrik Reinfeldt’s cabinet. Maria Borelius resigned as trade minister after only eight days in the job. She was forced to quit after questions were raised over her tax affairs. Culture Minister Cecilia Stegö Chilò resigned two days later after admitting she had not paid her television license fee for sixteen years.      

If we put the events above in parallel with all the nonsense that have been going on in Nigerian Politics for the past 40 years, the first question that comes to mind is this: where is our honour in Nigeria? Other questions will obviously follow: do Nigerians or Nigerian politicians really know what shame is? Do they feel it?  Essentially, probity and accountability are absent from our political landscape. Our own politicians can NEVER resign or vacate their positions even in the face of the highest form of corruption. Imagine just how ordinary the kinds of crimes that these Swedish politicians have committed compared to very serious atrocities that we live with daily in Nigeria. Our politics is not only dirty in Nigeria; it is also an eye sore and stinking. Genuinely, all the woes and problems in Nigeria today have been trace to bad governance, a reflection of the ineptitudes of our seriously corrupt politicians. How did shame become a virtue in Nigeria?      

Do you know what? On the 31st day of October 2007, the secretary to the prime minister of Sweden left her job! She resigned! Her crime was this: she visited a Stockholm bar with a TV reporter while she was on call. The story appeared in the newspaper where her photos showed that she was kissing the reporter whom she is not romantically involved with. Actually, in recent days, her alcohol consumption has been a source of accusation for the government against the backdrop of her duties to the government’s emergency response organization. In the Nigerian context, many people will find this amusing. Imagine Action Congress Party asking Kingibe to resign because he had been drunk in an Abuja bar where he was found kissing a reporter from NTA Channel 10. Will Kingibe resign? It will never happen!     

The story of Nigeria is no longer news. One die hard woman killed another man while trying to rationalize the use of over 5 million dollars to renovate a new house. One man is not telling us where more than 10 billion dollars of our oil money is since 1991, and he lives among us. The idiot was even recently called upon to address writers and authors. Eh eh! What rubbish? One thoughtless man told us we will never have telephone in our homes, we still don’t have them, (save for mobile phones), and the man is our senate president. Another one told us we have to eat from the dustbin and we did eventually. Still, one shameless autocrat imposed another dude slash puppet on us and we pretended like it was alright. He, the animal called man, even stole our monies to fix his farm while we hunger. It was okay by us. For 40 years or more, we are still allowing thieves and rogues to live freely among us and spread their goodnews aka poverty, while we worship them. No greater shame!     

There is no honour in Nigeria Politics, period! Worse still, the parameters to confer honour to our politics are conspicuously missing. We have reached a point such that when we try to solve a problem in this country, we would need several-edged approaches. Taking care of one problem in Nigeria requires taking care of other multi-faceted problems that hang along with that original problem. For example, how can we eradicate corruption without having genuinely elected politicians in service? How can we transform our society at large to one in which the interest of the country rises above those of individuals? Leadership in Nigeria to this day is a big disaster, a monumental failure! Those who are supposed to be role models or good examples have helped to set the stage for calamities and discordant tunes. The wanton hopelessness and penury that is rampant in Nigeria will not go away UNLESS we start doing things right at some point in our lives. If green or orange revolution is the anticipated solution, we should let it be. My constant fear is for our children’s children. How can we lay the foundations needed for their existence? Are we going to find any excuse to explain to them that their childhood, adolescence and even adult life had been taken from them long before they were born?

Herein lies my pain, my passion.   

Acknowledgement; I got useful information from http://www.thelocal.se (Sweden’s News in English),

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