The current nationwide uprising in Nigeria triggered by the removal of fuel subsidy has its roots in corruption, renowned author, Chinua Achebe, has said.
In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, an American newspaper, Mr. Achebe spoke of his support for the current protests, which have also been tagged Occupy Nigeria after similar protests in the US.
“Any involvement of ordinary Nigerians in a non-violent (peaceful), organized, protest for their rights and improvement in their living standards, in my opinion, as a writer, should be encouraged. An artist, in my understanding of the word, should side with the people against the Emperor that oppresses his or her people,” he said.
Mr. Achebe criticised the government’s unwillingness to cut huge spendings as well as the virtually non-existent fight against corruption.
“If the present government reduced its own bloated budget, curbed the outrageous salaries and perks of parliamentarians, state governors, and local government officials – that would yield an additional hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars a year. And that at least would be a start.
“What has not been pulled into this entire debate is that the scale of corruption in Nigeria – the Nigerian government – and I am talking about corruption at all levels of government – Federal, state, local government, municipal, etc. – amounts to at least $10 billion a year ($400 billion in forty years). Putting an end to this should be the focus of the present government.
The renowned author, a professor of African Studies at Brown University, further said he hopes the protests would climax in the removal of corrupt leaders through credible elections. Speaking on Nigeria’s leadership challenges, Mr. Achebe said the ideal Nigerian leader remains elusive.
“My hope for Nigeria actually is that the people will channel all that pent-up rage towards a fight for sound democratic institutions [to elect] that elusive great Nigerian leader that is able to transcend our handicaps – corruption, ethnic bigotry, the celebration of mediocrity, indiscipline etc- will only come when we make the process of electing leaders – through free and fair elections in a democracy – as flawless as possible, improving on each exercise as we evolve as a nation,” he said.