Ladies & Gentlemen, Please Rise Up to Recognize the Presence of Thieves, By Pius Adesanmi
That Nigerian-Canadian civil servant, Nellie Mayshak, spent years working for the government of Ontario. Not one accusation of stealing and corruption.
Then she goes back home to work in Nigeria and steals from Nigerian pensioners humongous amounts of money that would have crippled the economy of Ontario had she stolen a fraction of such amounts while she was here.
Let us forget the monumental disgrace she represents for Nigerians in the diaspora and Nigerians in Canada. Her case is instructive for only one reason.
Come with me.
Obviously, Nellie Mayshak was already a thief when working in Toronto.
But. She. Did. Not. Steal.
Question: why did she not steal in Canada?
Answer: the fear of consequences and the absence of impunity.
Canada did not work for her. Why continue to work honestly in Canada and watch your paycheck go up in smoke every month, eaten up by Federal and provincial taxes when you come originally from a society that has agreed to function on a paradigm of crime without punishment and impunity?
For any Nigerian with criminal proclivities living and working in the Western world, that is the proposition that Nigeria constantly fixes in your consciousness: come back home and join our commonwealth of crime without punishment. Come back home and become an instant billionaire. Here, we do not ask questions about how you made your money.
That Nellie did not steal in Ontario and went home to steal billions is another reason why we must rethink Nigeria radically. We cannot have a situation where you fear crime and consequence in Canada, America, and Britain and relocate to the Nigerian eldorado of crime and reward.
That she has been suspended is a good start. Let us hope for a fair judicial process that will be pursued to its logical conclusion.
However, prosecuting and jailing this Nigerian-Canadian idiot is not enough. And many of us think that the solution to our problem of lawlessness, impunity, and crime without punishment lies in visionary leadership and strong institutions. Those are significant planks of the solutions but they are hollow and ineffective without some form of social revolution and evolution which involves the forging of a collective attitude of hostility to the kind of society that we currently operate.
Until her monumental stealing as a civil servant was exposed, Nellie, like Dino, FFK, and politicians of all parties, was obviously living above her means among you. You saw her cars and mansions. Yet, she probably had a front row seat in her church, with special access to the Pastor. Yet, you invited her to social functions and, if she arrived five hours late, you stopped proceedings to “recognize her presence”. Yet, you nominated her for every manner of society award. Yet, she was on the high table at every event.
Let Dasuki, Metuh, Oronsaye or any member of the 2015-2016 class of theft and corruption indictees appear at any social function in Nigeria today, you will stop proceedings to “recognize their presence.” How can you run a jungle society like this and expect those with criminal proclivities among us in the Diaspora not to run home to steal from you and add to your problems?
Where thieves feel valued and recognized in the context of societal mores and mentality, no level of leadership or institutional enhancement will work.
We have to have a collective vision of the social good and develop attitudes of collective hostility to any citizen who does anything injurious to it. Such an attitude is the raw material that leadership and institutions could use.
The day you develop the courage to stop recognizing the presence of known thieves in your public and social ceremonies, we would have started our long journey to civilization.