By Lawal Ogienagbon
Nothing sells like sex, sleaze, and scam in high places. People go to any length to read such stories. When the shit hits the fan, it is scattered everywhere. The odour does not bother people. They are more interested in the calibre of those involved in this or that shady deal.
Since the Pandora Papers were released, they have gone far and wide, with the emerging details leaving shock waves across the world. This predictable reaction never ceases to amaze me. We live in a world which we know too well. A world which the powerful and the affluent see as their own; a world in which political leaders and their collaborators in the business and other worlds treat others with disdain. A world where the mighty live large at the expense of the low and downtrodden.
It is a world in which it is a sin to be poor and unconnected. A world where gold-digging is appreciated and hard work despised. All these we have seen and heard about before. Yet, we are shocked by stories of graft and theft when they break. The rich will always hide money in a foreign land. They will always accumulate more than what they and their generations yet unborn need. They speak against corruption in public and do exactly the opposite in secret. They do so with impudence; without a care in the world.
In connivance with those in power, they steal from the country and flaunt their ill-gotten wealth. For all they care, the people can go to hell. Who will call them to account? Who will tell them that what they are doing is wrong? Who will ask them the question: but your promise was to make things right and not add to the people’s woes? The few bold and brave ones among us, who take up this task, are called names. In many cases, they are told to mind their own business and let the leader be. Those who talk like that usually benefit from the system.
Is it now that it is our turn to make it that you are playing the spoiler? They are wont to ask. Spoiler kwa! You wonder besumed. How can insisting on the right things being done turn one into a spoiler? It is a game of mind. If you have a conscience, you will maintain your stance. If you are blown here and there, you will join them. This is why corruption thrives and this is why it sells when published. The details are snazzy and moving. The Pandora Papers are turning heads worldwide now because of such incredible details.
Even though we have travelled this road before, things have not changed and they may not change in the near future because of the human factor. The truth is that we are all the same. We are saints when we are not part of the system. Once, we get a foot inside, we become one of them. We become armour-bearers for those, who in the past, we shot down with our tongues.
There is nothing mythical about the Pandora Papers like its namesake, Pandora’s box. There is no mystery whatsoever surrounding how serving and former public officers use their offices to amass wealth and stash in shell companies in tax havens even in countries we believe should lead the way in the fight against such act. These countries or states therein which like to point fingers at us are as corrupt as those they run down. The leaks in the Pandora Papers are not new. We have read about them before. They were in the Panama Papers five years ago as well as the 2017 Paradise Papers.
So, do not be surprised when another report is released in the future detailing similar sordid acts of corruption by leaders, some of who we thought sugar would never melt in their mouths with the way they talk. Stop looking at faces. They will not tell you who is corrupt or not corrupt. Indeed, as Shakespeare observed: ‘there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’. How sad! Regrettably, that is the way we are.