This House has Fallen is the title of a very readable political history of Nigeria by journalist Karl Maier.
Nigeria’s state failure is of course much chronicled by its two literary icons Chinua Achebe (in The Trouble with Nigeria) and Wole Soyinka (in The Open Sore of a Continent).
Our state dysfunction is not as well chronicled, but it is now increasingly difficult to deny.
Social order, whether in a village, ethnic group or nation state, and indeed the community of nations is underpinned by a moral consensus as to what constitutes right and wrong, of which the tenets on violence and sanctity of property are universal absolutes - thou shall not kill, and thou shall not steal.
Harming other people without cause and stealing are indefensible, and any person who does these things must be sanctioned as per the community’s accepted practice.
It is now part of our national narrative that the 2008 Post-Election Violence (PEV) was our moment of truth - the wake up call that our moral consensus was breaking down.
DEPTH OF FAILURE
Not really. On the contrary, what the PEV did was to expose the depth of the failure. How so?
First, we showed ourselves incapable of taking responsibility for justice, and outsourced it to the International Criminal Court.
We then proceeded to transform the process into a Kafkaesque drama.
Suspects morphed into victims, and anyone who stood with them were re-casted as the villains, and the international community, who we had begged desperately to come and rescue us from our bloodletting became conspirators against us.
We have legitimised violence as a means of pursuing political power.
We are unbothered by the fact that scores of PEV murderers, rapists and arsonists got away with it.
Some are in government, plundering and working their way up to national leadership.
Fast forward to September 2013 - the Westgate Mall attack.
Up to this point, the military was one of the few state institutions with an unsoiled reputation.
In Westgate, we saw the unthinkable - our soldiers robbing the dead.
The President promised an inquiry. It did not happen.
They got away with it. After the Garissa University College attack, we heard that an aircraft that should have been on standby to transport security personnel was out on a joyride. No accountability for that either.
Should we be surprised that the military would deploy a handful of troops deep into enemy territory, days away from reinforcements and compound the error by failing to act on intelligence?
We should not be. Without accountability, indiscipline becomes the norm.
Credible allegations of involvement in smuggling have become increasingly difficult to deny.
We are compelled to ask whether our continued stay in Somalia is motivated by our security or plunder.
For several months now, we have been treated to a tall tale on the whereabouts of close to Sh100 billion of Eurobond proceeds that has progressed from the inept to the ludicrous.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was quick to give a clean bill, only for the Director of Public Prosecutions to be embarrassed into re-opening the file when suspicious tampering and outright forgery documents was exposed.
The EACC’s conclusion was that no crime was committed, notwithstanding readily apparent evidence of malfeasance.
On custody of public money, the law is crystal clear.
Public money must be kept in the Consolidated Fund or other Fund established by law.
The Treasury mandarins operated an irregular account at the Central Bank which they claim to have deposited Sh162 billion of public money; that they say they transferred to the Exchequer account with dubious letters occasionally at their discretion.
If that is not abuse of office, I do not know what is.
It is noteworthy and significant that a bona fide statement of this account is not among the documents that the Treasury has released in its attempt to prove that all the money came.
WASTE AND CORRUPTION
Allegations of profligate waste and a corruption spectacular at the Ministry of Devolution and the NYS, and Ms Anne Waiguru’s culpability has been in the public domain for almost two years.
No amount of political capital has been spared to shield her from accountability.
Mr Mithika Linturi is on record that he was pressured by the President to drop his censure motion.
Mr Alfred Keter attributed the failure of his motion to intimidation and bribery and fingered Solicitor General and presidential power man Njee Muturi.
In any society with a modicum of public morality, allegations of bribery of Members of Parliament by a senior member of the Executive is an outrageous monumental scandal.
We shrugged it off. Neither the DPP nor the EACC thought it necessary to question Mr Keter or Mr Muturi.
Questioned on suspicions of bid rigging by use of different companies by the same bidders in June last year, Ms Waiguru is quoted as having responded as follows:
“People register many companies and we encourage them to do that to enhance their ability to compete.
The law does not prohibit anyone from owning more than one company or being a director of more than one company.”
She does not stop there. “You cannot stop someone from bidding in a tender more than once because that is how they think they will enhance their chances.
Everyone uses their ingenuity to make sure that they compete against their peers.”
Ms Waiguru knows that this practice is completely unethical, why was she going out on a limb to justify and defend it?
Would it have anything to do with Josephine Kabura’s assertion in her now famous affidavit, to the effect that her 20 companies doing business with NYS are for all intents and purposes fronts for Ms Waiguru?
The remarkable thing in my view is not that these things have happened, but rather that we have chosen to stand by our murderers and thieves.
The senior public official without skeletons in the closet is the exception.
I have been implored on several occasions by people from my Kikuyu community to drop the Eurobond issue because it could bring down “our” government.
On one occasion recently it was put to me very succinctly - that in Kenyan politics, “right and wrong” is irrelevant, what matters is “us versus them.”
I was rather sceptical about the Justice Tunoi bribery affair until the community elders owned up to having sought to intervene to get the judge to give the broker his share of the bribe.
But for one woman who expressed disbelief that the nice young man she knew could have been involved in “such a bad thing”, the elders do not appear to have thought that there was something wrong and shameful about a very senior judge and the young man embroiled in a most unseemly bribery scandal.
Their main concern was that the broker had been swindled off his share of the bribe money.
“Si apewe tu haki yake,” (Why not give him his right).
I am one of those people who have been intrigued by the justices’ determination to hang on to their jobs.
Not any more. Staying on will see them hear the petitions arising out of the next General Election, including possibly a presidential one.
CRIMES COVER UP
It is insightful and I think significant that both the Justice Tunoi and Ms Waiguru scandals have been blown open not through investigation but accidentally on account of the old adage of there being no honour among thieves.
There is a disturbing corollary to the Ms Waiguru scandal, this being that if both her and Kabura’s allegations are true, and they do look credible, the Jubilee administration has been covering up crimes.
How high does the cover up go? On the Justice Tunoi case, we’ve been treated to yet another episode of presidential prevarication, giving lame excuses and finally attempting to wriggle out of forming a tribunal. Why?
Whatever the reason, it demonstrates that there are no absolutes, moral or constitutional, no rights and wrongs. Only us versus them.
How long can a society survive without public morality? I do not know. What I know is this: This house has fallen.