“Politicians have always sought us out because we can provide votes .Between friends and family, each man of honor can muster up forty to fifty other people. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 men of honor in Palermo province. Multiply that by fifty and you get a nice package of 75,000 to 100,000 votes to go to friendly parties and candidates.”
I have just finished reading an interesting book The Mafia: the first 100 years written by two authors William Balzamo and George Carpozzi jnr. This courtesy of an intellectual friend who was kind enough to lend me this priceless novel. To be honest the ways of the mafia, ‘the men of honour’ has always intrigued me right from my school days, especially as they were made more popular by Mario Puzo and his blockbuster the Godfather.
One surprising thing after reading this book was the reality that hit me; I have come to compare our present situation in the country to that of the 18th century criminal era of the mafia in Sicily and America where they made a huge success in their criminal activities. They were what one can call an alternative government in the days of prohibition in America. They made bootlegging more popular and ripped off the states and people billions of dollars through other criminal activities like gambling, loan sharking, insurance payment, prostitutions, protection racketeering , vote buying, smuggling, bid rigging and other legal and illegal legendry activities of the Mafia (also known as Cosa Nostra).
They were virtually everywhere during the 18th and 19th century America and made inroad into various America cities, more organized and flamboyant in the 20th century, with strong mafia boss like Al Capone Scarface, Frankie Yale, Lucky Luciano,Frank Capello, Carlo Gambino,Vito Ganovese, Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana,Joseph Bonanno, John Gotti and others sitting atop some of the most dangerous criminal gangs the world had ever seen. They enforced their authorities everywhere and were in total control of the American social political economy.
Back home here in Nigeria, I want to believe that what we presently have is nothing different from the Mafioso era in the 18th and 19th century. Because our economic, social and political lives today seem to be under control of some mafia or cabal of sort who dictates and enforces some of the activities going on in this sectors. A good example is our epileptic power supply where some political mafias have since taken charge and direct when or where should have electricity at a particular given time. Stories of individuals dictating or enforcing electricity distribution to certain area are not new in Nigeria. And the strong energy generating mafias are not left out in the mass importation of generators in the country; this to ensure that the Nigerian masses don’t enjoy light but buy their noise making generating sets at dictated prices.
What about our moribund transport system and obsolete railway lines? The Nigerian Mafias have long hijacked these important sectors to themselves and their gangs of unpatriotic Nigerians. The Nigerian nation has been battling them for more than three decades to revive this comatose sector and ease the suffering of the ordinary man, especially those at the rural areas who are finding it extremely difficult to move their goods and services to the cities. They have hijacked and ensured that our roads are dead and are in total control of haulage and other road transport services. They bid and win most of the road contracts in the country and at the end construct seasonal roads that last only for a particular time and new contracts are awarded to them on the same roads. Perhaps nowhere else on planet earth has some of the most expensive dilapidated roads like Nigeria.
The Nigerian political mafias control our local government councils, states assemblies and National Assembly, up to our fortified Aso Rock. They have their men and women who are bonafide members of their unregistered cabal scattered everywhere as local government chairmen and women, councilors, house members, representatives, senators and governors. They are not left out in the list of ministers and special advisers, including heads of juicy government agencies. They have long made it their business to be involved in winning government tenders, bonds, and luscious contracts. They proposed and initiate what they think is good for the Nigerian people and the nation and ensured that they control the financial and logistic aspect. They are everywhere controlling the goods in our markets and fixing the prices of essential commodities, after all they own 99% of markets and stalls across the country. The Nigeria political Mafioso have gradually infiltrated the building industry , owning various verse estates and bought their way into other luscious sectors of our economy like oil and gas, export and import, shipping, the media, banking, telecommunication and even cabbage collecting and refuse dumps. They are holding on greedily and selfishly to these ventures and daily exploiting us without pity or the fear of God.
I tell you, they are everywhere, look around and you will see them. They have commandeered our educational sector and ensured that our schools don’t work or function effectively. They are happy with our dilapidated public schools and proud that their children are schooling in the best schools abroad, and some of them are busy setting up private primary, secondary and higher institutions across the country with looted funds; and high tuition fees that only them and their cronies can afford .They have this illusive vision of importing their offspring to take over from them at the ripe time. They have guaranteed themselves and their followers that public schools in Nigeria will never return to its past glory or graduate ordinary Nigerians with flying colours. They are in control of our labour market and hold the aces to employment in most private and public establishment. You must belong to a cabal or have a political mafia godfather for you to get job or promotion in most of our establishments in the country.
The Nigeria political mafias just like their Sicilian and American counterparts are bunch of desperados and could go to any length to retail their claws in the fragmented social political economy of this nation. They see nothing wrong in assassination, kidnapping, bombings or rough handling any opposition to their undertakings. They have almost the best of all material things in the world; ranging from gigantic mansions, posh cars and beautiful women, and never satisfied.
Ironically the only difference with the famous Sicilians mafia is that while the Sicilians and American mafias pride themselves as ‘Men of honour’ our own political mafias are not really known as such, given the fact that they hardly keep their words and promises, even their own backyards are seriously undeveloped and are well –known in the betrayal of each other and cross carpeting for cheap political and material gains, and importantly undermining the revered oath of ‘Omerta’, that pledge of secrecy well distinguished among the Sicilian mafias.