All these boil down to lack of accountability, sincerity of purpose, corruption, fraud and a profound lack of caring for the people they are supposed to serve. It is the story of our life in Nigeria. I have such a total distrust of politicians and government officials that I fear I might go to my grave with that attitude intact. Most of them simply cannot convince me that they are offering and implementing selfless service to their people and constituency. (I have seen only one exception so far, but it is early days yet, and that is Governor Babatude Raji Fashola of Lagos State, who I must admit, to my happiness, so far has been doing wonderful things in his state. He is very focused, sincere and committed to seeing that “Eko o ni baje” , “Lagos will not spoil” – but that is an article for another day).
A little digression. In Ibadan is a brand new hotel. The room rate is about N35,000 per night. I understand that there are similar hotels built in Lagos, Abuja and Abeokuta. It is meant for Senators and other politicians for retreats, conferences, etc. And, you guessed it, they are owned by one Mrs Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
Oyo State and Alao-Akala! I don’t know which of them is going to kill the other. The Governor has been in excellent propaganda form ever since the Tribunal practically conferred legitimacy on him. And why wouldn’t they, after almost 850 million naira in “Ghana Must Go” bags changed hand during the nights? (Don’t quote me, but that is the amount being bandied around). Would that come from his pocket? No, it is the money of the people and Government of Oyo State going into private hands. Thank you, Lord. Yes, back to propaganda: the Governor is becoming something of a “Goebbels” in the art of propaganda and self-promotion. There are huge posters of him all over Ibadan and other cities in Oyo State proclaiming him as what the people of Oyo State have been yearning for. He is the “Teacher In Chief” to the teachers in Oyo State; he is the “friend” of civil servants and pensioners; he is going to do this and do that; Oyo State will become a model state and the envy of others. One of the posters is strategically located in Molete, next to Chief Adedibu’s first house. I saw local government cars, who have at the rear window, sun-screens proclaiming their loyalty to the Governor. Woe betide the councillor or chairman who does not exhibit their loyalty to the supreme Governor of Oyo State.
Now let’s have a look at what has happened so far: Nothing. While I was in Nigeria, Oyo State received a total of 27 billion Naira within one week; 13 billion as refund from the Paris Club of debtors and another 14 billion as excess crude oil allocation or something like that. When I heard this, instead of being happy at the windfall for the people of Oyo State, I was filled with sadness, anger, and frustration. And I was proved right within one week. This is what my Governor has done with the money so far: he bought cars for the State’s labour union officials (Is it the business of the state to buy cars for labour unionists?); he has promised to give each member of the state’s House of Assembly, 20 million naira each as “constituency allowance”. That is what he as spent some of the money on so far. Meanwhile, there are thousands of unemployed youths and graduates on the streets; the streets of Ibadan and other major cities in the state are in dire need of repair or reconstruction; there is no beautification plan, as in Lagos, Ilorin, Minna and Calabar, for the city of Ibadan and the city is a sight for sore eyes; the Water Corporation of Oyo State cannot supply water because there are no chemicals and cannot pump water because they do not have generators; pensioners have not been paid their allowances for the past 24 months or so; the sewage system of Ibadan, the capital is non-existent; waste disposal is non-existent; Cocoa House has no supply of electricity and the companies there run on generators (can you imagine each floor of maybe six companies running their own private generator in a such a cramped space everyday?); armed robbers are running all over the place and so many other important issues the man should attend to.
But no, your guess is as good as mine that a lot of that 27 billion Naira will find its way to Molete, if it has not already done so already, and to others too numerous to mention here – loyal local government chiefs and councillors, commissioners, loyal civil servants, hangers-on and other political jobbers, Oyo State NURTW chiefs. Wow, it is a spree. The thief has been put in charge of the treasury. Take what you can, it is the national cake.
It is too much for me to contemplate, and believe me, I am not a prophet of doom, but I just can not see what other things this man will do with our money, except blow it. He has not got the right attitude, the ideas, the plans, the commitment; in short, he is not the man to put things right in Oyo State. He is not up to it, except steal the state blind and report to his godfather.
In 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, he predicted the “Thousand year Reich”. By 1945, barely 12 years later, the thousand year Reich was in ruins and he himself was dead. In 1983, after “winning” their election to a second term, the ruling NPN in Nigeria predicted that the NPN will rule Nigeria for the next 100 years. Well, by the end of 1983, there was no more NPN and its leaders were on the run or in jail. So much for political parties trying to turn countries into one-party states.
But then in April 2008, came Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, (s)elected as the new National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria. One of his very first statements is that the PDP will rule Nigeria for the next sixty years. Why he picked sixty years is something I don’t understand. Why not 100 or 1000 years? That would be better, wouldn’t it? Anyway, therein lies the problem with our politicians. First, they are never students of history, and if they are, never learn from it. Secondly, they engage their mouths well before they engage the thinking process. And thirdly, and most importantly, they are never ones to be called democrats. For a party that professes to be democratic, why would they want to monopolise power for sixty years? Such parties will never accept defeat gracefully at the polls, and will always try to rig elections. Inevitably, their ultimate plan and goal will be to turn Nigeria into a one-party state. Normally I would probably have no problem with this, but then if the party and its members cannot be trusted to rule Nigeria as it should be ruled, that is where we have an objection to them being in power for sixty years. In fact the mere thought and knowledge of the PDP being in power for the next five years is frightening, depressing and unimaginable to the majority of Nigerians. Their performance, or rather non-performance, over the last eight years is nothing to write home about. In fact they have demonstrated to Nigerians many shortcomings as a focused, genuine and serious ruling party. Apart from the corruption of the party, the party consists of very murderous thugs, lack of any political ideology, a dearth of know-how and of sincerity of purpose, a deep ignorance of good governance and a deep-rooted lack of sympathy to the plight of the people of Nigeria. In short, the party is not a political party, but a gang of dubious and questionable characters and charlatans parading themselves as rulers of the nation.
Having said this however, the opposition political parties are no better than the PDP. If they get in, we should not expect anything better from them. They will just be a breath of fresh air and a change from the frying pan into the fire. And once they are consolidated in power, don’t be surprised if their Chairmen also start making such inane and risible predictions as Mr Ogbulafor. They are all the same.
Unless something changes with our political thinking, organisation and orientation, we will continue to have such mediocres as Ogbulafor uttering inanities like that, and wishing to turn the country into a one-party state and hence, owning the country, holding the people hostage and under serfdom forever.
I hope my experience has been instructive to others. Definitely, I always learn extensively on my visits to Nigeria. It is a good country to be, if only they will let us. We therefore must not relent in our efforts to root them out and have our country back from these forces of darkness and retrogression. How we do this is entirely up to us, for we are the architects of our own destiny.
Let the truth be said always.