In A Lighter Mood: The Way We Seriously Feel About Our Leaders

So Ibori is now even indispensable to Nigeria and the President, Yar’Adua. In fact he almost single-handedly bankrolled Yar’Adua’s election campaign. Now, despite all the revelations of high corruption perpetrated and perpetuated by Ibori, there is the man still strolling about in full regalia and haughtily in Abuja, while EFCC is arresting everybody else in sight. He might even get a top post either in the PDP or in Government. Yes, crime must really do pay for some people in Nigeria. By the way, you will not catch Peter Odili dead in Port Harcourt nowadays. He is living permanently in Abuja, and only sneaks into PH at night, if at all. I wonder how the man is able to spend all the money he stole from Rivers State.

Unless we are able to listen and accept the truth about ourselves, we are doomed as a people. Port Harcourt was once one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria, in fact, the rest of Nigeria calls it Garden City, a peaceful, elegant, well-planned city that attracts all people from other parts of Nigeria and all over the world. Oil, and the greed for oil money, has been a curse to Nigeria, and nowhere is this more exemplified than in Port Harcourt. For eight years, the capital of Rivers State, in fact the Oil Capital of Nigeria was ruled by a corrupt, clueless, selfish and greedy moron, who diverted most of his State’s allocation into his own pocket, and as a result, has now destroyed not only PH, but the whole state. He even wanted to be President of Nigeria, and only God saved us from this catastrophe. But you see, some people will still defend him and be loyal to him, because they made fortunes via him.

Truth, they say, will set you free. And herein lies the problem with us. Our leaders will never tell you the truth simply because they are not truthful. Our educated people will ignore the truth, and instead, we submerge ourselves in lies told to us. It is not because the truth hurts; it is for the reason that they do not want the truth. They prefer to believe in lies and fabrications and all for selfish reasons. This is now catching up with us, as we are now seeing that we are going nowhere without the simplicity of truth. We are now seeing that the lack of simple honest truth is why Nigerian people are dying everyday, Nigerians are wallowing in poverty in the midst of plenty. As a man sow shall he reap. You can’t plant maize and hope to reap yams.

A little digression: An internet journal that used to publish my articles no longer does everytime I mention Peter Odili. That shows we all have our biases and vested interests, which we, as human beings are prone to anyway. But some of us will never refrain from telling the truth and not relent in our attacks on those who are ruining Nigeria and making life un-liveable for the majority of Nigerians.

Often, when I write the truth about things happening to Nigerians and Nigeria and try to analyse all these, a few readers label me as a tribal apologist for Obasanjo because Obasanjo is a Yorubaman. Such people fail to see the issues at stake here. Apart from the rampart corruption, another of our unfortunate bane in Nigeria is that of tribalism. Look at it this way: during Obasanjo’s eight years in power, the Northerners said they were marginalised (they have always had this strange and selfish notion that they are the rightful rulers of Nigeria); the Igbos said Obasanjo does not like them because he is a Yorubaman and because of the war, and thus has ignored them and they are still second class citizens of Nigeria (a siege mentality); and then the ever disunited and disgruntled Yorubas also disowned Obasanjo because they see his tenure as not being to their advantage (most of the attacks on Obasanjo came from his kinsmen, the Yorubas, and up till now, they have not forgiven him, and I don’t think they ever will). I don’t even know how the other so-called minor tribes felt, but one thing I know is that Obasanjo was regarded as an enemy of the Ijaws of Bayelsa State, not to talk of all the other tribes of the Niger Delta. The man must be the Devil incarnate. Everybody hates him.

I refer back to my last article “The Paradox of Corruption and Nigeria” in which I mentioned an American robber called Mr Willie Sutton. When he was asked why he robbed banks. He replied: “`Cos that’s where the money is”. It was an uncomplicated philosophy which served him well until he was caught and marched off to prison. We can apply this analogy to the Nigerian politician. Why are they in politics and want to be in government? Because Politics and Government are where the money is. This is where and how they can make fortunes with very little effort. The money is there to be taken, so where else to be than to pretend you want to serve Nigeria and its people, and you are suddenly in charge of, or have access to billions of Naira. So just “eat” on.

Government and Politics must be made very unattractive to Nigerians, as far as financial consideration is concerned. If government, including the executive and legislative arms, is made unattractive, what we will have is that only people, who are genuinely committed to serving the people and the country, will be found in government. Hence, corruption will abate. The thieves and the selfish, seeing no financial advantage in being in government, will stay away.

In the UK, local government councillors are not paid salaries. What remuneration they get for serving their constituents, are expenses for attending house sessions, maintaining their offices and their surgeries. Therefore, they are free to have their main job, but serving the people, or being in government or politics is not a lifetime career, unlike what obtains in Nigeria. Our Nigerian politicians think politics is a career, they think government is a career. Their main reason for being in government and politics is to enable them to steal the peoples’ money. And that is why they never want to quit politics for another career after they have served their terms, even when it is obvious that they have not offered much to the people who purportedly elected them in terms of service or bettering their lot, only enriching themselves.

Therefore, any new political reform should address this. Legislators must be paid expenses only for their service to the country. The current system is very profligate, expensive and attracts thieves and mediocres. Expenses must be for attendances, cost of keeping constituency offices open, and if they have to be give car, housing and transport allowances, these must be properly allocated, scrutinized, monitored and commensurate with the service provided by these people. Judging from recent revelations on the wastefulness and profligacy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senators, etc, the cost of running Nigeria’s democracy is too high, and especially given our penchant for lack of accountability and corruption, this has to be brought under rigid and strict control. Our unscrupulous political class should be discouraged and deterred from going into government to make money. Hence make it unattractive to them.

Couple with this is the removal of the immunity conferred on public officials like the Governors and their deputies. This has always been an invitation or a licence to steal, and of course, we know they all took advantage of it. If you really want to serve the people, strip yourself of any immunity. If this is in place, the thieves will again stay away.

Bureaucracy breeds corruption. That has always been another problem with our governmental procedures. Everything is shrouded in secrecy and bureaucracy, hence officials hide behind this wall and allow them to siphon funds meant for the people away. Nothing is open to the people. Our officials give the impression of knowing it all, sitting behind desks in their little dark offices, while they are busy doing nothing for the people but for themselves; forging signatures and altering figures.

There is too much liquid cash circulating in the various governments. State Governors, normally, should not be able to spend a single kobo without approval from their States’ Houses of Assembly. But in Nigeria, most Governors have the state legislators, irrespective of political parties, in their pockets; hence they are in collusion with each other to steal money. You should see them sharing the loot, eyes bulging out with greed. It is not a pretty sight.

There is also a lot wrong with a system where the states nominate candidates for ministerial, ambassadorial and board positions to the President. One would have thought that a person who wants to run for the Presidency would have been well prepared beforehand and have his own idea of his team that he wants to govern with. This team would have been in place long before he actually assumes office. Same goes for the Governorship. But in Nigeria, this does not happen. The President’s or the Governor’s teams have to be chosen for them. They don’t even know these people, they don’t know their capabilities, abilities, etc. They have to dance to the tune of the party. It is no wonder therefore that we have square pegs in round holes, despite the ridiculous, ludicrous, meaningless and farcical screening exercises carried out by the Senate.

So dear citizens, we have a lot of work to do to salvage our country. And of course we are aware that it’s not going to be easy. But do it, we must.

God Bless and Guide Nigeria. God Bless and Guide Nigerians.

Written by
Akintokunbo A Adejumo
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