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

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) Sixth President of the United States

The following is a joke that a friend, a patriotic Nigerian, sent to me recently:

“A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is moving.

Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, “What’s going on?”

The man responded “Militants have kidnapped, Obasanjo, Babangida, Atiku, Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Ali, Bode George, Lamidi Adedibu, Joshua Dariye, Chimaroke Nnamani, Peter Odili, Ibrahim Mantu, Bola Tinubu, Orji Kalu, James Ibori and Lucky Igbinedion. They’re asking for a $500 million ransom. Otherwise they’re going to douse them with petrol and set them on fire. So, we’re going from car to car, taking up a collection”.

The driver asks, “How much is everyone contributing, on the average?”

The man responded, “A litre of petrol and a box of matches.”

This is a joke, but seriously, this about sums up the way most Nigerians feel about their leaders, past and present. I sure hope they are aware of this, because sooner or later, these feelings will come to be practicalised.

I have written in previous articles that I firmly believe that our leaders hate us, else for example, what reason would a single person decide to steal billions of Naira while neglecting the people he was meant to serve and protect? Now it is our turn to hate them. We have been very patient with them, we have pleaded with them, we have given them numerous chances to change their ways, we have prayed to them, we have worshiped them, we have served them, but all have fallen on deaf ears. They just will not listen. We have given them a long rope to hang themselves, through democratic means, and hang them we must.

If there is any doubt about their attitude to Nigerians, these must now have evaporated, even to the most die-hards of their apologists or other optimists. These people just aren’t listening. And now we now know, from the travails of our “Honourable” Speaker of the House, Mrs Patricia Olubunmi Etteh, that what a man can do, a woman can do much better. Nigerian corruption transcends gender, tribe and religion differences. Nobody is immune from it.

Following the problems that have been happening in Port Harcourt – and every Nigerian had better realise that Nigeria has been sitting on a keg of gunpowder all this while with the unaddressed problem of the Niger Delta – I was talking to a very good and respected friend of mine, who is an indigene of Rivers State. My friend echoed my thoughts when he said ex-Governor Peter Odili was the worst thing ever to hit Rivers State. The good people of Rivers State did not land Peter Odili, Peter Odili landed on them, paraphrasing Malcolm X, and very heavily too. The medical doctor turned billionaire politician is culpable for the problems in Port Harcourt now, don’t let us beat about the bush. He, in collaboration with Obasanjo, James Ibori, and, ah, our very own Houdini, “Marshall General” DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Alamieyeseigha are culpable. Add to these guys, even our current Vice-President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan cannot absolve himself from this matter, (one thing for sure, the man is lucky, but is not spreading his luck to his people), and Lucky Boy Igbinedion, ex-Governor of Edo State. You see how “Luck” is flying around?

I asked my friend what he thinks the solution is to the problem. He laughed sadly and said there is no solution. The militants are fully entrenched. There is too much at stake, and nobody wants to lose out. All the politicians in Rivers State, from the Governor down to the Local Government Councillors are deeply involved, implicated and compromised, and have their hands full of blood. And, my brothers and sisters, it is all about Oil. Rather Oil Money, which is flowing around in a few hands in Rivers State and the rest of the Niger Delta. Why do I think the militants have now turned their hands into kidnapping children and mothers of politicians in Niger Delta? my friend asked. The politicians, once in power, then renege on their promises, agreements, etc to the militants, who now feel betrayed, and turn on them. So the chickens are coming home to roost.

Why, one militant leader recently appeared on TV and said they are expecting three million dollars worth of arms. Where is this money coming from, you might ask? If the militants can get three million dollars to purchase arms, why cant they use the same amount, wherever they get it from, to build hospitals, roads, supply drinking water, build schools and even houses for their long-suffering people? Boy, we are in deep trouble here. These people are even better armed than the Nigerian Army and the Police combined. And you tell me there is a solution to the problem? Not on your life.

Hear this: “What we have here is a war over who controls the various rackets that are going on in this city,” Abel Wogu, a Port Harcourt resident and businessman said. “Every evening you have people representing the most powerful gang leaders going round the filling stations to collect payments,” said Wogu, alleging that the owners of a large petrol station destroyed in August had either failed to pay one of the armed groups or had come under the control of a rival group.

“MEND ( Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) denied it was directly involved in the fighting and attributed the violence to rivalry between politicians who had funded different armed groups during Nigeria’s general elections in April.

That view is supported by the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition, an association of civic groups. The militias were originally armed by politicians to help them win elections but have since turned their weapons to criminal activities, according to a statement on Sunday by the coalition chairman and human rights lawyer, Anyakwe Nsirimovu. “Wiping out Soboma George and his followers cannot return peace or normalcy in Rivers State,” said the statement. “Dealing equally with the power holders who aid, abet, appease, motivate and – most of all – pay and benefit immensely from them, would”

Why can’t we call a spade a spade? We all know that some governors in the South- South region are deliberately promoting the Niger Delta crisis, including hostage takings, to enable them siphon state funds under the guise of security votes. We know that it was the governors and other politicians that benefit from hostage takings and other forms of violence in the region.

“Anywhere there is hostage takings there will be a state of insecurity, and the security vote in the state is usually increased. So hostage taking is a source of revenue to most of the Niger Delta governors”, said an Ijaw leader recently.

I really wish my name translates into Luck; I would have made better use of it. Anyway, here we have it. There is no doubt about it that these rogue politicians created a monster which they can no longer control. That monster is the Militants of the Niger Delta. As far back as 1999, these unscrupulous thieves-turned-VIPs have been making use of thugs calling themselves militants to not only get into power, but to also hold on to power. They used them to suppress opponents and rig elections. They used the militants to make money, actually to steal. They manipulated Obasanjo, the man who thinks he knows all. For instance, Ibori, who was actually one of the architects of the whole problem in Niger Delta, was usually involved in negotiating with militants who kidnap foreign oil workers. Of course, he was always successful in the negotiations, thereby ingratiating himself to Obasanjo, his party and his government, and making himself indispensable. But the real story is that Ibori knows who these people are, in fact he armed most of them, so he just calls them, gives them some money, while he pockets most of the ransom paid by the Oil companies, and gets the “militants” to “release” the hostages. He comes out of the whole thing as a hero and smelling like a rose. Very nice little racket. Can you count how many times this repeated itself during his eight-year tenure in office? I lost count when I reached 100. If he gets a billion everytime he “negotiates”, that’s a cool 100 billion Naira. I am already taking a course in Niger Delta Hostage Negotiation Skills, and I am sure Dr Iduaghan, the new Governor of Delta State, and incidentally, Ibori’s cousin, has already passed that course.

Here we go again from this report by PointBlankNews “Ibori’s name has consistently surfaced in several “shady purchases of government and private companies” lately. He was linked with the purchase of Willbross, a Tulsa Oklahoma based company for $155 Million in what has been described as a “mafia approach to doing business.” A cloud of suspicion hangs over him as he is accused of gun running, providing support for Niger-Delta insurgents. The Metropolitan Police are on his trail for money laundering activities. But Sources say that whatever the Metropolitan Police may find on him, may pale into insignificance compared with the possible indictment that could come when the EFCC concludes its investigation of Ibori”.

Written by
Akintokunbo A Adejumo
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