I became an enfranchised Nigerian 5 years ago, since then I have taken to watching the Nigerian political scene. Sometimes, it is outright hilarious but some other times, it is just alarming but one thing is however certain, the Nigerian political arena is one hell of an interesting stage. In fact just like the blessings of God talked about in the Bible, the antics of our politicians are “new every morning!” – From senate leaders carting away national “maces” to their private homes; to governors of the most impoverished states in the nation celebrating their birthdays in over 7 countries of the world, ours in Nigeria is a particularly odd case.
There is a common thread that runs through the lives of Nigerian leaders and politicians once they take up office, irrespective of who they were before they were ‘saddled’ with leadership, they become hydra headed monsters. My question is – could there be something in government that turns all our leaders in Nigeria into monsters? Is there a controlling spirit or are they all just outright immature, not able to delay gratification?
I knew Peter Odili somewhat before he became governor. I was not too well acquainted with him but I went to the same school with his children and saw him in church many times. I am aware that looks could be deceptive but I know that back then, he did show some signs of responsibility and truth, he had the fear of God. For this much i am certain.But suddenly this fine well spoken gentleman was voted in as the governor of Rivers State (supposedly the richest state in the Nigeria). Eight years later, I am sitting in my room writing this article and there is no electricity supply – there hasn’t been any in 3 days, yet over two billion naira has “purportedly” been spent on the gas- turbine project to provide constant electricity in the state. Previously, power supply was not constant but it was there, now, there isn’t any – two billion naira later.
Two billion naira is money that over nine tenths of the population of Odili’s state will not see in their life time. A state where people die in airports because of lack of water! A state where every year floods render a large number of people homeless, a state where oil spillages and accidents destroy the source of livelihood of poor rural fishermen, a state where nine tenth of the population are poor.
This is just one of the many issues raised by the EFCC report on Governor Odili and his treasury looting spree. The figures in the report (the report is a must read for every Nigerian) alleged to have been looted and embezzled are alarming. When I read the report, I put horns on the otherwise innocent looking face of Governor Odili in my mind’s eye and I wondered. Here was a God fearing family man who was to a large extent a normal law – abiding struggling citizen like any other, but who was lucky to have been elected (or selected?) governor. Eight years later he has turned into a monster. What has turned him into this monster?
For governors like Lucky Igbeniedion of Edo State who did not repair a single bad road in their state but engaged in constant filial revelry in almost ten countries of the world, I am of the opinion that they were already monsters before they got to the “monster seat.” There was no pretence, no evolution! They remained the same.
My focus is not on such men but on such hitherto fine young men as Peter Odili, Governors Achike Udenwa and Ayo Fayose (whose story is for another article), and Babalola Borishade (who messed up the education sector, moved over to the aviation sector and messed it up and is now some where else waiting to mess it up as well), to mention but a few, on men who could havebeen called “good” before they became leaders, on men who have opened their arms to self gratification and ignored dignity and posterity, on men who have apparently been bitten by the vampire in leadership and themselves become vampires.
Do these people all have “recessive” criminal tendencies that manifest only when they are in government? Is it possible that all our leaders fit this description? Or is there really a monster hole that sucks the good people in and replaces them with an evil monster which is really just a clone?
When I think about this, I become less judgmental on our leaders. They may just be instruments in the hands of a “monster hole”. They may not be themselves anymore. It is for this reason that I constantly pray in the quiet of my dark room (dark because there is no electricity supply) that such self respecting and fine people as Ngozi Okonji-Iweala, Dora Akunyili and Pat Utomi stay away from the monster hole. Who knows, they too may get sucked in and then we will begin to wonder all over again if they were ever such fine and self respecting people after all!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria! Long live we, the struggling citizens! God help aspirants to the monster hole! And God help us the victims!