There are very strong indicators that almost 90% of the members of the Tinubu administration came to steal. Or perhaps not. But strong evidence on ground seems to support this hypothesis that they do. And this is because shortly after he was sworn in as president, Mr. Tinubu hopped on a train-long motorcade to Lagos. This was at an epoch where he had just called off the fuel subsidy, and the cost of fuel had reached planets Pluto and Mercury. The next thing Nigerians saw after that painful spectacle was that Mr. Tinubu openly supported the purchase of brand-new cars worth N160 million each for each and every one of the members of the National Assembly. In addition to the injury that that report created in the minds of Nigerians, recipients of those very expensive cars, went to town to add salt on that injury by telling Nigerians that those cars were being bought for them because of the poor state of the roads in Nigeria. The question on the minds of most Nigerians at that sordid epoch was this: why would anyone be buying very expensive cars to ply bad roads? Would it not have been better to fix those roads so that we all ply them? Even the MPs from the party whose leader does not fly private jets joined to pick up their state-of-the-art cars. And just before the din and the consternation generated from the outcry of an oppressed people died down, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nyesom Wike, announced that the Vice President of Nigeria would be needing nothing less than N15billion to renovate his official residence in Aso Rock, giving the impression that the former occupant, was as careless and dirty as cannot be expected. Very shortly after that, we were once again regaled with news of the outrageous sums which were being voted for food and drinks and travel allowances for members of the Tinubu administration.
Most Nigerians are not surprised at these allocations. This is because Nigerians are beginning to find out that the average Nigerian politician sees public service as a means to an end, and that end is the betterment of their own fortunes. But it is the news around the heists in the Ministry of Humanitarian affairs that puts the character of these politicians in some grimmer perspective. In less than one year of ‘service’ as public servants, billions and billions of naira are already being stolen right, left and centre. What this means is that in four years, Nigeria will not only continue to borrow money from IMF, China and the World Bank for use for the payment of salaries and for the monies to be used to service the sweet tooth of public servants, or to be stolen by carpetbaggers and ten percenters, the time would be coming when this country would eventually be sold to one of our creditors.
But should it be like this? Absolutely not. While the political elite in Nigeria and Africa get into politics to be served and to trample on their people, in other climes, politicians take the high road and have some self-respect. I remember an interview that Mitchel Obama granted Oprah sometimes ago on the time the Obamas spent at the White House. She said that she and Barack paid for practically everything that she and Barack, and their two kids ate and drank in the White House in eight years. ‘I would describe it as living in one of the fanciest hotels…at any time of the day or night you could get a refreshment. But you pay for it. They tell you that you can order for anything and they listen very attentively to your orders (sic). We get the bills at the end of the month. We are constantly hearing people say ‘Tax payers are paying for this or that’. That is true to an extent. In the White House you don’t pay for rent and the staff, but everything else – every dish, every drink…they would count the number of groundnuts (sic) you eat and they send you a bill at the end of the month. You pay for your food, and the food that your guests would eat. We paid for all of our private meals, the entertainment and paid for the times that we had people over for thanksgiving, we paid for those things (sic) from our pocket’, Mrs. Obama said.
But the reverse is the case here in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, part of the dull incentive in contesting to be president, governor, counselor, or in being made minister, deputy governor or what have you is in the perks and the juice. Most are there to be serviced, to eat free food, travel abroad for free health care, free transportation and the enjoyment of the festivities, and just so to get the best of everything for themselves. But you see, part of the dullness in this, and irrespective of the wanton profligacy by the ruling elite, Nigerians are daily, weekly and continuously admonished by state and pulpit to make sacrifices and pray for this privileged few. It just doesn’t make any sense.