Mad people in Power and Ignorant people in backseats

Adeola Aderounmu.

The “voices and actions” of the people are the strongest influence in governance. It is not even the press! 

I can state arguably that there are only two problems with Nigeria. All the other avalanches of problems are either products or offshoots of these 2 major problems. “Greed and corruption” is the first major problem with Nigeria. The second problem with Nigeria is that Nigerians do not know their fundamental human rights. Since we do not know our rights, we have not requested for them. 

As I grew up in Lagos, poverty stared at me in the face daily. It was difficult to know why my father worked so hard but found it difficult to put enough food on the table. My mother is a petty trader and sewing mistress at the same time. Her efforts were of immense help as she came to the rescue often. The system is Nigeria almost turned me against my father. Sometimes, I would think that he didn’t care much. But now, I know better and I love him again as much as I love my mother all the time. The best thing that my father gave me was eduation, I will never be able to pay him back no matter how much l give him.

At the time that my understanding of Nigeria matured, I saw the reasons why poverty was a way of life for millions of Nigeria. As I write this essay, it is likely than more than 75% of Nigerians live in absolute poverty. This means they are not sure of the next meal or when it will come. They do not have water in their homes and have to buy from water vendors. Many Nigerians will go to bed tonight without electricity. Many babies will cry all night from suffocating heat. Many unemployed youth and graduates will sit under the tree tonight discussing the menace called Nigeria. In Nigeria, the less privilege people must devised way to escape poverty or live and die with it.

Greed and corruption are two deadly and fearful combinations that have become the LOGO of successive governments in Nigeria. So far, and to my knowledge, I have not seen a single difference between civilian governments in Nigeria and military governments in Nigeria in terms of serving the people. For the sake of normalcy, I do not want military to lead Nigeria again. They are beasts to say the least about them.

The civilians or politicians are as guilty as the military in destroying the lives of majority of Nigerians. Some people have asked me if I ever see anything positive in Nigeria and if I am doing anything to help Nigeria. These are silly talks. If I was in governance and I do not do what I have pledged, then I can answer one of these silly questions. In another way, I served my community the best way I could before I left Nigeria. I also served my department at the College of Medicine and Department of Zoology of the University of Lagos. I served Festac Grammar School and I have helped many children to reach or aspire to their goals. If I could create more chances, I will do much more. In Festac Town, I led protest marches to NEPA at 2nd gate or 512 Road almost on a daily basis amidst my other obligations.

This article is not about me, it is about the crazy people who have governed Nigeria only because they wanted to make money and be rich forever. They want to live in 20 mansions at the same time around the world. They want to display insanity of the highest order. For the most, they have succeeded. In contrast, the entity called Nigeria has retrogressed exceedingly sharply.

I state without fear or prejudice that Nigerian Politicians are the greedy and corrupt people that have destroyed Nigeria. Nigeria is a rich country and the wealth from Nigeria can sustain the whole of Africa. But the wealth of Nigeria has ended up in private accounts around the world. I do not blame G8 or other European countries for helping Nigeria’s rich thieves to save our money! It is our problem, not theirs, no matter how you look at it.

There are thieves who have stolen our wealth, they live among us, they live with us and we worship them. The consequence is that majority of the masses are suffering and living in extreme penury. If we are 150 million people and 75% are wretched, then we have the worst tragedy of modern times. The worst tragedy of global concern right now cannot be Darfur in Sudan or inflation in Zimbabwe. The worst tragedy of this era is “NIGERIAN POLITICIANS”. They are tragic accidents and they happen always.

In uniform or mufti, they have and are still carting our wealth away. Babangida, Buhari, Shagari, Umaru Dikko, Uba Ahmed, Akinloye, Sonekan, Obasanjo, Kingibe, Akalla, Adedibu, David Mark, Andy Uba, all the past and immediate past governors, legislators, senators, personal assistants, Ministers…name them from 1960 to 2007. They have one thing in common. They are all thieves. They live in houses that their salaries of 1000 years cannot build. They have houses, cars, businesses and interests all over the world and they live like idiots. A politician can spend 2 weeks in office in Nigeria and be rich for life. This is not an exaggeration, it is a fact. All he needs it to look in the treasury and divert some money to some fictitious account, he is made for life.

The second problem with Nigeria is that somehow, despite our level of education and academic/scientific achievements around the world, we do not know our fundamental human rights. If we know our rights for example, we will on a daily basis “remove” all these thieves one by one and over time establish a government of trustworthy people. We do not need EFCC or police or the courts of law. The voices and actions of the people is the strongest influence in governance. It is not even the press!

If we say that someone is corrupt and we know that he has not done what he ought to do, we can demand never to see such a face in public again. It is after this that investigation and imprisonment for stealing and looting can proceed. Remove first and prosecute later.

In Nigeria, the voices of the people are not heard or are extremely powerless when heard. We have adjusted disastrously to “siddon look” syndrome. Over the years, we have allowed the thieves and pen robbers called politicians to suppress our voices; we have allowed them to use the rule of minority juntas to override our collective good wishes. The most shameful thing that I have gone through in my 35 years of existence is the last “selection” in April 2007. I insist with the last drop of blood in my veins that there was no election in Nigeria in any state or council in 2007. It is equally shameful that Iwu and Obasanjo are not in jail as I write this article. This is messy and we are actually like fools, altogether.  

I cannot believe that Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Phillip Emeagwali are Nigerians! There will be no explanation or measurement to fathom why a country of intellectuals is ruled by nonentities and insignificant morons. Some called it politics and they underline the word, “dirty”. Is it only in Nigeria that we have politics or are there no dirty politics in other places?

The truth is we do not know our rights and so we have allowed ourselves to be pushed to the walls. Instead of fighting back, we have made holes in the walls and sought refuge that does not exist. This is why we have condemned millions of people to an existence such that they will know nothing but poverty in their entire life time. They will think poverty, they will live it and some will exclaimed “miracle” if in their unnecessary desperations, they manage to spend more than 1 dollar a day.

I still don’t know why thieves are living free among good people. I will never come to understand for example, why David Mark is the Senate President in Nigeria. Even if he didn’t say then that telephone was not for the poor, he implied it. That much I read recently. But the more serious issue is that David Mark is a thief like Babangida. They are both free men and directly and indirectly, they continue to loot or enjoy our loot. I WILL NEVER COME TO TERMS WITH THIS MADNESS IN NIGERIA, NEVER!

I will never come to terms that no one is explaining why billions of naira was spent of NEPA/PHCN but this blackout company has more darkness now than in 1999. Where are the billions and who is keeping them?  Where? The same situation ocured with the Ministry of Transport. More money, more dangers and more pot holes on our roads. Wonders have not ceased in Nigeria. Obasanjo fought corruption with his lips and propagated it with his actions. He sold everything that belongs to the government including houses, to his family and friends and well wishers!!! THIS IS MADNESS!!!

Why are these thieves still seen among us? This is because the people of Nigeria are so damn soft. In private conversations, we talked about the possibility of starting afresh and doing away with all the fools we have known all of our lives, yet Kingibe is notoriously back and we just looked the other way.

Nigerians are the greatest enemies of Nigeria. Nigerians are always looking forward to a day when they or someone close to them will serve in any capacity and at any level of government. They are waiting for that opportunity to enjoy the loots one way or the other. But not everyone will get this useless chance. Some of us will continue the rest of our lives without hope and influence. We will be confirmed to the premises of the church every Sunday seeking miracle. It will not come. We will bang our heads on the floor of the mosque every Friday; the floor will break for nothing.

There will be vigils, there will be prayers, nothing will happen. In the time past, Nigerians got a golden chance, vigils and prayers probably knocked down Abacha, one merciless man of inconsequential memory. What did Nigerians do with that chance? We accepted the new dictator instead of spending the next vigil at the prison where an elected president was unjustly locked up. God is not silly and he is not a Nigerian. As far as I know, the best job that God does is to let Heaven help those who help themselves.

Until we learn to claim and exercise our rights, we will continue to have greedy and corrupt politicians like the ones that have just received federal and state allocations for onward transfer to their personal accounts. Like the idiots that have just been awarded 54 million naira and 48 million naira for doing nothing but rigging their ways in elections that exist only in their imaginations. If the civil society does not revolt against the gang of thieves called politicians, there will be no progress in Nigeria. Take it or leave it! 

These are my personal opinions and this is the way that I see it!

May the Glory of Nigeria come, soon!

Jumbo allowances for lawmakers and sale of govt houses

Guardian Editorial, 25th June 2007.

IT is a matter of deep regret that the Federal Government has now approved a new jumbo salary and allowances for the members of the National Assembly. The legislators would be paid a mind-boggling total sum of N12.3 billion as furniture, housing and car allowances. Accordingly, each Senator will get N53.7 million, while each member of the House of Representatives will receive about N47.9 million.

Under this new salary package, each Senator is entitled to a monthly car maintenance allowance of N126, 000 while a member of the House of Representatives would receive N124, 075. Also, there is a yearly wardrobe allowance of N500,000, constituency allowance of N5 million and about N2 million for Senators and Representatives respectively. Furthermore, the lawmakers would go home with an annual utility allowance of N400,000, annual entertainment allowance of N600,000 and severance allowance of N6 million. In a year, a Senator would earn a least N8 million on allowances alone.

This is at best a rip off. It is outrageous to say the least. All Nigerians have every reason to feel scandalised. Paying lawmakers so much money just to sort out their affairs, without having done any work, runs counter to the ideals of public service as sacrifice and an act of selflessness. The impression that has been created is that lawmaking is such a lucrative business, and that politics is an easy means of access to instant wealth. The allowances should be reviewed.

The money, among other things, is also meant to enable legislators secure accommodation in the Federal Capital Territory. This calls to question the sale of the Apo Legislative Quarters that was built purposely for lawmakers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In 2004, the Obasanjo administration sold the Quarters to the past lawmakers under the Federal Government’s monetisation policy. Each federal lawmaker paid N11 million to become the owner of his or her official residence. The effect is that the new set of lawmakers are now rendered homeless in Abuja The monetisation policy that was meant to help government save cost has now turned out to be a major cause of waste and a symbol of abuse of office.

The Legislators’ Quarters were built out of the realisation that most of the lawmakers would be persons going to live in the Federal Capital Territory for the first time from different parts of the country. Given the housing crisis in Abuja, the availability of official accommodation enables the new lawmakers to settle down quickly without any stress. After four years, one set of occupants is replaced by another. Certain other categories of public servants were also provided official accommodation including judges, Ministers, Special Advisers, the Inspector-General of Police and so on. With the blanket sale of government houses, many of these officials in charge of sensitive assignments have now been rendered homeless and exposed to undue humiliation.

The National Assembly had to adjourn to give its members time to sort out accommodation problems. We are now faced with an ironic situation whereby old legislators are living comfortably in government houses claiming that they have bought them, while new legislators and other public officials are on the streets and in hotels. The purpose of the provision of official accommodation in the first place has been defeated. Regrettably, government is not building new houses. Instead, both public and private houses are being demolished in Abuja. This is partly why the UN (Habitat) recently classified Nigeria as having one of the worst housing policies in the world.

It is interesting that the state governments refused to follow the example of the Federal Government to sell public houses, otherwise the state lawmakers would have faced the same predicament. Some state governments are even in court to challenge the sale of government houses in their areas of jurisdiction.

The Yar’Adua administration should revisit the sale of the people’s houses by the last administration. First, the sale must be reversed as a matter of public policy. Second, further sale of the houses should be stopped forthwith. Three, a thorough audit of the sale should be carried out to determine who bought what, at what price and whether or not the process was transparent and fair.

Those who bought the houses are claiming that they have paid for them in full and that they are bona fide owners. Their position is self-serving. There should be full-scale probe into the source(s) of funds used in purchasing those houses. All the information obtained in doing this should be made public. President Yar’Adua should not miss the opportunity of taking a prompt and clear decision on this important matter.

_____________________________________________________________________________Adeola Aderounmu says Nigerian Politicians are heartless and corrupt. They are thieves and they will milk the masses dry. They are the most useless humans alive. Nigerian Politics is still the worst tragedy of modern times.

May the Glory of Nigeria come, soon!