By Adeola Aderounmu
This topic relating to criminality in the Nigerian government continues to be of interest to me with each passing day since I wrote that article in the Nigerian Guardian in 2002 titled “Why Politicians Steal”. I think Nigerians continue to chase shadows and ignore real issues.
For many years we know that people in government like presidents, head of states, governors and other types of political office holders in Nigeria are stealing the wealth of Nigeria. Of course there are other places around the world where the governments are corrupt but Nigeria remains a priority to us. We are from Nigeria.
We know that for some reasons there are selective persecutions and prosecutions in some of the cases/ reports of looting. In Nigeria it is a common and general knowledge that those in power and those in government steal every day. No one can deny for example that Goodluck Jonathan has coveted the Nigerian treasury to personal enrichments. There are excessive records to nail the ruler of Nigeria and his wife from their time in Bayelsa until now.
It’s not rocket science that the likes of Babangida and his co-travellers stole Nigeria’s money and they are living large. What I find difficult to comprehend is how Nigerians deemed criminality as a befitting status for their rulers. Make no mistakes there are no leaders in Nigeria. The use of the word “leader” does not apply to Nigeria. No one is leading that country. The rulers are doing what they like because they captured a country where the people are “religiously” resilient and suffering from the Nigerian syndrome.
In sane climes, all the criminals who have ruled Nigeria will be cooling off in prisons. Going by the magnitude and nature of corruption in Nigeria, all the past rulers are supposed to be in jail. One of the implications of serving justice is that those who are currently looting and stealing in Nigeria will fear for their lives and existence after the days of immunity. The fear will not be in us who are ready to speak the truth in the face of trials and imprisonment without trials.
More than 53 years after independence Nigeria continues to head to a place that sounds like the “road to perdition”. Many Nigerians have lost their moral compasses because of the wealth that they tap from the rulers of Nigeria. Those who are speaking the truth in Nigeria have become endangered species because somehow Nigeria became a country to be captured and milked by all and sundry when the opportunity beckons.
Many Nigerian writers and journalists have “written” their ways to wealth. They took the backdoors to the treasury of Nigeria. Many public relations outfits and experts have laughed to the banks at the expense of the glory of Nigeria. Even some thoughtless people write on behalf of looters/criminals in government for huge pay per article.
Late Fela Anikulapo sang about the missing oil money around 3 decades ago, or more. Since then several billions of naira have disappeared in Nigeria not just from oil money but from other sources of national wealth.
It is very disgraceful and embarrassing the type of people who get to rule and then loot Nigeria. Goodluck Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala and even one Deziani are members of the gang under whose watch billions of dollars have disappeared in Nigeria’s recent history. One of them or all of these people should have been given the boots. Someone should be cooling off in the presence of crime investigators. No. That does not happen in Nigeria. Criminals don’t quit offices and they don’t get investigated. There are cases of witch-hunting every now and then. Political criminals are above the law. When they move on, they are given “tougher” assignments of looting on a bigger scale.
Someone, actually some people continue to connive with some criminals at NNPC over the years to siphon the oil wealth of Nigeria. Babangida did it and he’s living large on money that he stole. All former head of states (dictators) and all former Nigerian rulers have in one way or the other stolen parts of this oil wealth. It is therefore no news that the Jonathan administration found pleasure in making the monies disappear from time to time. No longer a mystery.
As the election (2015) draws closer, more monies continue to disappear. I know that Sani Abacha’s loot disappeared under the watch of Okonjo-Iweala and Obasanjo. I don’t want anyone to give me that counter story again-that the money was used for some projects that already have allocations in the Federal Budget.
The stories of how money disappeared always end up been “the money was used for so, so and so projects”. These projects are already in the fraudulent budget, so please….let us spare ourselves that version of the lies. In line with the above Nigerians also found out this year (2014) how the government of Jonathan presented a budget full of fraud. In another good country the finance minister who dares to present that kind of budget will resign out of shame after 24 hours. The people will also force the government out of power. Nigerians love to glorify criminals in the name of tribalism, nepotism and “l go chop my own” or “It’s God who put them there”.
I’m still also perplexed how these acts of criminalities percolate every facet of the Nigerian life. I wrote in the series “Things that happen in Nigeria” about the criminals in the Nigerian Civil Service. The story has not changed. Nobody in the Nigerian government has been able to address how the directors and bosses in the civil service continue to steal and divert funds into their private accounts through different means.
There is that link between the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank that can withdraw large sums of money usually several millions and then share the money directly into the bank accounts of directors for some seminars, projects or meetings planned essentially for self-enrichment. This is looting in the civil service. Put together with other forms of corruption across Nigeria in places of work and services these anomalies contribute to a form of existence that make Nigeria to be one of the worst places to live in the world.
Unfortunately the federal government of Nigeria lacks the moral pedestal to clean up a system when the occupiers of government houses in Abuja have shown tremendous criminal tendencies by looting and carting away billions of dollars. The 20 billion dollar heist can be true and sadly too, a tip of the iceberg. We have seen that for more than 53 years, that is, looting with impunity. Nigeria has lost the plot, completely.
The government of Nigeria does not see the shame in carrying out criminal activities. Goodluck Jonathan does not give a damn. He said so himself. What an emperor! The people are so tired and disconnected from governance that nothing matter to them anymore. Those who are not tired have succumbed to the Nigerian syndrome and you can tell that in Nigeria the judiciary has no “power” over thieves and criminals in government.
The Nigerian police is not free or empowered to arrest or question a ruler who is stealing. The Nigerian police cannot start a process that investigate the minister of finance but someone with the powers of a dictator has found the boldness to sack the Governor of the Central Bank because as we know, “you can’t be part of the problem and criticize the rest of us rightly or wrongly”. Not in Nigeria anyway!
In Nigeria many people are above the law. But if you are unlucky and you pick a pocket unsuccessfully at Agboju market, you will be beaten to death or burnt alive. The Nigerian masses are completely disorientated. They too, have lost the plot and their aggressions are misplaced. They kill people who steal N20 or a product worth N500. In Nigeria criminals who steal mobile phones have been jailed. We have read about undergraduates that are hanged for stealing. A man will die in Lagos for allegedly killing his wife. Imagine what should happen then to the rulers of Nigeria whose maladministration since 1960 has led to the untimely deaths of millions of Nigerians.
In this same Nigeria, the rulers, the governors, ministers, legislators and other public and private office holders have connived to steal, loot and divert billions of dollars, yet nothing has been done. This is why I always emphasise that Nigeria is not an ordinary country. Something does not add up. There is absolute insanity in the public space. All day in the Nigerian government has been for the thieves and looters, it does not appear that the days of the owners are in sight.
In principle, no one owns Nigeria. Therefore those who capture it at any level will continue to use her for their own advantages and benefits. This is the crux of the matter for the 2015 elections. The crux of the matter is not regional autonomy or a parliamentary system of government that will take away power from the emperors in Abuja and in state government houses. The crux of the matter for 2015 is self-preservation and mad politics as usual.
Those who capture INEC and Nigeria in 2015 will continue to destroy Nigeria if the people continue to look the other way and condone madness in high places. Nigeria is ruled by criminals and someway, somehow, there must be a means to stop this anomaly. In Nigeria the rulers are not leaders. They don’t lead, they accumulate wealth in the most primitive manner.
The Nigerian syndrome and the overstretched Nigerian resiliency toned by religion and a blind faith that is not supported by positive works is making Nigeria a place where the future generations will likely curse the day they were born.