By Yaya Ademola
The general character and pattern of Nigerian ruling elite is akin to abracadabra, mystifying indeed. Whereas there are very few ennobling exceptions, what is commonplace is commonplace. There is commonplace lack of humility, basic standard of human decency and dignity, dedication and an appreciation of opportunity given them to serve; which, if they have had, could have provoked love and their acceptance as good leaders by the people as the people are the only source of power.
Crudity in form and content appears to be the common brand while majorly wearing long faces like sadists or fronting deceptive, preying smiles. Their preoccupation is vanity – buying choice houses in Maitama, Asokoro, Banana Island and overseas, mostly in Dubai, UK and USA with latest state-of-the-art cars and SUVs, with litany of security aides while their politics and policies make our society retarded and insecure. They are supposed to be trustees of the citizens but they have always looted their areas of jurisdiction and bled them to a state of coma. Despite the fact that they allocate fat, excessive salaries and allowances for themselves, they still insatiably go ahead and steal monies meant for social development.
Although he had died 23 years ago, General Sani Abacha’s illicit funds stashed in different foreign bank accounts are still being recovered by successive governments. This was same Abacha that set up failed-bank tribunal where bank executives were jailed and others escaped abroad for reckless banking practices with deposited funds of the innocent people. Meanwhile, the corruption fighter was milking us very fast and dry! Ex-Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, who was supposed to be the custodian of law and order, was arraigned for N5.7billion fraud. Ex-Oil Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is embroiled with gargantuan corruption scandal involving millions of dollars. Lagos High Court has already ordered forfeiture of one of her apartments in Lagos State worth $37.5milliom. James Ibori, Delta State Governor (1999-2007) was convicted by a court in the United Kingdom for stealing Delta State money. First tranche of £4.2million which is equivalent to N2.2billion recovered from Ibori has just been transferred by the British Government to the Nigerian Federal Government. Former Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Professor Dibu Ojerinde, is being questioned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC, over misappropriation of N900 million, tax evasion and fraudulent award of contracts to companies that cannot be traced. How many do we list? Interestingly, the recovered loot may end up being re-looted by these vagabonds in power.
National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, was arrested and detained, even against the pronouncements for his release by courts of law, over arms procurement deals which resulted into embezzlement of $2billion. As at the time this piece is being prepared, Major-General Babagana Monguno (retired), National Security Adviser to President Buhari, alleged that funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former security chiefs. Although, the Presidency has denied the allegation and stated that the NSA was quoted out of content, it is same old wine in a repackaged bottle. Under the watch of a supposedly incorruptible President Mohammadu Buhari, corruption seems to be thriving despite EFCC’s supposed fight against it.
Unfortunately, the revelation of level of corruption and its perpetrators will not be known until having left office as they have capacity to cover up for one another while their power lasts. Despite the fact that they earn jumbo salaries and allowances, their unrepentant penchant for corruption and life of affluence have denied Nigeria development in all areas of life. Aside school certificate, there is a need for an additional requirement of certificate of mental fitness for every political office seeker as most of them seem to be suffering from psychosis and schizophrenia. How does one explain a situation where, at all time, every project targeted at developing society is converted to money-making for their private pockets? Every money allocated to Niger Delta Development Commission for the development of the region always ends up in private pockets. While they make budget presentation officially every year, they are not committed to its implementation. When they say one thing either privately or publicly, it is only for the press attention; they rarely mean it. Their level of corruption is so gargantuan to the extent that the corruption master himself, General Ibrahim Babangida, lamented in 2015 in an interview with EFCC internal correspondence, “Zero Tolerance” that compared to those in power today, members of his administration were saints and angels! This is credence to the fact that the ruling elite will not repent and be “born again.”
Up till date, the allegation of corruption levelled against former Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is shrouded in inconclusiveness before appointing a replacement. At every election year, it is same story of promises upon promises without any commitment to the welfare of the people but themselves and their immediate families alone. Interestingly, this attitude is not restricted to the political elite, their counterparts in ivory tower, multinationals, banks, corporate companies and other height sectors engage in same crime.
From the foregoing, there is an urgent need for formidable organisations of the people – workers, students, market people, and the commoners generally to spring up as rallying umbrella to providing alternative to the long-running rot occasioned by the ruling elite, which is what participatory democracy is all about; especially if it is believed that power is derived from the people. It is high time the mass of the poor people took the bull by the horns by forming or joining a political party of their choice, struggle in the party to ensure that only genuine candidates that will promote and protect their interest are chosen.
It is now open secret after 60 years of Independence that the present leadership across board could no longer give any hope. The oil money which they have sat on has become more of a curse than blessing as they have refused to build new refineries while they wreck the existing ones, forcing us to become importer of our commodity and subjecting us to the whims and caprices of the blind forces of demand and supply. Any moment from now, the price of our local fuel will rise again because of rising cost of crude oil at international market which will have spiral effects on the cost of living and add to the misery of mass majority of the poor. Already, inflation has risen to 17.33 percent last February which is the highest in four years. Time is very ripe for a new generation of leaders who will reverse our precarious situation by diversifying economy especially in mechanised farming and agro-allied industry where we have comparative advantage in terms of clement weather and fertile land and creatively engage the massive unemployed youth instead of insulting them of being lazy. This is the bottom-line.