Thursday, 11 February 2016

ELITE POLITICIANS: THE REAL ENEMIES OF NIGERIA

Since President Muhammadu Buhari got to office in May, last year and declared a fierce war on corruption, it has been revelations galore on daily basis. We all knew that things were very bad, quite well, but what we probably didn’t know was the degree of rottenness that has pervaded the system.

In truth, from revelations so far, which, I am sure, is still just a tip of the iceberg, the system reeks of an offensive foul smell that could make any sane person to easily throw up. The figures being reeled out are frightening and the methodology employed by these crooks to fleece the treasury is cheap and unbelievable.

Companies are incorporated overnight, bank accounts are opened within a twinkle of an eye and before you say Jack Robinson, the accounts become overflowing with huge, mouth-watering inflows. As a result of this, the system appears too porous and vulnerable to abuse as if there are no safety nets. At least it has become increasingly clear to Nigerians that the real enemies of the country are the elite. It is these elite, who have stolen the country blind that are responsible for our myriad of problems – economic backwardness, lack of infrastructure, appalling health care system, poor educational standards, insecurity, violence and terrorism, et al.

The reason for this is that the money meant for sustainable developments in the country have been embezzled by these smart Alecs. This is not to say that it is everybody up there that is a thief, but the preponderance of our so-called elite is engaged in one shady deal or another. There are those who are involved in the actual stealing, while many more profit from the proceeds of crime and criminality in one way or another.

That brings us to the recent widely circulated statement credited to one of Nigeria’s former leaders, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was at the helm of affairs as President from 1999 to 2007. The former President had accused the political class especially the National Assembly members of being very corrupt, self-centred and greedy. However, his assertion did not go down well with many people.

From what we all know now, it appears that the lure of public office in Nigeria is not to render anything close to selfless service, but an opportunity to dip one’s fingers into the public till. Perhaps, that is why it is almost impossible to see anybody who has passed through the corridors of power in Nigeria at whatever level and remained poor. If some exist, they may be too infinitesimal to make any difference in a country where people are desperate and aggressive to make money even if it means that some people or many people can lose their limbs or lives altogether.

After all, those who are involved in the scandalous bazaar or armsgate knew quite well that one of the direct consequences is death and destruction to lives and property in the North East. But that was not enough to deter them from misappropriating the money meant for procuring arms and ammunition to confront the senseless terrorists and human butchers prowling the North East. What those people have done is tantamount to committing grievous war crimes. But still you find some people talking about human rights and all that.

Regrettably, the irony of the whole situation is that the human rights that so easily allow these people to steal and create untold hardship in the society, is the first thing they invoke as a defence mechanism when the chips are down. You now have a situation where somebody stole so much and he is manacled and people are crying to the rooftop about presumption of innocence until found guilty. Whereas a common man steals just pepper or some tubers of yam and he is chained hands and feet and dumped in jail. So, does it mean that one has no human right?

It is a good thing that Buhari and his team are desirous to get to the bottom of the rot in this country, but they should know that it is never going to be a tea party. Like the cliché: “When you fight corruption, corruption will certainly fight back,” a recent statement credited to the Presidency last week indicated that the government had been under severe pressure from some Nigerian elite urging it to take it easy. These people, the statement added, “cut across all tribes and religious differences.” This is not strange at all. It is quite expected. One thing is that the heat is certainly on and things cannot be the same again.

If you visit any of our Police Stations especially the States Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) and the States Criminal Investigation Departments (SCID), the officers and men of these departments have always complained loudly about these same elite including highly placed traditional rulers, religious leaders, present and past office holders and people in that bracket, mounting frenetic pressure on them every now and then to let go hardened criminals in their net. These people shamelessly come to the stations with their regalia and paraphernalia of office to stand bail for armed robbers, murderers, rapists and all those dangerous felons. That is the depth of the rot in the society.

So, ordinarily it is no news that pressure is being mounted on the government to slow down the anti-corruption war. It is because more and more of these so-called elite, who are nothing more than common criminals, are daily being dislodged from their comfort zone.

While the government should continue to appraise its strategy to rid the country of this endemic corruption, they should ignore those interceding on behalf of their thieving friends and relations because this war must be taken to its logical conclusion.

My fear is that those who are coming cap in hand now to beg for leniency could resort to some sinister methods if all entreaties fail. In that case, there is need for eternal vigilance. The public too, must help the government to win this war. The bottom line is that Nigerians don’t want all these to end up as circuit shows. They want to see these white-collar thieves in jail. However, what is worrisome is: If Buhari cannot do this conclusively, who else will clean the Augean stable? (Guardian)