by Farouk Martins Aresa
Yes, this is how low it has got to in the land that used to flow with milk and honey. The Milk and Honey may even sound strange to younger generations that have never seen regular light and water since they and their children were born. For the benefit of doubt, there is nothing better than belonging to a country where there is a rule of law, honesty and minimal corruption where merit is based on hard work and respect for toiling. But let us face reality of what we have now.
If anyone waits for angels to come down and probes crooks in Nigeria, he is ignorant or naïve. Corruption is now beyond those with cleans hands that can demand equity. People tend to forget that Muritala Mohammed was a crook before he was the Head of State that forfeited his loot to Government. Common now, we have to be realistic; there is no one that has come up against corruption that his fellow looters have not tried to stop by blackmail.
He who seeks equity must come with clean hands left looting in the country behind a long time ago. Every branch of government is corrupt including the Judiciary; anyone that is fed up and is willing to come forward is more than welcomed. Many looters threatened the life of Nuhu Ribadu and almost killed him in a faked accident. He was redeployed, demoted and sent on a course at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). A distraction from reality.
Even Abacha made sure he was the only one looting the treasury and sent examples to show that if anyone else dared without his permission, he was playing with fire. Abacha supporters still defend his voracious appetite for looting the Central Bank directly. During the time of OBJ, another one, some so called elders went to beg for the son of Abacha when Obasanjo held him accountable until he divulged some of his father’s loot.
This is not to excuse President Buhari in anyway because he also had a history of suitcases that passed by the Custom unchecked. There are also claims that he bungled when OBJ made him the Minister for Petroleum and Abacha put Petroleum Fund in his care. Whatever the truth was or still is, there is some agreement about Buhari. He was the least corrupt of all the crooks. He was voted in because Nigerians believed he could deal with corruption better than any of them.
It must be noted that Buhari was not voted in because he was a saint. We knew his faults and he had record as a religious fanatic, which Boko Haram mellowed. They taught him some sense when they nearly got him killed in Kaduna. Buhari was also a dictator but democracy has also tamed him. People are still alarmed at his lopsided appointments favoring the North. So was Jonathan before him and those before Jonathan. It does not make it right and it’s no excuse.
Some people also claimed that Buhari is an Economics illiterate. We did not vote for him based on his degree as an economist from that London School of Economics. We had a head of State with a PhD, from Niger Delta. He left Niger Delta and environmental swamp and Nigeria worse off. But please give this credit to Buhari: he wants to know from all the highly respected world-class economists if devaluation has ever benefited Nigeria (or any African country).
Indeed, it was Obasanjo that was fair to every region. But the North that has produced more leaders complained that he marginalized them. OBJ brought the Igbo and Middle Belt into forefront of his Government. Even then, his Chief Security man was a Yoruba. Every head of state has trusted his kinsmen on their personal security. So Buhari is not the only one.
In short, Buhari is trusted to be stronger against corruption than anyone else, despite his faults. We are yet to see the impunity other heads of state displayed on corruption, from Buhari. If we had to repeat that election, Buhari would still win. The amount of corruption under Jonathan was simply obscene. They were so bold, they came out with the slogan that it was their money and they could steal it anyway they wanted. What about “corruption is not stealing”?
They turned Dansuki into Father Christmas (most of us missed); Diezani Madueke into Queen of Sheba spraying gold all over the word and they appointed whoever they wanted. Ironically, the same people are now blaming Buhari on what they perfected. When a section of the Country got all the powerful appointments they sought, there was no threat of marginalization but another section went to see Jonathan in Abuja crying that they had been marginalized.
So whoever said only angels can rule and probe crooks in Nigeria must be in a far and different universe. The Country has just been unlucky to have these types of crooks ruling us and until we are gripped by conscience or revolts, the same crooks will continue to rule us. Crooks do not come from a different country or continent to perpetrate evil on us. These heads of state come from our own families in our Country. They decided to mortgage out our economic destiny for their own selfish ends hoping that their children will not be part of suffering they got us into.
Nigerians mourn our deaths because of the hardship and sorrow it plunges the family into. But each time a member of the looters’ families passed, instead of mourning, we have seen words that are unprintable. People claim that many more children have died out of their callousness, hypocrisy and indifference to the suffering of the masses. There is no reason to pity, even the children of the looters that have met their untimely deaths. It is very un-African to imagine.
While it is true that we see graphic pictures of the dead people everywhere these days, there is a part of us that has become numbed to car accidents, ritual killers and suicides. This period in life is sober and very trying. Our anger has reached a boiling point. In a country where we used to feed and clothe the hungry, we now take our anger out on them if they steal from us. When we know they are not the real problem, our real problems are the looters.
As soon as someone accuses others of looting, there are those lined up to disgrace him and bring up fake charges to disqualify and distract Ali Baba & Co. It becomes a game of if you dare expose me, I will make life terrible for you. We used to call it: if You Takar Me A Go Dabor You.
Therefore, if any of them develop a conscience and decide to reveal other looters, we must not discourage or scare them from doing so. The whistle blower law seems to be working because of the loot recovered. We must go steps further and welcome looters that want to change their evil ways and come forward. It was the story of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves!