Whether it is inherited, borrowed, or stolen, money in the hands of many Nigerians are not always well spent. When I talk about money here, I am not talking about the few naira we pay labourers who burst the backs to earn a few naira to get bye from one month to another. Or the lowly teacher or civil servant who have to scramble bye.
I am talking about real money here. The one you get by working for an oil company as a big short, or by being a high profile civil servant whose monthly salaries pale in comparison with other emoluments. A well placed military person can come to millions of naira in a month by assessing the instruments of government. All he has to do is not buy that weapon system needed to keep our fighting people safe, or pay their salaries; and pocket the money. Some Nigerians now have the machismo of going to some of our banks to 'borrow' millions, no, billions. No pay back. Who is going to question them? Some of our new steal-o-crats can even claim that they came into their loot through gifts from parents and relatives. Who is going to ask the lowly roasted-plantain selling woman whether she gave her son the billions he used to buy cadillacs and mercedez benzes?
'It's a gift' A Nigerian mulibillionaire oil-executive once begged the court system for understanding. The court was adjourned so she could get an appropriate lawyer – no, SAN, to convince other Nigerians who do not come from her tribe. Her tribespeople are fully convinced that she was being unfairly persecuted. Poor woman!
In a typical kleptocracy, there are probably some people with conscience who see the kleptocrats as abominable individuals. Our own steal-o-cracy is different. We actually adore these smooth operators and wish our kids are like them. They finance many of our pastors who keep vigil over them and surmon the almihty God and dangerous African gods to clip the hands of anyone trying to harm their patrons. Alleluya. So don't ask me about the difference between a kleptocracy and Nigeria's steal-o-cracy.
Now, Nigerian steal-o-crats operate in billions and even trillions of naira, inherited, borrowed or given to them by their- guess who- their mothers and rich relatives. And let's face it. Nigeria will always produce bigger and better steal-o-crats as long as we run the kind of governmental system we have.
My issue here is how these monies are spent by these 'lucky'persons.
A military person, very high in rank, came to some money. He went to some Middle Eastern country to buy multi-storey buildings. Now, it cannot be that this person is afraid that anyone might question the source of his 'inheritance.' Who? Nor is he buying this property as an investment. If he wanted more money, all he had to do is take more from where he got the many millions he invested in this complex. But why invest in Dubai? I see the picture of Dubai on television, having never visited the place, and it looks like a very well maintained place. I know for sure that this general's home town or village would have benefitted tremendously if he had just built hospitals, schools or even a road to his enormous villa at home.
A former banking executive went and bought properties in many European capitals. Definitely, this buildings are being occupied by white people. Talk about self-enslavement. I am sure that this minister has relatives who could have benefitted from investing her loot in good old Nigeria. To add salt to injury, this lady would not think about living in those world capitals. She prefers to rub shoulders with us and ride her fleet of cars on our dilapidated roads. Of course, whenever she travels home, she can always use a private jet. This expands her already bloated ego to the bursting level.
A state governor is seen eating roasted plantains – booli - at the road side! This shows that he is a man of the people. A few months later, he walks into a bank to check on the state of his biilions. He threatens anyone, including the president, who would dare freeze his account. It is unconstitutional!! Some months afterward, a billboard proclaims him as the saviour of the people. 'Wherever he goes, we follow,' claims the billboard. Of course, he left us behind when he was going to check his balance in the bank. But then, all Ekiti roads are naturally tarred. And who needs new hospitals and good schools? As long as the governor's coffers are adequately supplied, my people are happy.
Talk about insanity. A very highly placed oil executive actually went and buried several million dollars- several billion naira - in a grave. Enough said.
Let me put it this way: Dear steal-o-crat. You have proven your point beyond a shade of doubt. No power in black Africa can touch you for looting the coffers of our country. However, please, please, invest your billions in providing employment, schools, hospitals, etc. for our teeming millions.
I rest my case.
Listserv moderated by Toyin Falola, University of Texas at Austin
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