Why Politicians Will Always Win | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Scruples

Why Politicians Will Always Win

Posted: Jul 28, 2015 at 2:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

“What luck for rulers, that men do not think” –Adolf Hitler


To say that politics in Nigeria is largely about crude self-interests is merely to state (or rather restate) something that has since become all too obvious even to the worst hare-brained fellow out there. It is difficult to see today a Nigerian who is seeking public office and whose eyes are not solely glued to the amount of money he is intending to cart away and the influence he is eager to peddle once he assumes office. But what is most heart-shattering is that there’s hardly any adult Nigerian who is yet to come to a full realization of this brazen fact; yet this same Nigerians still willingly and eagerly submit themselves as very cheap preys to  the crude, unintelligent lies by these politicians that they are in politics to seek their welfare. Rather than look them directly in the face and dismissively call them shameless liars, Nigerians, most pathetically, still largely prefer to loudly demonstrate that they believe them (even when they don’t) and troop out en masse to hail them as the new set of messiahs just arrived in town.

Now the matter would not have been so hideous if our elected public officers were content to make do with their already outrageously inflated salaries and allowances. No! They would also always massively and heartlessly loot the public treasury under their watch and cart away millions and billions of naira with utmost impunity to ensure that long after they have left office and become professional idlers, they can continue to wallow in limitless luxury serviced with mounds and pyramids of unearned wealth. But instead of the people from whom they brazenly stole all this money to feel outraged and rejoice at any opportunity to make them face the consequences of their crude thievery, they go out of their ways and take additional pains to defend and offer them support in their well-earned travails. Not a few would engage in verbal and even physical combats and might end up even wasting their lives to defend and support the right of these public officers to loot the treasury pale. Yet, deep down their hearts, they are fully aware that many of these officers are no better than any common thief out there.

An event that took place recently helped to solidify my doubts about the willingness and ability of the perennially deprived and impoverished Nigerians to participate in the urgent reclamation work this country requires – to rescue it from the hands of resilient leeches who are bent on sucking the very life out of it.

I was in one of the state capitals a few months ago and what were on virtually everybody’s lips at that period were the media reports on some choice structures and juicy investments allegedly belonging to a former governor which were believed to have been acquired with the proceeds of his mindless looting of the state treasury. Opinions were divided on the mind-blowing report. Although some people rose in stout defense of the fellow, what I thought was unimaginable was that some others could go to the sickening extent of openly boasting that what the man was alleged to have stolen was “their” money, so, why should it be the business of anyone who was not from the state! One evening, I went to a nearby kiosk to buy something, and there met two young men who, judging by their haggard appearance, should belong to the lowest wrung of the country’s social and economic setting – the worst victims of the programme of impoverishment that successive thieving politicians have unleashed on this country. As one of the young men expressed outrage at such mindless stealing by the former governor, the other one barked at him: go back to your state and talk about the stealing taking place there, and leave our state alone. It is our money that was stolen and it does not concern you! Just shut your mouth, we are okay with that.

It was difficult to comprehend what I had just heard, but the fellow was dead serious repeating the same words to the other young man, becoming angrier as he spoke and showing he could initiate a physical combat if the other fellow continued to discuss the matter that “did not concern” him.

In Nigeria, when we shout against corruption and the need to punish those involved in it, we always have a set of people in our minds. And politicians always take full advantage of this by igniting fire among us with two prominent inflammable substances, namely, Religion and Ethnicity. But when they gather to steal the nation blind, they do not consider these two intoxicants.

President Buhari has said that he will single out the last administration for probe, and this has raised considerable uproar. What this means is that the likes of Obasanjo whose regime reportedly celebrated unprecedented mismanagement of the nation’s resources has just scored a big one against us. He would now be free to still go about self-righteously “condemning” corruption. While I think that those accusing Buhari of being “selective” in his current crusade have a strong point, I will only seriously consider lending them a voice, if Buhari also excludes the states governed (during the last administration) by the “holy progressives” from his probe, especially, those states managed by governors who had reportedly invested massively in his campaign. If he does that, it would then be clear that those who insist that he is not fighting any corruption but only settling scores will be clearly vindicated, because, the term “last administration” does not and cannot by any stretch of the imagination mean Goodluck Jonathan alone.