We are in a different world and age. It is the age of brazenness and huge courage in doing even the wrong things. The initial title of this piece was “how we all encourage corruption”, but I feared I could be accused of being too absolute.
In Year 2001, my “Bros”, and then rep in the House of Representatives, Hon (now Senator) Emmanuel Aguariavwodo had complained strongly about the pressure he faces each time he went home to his constituents. The complaint was essentially how he was often besieged with tons of requests from his constituents whenever he went home. He lamented that in those days, he would wake up in his country home to find that his entire family lounge had been taken up by people who were either looking for financial support to bury their mothers or fathers or late uncles or aunts, or inlaws, or people looking for how to renew their rents or even pay their children’s school fees or just money to feed their usually very large families. Sometimes the demands are made with obvious unsolicitous spirit, as if to say, give us our share of the loot.
In a way therefore, the pressure piled on politicians induces many of them to go into crooked deals and outright fraud so they can have money enough to meet the many needs of their constituents. Those are the same constituents who will carry placards and match and call for their release when they (the politicians or public office holders) are eventually nabbed in their nefarious acts.
Were it not so, where do people expect the normal politician to get the money with which the insatiable needs of the constituents will be met? They suddenly equate a politician or any government personnel as government in itself; one who should bear the burden of the people, a kind of political rein deer.
Politicians who try to live modest and disciplined lives are tagged as stingy and greedy. They are unpopular and get described derisively as “chop-alone” politicians. Their punishment usually is that they will not be supported for re-election next time.
No doubt, government remains the biggest spender in the economy. And that is why anybody who gets into government, by political appointment or election is usually followed with a rousing thanksgiving service, not necessarily for having been rescued from the labour market, but more for the belief that such a person has been issued the licence to wealth. Sudden wealth. That explains why a neighbourhood Okada rider of yesterday who gets elected as a Councillor, few months after, returns home with a Chauffeur-driven SUV, to the applause of the homeboys. Nobody will ask how, so soon, his life has been transformed? They will not know that the fund released for the construction of a concrete bridge to replace the (tolled) wooden bridge linking two communities within the constituency is what has been stolen to buy the SUV by their Okada rider of yesterday. To booth, the new fellow comes home with some largess: while the women are given bags of salt and packets of maggi, the young lads are treated to good sessions at Mama Ebuka’s Beer parlour. Nobody bothers about how he gets such money he lavishes each time he comes home. Not even in the churches or mosques do the clerics bother about the outlandish tithe or thanksgiving offering brought by their congregants. It hardly matters. The fellow, no matter how dubious, receives deep and lengthy prayers of blessings. He/she is highly rated within the church circle.
In times past, there was the malaise of 10 per cent kick back among top government officials for contracts they awarded. Today, it is wholesome robbery. Projects are budgeted for, funded, but never get executed. And next year, the same project resurfaces in the budget again and again. And the beat goes on.
The commonwealth of the people are cornered by certain individuals who in turn chip in droplets of favour on the laps of their many hangers-on. The public office holder is thus compelled to keep circumventing the system to mass up illicit wealth with which he/she will seek to continually be relevant and influential in determining how and where political pendulum swings.
Even those outside government but considered close to those in government are not spared the public pressure. And in order to remain at the commanding height of the political game, they seek untoward ways of cornering public wealth and dispense same according to their whims and caprices.
No influential politician considered generous and popular does not cut corners with the people’s resources so he can be seen as the sole dispenser of favour.
The late Lamidi Adedibu, the famed strong man of Ibadan politics was noted for such generosity in attending to the legion of needs of his supporters including even daily feeding them with amala and gbegiri. How was he getting the money to oil the machine of this generosity?
Or how does Bola Ahmed Tinubu continue to have money enough to service the interest of the minions of Lagosians who daily flock to him for one help or the other?
In a way, the more people tug at a politician for favour, the more the politician is considered relevant. And the corollary to that is that the more such a politician will explore more ignoble ways and means of cornering public wealth. That way, corruption becomes an incurable malaise, no matter how loud the anti-corruption slogans echo across the landscape.
Gen Adeyinka Adebayo: Truly, Good Name is Better Than Gold
I have heard the social cliché, “money is not everything”. It made more profound sense to me the day I went visiting Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first executive governor of Ekiti State and his delectable wife, Erelu Angela Adebayo, over the death of their patriarch, Gen. Robert Adeyinka Adebayo. It was last Sunday. The respected General had passed on few days earlier at the ripe age of 89. His Ikeja GRA home was, on that evening, packed full with guests. The entire street, almost, was taken over by the cars of those who had come to pay condolence visit.
The modest home of the former President of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) was in a festive, not pensive, mood. There was eating and drinking of all sorts. The very high-profile Lagosians among whom politicians, technocrats, captains of Industry and socialites were on parade. Many were hugging and backslapping, having not seen one another for some time.
The conversations were generally in praise of the good, noble and respectful life Baba Adebayo lived. His son, Niyi, the supposed chief mourner, looked jolly. He enthused to me: “can’t you see we are celebrating?’ He and his siblings were in a rather jocund mood, welcoming and chatting visitors up. The pervading warmth was infectious. Papa lived a good and great life, proving emphatically that good name is indeed better than gold.
It was like a party before the main party. Guests all seated in the neatly arranged seats under the many trees all over the compound had a good treat. The general ambience bore no signature of mournful people.
General Adebayo despite his age and experience, being the oldest living General (with the much –talked about service number NA 007) held his space firmly and dutifully till he got the last call.
Although he headed the other pan-Yoruba group (YCE), the body remained non-partisan, even though his son, Niyi, is a prominent member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The bungalow where Papa lived was modest with rather big family lounges, furnished with fitting embassy couches. There was no manifest show of opulence, but the touch of comfort, dignity and grace is evident.
He led a respectful life, far from controversies and the kleiglight of partisan politics, even though he remained politically conscious and sensitive. Little wonder he is/was one of the most respected Yoruba legends that ever lived.
As a former governor of Western State, and oldest army General, Pa Adebayo is literally the property of state.
Sometime in May, subject to the confirmation of the Ekiti State government and the military authorities, Baba will take his final journey to his expansive compound in Iyin-Ekiti, his hearth and roost. I never saw such a big compound until 1999 when Niyi, as a governor-elect , hosted us therein on the eve of his swearing-in as the first executive governor of Ekiti State.
Magu in the Court of Pontius Pilate
Did you hear that the senate, for the second time, rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?
Yes, I heard. Were you surprised?
Why wont I? Don’t forget that Magu came for the clearance, 24 hours after the leaders of the National Assembly—Saraki and Dogara met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors for almost an hour. One had thought they would have resolved to clear every hurdle standing between Magu and his nomination as well, since it was clear that Mr President has a special interest in Magu, having nominated him twice.
These things don’t work like that. I do not expect that Mr President will specially beg the National Assembly leaders to either bend the rules to clear his nominee or be seen to be lobbying for anybody.
But lobbying is a legitimate ingredient in politics. And couldn’t the president seek inner clearance from the DSS before re-nominating him Magu?
But you and I know that Mr President is not such a typical politician in the real sense. And that is why some people see the rejection of Magu as an affront and a dagger on Buhari’s anti-graft war.
So what will happen to Magu now?
What kind of question is that? He drops off, of course. Since the senate does not trust him or want him, let him go back to his police job.
Oh, Poor Magu?
Don’t pity him. Pity us. We are all casualties. Pitying him is like pitying Jesus standing trial in the court of Pilate. All right thinking people (including even the judge) knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges filed against Him, yet the presiding judge, Pontius Pilate, motivated by other considerations other than justice, had to condemn Jesus, all the same, so the Jewish mafia can be happy. With that single act of Pontius Pilate, see where humanity is today. So my brother, we are the losers, not Magu.
Hmmmm, what a quaint analogy! But they said Magu failed the integrity test. They said a notorious crook paid for the accommodation he lives in right now. They said he is high handed. They said he could not declare how much his EFCC has recovered from crooks. They said his EFCC does not obey court orders. They said high profile cases run for endless years in court, They said he does not observe the rule of law. They said he is prosecuting corrupt judges. They said……
Enough! They said this…, they said that…. Nobody would ever expect fish to be declared innocent in the court presided over by rat. You don’t understand the intrigues my brother. It runs deeper than you know. Take it that the mafia knocked out Magu, for obvious reasons.
Have you wondered why somebody suddenly abandoned N49 million at the Kaduna airport barely 24 hours before Magu’s appearance for the confirmation clearing at the senate?
No matter how he presented himself or answered the questions fired at him, it will be to his traducers, a bulk of balderdash.
Do you know that Magu’s EFCC is prosecuting even the Senate President’s wife, Toyin Saraki? Do you know the senate is investigating the Senate’s minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio? Do you know that Magu’s EFCC is prosecuting Senator Joshua Dariye? Do you know the EFCC is avowed to reopen the case of a certain former governor, who is the godfather of some powerful senators? Do you know many senators have cases to answer with the EFCC? And that Magu is determined to chase them to the last bus stop of the prosecution? Do you expect them (Senators) to clear such an avowed prosecutor and “persecutor”? They will be, of all men, most naïve, to allow Magu a free reign. It was their best chance to mollify Magu, and they did.
But not all the senators are crooks or accused.
Yes, that was why their voices were in the minority. Did you notice the speed with which the Senate President slammed the gavel declaring almost simultaneously that the “Nays have it?”
Are you implying that the report from the Department of State Security (DSS) which indicted Magu again was induced?
My brother, believe me when I say the mafia was at work. Have you asked yourself why the said DSS report was rushed to the senate at 5pm (after official work hours) on the eve of Magu’s appearance at the senate? Do you know there were two contrary reports on the same Magu on the same date from the same DSS office? Why didn’t anybody make reference to the DSS report that favoured Magu?
Why didn’t they even query the fact that one national institution will send contra reports on the same subject on the same date? Why did they gloss over such anomaly?
Do you remember that anybody who was likely to defend Magu was hardly allowed to speak at the clearing session? Do you remember that the former senate majority leader, Senator Alli Ndume was axed because he tried to protect Magu? Can’t you smell the rat?
Look, the same cabal that rules and ruins Nigeria is behind all these.
So what is the way forward now?
I don’t know. But President Buhari will have to nominate someone else. And if care is not taken the cabal may succeed in fitting in another Farida Mzamber Waziri, one who will do their bidding and which will certainly take us back to point origin.
I don’t believe Magu is the only man in the system who understands and knows the deep curves in the anti-corruption fight.
Hmmmmm, I can assure you that with Magu out, one leg of the anti-corruption war is fatally broken. Perhaps it can be fixed.