By Denrele Animasaun
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics’- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
While the musical political chairs ensue, may I remind those with short memories that we have been down this road before. History will not be kind on those bend on ruining the nation’s economy by misappropriation, mismanagement and corruption. As Shakespeare said: The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
For the interest of those selective memories, permit me to jog your memory.
From my father’s column, the Voice of Reason, Ebora Owu in trouble, 2010: You cannot ignore the former President of the Federal Republic, Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo. He has been in the lime light for God knows how long. Somebody else would not have made a name as a soldier, but Obasanjo did. He made name in the Congo and in Nigeria. He was a GOC for the Third Marine Commando and he had the distinction of accepting the Biafra surrender. He was a minister of the Federal Republic and he became a Military Head of State. He had the good sense to surrender to the civilian government of Shehu Shagari, which he did when it was appropriate to do so. He retired to the farm and he was popular not only in the military, he also was responsible for some civilians going into farming. He never touched politics except playing the politics that was allowed in the barracks. But this is high wire. He never rocked the boat and he played it with an eye on those who mattered and would foster his interest.
He was a valuable contributor to the lecture circuit. That way, he was able to put his views across. That way, he made some troublesome views.
Particularly, when they concern how we are not to proceed in some matters. Of course, he got into trouble particularly with his primary constituency. He thought he was the finest thing that has happened to this country. He drinks his palm-wine and rubs his mouth from time to time and gets into trouble. In this country and outside it, he thinks he can say what he wants and gets away with it. No wonder he said he thought the late MKO was not the messiah we wanted. He was pilloried by the press and the people. So Abacha thought he had spoken too much and that he must be taught a lesson.
So, he went to prison and he went out of it to become the President of the country. We may not know how much went behind the curtain but we know that IBB played a role in the making of President Obasanjo. Obasanjo thinks he is the best thing that has happened to this country and he has taken Nigerians up on a number of occasions. He has tried to perpetuate his hold on the people. Vide the third term. He could not win. He had singularly anointed a President for Nigeria – Vide Umar Yar Adua – in that quest, he had won. He had foisted a Vice President, and he won. Now he has also said Goodluck would become the President in 2011. That has to be seen. But he is a man who does not just say it; he will follow up with action. So invincible has Olusegun become that he has trodden where angels fear to tread. He has taken legislators head-on. He has not just lambasted them; he said the legislators were corrupt. And that opened the floodgate of vituperation. They said Obasanjo was the godfather and grandfather of corruption. Of course, they are in cahoots. An ANPP Rep, Ali Ndume representing Borno, who addressed National Assembly correspondents, did not deny its members were corrupt. He said it was Obasanjo who taught them to be corrupt. Obasanjo is our father and grandfather in corruption. I want the press to go and find out what was the asset and bank account of Obasanjo before he became the President in 1999. Then go and check his bank account now and his asset, then you will understand what I am saying.
Senators have asked Obasanjo to prove they are corrupt or report the corrupt ones to appropriate authorities. When matters get to that point, one would expect the ex-President to keep quiet. But he is not one to do any such thing. Perhaps, Obasanjo does it to disorientate the legislators so that he can, like the car player, use his ace. He looks to me he is a cat with nine lives; he will, like the sphinx, rise again and again. Count down… We have done pretty nothing… and we would not do anything more till the election. The country is in count down time. There will be revision time and examination time will follow. The President will not be able to attend to anything. And this will be regardless of all his pretences at being busy. He will be busy honing his strategies. The politicians are now very busy nibbling, like the house rat, at the honey of those who would contest. On top of the heap will be the President of the Republic. I am not being sarcastic, I am very realistic. They have done so many times to think it has been an accident.
As you can see, my father puts it so well and so he should, he has been studying his subjects longer than I have been alive. This piece by my father was written 10 years ago, and alas, nothing has changed in the way our politicians disgracefully jostle for the presidential seats. Far from me to name names: these do-or-die contenders have not got the interest of the average Nigerians at heart. If they had not improved the lives of Nigerians while in office, what are the chances that they would now improve the lives of Nigeria next time around?
Did they do while in office anything if they didn’t improve the lives of Nigerians, why would they do it now? Time to judge our politicians by their track record. Don’t be fooled by a bag of rice, sugar or the paltry 100 Naira incentive. Long after the inducement have vanished, the reality is the stark truth: there is worse to come.
Time to vote with one’s conscience and not the stomach. Time to change the narrative and make sure Nigerians vote for better standards of living, employment recreation, gender equality, improves public, social and health facilities. Most of all to ensure that government is for the people and that all stratus understand that if they do not improve the standards of living for majority of its citizens, then they are out on their ears. Payment by results or Nigerians will show policies the door. Giving a blank cheque to misappropriate the national cake should be a thing of the past. Surely it is not too much to ask?
When Theresa May came to town
The UK’s Prime minister, May’s visit to
Nigeria received a lack lustre coverage in the UK.
Prior to her visit, she had shared with the media: that Africa has the highest number of poor people in the world, and that 87 million Nigerians are living below the poverty line of $1 and 90 cents per day.
This came as no surprise to some Nigerians. They feel the big pinch almost daily.
Like majority of the politicians, who are convinced that Nigerians are better off? Of course, they would say so; they have divided up the national cake!
May’s statement may be too hard to swallow, but it is backed by Brookings Institution, their statistics has placed Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India, a country with a total population of about 1.3 billion people.
May, continued; “Much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, yet 87 million Nigerians live below $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world. Far from been the bearer of bad news, the government can either ignore this and do nothing or come up with strategies to leave Nigeria from the top of improvised nation and one of growth and better standards for all Nigerians. The choice is clear: Africa needs to create 50,000 new jobs per day to keep employment rate at its current levels till 2035.
Today, I am committing that our development spending will not only combat extreme poverty, but at the same time tackle global challenges and support our own national interest.
Now that is what our politicians should do: put the interest of Nigerians first.
*Denrele is off next week.