RIGHT OF REPLY
By Ahamefula Njoku
I READ the brilliant article in the Vanguard Newspaper of January 6, 2020 titled: “Nigeria in Dire Need of Salvation” by my friend of over 20 years, Augustine Okhiria Agbonsuremi, a seasoned and fearless Nigerian journalist, formerly of The Guardian Newspaper and later African Independent Television, AIT, where he became famous for his programme, Political Platform, in which he lamented the in-action and complicity of the average Nigerian citizen against bad political leadership and apparent oppression and repression by the Nigerian political elite with great interest.
This laxity on the part of Nigerians has led to lack of infrastructure and good governance now taken for granted by many countries in the world. However, I have a slightly different view.
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Nigerians have been doing their best to oppose a political class that is engaged in and running what is, at best, a criminal enterprise solely for their own benefit and those of their families and friends, especially since 1984. This has worsened since 1999.
Can you imagine a situation where the president, governors, local government chairmen, etc., refuse to publicly declare their assets on the pretext that the law does not require them to do so? This is contrary to the practice in other democracies in the world.
Can you imagine a situation where the president, vice president, governors, etc., arbitrarily give to themselves a so-called “security vote” running into billions of naira without publicly accounting for the usage? Yet across the country, armed robbery, kidnapping, banditry and insurgency remain the order of the day.
Have you ever wondered why politicians in the First and Second Republics like the premiers of Western and Eastern Regions, Obafemi Awolowo and Michael Okpara respectively, and later governors such as Lateef Jakande and Sam Mbakwe achieved so much with so little in four years?
While their successive counterparts who ruled for eight years with bigger resources achieved less but are now in the league of billionaires. It can be explained because many of these ruthless politicians are ex-convicts, certified fraudsters and people without any known profession, apart from being hypocrites.
The Federal Government and state governments have taken so much foreign and local loans with little or nothing to show for it because the money borrowed usually ends up in their pockets.
The Nigerian politician will ban the importation of foreign rice but travel to a foreign country to host a birthday party. He will travel to a foreign country for medical treatment and his children will attend foreign schools, while he is shamelessly busy calling for patriotism at home.
The Nigerian politician who is a first class hypocrite, also uses religious and ethnic differences to further divide and control the masses.
Can you also imagine former governors, their deputies, House of Assembly speakers and their deputies who misgoverned and looted the public treasury while in office promulgating pension laws that allow them draw pensions equivalent to their salaries while in office for the rest of their lives? They are to live in choice houses in choice locations in Lagos and Abuja at the expense of the suffering masses who are living in the poverty capital of the world called Nigeria.
People have so much been pauperised that they have lost the capacity to organise and liberate themselves from political slavery.
I differ also with Agbonsuremi because in the inner recess of their minds many people do not believe in Nigeria. They and their families and friends have suffered so much injustice and discrimination over the years that they have lost faith in the country.
The political elite in Nigeria have penetrated the security forces, media, judiciary and even the electoral umpire called INEC over the years with their ill- gotten wealth. They have used assassination of credible opponents, destruction of their businesses, blackmail, thugs, arrest and detention to cow the average Nigerian into submission.
Despite all these atrocities, many Nigerians in the public space are still fighting against the wickedness of the political elite.
Even in recent times many young Nigerians who have voiced their opposition against government policies have been charged to court in order to subdue them. In one ridiculous case, a state government (not even the Federal Government) charged a journalist with phantom terrorism and treason!
A so-called Social Media Bill and a so-called Hate Speech Bill are all contraptions formulated by a political class bereft of ideas on how to move the country forward to keep the citizens from demanding for accountability from the political class.
Agbonsuremi should not give up on Nigerians. Sooner than later the millions of jobless youths, frustrated people, workers who are earning N30,000 a month, those who are living below poverty level, while politicians gallivant around with private jets, will demand accountability from them. History makes this line of action certain.