Those who know me well will have wondered when the gaze of my ever-crticizing eye would fall on Nigeria and Nigerian politics. It's fair to say that so many other issues affecting black people, especially in North America have taken precedence over the nefarious activities of the rulers of a country that claims to be the "giant of Africa".
A brief history of politics and corruption in Nigeria will not be brief at all, and most of that information can be found from various sources on the internet. This article is not about that. No, this piece is about the brazen manner in which public officers who have been convicted of crimes (financial, political, moral, etc) still parade themselves about the country with impunity, with the arm of justice sufficiently short and unable to reach them.
This article describes an interaction between 2 Senators and the immediate past Nigerian President - http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art20080313102262. Senator David Mark wants to review the sale of government properties in the federal capital, Abuja, by ex-President Obasanjo, while another Senator, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, wants this review to be halted or "forgotten"! I will explain my reasoning for choosing this article by describing each of these 3 individuals.
Senator Mark (Senate President) - A former military officer who was part of the cabal that robbed Nigeria blind in the 80s and 90s, Mark's election in 2007 was the usual Nigerian tale of stuffed ballot boxes and election thuggery. This election (like countless others) was nullified by the Appeals Court early this year. In any civilized country, once the election of a public officer has been nullified, that officer has to resign immediately, until all appeals have been exhausted and a final solution reached. Yet, this man continues to answer to "Senate President", and presumably is still being paid his salaries and allowances. When the number 3 citizen of a country is above the law, are we surprised at the breakdown and near-anarchy of such a country?
His view on this topic has to be viewed with suspicion. Mark probably wants the sales reviewed, so that he can collect a bribe or two from the guilty customers and "enjoy" his own share of the largesse. Surprised? Don't be...this is Nigeria.
Fmr. President Obasanjo - This is man who came to power talking about all sorts of economic reforms and the stamping out of corruption. The economic reform part was achieved SLIGHTLY, but if anything, the corruption levels in Nigeria attained new heights between 1999 and today. This is a man who used a petroleum trust fund (to be used for schools, hospitals, etc in oil producing areas) as his own slush fund to pay for political gallivanting, private oil blocks, private universities, etc. This is a man who according to his own son, slept with his daughter-in-law in exchange for lucrative oil and finance deals. Despite this abomination, neither Obasanjo nor his daughter-in-law has refuted the claims of the son. This is a man who apparently "spent" $10 - $16 billion on power projects (depending on whom you ask) in a country whose citizens receive power, if they are lucky, for 1 hour a day.
Finally, this is a man who sold properties in the nation's capital, the monies for which have not been accounted for. A man like this should be locked up, yet he continues to insult the country by posing as an 'elder statesman'.
Senator Obasanjo-Bello - As the former President's daughter, perhaps it can be understood that she would support her father - crocodile tears and all - except that she is a Senator of the Federal Republic. Of course, this is Nigeria, where there is no threat of public umbrage at such a crass display of fatherly affection by someone who is a sworn legislator for people whose economic futures have been mortgaged by her father and his policies.
Any shred of sympathy stops once you realize that this is the same Obasanjo-Bello who used her father's stolen wealth to appropriate and corner several of those same 'power projects' that her father siphoned money from. Oh, I should have mentioned that she used a fake name in those transactions, didn't cut her Austrian partners in the deal despite the bribes they paid her (incl a fully loaded Toyota Land Crusier 4WD and cash), and is now being sued by those same Austrian partners both in Nigeria and in Austria.
Again, in any civilized country, the official would have been forced to step aside or resign (witness Elliot Spitzer) till the court case has been settled, and if the person refused to do so, the press would have harangued, editorialized and generally disturbed until they were forced to.
It also begs the question - how did she get elected as a Senator, or even better, if her papa was not in Aso Rock (the Nigerian version of the White House), would she have been elected?
Only in Nigeria can these 3 crooks operate with the impunity and braggado that they have. Only in Nigeria can the common person on the street not react to such high-handed behavior because the common person on the street is waiting for their turn to plunder the wealth of the country. Only in Nigeria will the mainline press refuse to call these people to order, because they are hoping to be made Special Assistants on Media, Media Advisors or Public Relations Secretaries to a politician/public officer in the future.
I make mention of this article and its protagonists, because I'm constantly besieged with calls from extended family, friends, etc wondering whether I plan to return to Nigeria to settle down and "bless" the country with my talent and abilities. The answer is - NOT ON YOUR LIFE!
Call me selfish, call me unforgiving, call me westernized, but never will I give anyone the chance to call me corrupt, or in the absence of that, become another frustrated technocrat because the country of my dreams is falling apart like a deck of cards; and its inhabitants could care less, merely waiting their turn to attain a higher status and join in the looting of the nation, like hyenas at a zebra's carcass.