“What is the quality of Nigeria’s leadership? The quality of the Nigerian leadership is a thief (sic). Since the end of the Second Republic, how has it been possible in Nigeria to have a political leadership which is not made up of thieves?” Those were the words of Balarabe Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State in the Second Republic. He said this when presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore allegedly paid him a visit to seek his advice concerning his presidential ambition.
The words would have provoked reasonable anger from leaders of the nation. It would have equally aroused that feeling of ‘we thought so too’ among the followers. Perhaps, in an attempt to douse tension, or avoid possible litigations, he quickly added, “Of course, there are exceptions… I’m not saying that 100 per cent of the leadership in Nigeria is made up thieves, no, there are exceptions, but I doubt if there are up to one per cent who are clean…99 per cent are thieves.” There you have it; the eye of a needle chance to escape into the one percent.
As we know that electricity is not stable in Nigeria, we would need those very bright military grade torchlights to search for the one percent. Better still, can we have the one percent blow their trumpet of immaculacy? A little exercise will suffice. Has there been a government where corruption or stealing of public finds was never mentioned/ reported?
Musa’s statement definitely raises a lot of questions, especially as investigations by Punch suggest that the current set of Representatives have abandoned their legislative duties in search of another term. For those who truly serve the people, it is a tough job. For those who don’t, the paycheck, and power that comes with the position can make them seek re-election 1,000,000 times if they live that long. With barely 10 months to election, they have started oiling their rusty election machinery.
Balarabe Musa added that, “For example, how can you win on the basis of the Nigerian laws and the Nigerian culture; how can you be a Nigerian President without being a thief first? Because it is through stealing that you can make it. Both the political parties and election in Nigeria are based on money-power and this money-power is equal to corruption. So, this is what you have.” Why big corruption cases drag on for eternity might have been subtly answered by the octogenarian. Nothing is wrong with government, something is wrong with all of us!
More importantly, he touched on how making it is very tough in Nigeria. If those that should fight for the masses are thieves themselves, the battle is long lost! A thief will only either steal from another thief, or negotiate how to benefit from the loot. Thereafter, they can probably have a Looters’ Union. At that point, they will either stop calling for the head of the thieves, or start shedding crocodile tears.
The former governor added that, “We have a socio-economic and political system controlling all developments in the country and the political leadership produced by that system both of which are made up of people who regard self-interest first, public interest second, as opposed to public interest first and self-interest second. Now, how can you have order; how can you have development in a situation like this?”
“I gave you the example of the President; nobody can be a President of Nigeria unless he is a thief or supported by thieves. I mean, the fact is clear. You know, the reasonable estimate of the cost of campaigning for presidency in Nigeria is billions. How can you acquire these billions?”
Why were Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979, and 1999-2007), Umar Musa Yar’Adua (2007-2010), Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), and Buhari (1983-1985, and 2015 till date) are all unable to defeat corruption? Interestingly, both Obasanjo and Buhari had at least two shots at ruling Nigeria.
Nigerians may have to frankly shoulder the responsibility of breeding the thieves as Musa pointed out. Nigerians show support many times for those who pay them the most. Some unfortunately assume that they will only collect the money and not vote for them. If not an error of thought, how come it is very difficult for the politician without good financial support to contest, let alone win?
Some will bemusingly say that, they know that the politicians are going to steal money already, but that they should give them their share before getting elected. Many politicians often become elusive after winning. Hope that the money collected by the people is enough to spend for four years?
Where’s the one percent of Nigerian politicians that will go through the eye of the needle? Could all our elected presidents be thieves for real?