Dear Seyi: Hope all’s well with you on the other side of the Atlantic? You’d barely exited our barrio when Maria got moody at your absence. She’s not left Belgrano ever since or reset the guest-room you’d stayed, as her in terrorem stance she’ll do neither until you promise to visit us again in Argentina.
We never get to read much about you country in our newspapers here. It’s nearly blacked out, as nothing good seems to be happening over there, and now, putting the on-line news together, your country seems to be looking straight into the abyss; with a Hobson’s choice between a religious civil war of mass murder, and, a bloody revolution to prevent a religious civil war, as the obvious options.
A wretched choice, to be sure, but between an imminent religious civil war and a revolution, a rational person would prefer a revolution, because a religious civil war will cost no fewer than 20 million innocent lives if bombers strafe territories across the Niger and Benue Rivers, and turn your entire country into a battle-field, since religion is a common feature of your citizens.
Whereas, a revolution will aim only at those fostering the destruction of your society – who devalue the worth of honesty and competence alike, by devaluing alongside both, all university certificates, to create 75 million un-employed people, without comfort or hope. Take out those 10,000 official thieves and roguish apparatchiks - elected or appointed - along with proxies working for them as accountants, lawyers and businessmen, and real change shall have come to your country without having to bomb a street market of the innocents, as happened in 1967.
Truth is, everything else has failed to stop those ruining your country from continuing. The sermons of the Pastors have not dissuaded the rogues anymore than the tafsir of the Imams; and not even the gilded pages of the United Nations Merida Convention which your country rushed to Mexico and hurriedly signed amid pomp on December 13, 2006, abated the horrific thefts, despite your country pledging by signing that multilateral Convention to forswear official thefts.
In political science, a practical solution to your country’s type of sclerotic breakdown of its social codes separating right from wrong, with 5,000 people murdered already, and with your official rogues still taking the people for granted by stealing and haemorrhaging the country, is a revolutionary band that could swiftly take your country’s official rogues out of business, forever, and begin the hard work of mending those fissured social codes - without which public ethics, no progress is ever possible.
Your country’s abiding illusion is that time will make your country good, but that’s a slightly crazy thought - to be polite. No country ever became good or liveable as a result of time alone. My country, Argentina, was the fifth biggest economy in the world at the turn of the past century. A hundred years later, we are worse and nervously swatting off some bad fairies from our bedside – those bad fairies being our overseas creditors who'd bought our sovereign bonds.
We tried clever wheezes to refinance the bonds, but the clever hold-outs demurred and took us to the United States federal court.
We did everything to win that court case; including getting our biddable parliament to pass a law barring repayment on the initially agreed terms of the bonds, and we then argued that the pari passu clause in the old bonds is in-effective at law against a sovereign country’s public finance. We lost on all counts and were thrown out of court.
With pains we've learnt our lesson in Argentina that neither time nor theft nor fraud can build the wealth of a nation.
Your own country is much unlike mine, because you are trenching on the fringe of the lunacy of a misbelief in your country that stealing the treasury dry could create a peaceful oasis for the pilferers and yield national peace and cohesion to make your country liveable.
In your own country the basis of existing private wealth is theft, but only a revolution can solve such a property-relations crisis, not a war. For now, your country is a shambles of stutters and gristles, and, that’s also close to the official thinking out here in the western world. At 53, your country is too old to be held by the hands and taught the basic ethics of right and wrong. That’s why no western country will commit its soldiers to pre-empt your country’s contradictions from exploding into a massacre, unless you resolve it all by yourselves.
A country carrying on recklessly as yours must rue at leisure for merely winking or hissing as a whopping 600 billion dollars was openly stolen by your officials, and their partnering business criminals, who then lodged it into their own private accounts to buy villas and luxuries for themselves in Europe, thus intentionally ruining the posterity of all other citizens, in consequence.
Reuters newswire just recently brought home the news to us here in Argentina that your country’s President with a phalanx of 20 Cabinet Ministers went a-begging for one billion dollars loan in Beijing three weeks ago or thereabouts. But that Chinese loan is a smidgen one-seventh of the total amount stolen at your Central Bank last year – when your Finance Minister and the Accountant-General, in tandem, robotically kept signing counterfeit invoices with almost criminal negligence, twice in excess of the national budget, and passed the bogus papers added by forged bills of laden onto your funny-looking Central Bank Governor who then recklessly paid cash twice over the limit set by federal law - in intentional violation of a reasonable banker’s obligor’s limit.
Through that criminal conspiracy alone, a staggering 7 billion dollars was stolen from your country’s treasury last year, with official assistance - under the pretext of oil subsidy reimbursement. A year later, your country’s President would be scurrying to Beijing in China to beg for one-seventh of that money as foreign loan, repayable with interest. This is the story of your benighted country.
Whereas thus far, your country’s 7 billion dollars remain stolen, despite the huffing and puffing sounding in the official self-exculpatory rhetoric of your country’s government, which nobody overseas believes as true. A mere 5% of that 7 billion dollars is all that has been officially recovered till date - with no government official named or arraigned for any offence for this daylight theft occurring solely through official approvals of forged bills of lading.
Rather, we are told here in Argentina by Reuters news agency that your country's President and the Petroleum Minister, a few days ago, jointly approved more oil lifting contracts for a clutch of about five entities out of the 48 companies criminally indicted by your parliament for stealing last year's 7 billion dollars on these oil lifting contracts. So, the punishment of sin in your country is wealth.
Is this any way to run a country? Surely not, but your country’s politically naïve people acquiesce by sitting on their hands and doing nothing, after their initially focused street protests last year January had forced the issue. So, your government officials now rightly feel more able to live by plunder, since the people never seriously seek freedom from slavery.
When last month armed vigilantes sprouted in the north-east of your country to counter certain Islamic militias running amok, your government praised that armed struggle initiative, and your government was right, even if your government had covertly created and armed those vigilantes. By law constitutional freedom in a democracy includes self-defence. And since freedom is not mere liberty to wander the face of the earth like a destitute, an armed struggle in defence of a concrete right to the benefits of the resources of one’s country of birth; as communal property to be used commonly, is legitimate. That is why armed struggle against official thefts is by parity also authorised by international law; including your country’s own laws, but helas, your grossly mis-educated middle class folks never once before sought that law’s grace – even under British colonial rule. So if your people are slaves, it is not because they are in chains, but because they voluntarily refuse to unlock the chains, despite having the keys in their own hands.
It utterly beggars belief how your people carelessly concede the resources of your country to the government officials as private property and prefer beggary as a way of life. The people only wish to be mercifully given a slight fraction of their entitlement as citizens, but only by begging their state officials. Self-esteem is surely the first casualty of wholesale capture of a whole country by thieves.
But worse of all, your nearly crazed middle class of lawyers, accountants, engineers, doctors, bankers, estate agents, journalists, architects, and such-like, are quite happy to embrace this same beggary as a way of life - though they make beggary sound nice by calling it “connections”, because they are proud to know someone who knows those who own them as slaves, who can then plead on their behalf to be granted a slightly bigger morsel, which – when given under the table lest the other slaves revolt - the middle class gaily celebrate as “success”.
A people who accept to live by beggary can’t ever progress, because they invariably signal to their own children to do likewise. So, the result is a historical cycle of mushrooming slave camps all across your country.
At present form, your country writhes in economic dirt and political mud; rolled into one – and now lacks a sense of shame or future, as it sets to incur another 800 billion Naira fiscal deficit this year, with no concrete achievement to show for it. That fiscal deficit will as likely as not put further devaluation pressures on the Naira earnings and savings of ignorantly innocent citizens, and deepen their general poverty, following the crawling band devaluation emplaced since civil rule began in 1999, leading to 100% devaluation of the Naira, in nominal terms.
Today, your country is rated by the United Nations as the 8th most violent country on the face of the earth, but i rather reckon it as the most violent in Africa, because its bloody history of regicide trumps the history of all other 53 countries in Africa. Almost surreal, but it seems that spot 8th from the bottom is your country’s current addiction, because it is also ranked by UNESCO as the 8th most illiterate country in the world.
Anything diverging from that figure 8 will probably throw your country off its comfort zone, and hence, the current covert imports of war and artillery pieces from Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine and Libya, ahead of a promised ethno-religious war in 2015, regardless of the outcome of that year’s national election in your country.
Those importing these military hardware in preparation for war care less for the total spend. They either insistently want to reset your country’s presidential terms to no more than 8 years (the same recurrent figure 8) regardless of any extra time permitted by law for your President’s initial succession to office by his predecessor’s death, or, to resist any mutually agreed reset that may account for and then off-set a residue of the un-used (?) tenure of a dead predecessor president.
That’s a total quagmire you've got right there; indeed, a sure-fire recipe for ethnic war, because this controversy is not resolvable by a common principle or standard. One side insists on the law to the letter and the other insists on a region’s ethnic entitlement to the remainder of the 8-year tenure of a dead president.
Such a zany debate really does not interest the rest of the world. That explains why no other country is voicing opinion on it at all. It is your country’s sui generis debate to carry on; not an intelligent debate typically occurring in a constitutional democracy and resolvable by reference to a historical example. So, you’ll have to solve it all by yourselves, possibly by rule of thumb, even if that means burying the hatchet on each other’s head.
Keep safe in that cauldron, Seyi, and keep well, my buddie, and, do please come back soon to Buenos Aires.
…Seyi Olu Awofeso is a Legal Practitioner in Abuja