For the most part, Nigeria’s civilization today is based on crimes and thefts – with private wealth, official positions and neighbourhood honours, all denoting the avails of stolen corporate and government assets.
In consequence, an un-pardoned ex-convict for thievery easily bought and held the governorate of Delta State in Nigeria from 1999 until 2007; winning re-election in-between, by deploying stolen assets to befuddle majorly poorish and illiterate voters into partaking in the investiture of roguery.
As criminals and thieves buy up and take over the Federal Republic of Nigeria; becoming the country’s official deciders, there’s neither hope nor comfort for the few remaining honest and knowledgeable citizens who face a moral hazard of poverty as holdouts for refusal to compromise.
The country’s headache is now to decide what’s to be done to bring about national peace, as stolen private wealth continues to reflect the extent of public assets stolen to lower the country’s collective standard of living.
“It is sheer cognitive dissonance over there!” an incensed American blurted out, seeing that Nigeria's government officials’ continue with thefts and psychiatrically expect a peaceful and orderly country in consequence. “Only insane people would endeavour such a thing and blithely laugh over it,” he added, “because stealing itself is a disorderly endeavour with disorderly consequences for society”.
To be sure, law and order are bound to be illusive in a country where stealing is permissive.
That’s why today, Nigeria’s reformers and revolutionaries are locked in an ideological dog fight on whether to accept the dis-orderliness that was always bound to follow in the country once stealing became an official ethic – and just reform it to rid it of the more baleful consequences of thefts – or, whether to bring the entire civilization of thefts in Nigeria to an end once and for all in a single revolutionary swoop by deterrent revolutionary justice meted out to all financial criminals, along with total sequestration of proceeds of crimes since independence in 1960.
That outcome of this particular ideological fight will ultimately determine the future of Nigeria - regardless of the outcomes of the country’s other on-going side fights to either set up an Islamic State or to partition the country into congenial territories with ethnic affinities.
In the latter case, any number of partitioned countries would still confront this baleful consequence of existing private wealth that’s founded mostly on thefts, and would still confront it as severely as an Islamic State in the former case - since no country forged on the anvil of thefts can ever know peace with a public policy too iffy to yield a community of value-sharers.
On 7th November, Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) announced a staggering finding. It said it has un-covered a government official whose salary can’t pay the rent of a three-bedroom flat in Abuja city but who, paradoxically, owns hidden personal assets comprising sixty one (61) houses in the same Abuja city.
He was until his arrest an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSDC).
If he were to live in a partitioned country or under an Islamic State, such stolen personal assets would still undermine either type of country, because official stealing is a munch on sour grapes; by spawning stealing everywhere else, and setting false standards of “success” - which the Police and the Court Judges themselves would aspire to reach. So that sooner or later, grand thefts would overwhelm both the Police and the courts of law, and suck both in for a fee, as additional beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime.
Well before that NSDC official with 61 houses in Abuja was ratted however, one other discovery simply fell on the laps of the Nigerian Police from the skies.
A director of finance deployed from the state-owned telephone company, NITEL, died in a plane crash a few years ago, and a later squabble over his assets in court by his two wives revealed he had cash assets of two (2) billion Naira - which he could not have legitimately earned as salary in 100 years.
Nigeria’s financial Police however made no application to court to seize that stash of money.
In yet another civil service case of grand theft, a director in the finance department of Nigeria’s Electoral Commission, INEC, was discovered to have cached money assets as his personal property to an amount equivalent to the entire monthly gross income of Adamawa State.
Where public servants steal so much as to be able to buy a whole state of the federation, Nigeria is deemed to have sunk into an intractable “national question” which no constitutional amendment, however finessed, can resolve, especially if constitutional “rule of law” will then mean using the Police and the Nigerian military to protect the stolen property of thievish public servants.
Such a blithe munch on sour grapes by thefts sets the teeth of Nigeria’s youth on edge. And that’s because stealing is a zero-sum crime where the public loses what an official steals from the treasury. Unsurprising that nowadays Nigeria’s angry youths feel very justified to brace for a gun and kill government officials for vengeful catharsis.
But without a doubt, the criminal “phenomenal success” of Nigeria’s official thieves in the public service results at the robbing expense of the Nigerian public, just as the country’s standard of living falls in direct proportion to the rate of official thefts.
Public schools denuded by thefts rot by posting 70% fail score every year on the West African School Certificate (WASC) chart since 1999 – the effect of which is that Nigeria’s future is now fettered by an emerging and far more illiterate posterity.
This is how stealing kills a country faster than cancer would an individual, because stealing un-ravels everything into shambles - as it does in Nigeria - where government officials buy and eat sour grapes with stolen money, to set the teeth of the country’s youths on edge, whilst all levers of state for the maintenance of law and order also get sucked into “the civilization of bribes from thefts”, leaving no restraining hand behind to slap the wrist of anyone intending to start life in Nigeria as a career criminal.
Over against this angry, illiterate and violent posterity, Nigerian officials fretfully seek safety; having early on put on barbed-wires over their privately-owned colonnaded villas, by lately buying up armoured cars in further protection against bullets, having stolen to buy private jets and avoid the street vengeance of fellow citizens whose lives they ruined.
On 21st September last year, America’s Forbes Magazine publicly lamented the grave consequences of the stealing of Nigeria by its government officials and their business proxies.
“The acquisition of private planes in Nigeria since civil rule began with General Olusegun Obasanjo as President in 1999 has been unprecedented. Over 130 new private planes were acquired since 2007 at an average cost of $50 million per plane. Between March 2010 and March 2011, in just one year, Nigerians spent $225 million on private jets. But while a few dozen Nigerians are spending millions of dollars apiece for private jets, the poverty level in Nigeria is on the rise; with almost 100 million Nigerians, out of a total population of 170 million, living on less than one dollar a day,” Forbes magazine rather mournfully stated.
And now the Nigerian people have their work cut out.
They must choose whom to serve between those who clamour for reforms, and, the polar opposites who say evil can’t be reformed but destroyed - insofar as no good country can naturally emerge from this current civilization of thefts, since stealing begets stealing - as a force of example - which no contrary verbal preaching can stop in motion.
A little history might help ordinary Nigerians frame a good choice, because the tics and kinetics of revolts are always embedded in the insults of living under the thumb of thieves; and this has been the first bringer of all revolts since the 1776 Boston Tea Party in the United States of America.
….Seyi Olu Awofeso is a Legal Practitioner in Abuja