When the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cautioned Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu to “stop playing god”, they completely mischaracterized his true identity. Bola Tinubu was not playing god. He is a god, a deity of corruption, and menacing ideas filled with deplorable wisdom and economic practices most foul that he has entrenched himself and his business empire in every facet of governance in Lagos State. Through him and by him, corruption permeates every major revenue generation contract in Lagos State.
Many lonely folks, adrift in the Nigerian political area, keen to get into elective offices are drawn to the mini deity of Lagos. These faithful servants of the mini deity of corruption starting from Fashola to Ambode and Rauf Aregbesola were required to endure a ceremony to join the cult that involved planting a seed of silence in them. Once elected, the seed gradually grew until the transparent system of governance is replaced with rotting contracts and concessions to the controlling deity.
To his credit, this mini deity of Lagos single-handedly rescued Lagos from the impunity of election rigging by Obasanjo in 2003. The courage of Bola Tinubu to stop Obasanjo from entrenching the culture of election rigging in Nigeria is commendable. With the strength of the massive internal revenue being generated in Lagos, Tinubu was able to checkmate Obasanjo. At one point, he was running the state without the Local Government revenue from the Federal government, a feat most states cannot even imagine.
However, the accolade may itself have accounted for much of the arteriosclerosis in his government, with the complete decay of ethics. The cash generated from markets and businesses in Lagos was rechanneled into thousands of private pockets in a fashion that has never happened in the governance of any state in Nigeria, not even the federal government. Mind you, Lagos State is currently the fifth largest economy in Africa. Bola Tinubu thus presents a vivid and frightening picture of how a great state could fall under the control of one man.
If we accept the evidence that the total internally generated tax revenue increased perhaps, several-fold under Tunibu’s re-engineering, then he deserves the credit. But to extract a palm nut is exactly that - to extract a palm nut; to take the entire head of palm nut is stealing. So, taking full control of the revenue being generated in Lagos state for year’s amounts to virtual paralysis in many sectors that need urgent infrastructural development. What is new in Asiwaju’s modus operandi is not the existence of this corruption, but its sheer scale and long-term implications.
A sea-change occurred in the ethics of government under Tinubu’s watch in Lagos. He operated not through the impersonal administration, but rather through, patronage and kinship. Bribery and abuses always occurred in governments, of course. But under Bola Tinubu’s reign, they became the norm: no longer abuses of a system, but an alternative system in itself. Everything was bought and sold: Speaker of the State House, judges' verdicts and tax assessments. Appointments to the lucrative Council Areas across Lagos became a marketplace of power.
What Tinubu is in Lagos, Bukola Saraki and his family are in Kwara State. These men are quietly constructing a political dynasty that is undermining good governance in their states and Nigeria as a whole. Now, the political structure of the mini deity of Lagos is so superbly sophisticated, with loyalties and ties that cut across the Southwestern Nigeria and the APC federal government. The sale is such that only the unusually brave could stand up against his institutionalized corruption.
Institutionalized corruption in Nigeria is rotten and cancerous, yet attractive. The celebration of an ex-convict by a serving Delta State governor; the worship of corrupt mini deities in Lagos and Kwara State should be a source of worry to Nigerians, especially those of us hoping to engineer cultural change on corruption on social media. Clearly, when it comes to the treatment of the corrupt but powerful deities by law in Nigeria, corruption is a troubled concept.
If not, how could Bola Tinubu label PDP as chronically corrupt (which they are) and at the same time be corruptly enriching himself in Lagos? How could Buhari be using billions of Naira to settle Saraki and Droga and their gang in the National Assembly while pretending to be fighting corruption? How could Alpha Beta, a consultancy firm linked to Tinubu be pocketing about 4 Billion Naira monthly as “consultancy” charges and is in pole position to net additional billions per month (forever and ever) in a recent law on the Land Use Act in Lagos State?
The desire to find answers to these questions should be a starting point in the fight against corruption. Why should Nigerians be dusting their PVC to keep lining up behind these corrupt deities? Where is my generation, the Nigerian youths beating our chest that we are not ‘lazy’ yet willing to kill one another for Ibori, Saraki, Tibubu, Wike, Amaechi, Obasanjo and Buhari?
As if my concern about the corrupt deity of Lagos is not enough, the Senate President Bukola Saraki paid a courtesy visit to EFCC Chairman yesterday, to show “support”, where he was quoted to have said, "we are together in the corruption fight". Once that came out of his mouth, God wept for Nigeria. But there was a chorus of joy and singing in Aso Rock, where the Presidency shouted “Yessssss!”
Finally, the permutation and combinations of the Presidency for the 2019 race appears to have brought two heavyweights, Asiwaju Tinubu and Bukola Saraki with unmatched “integrity” when it comes to fighting corruption to Buhari’s camp. With these two mini deities of corruption as the face of Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade backed by Kemi Adeosun’s billions of Naira ready to buy the National Assembly and willing politicians, you can only imagine what will be left of Nigeria after the 2019 elections.
I have been told repeatedly that Nigeria is beyond redemption. But only Nigerians who are crazy enough to think they can change the culture of corruption are the ones who will. Even when we are not taking for granted the immense power of the mob behind the mini corrupt deities in Nigeria, we will not give up hope on our generation and posterity. The crazy Nigerians without respect for the status quo will not be deterred. So, stand out, stand up to the mini deities of corruption in Nigeria. Join the misfits and be a rebel for anticorruption struggle in Nigeria.
Together, we can
You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi