A LONG time ago, in the course of this dispensation, a fairly prominent player in politics said that one of the frustrating things to do was associate with a person who has no sense of self-control. The situation is usually complicated when that other person is not ashamed either. And as we count down to the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections, it has become increasingly clear and obvious that we have a preponderance of shameless people.
Make no mistake about it: Nigerians without self-control and shame can be found in all strata of our national life. You have them among politicians; you have them among the political functionaries; they can be found among those vying for elective political office; The sponsors of the candidates for positions are not spared; They abound in the midst of the father gods and the mother goddesses; and they abound among supporters of the 18 political parties and candidates seeking election to various offices in February and March.
It is the absence of self-control and shame that, in my opinion, explains the tension, the riot, the violence and the murders that have preceded the elections. The field for every elective office is crowded because our country has contrived to not have a clear and generally accepted leadership recruitment process.
There are practically only two requirements to seek an elective position in our country: one is enshrined in the law and the other is not. The legal requirement is the law that prescribes a minimum age for various offices, especially that of president and governor.
This other can be circumvented and has been routinely violated by seekers who misrepresent their age. In this republic we have had a Salisu Buhari who was elected to the House of Representatives and actually became its president. It was later discovered that he had raised his age to qualify for a contest and also forged a certificate for a university in Canada that he never attended.
He was forced to resign and then arrested, handcuffed, tried in court, tried and convicted. Buhari was jailed, but was later granted a pardon by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The other requirement to run for any elective political office here is money. Tons of money. You certainly need money, lots of it, to run for office in virtually every political jurisdiction in the world. So this is not unique to Nigeria. The difference here is that the way we use money in elections is absurd, bizarre, vulgar and corrosive.
For example, to simply express interest in running for the presidency and be taken seriously, you need to shell out between N40 and N100 million, as was the case in the middle of last year for entries from the so-called major political parties – the Peoples. Democratic party [PDP] and the Congress of All Progressives [APC]. The sickening aspect is that many paid these huge sums and were excluded, while others didn’t even bother to participate.
The fees were non-refundable. As with almost everything in Nigeria, many of the applicants then claimed that their forms were purchased by individual supporters and groups. One enduring tragedy of that primary season was Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Nigeria’s central bank. He obtained the nomination and expression of interest forms from the ruling APC, or the forms were purchased for him, to contest the presidency. But there was outrage. And road block. Emefiele went to court to assert his legal rights to run for the presidency and show that he was a bona fide member of the APC. The bet ended as it ended. Emefiele, a political jerk with no self-control or shame, remains in the role of governor of the central bank.
It issues monetary policies that are flawed and that are viewed through or through partisan political prisms. He suffers from irrecoverable trust deficits, from his fellow partisan politicians and from the general public. That may explain why many Nigerians were indifferent when it was repeatedly reported that he was being hunted by the Nigerian secret police to arrest and prosecute him for alleged financing of terrorism. A man who printed and doled out almost N3 trillion as loans to the federal government in what is alleged to be a clear violation of the Nigerian Constitution has no self-control.
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And he is a scoundrel. And a potential lawbreaker. Could it be that Emefiele sought the presidency to erase his tracks? But the Mother of lack of self-control and shamelessness is manifesting itself right now in our political space. Even the most gifted and intuitive experts didn’t see it coming. Indeed, in June 2022, the US-based news organization Bloomberg said that neither PDP presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar nor his APC rival Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu would press the issue of corruption in their respective campaigns despite the fact that fighting corruption had been at the core of presidential campaigns for decades. Bloomberg analysts wrote that “the history of corruption allegations surrounding the two leading candidates means neither is likely to raise it in the run-up to the February vote.”
They said Tinubu was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] as recently as June 2021 and that “Three decades ago, he [Tinubu] fought a lawsuit in which the US government accused him of laundering the proceeds of the heroin trade and eventually settled.” Part of the deal was for Tinubu to lose $460,000 to the United States Internal Revenue Service. In his own case, Bloomberg said Abubakar “brought tens of millions of dollars in ‘suspicious funds’ into the United States when he was vice president of Nigeria in the 2000s.” He further said that according to a US Senate report, Abubakar was implicated in a bribery case that resulted in the imprisonment of a US congressman. None of the episodes resulted in charges against Abubakar.”
Those who predicted that the issue of corruption will not figure in Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s campaigns [PDP] and Tinubu Ball [APC] They have turned out to be so wrong. They thought they were talking about politicians in saner climates. They ignored the established fact that neither Atiku nor Tinubu have any self-control and harbor any shame. And his followers are no different. They are blinded by religion, ethnicity, diverse affiliations, opportunism, and dirty profit. Contrary to predictions, but not surprisingly, Alhaji Abubakar and Alhaji Tinubu have been coming under fire recently for their well-known stories of alleged theft at Nigerian expense.
A shadowy figure, one Michael Achimugu, was brought in to spill the beans on Atiku. How he allegedly deployed special purpose vehicles [SPVs] rob Nigeria blindly while he dominated as vice president. Stripped of corrupt tendencies, an SPV is a subsidiary created by a parent company to insulate financial risk.
its legal status as a separate company ensures its obligations even if the parent company goes bankrupt. But for Alhaji Atiku and Alhaji Tinubu, tainted by corruption, SPV is a registered company owned by them, but their names are not on the incorporation documents. However, the company would have a secure pipeline connecting it to the government treasury for the sole purpose of illicit money flows.
They are good at their art but they are not alone. it’s a union. To tell the truth, shame on Nigerians. That Atiku or Tinubu with their well-known and publicized baggage could be, as of May 29, 2023, the face of our country before the world should be worrying. Yes, neither have been found guilty of anything, strictly speaking. But that is being legalistic. Where do you start boarding Tinubu’s luggage? Their affiliation, their origin, their names, their primary and secondary schools, their connection to heroin, their workplaces or their wealth without a company. Atiku is not doing any better.
His name seems to be synonymous with corruption from his days in the Nigerian Customs Service and then vice-presidency. General Obasanjo devoted generous pages in one of his books to recounting Atiku’s alleged propensity for robbing the public. To the best of my knowledge, Obasanjo’s compelling and damning allegations have not been challenged by Atiku.
To us Nigerians it can seem like we don’t care, even when Atiku and Tinubu get into a dirty fight in public. But something would eventually give. The day of reckoning may not be too far away, regardless of the results of the February and March elections.
AUTHOR: UGO ONOUHA
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial position.
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