“Weep for Your Children, O Daughter of Nigeria”

By Akin Ojumu

Having redefined corruption and concluded that it isn’t necessarily thievery, the onijibiti in government go to town. Like scavenging vultures swooping on a rotting carcass, the predators pick apart the national cake until there’s nothing left but bare bones. They amass onto themselves an unthinkable amount of wealth from the nation’s coffers with which they live in such opulence that ordinary Nigerians cannot conceive even in their dreams.

The barawo go on to stump around the country flaunting their ill-gotten wealth in the face of hapless Nigerians who, discarding self-respect and sinking to grotesque obsequiousness, grovel and cower before the onye oshi. As they are chauffeured along in a convoy of exotic bulletproof automobiles, the shouts of “Baba ke, you are too much, go on so ohun, ma jaiye ori e ajepe,” trail them like siren.

Then, with the money siphoned from the national purse, the plunderers of the nation’s wealth buy their way into even higher political offices. The legislator in the state house of assembly fights tooth and nail to become the state governor, the erstwhile state governor wages a scorched earth battle to become a senator, and the senator deploys a shock and awe strategy just so he can become president.

Having nothing else to do, they crisscross political parties and are perpetually contesting for one political office or the other. Thus, a vicious cycle of professional politicians is established, and a cadre of jobless riffraffs whose sole mission is to suck the tits of the motherland dry are recycled through the corridors of power. 

On election days, you find their bullion vans of stolen cash being escorted by heavily armed security personnel from polling place to place where they dole out dough in exchange for vote. Not caring a hoot about what people may say, they pay those waiting in line to cast their vote a token to surrender their permanent voters’ cards. With as little as a pot of porridge, hungry Nigerians willingly sell their souls to the very same people who would go on to steal their children’s future.

Even after leaving public office, many of these leeches continue to dictate the affairs of their states and municipalities. In fact, some of the asiwajus of this corrupt enterprise turn entire states into their private fiefdoms where everything is under their control. Employing a unique system of godfatherism, they burrow themselves into every nook and cranny of governmental bureaucracy. 

In an extreme form of prebendalism, these parasites and their offspring are given the right of first refusal on all government contracts. No capital project is approved without their stamp of approval. They confiscate assets running into billions of dollars owned by the state governments and turn them into their personal possessions. As much as 10 percent of the state’s internally generated revenue belongs to them. Under their tightfisted control is the revenue collection at toll gates on state roads and billboards around the state are theirs as well.

From the lowest to the highest political office in the state, there’s not a single elected official who is not a member of their family or someone they personally handpick for the job, being the carpetbagger that they are. Even though they do not own any stall in the market where they bring their wares to sell, that hasn't stopped them from installing one of their own, the Iyaloja, i.e., leader of the market women.

The idea that the patron of this vast enterprise of prebendalism wants to extend their theater of operations all the way to Aso Rock is a scary thought. To contemplate the remote possibility of the presidency of the forerunner of crookedness sends cold shivers down the spine. That the dean of corruption himself is seeking to assume control of the national coffers is something that should send all Nigerians to their knees in tearful supplication. 

In pre-Babangida Nigeria, the thought that a fox would seek to be appointed guard over the henhouse would have been an idea that belonged to the realm of pipe dreams and of which Nigerians of that era would have said, “Tufia, it can never happen in Nigeria.” 

Sadly, the country has become a place where anything goes and it's now like a toilet door where everyone draws their graffiti while they do the thing. I really weep for Nigeria.


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