Why are we so mad at looters? A friend said it right. Some of us are angry because we never got the opportunity to loot. There are those that would do worse if given that opportunity. We still remember Bankole, the young Speaker that complained on a daily basis about the amount of money leaking out of the treasury, only to find out he was a rogue himself. So his only problem was waiting on the wing to claim his turn. Most people have forgotten his case.
There was one Professor Osuji, a reputable man caught in the process for trying to secure and defend their funding before the Senate. So was Dr. Adenike Grange that chickened out of the end of the fiscal year sharing process by designating it to her secretary. Apart from the fact that the secretary vanished, she was made to bear the responsibility in jail as the rest of her sharing team. There is a lesson here: that to get along, you have to play along. Kill the country together.
Dr. Grange and Professor Osuji are like many of us that are too timid, innocent and naïve to play that game. You may as well call us deaf and dumb where most people steal more than enough to share with their team, the House, the Senate, police, the right lawyers that know the judge to bribe before you can sail to freedom. As you can count, there are many heads and hands to grease. The more hands to grease, the more money to loot. Demanding relatives nko?
Say what you want about our Northern brothers, they have confronted and disgraced more of these political looters than our Southern brothers. If people are so sick and tired of buried U.S dollars, euro, pound sterling and naira languishing in the cemeteries, sewage tank, farms and foreign account, the revolution against incorrigible kleptomanias is going to start in Abuja as it did in the North. Southern brothers and sisters would rather risk lives across the desert and sea.
Promised jobs overseas only to be sold as slaves or slaughtered like goats for organ transplants. We have seen threats made on social forum hailing that heaven and earth would fall. Once a “Samaritan” comes calling, all would be forgiven. Indeed, some of the rogue politicians are skillfully playing the lottery game in their constituencies. They would “donate” one or two first year scholarships, a car or distribute money or bags of rice to hungry men and women. These lottery winners get maximum publicity of good tidings for the rest of the hungry constituencies.
These people are not foolish; they succumbed to immediate hunger that is taken care of right there and then. The closer it is to the election, the better. Otherwise the good deeds would immunize rogues from instant justice projected on those that steal food in the market. This misplaced anger is often displayed on our television screen. The silver lining: it shows that people are still consciously indignant of stealing from others, especially hard working folks.
However, the cost of food stolen or other materials cannot justify the punishment meted out. Ladies have been stripped naked, boys beaten mercilessly and men lynched for stealing. It is impossible to reconcile the anger shown with the complacency big time rogues and criminals in the Senate enjoy from the same folks. These are the people that preside over state’s affairs.
Curiously, many of these treasury looters are celebrated and welcomed into their villages and towns after prison sentences, if any, like heroes returning from a war front victoriously. There are very few places, even in the most corrupt countries, where looters that were caught red-handed could still go to court to challenge the prosecutors. Even worse, they get a court that would throw out their cases after the prosecutors rest and without opening any defense!
This is not a matter of rarity, once or twice; it is a common practice that has become acceptable pattern. The system has big loophole for rogues. So many rogues are waiting for their turns, as there is no deterrent. If they do not get the opportunity, they shout, complain and fight. They see what is going on around them, so they go into politics: to join the House of Thieves.
If you are wondering why the system has not collapsed, there are still dedicated people working hard from dusk to down with little confidence and indifference to governments. Some of them may take children out of school to work or after school to support the family. There are market women and men that buy and sell to feed us and meet our needs. Many of their children are university graduates helping out since they have not been able to land their dream jobs.
We all know those unsung heroes in high places in the government that live in modest houses, could not even afford another car after the last one broke down. Many of them disrespected or ridiculed for not making it despite the high positions they hold. Others are teachers, professors and farmers still waiting for promises made by successive governments. So are handy men and women, making modest living from their trades. Leaches suck blood out from their cheap labor.
We could have seen more old people on the streets but for remittances sent by their children from different countries abroad. Unfortunately, these are the last generation that would send money home. Most of their grandchildren have only been “home” on a visit once or twice. They would probably come back home to bury their parents and leave immediately. Their parents are their last connection to Africa. Some old folks lost hope and stay abroad for free healthcare.
Individual contributions of the masses are holding up the economy not the invisible hands of some gods. Heaven only helps those that help themselves. Poor people are trained to pray and contribute the little they have to pastors. System has not collapsed after such abuse because of invisible hands of folks propping up the economy while minority loot their blood and sweat to export foreign currencies, if they are not languishing under the sewage tank or soak-away.
If prayer were what is needed to achieve progress, many African countries would be richer than China, Indonesia or South Korea. While the people of China were starving and forced into one child per family, Nigeria was producing ample food to export and accommodate other Africans. While praying, other countries in Asia with the same background of colonial rule worked hard for good grade schools and universities producing and creating modern technologies for export.
Even deaf and dumb people have made progress with sign language, rich environment and training because they cannot loot the treasury the way vagabonds loot the system as it is. Only generation claiming stakes can invoke deterrent; wrestle away, change the system or sidon look!
Written by Farouk Martins Aresa.