BY LEKAN SOTE
There is a conspiracy against the people of Nigeria by the political elite, who have fraudulently captured state authority and state violence and converted both to meet their own private existential needs only, without remorse or apologies.
Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, christened the official fraud in Nigeria, “Authority Stealing,” a rebuke of the grand larceny that the Nigerian leadership visited on their unfortunate compatriots. He says the political elite steal through fraud, and escape prosecution because they use their pen to achieve their criminal activities.
The long and short of what Fela is saying is that, whereas the regular thief steals relatively little, but sometimes in a violent manner, practitioners of authority stealing simply steal from the government, using non-violent, but highly sophisticated official fraud.
Instead for the leaders to equalize opportunity for all citizens, they seize the resources or access to the commonwealth, and run an intermediate economy based on scarcity of everything, from infrastructure, like electricity and roads, to strategic consumer products, like petroleum products and foodstuffs.
They devise schemes, chief of which is the monthly federal allocation of oil and other revenues paid to state governments, to centralise allocation of resources to the discretion of less than 1000 individuals, including one President, 36 State Governors and 774 Local Government Chairmen.
That is why competition for these offices is fierce and violent. Those who do not make the Big Deals bid accept to serve as legislators, Ministers, State Commissioners, Councilors and Board Members, and bid their time, till they can effectively insist, “Emi lokan,” or it is my turn.
Other schemes that the political elite invented are the idea of educationally-disadvantaged states, to create and replenish (largely) unqualified dunderhead elites, whose path to leadership is the ethnic badge they flaunt.
That is why you have a generation of lazy bones, with a sense of entitlement, who cannot add value to anything, but drag down government ministries, departments and agencies that are ceded to them.
Yet, many times, the case made for educationally disadvantaged states is not so much for the children of the downtrodden masses to rise. It is just another scheme to obtain undue advantage for their children.
If you go to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, you will encounter a legion of employees, holding on to jobs for which they neither have the qualifications nor the experience, nor the desire to run efficiently and effectively.
With the paper transformation of NNPC to NNPC Limited, it will no longer make remittances to the Federation Account, the hold-all purse of all tiers of government in Nigeria, but remit 80 per cent of its profit to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Ministry of Petroleum Resources. This locks out even the states that produce petroleum.
“Instead of truly democratizing oil wealth, the political elites look for who among their number, or collaborators, to unjustly award oil blocs to. This devilish scheme effectively locks out a lot of Nigerians out of making wealth, while members of the political elite, like President Muhammadu Buhari, fool Nigerians with the empty promises of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty”
And while the government ferociously ferrets out so-called artisanal “illegal refineries” run by poor hustlers, who should have been formed into legal corporations, it turns a blind eye to activities of big time bunkerers who steal crude oil in the high seas.
Have you ever wondered why the political elite periodically bring up arguments about fuel subsidy? The idea is so that Nigerians will begin to argue and beat themselves up on issues that are actually non-issues.
These are diversionary tactics, to deflect Nigerians from asking why the four domestic refineries aren’t producing a drop of petroleum products, whereas so much is invested in overheads, turnaround maintenance and acquisition of new equipment.
The equalization of the prices of petroleum products that are freighted by road from Southern Nigerian depots to Northern Nigerian consumers, was introduced by the government of General Yakubu Gowon to put money in the pockets of non-state actor collaborators of the rogue political elite.
Instead of truly democratizing oil wealth, the political elites look for who among their number, or collaborators, to unjustly award oil blocs to. This devilish scheme effectively locks out a lot of Nigerians out of making wealth, while members of the political elite, like President Muhammadu Buhari, fool Nigerians with the empty promises of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Of course, you can confirm that in 2016, barely one year after Buhari assumed office, Nigeria took a dip into recession, leading to the creation of 70 million more poor Nigerians, while Nigeria, the country of guesstimated 216 million citizens, took the baton of the headquarters of poverty from India, that has more than 1 billion population.
In a recent Poverty Index Report, launched by no less a personage than President Buhari, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics stated that, of the estimated 216 million population of Nigeria, as many as 133 million are poor. That’s a whopping 62 per cent of Nigerians on the poverty line.
The Statistician General of the Federation, Adeyemi Adeniran, states that when you beam the searchlight on children, 20 million of which are out of school, 70 percent of them can be classified as poor. That is no good news by any standard.
Nigeria’s domestic colonizers also work hand-in-gloves with the external imperialists, with whom they jointly own or run multinational enterprises by which they hold down and oppress the masses of the people.
And, like the foreign colonizers, who secluded themselves in separate quarters, originally known as European Quarters, but later renamed Government Reserved Quarters after “Black men with white skin” senior service Africans started to live with them, the domestic colonizers now live in exclusive gated estates.
There, they live secretly in mind-boggling and indescribable opulence. The only members of the oppressed class that daily bear witness to their excessive consumption are those who serve them as domestic staff, like housekeepers, nannies, drivers, gatemen and security guards.
Well, occasionally the middle level staff who work for their corporate organisations are also invited to their private quarters. A friend argues that the only reason they bring this cadre of middle level workers to their homes is to show them raw power so they’ll know why they must respect and obey them.
To compound the lives of the middle class and the masses, the domestic colonizers (albeit with a huge dose of ineptitude) fail to provide adequate infrastructure for the people, who then become preoccupied with the grind of daily hustle to provide those services for themselves.
The average Nigerian does not wait for the government to provide him with electricity, pipe borne water, security and roads. That is the only way they can deal with the infrastructure deficit that, in turn, leads to inadequacy and scarcity of practically every consumer product.
Some political theorists are beginning to think that the Nigerian political elite are weaponizing poverty, as they install booby-traps in the way of the woebegone masses and their children.
The elite in some regions of Nigeria deliberately fail to educate their poor so that they will remain hewers of wood and drawers of water for themselves and their children who they train in some of the best educational institutions in the world.
Nigeria’s educational system only trains its youths to be literate, it doesn’t give them skills to be employable. An unproductive populace cannot grow an economy. It gets worse when the population grows faster than the economy.
Now this: If the masses continue to stay down, without voting out the domestic oppressors, it will be their fault.