By Farouk Martins Aresa
Suddenly if you loved Nigeria and wanted the unity of the Country, you would be a suspect as one of those looking for money to steal. Many of us have never stole a kobo, held any political office or benefited from government contract and have no intention of getting into any of those unscrupulous businesses. Yet those that are calling for the disintegration by their grotesque actions and deeds have more to lose when this dying patient on its last breath finally dies.
Business must play their part to rescue the Country. There is no other market as big as Nigeria in Africa where these agitators of breakup can sell their cattle, their backyard oil they farm, sell nuts, gari, cocoa or coal. The population of Nigeria has not even been harnessed to half of its potential compared to China or USA. Yet we divide ourselves into mini states trying to create independence. If you think foreign visa is hard to get, wait until our hatred breaks up Nigeria.
There has never been a threat to the unity of Nigeria since the civil war as we have today with Boko Haram that is destroying the North and bent on breaking the Country. What is surprising is how we have survived so far after the civil war, civil unrest in Niger Delta and self-destructive force of foreign influence. Some years ago it was impunity that gave us home grown Operation-Wet-E. It eventually led to military takeover to restore hope and cleanse. We are yet to recover.
It is difficult to point to one catalyst as the final blow that will catapult the Country into pieces. It could be the rate money is being stolen voraciously, Boko Haram, MEND or a revolt against all these. The Country will just stop dead like a big heart attack. No country that anyone can imagine has taken so much from its citizens and still survives. It has never been this bad, even Abacha was defeated by remote control. Who dare pull the trigger on still “faceless” enemies?
How did we get here? When the creation of states started from the West to Midwest, people were looking forward to opportunity to determine their own destiny. Those that warned us of irreversible downturn then, ironically gained from creation of Mid-West as UPN later won the State. The rolling stone created states in the East and the North and has never stopped. Yet, we are asking for more to be created for looters. We have too many fingers in the honey pot.
Therefore, there should be no surprises that over seventy percent of the Country’s revenue is spent on salaries for administrators. Most educated administrators and savvy business men and women know you do not spend more than fifteen percent on administration. But when every village wants a state and a local council, we should not be surprised that all revenue derived from a single source of foreign income is spent on remuneration, breakup minus accountability.
On top of that are born crooks whose only mission as long as they remain Nigerians is to run the well dry. Gone are the days when only certain people from certain part of the Country can become the head of state. So we would expect the part that has been neglected and cheated out of revenue to be the most prudent leader in history. Obviously, it is not where the leader comes from, all our leaders are born by the same crooks and spend like pappy drunken sailor.
We cannot blame those asking for the breakup, since we see no end in sight to the massive looting in the Country. A country that has no law has no sin. The primary enforcer of our laws is the responsibility of the Police Force. But what we have as police, are being corrupted by those that are expected to lead them. This writer has praised the present Inspector General for now by ending road blocks. But it takes more than one person and one action, it takes a community.
Businesses must also revolt, not just because of lack of infrastructure but because it cost too much to bribe those in power. By the time you think of your profit, how long it takes to get it, what you have to invest in capital and the immediate deposit of bribes into foreign bank accounts, you must be getting tired of the aggravation. It is true that if you can hold your noise, Nigeria is the best place in the world for profit. But for how long before the Country breaks up?
Can you imagine a politician that does not know his right hand from his left demanding ninety or more percent of your first contract as a sign of good faith to get more contracts? There are so many unknown risks involved even in the face of guarantee. You may get caught with shoddy execution of the contract, the politician may be exposed and cabinet or President may change. If you are exposed, the numbers of people you have to bribe are unlimited from probe to court.
The rational of the contract givers, mainly politicians and their cronies, is that – we selected you to implement contracts with whatever is left after you bribed us. So take it or leave it, there are others waiting for their opportunities. If you have no choice, rather than starve to death, you become the manager of their companies or partners in crime. They really prefer foreigners that will make transfer of their loot easier or a Nigerian based outside in case the Country breaks up.
Dangote, Odetola and others, must put bribe takers and givers are on notice that they may be under surveillance camera with marked money if it is in cash; or under the watch of British and American intelligence for electronic transfer. It is getting tough these days to get that money out. But never underestimate looters’ determination; if there is a Nigerian, there is a way. It is getting easier to steal the money from Nigeria, but harder spending it overseas on surveillance.
Never underestimate a Nigerian crook though. It does not make a difference if the money is marked or not, as long as it is good money everything will disappear into the unknown. There are some tactics that may work in other countries that will never work in Nigeria. Even the video can be denied as tampered with. We are talking about our Country where Ibori won all the way to the Supreme Court. If Niger Delta was a country, it would have gone bankrupt.
The leaders of our youths cannot sit idle and blame the generation before them for messing up the Country when Bankole and Lawan were deeply involved in corruption. It was a breath of fresh air to see relatively young men and women as leaders only to be disappointed by their greed surpassing that of their fathers. How can Nigeria unite and grow small and big business within to provide jobs for youths in this culture of corrupt environment?