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Thursday, 22 February 2024 06:51

[OPINION] A nation held down by criminals - Jide Oluwajuyitan

President Goodluck Jonathan in his independent message to Nigerians on the occasion of the nation’s 51st independence anniversary had on behalf of Nigerians thanked our founding fathers who “brought joy and hope to the hearts of our people  after six decades of colonial rule  by working together to  restore dignity and honour  to a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse people with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups”. This was achieved in spite of the initial lack of consensus on the national question with Nnamdi Azikiwe and his group canvassing for unitary system, Obafemi Awolowo and his Yoruba group insisting on federalism while Abubakar Tafawa Balewa  who believed  “Nigerian unity is a British invention” and Ahmadu Bello who expressed grief over  “the mistake of 1914” settled for confederacy.  But at the end, realizing their responsibility to those that look up to them for direction, these illustrious Nigerian pathfinders settled for a federal arrangement that allowed groups to develop at their own pace without interference from federating members.

Then came in January 1966, a bunch of criminals who like those “the gods want to destroy, they first made mad”, visited violence on themselves killing their best officers and their wives on their beds before descending on politicians – their benefactors who besides sending them for military training abroad set up military institutions for them at home. Forgetting that being the custodian of the nation’s constitution was a responsibility, they defied the constitutional provisions, imposed themselves as rulers and in a moment of madness turned a multicultural and multi-ethnic state into a unitary state. Six months later, a more vicious criminal group embarked on vengeance killing that eventually led to 33 months of civil war.

Most of those that have ruled our nation ever since have always behaved like outlaws. But General Ibrahim Babangida, the evil genius, who after a palace coup against his boss, hilariously called himself president stood out as the one that carried reign of brigandage to other institutions of society notably, the judiciary, the economy, the intellectual and the press on whose back he rode to power. It was Babangida’s Aso rock professor who fraudulently claimed political parties could be decreed. And it was they that undermined the nation’s political socialization process by assuring him he could ban old political parties which was like cutting the umbilical cord between a mother and his baby.

His economic wizards include Olu Falae and Kalu Idika Kalu who in spite of Nigerians’ round rejection of IMF loan and its conditionalities insisted there was no “alternative to Structural Adjustment Programme”, (SAP) which opened our nation to imported goods from any part of the world.

 

Driven by greed, unpatriotic Nigerians who secured import licences decided to flood the country with substandard goods and fake drugs that killed local manufacturing companies including, electronics, car accessories, textile, ceramics, pharmaceuticals etc. While thousands of Nigerians lost their jobs, criminals were buying land at N1billion per plot in Banana Island and other choice locations in Nigeria.

For the nation, it was double jeopardy. Under Babangida’s dubious commercialization policies, the federal military government divested government holdings in many otherwise thriving government enterprises. State Military Administrators were equally directed to sell off state-owned public enterprises. Thus, Ikeja Cocoa Industry (CIL) owned by the ODUA Group was sold by Yoruba military administrators for an amount less than the cost of land on which the thriving industry with all its equipment was built.

 

New set of criminals emerged in 1999 in form of military-baked ‘new breed’ politicians that followed in the footsteps of their creator who like military invaders, often loot conquered territories. It therefore did not come as a surprise that about 17 of 22 governors elected under PDP and ANPP between 1999 and 2007 were dragged to court by EFCC for financial malfeasance against the states they governed. National Assembly probe of Obasanjo’s ill-implemented privatization policy also confirmed Nigeria’s total investment of about $100b put together between 1959 and 1988 was sold to PDP stalwarts and their cronies for a paltry $1.5b.

Babangida’s economic wizards found parallel in Obasanjo’s Chukwuma Soludo and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The banking crisis had its origins in the Soludo’s forced consolidation of the sector in 2005-2006. Like Olu Falae and Kalu Idika Kalu, Soludo, foreclosing a place for small banks in society went on with his program of consolidation and recapitalization which reduced the number of banks from about 90 in 2005 to 24 by 2006 and with 20 of them by end–2011, controlling ₦18.2 trillion assets and ₦12.5 trillion in deposit. The CBN also went on to inject ₦620 billion (about US$4.1 billion) of liquidity into the banking sector.

 

 By September 2011, the recapitalization of the intervened banks was completed with AMCON purchasing all the Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) of the intervened banks while the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) paid N16.18 billion for depositors in the 20 banks.

 

It soon became obvious the banking sector had been taken over by a new set of actors. The chief executives of the capitalized banks became too powerful and with too much money at their disposal, compromised everyone while those below also embarked on massive stealing including the alleged 2015 CBN collusion with officials of commercial banks to defraud the country of N8 billion through recirculation of defaced and mutilated currencies (Premium Times of May 31 2015.)

Of those fingered by Sanusi for tampering with depositors’ funds, it was only Cecelia Ibru who apart from forfeiting assets of N191.4 billion including 94 choice properties around the world, was jailed in October 8 2010 by Justice Dan Abutu for 18 months. Other accused criminals were never brought to justice.

With incompetent President Buhari, and compromised CBN Governor Emefiele who was recently indicted by a special investigator’s probe report for allocating more forex than applicant’s request, allocating forex to those who never even applied and of fraudulent cash withdrawal of about $2.9billion, it became obvious that the stars of the leading commercial banks that engaged forex round-tripping that allowed them to declare profit in trillions were men with feet of clay.

Criminals including those who committed treason, economic vampires, intellectual frauds, compromised journalists and sponsors of terrorists and bandits are well known to us but remain untouchable. Their response to the president’s appeal to their humanity in the interest of our beautiful country has yielded no fruit.

 

If the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, is trying to attribute the “twin challenges of poverty, insecurity and “the untold hardship” arising from unemployment and hunger” in the northern region” to the painful but necessary decision of Tinubu’s eight months administration while ignoring the over 200 years feudal system that today fuels war of resistance between marginalized Hausa farmers and their Fulani overlords; if importers of second hand clothes, substandard products including fake drugs that contributed to the collapse of local industries continue to sabotage government forex policies out of self-preservation, the president should be reminded that what he needs as an elected sovereign, is not moral  suasion but to borrow a leaf from Niccolo Machiavelli, (Italian statesman,1469-1572) the ‘arch apostle’ of naked force, who believes  for a state to “fulfil its function of promoting the common good and preserving justice”, morality has no place. If in line with Machiavelli, his Yoruba forbears spoke of ‘Afobaje l’Oba npa’, the fate of opponents of his policies is sealed.

Tinubu asked for the job. His hands are on the straw.  As an elected sovereign, there should be is no looking back.

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