By Akintokunbo A Adejumo
“SPECIAL REPORT: The men who embezzled Nigerian Airways to death, October 29, 2018 by Nicholas Ibekwe, PREMIUM TIMES”
A friend who sent the link to this report was very considerate of my health and mental well-being. He sent it with a caveat that read: “Readers discretion is strongly advised. Please do not read the article if you have a health problem. It can lead to mood swings, depression, hypertension, rage, murderous urge and, believe it or not, diarrhoea”.
I have been subjected to depression and despondency in my lifetime, but those were mere headaches, until I read this well-researched and well-presented report by PREMIUM TIMES. I do not think anybody can doubt the veracity and authenticity of the report. What is surprising is why the people indicted in this arrogantly criminal deed against their fellow-country men and women could still be strutting with heads-held high on Nigerian streets while the authorities – law enforcement, security, executive, legislative and judiciary – could know these facts and let these criminals be laughing at us. Of course, I know what obtains in this criminal enclave called Nigeria about some people being above the law, about inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the agencies that are supposed to enforce our laws, the endemic corruption in high places, but really, something must give. We simply cannot continue to survive like this as a people, a country and society.
It brought out some emotional outbursts from some people I know. Read this: “This is a very sad reading for me particularly. This is because my late Father, Prince S.O Akinjobi headed the Three-man team that started Nigeria Airways after independence. He was seconded from BOAC in Accra Ghana to start Nigeria Airways. A job he did dutifully that earned him the honor of “MBE” from the Queen of England in 1964. You can see when some of us are very ardent and vocal that Nigeria must and should be restructured.
How many of those are mentioned on the list are in jail? And what is the magnitude of their damage in comparison? Moreover, when these lesser men are made to head organizations far beyond their capacity and they are busy looting with impunity, what do you expect of the good and educated people in the organization? Almost one side of OBA Akinjobi Road in GRA Ikeja (Named after my Grandfather) was purchased by my late father for Nigerian Airways. This included the lkeja Golf club for the staff and built several properties for the senior staff. These people took over and sold most of them to themselves. Nigeria Airways land extended to Mafoluku, and far away Akowonjo. This was for future expansion.
If these men were thinking for the future of Nigeria in their mid-40s and younger, why were they bent on destroying what others built?
Where then did we get it so wrong with the current crop of leaders?”
To the question above, my answer is “We’ve always got it wrong. There was never a time we had it right. Yes, there had been bright moments that looked positive and encouraging; there had been occasional appearances of diminutive great leaders, only for the degenerate society they exist in and try to change to kill them off completely.
Corruption indeed has wreaked havoc to our country and its people. I concur that only restructuring that can resolve the destructive tendencies of some of our people who are oblivious of prudent management of public funds and accountability
Like in every society, when evil takes over, it will have its disciples; likewise when the good people are in charge, their good leadership will infest the land and more good people will geminate, grow and become leaders.
These looters, wherever they come from, have sown the seeds of money, hunger, and power for looting sake, that l may not completely blame some of our people. It is a survival syndrome, hence terms that have cropped up like “stomach infrastructure”, etc. You must be very principled not to join them.
A lot of the times when these our national assets are looted were when the entities were headed by those who are not emotionally connected with good things happening in the areas that the assets are located. It is an unfortunate reality in Nigeria, but I think we must say it now. It would be difficult for a Yoruba man to destroy or loot assets and funds that are located in Yoruba areas as he or she would be taken to account by the community. Likewise, it would be problematic for a Hausa/Fulani or Igbo person to raid government assets in his or her area of origin.
“When Chief Bola Ige was alive, during Abacha’ s regime and Abiola’s struggle, Yorubas boycotted his government and maintained the policy of “siddon and look”. This policy was to be continued with the new Obasanjo’s government as he did not identify with the Yorubas. Bola Ige broke rank and said that he would encourage Yorubas to take appointments in Abuja and when they make money they should bring the money home and invest in Yoruba areas. This was clearly the wrong attitude to maintain and it formed part of the problems which got us to where we are today”. (Another demonstrative statement by a friend)
And this is another response from a friend: “Therefore, I will strongly conclude that the current system is not working as it promotes impunity and there is no sense of belongings which breed this penchant to destroy, sabotage and loot developments in other areas, as long as it is not the looters place of origin. It is due to this type of dysfunctional attitude, atmosphere of suspicion of never seeing anything good in what others are doing that compounded our problem. However, if we go back to the Constitution we had at independence, at the least, then every section of Nigeria would have senses of pride in their area of origin. And each area can develop at its own pace”.
Nigerians have always suspected, or rather, known, that it was massive corruption, nepotism and impunity that killed off the Nigerian Airways. We know that they were the same vices that killed off other national institutions like the Nigeria National Shipping Line; the Nigeria Railway Corporation (which, that God and a focused government, is now bouncing back very strongly); the NIPOST; NITEL; NMT; Oshogbo Steel Rolling Mill; Aladja Steel; Ajaokuta Steel; National Oil; Dunlop; Nigeria Textile Mills; ALSCON; Bacita Sugar Company; Tate and Lyle, Ilorin; Iwopin Paper Mill; Jebba Paper Mill; Oku Iboku Paper Mill; Volkswagen; PAN; Kaduna Textile; Nigeria Wire and Cable, Ibadan; Leyland Motor Assembly, Ibadan; Gas Cylinders Co, Ibadan; and many more others that are still moribund, most of them never to wake up again, no matter how we try. The electricity institution, NEPA, would have gone the same way but for its necessity and dire essential importance both for the governments and the people. Most of the above are government-owned concerns, which tells you two things – one, governments are poor in running businesses for profit, and two, those people the government put there (deliberately in most cases) to run the business just view them as personal concerns for self-aggrandisement and to loot. And they do loot, oh dear, do they loot!!!
The galling thing is that people who were often responsible for these crimes in Nigeria (which would have gotten them executed in countries like China and Singapore) are often untouchable, high and mighty, and believe it or not, often called back to government to head important agencies, most often, the agencies they deliberately decimated and destroyed by singular acts of looting and mismanagement. These unscrupulous people are even regarded as experts and gurus in these fields. But who do we blame? The government itself, the law enforcement authorities and even us, the masses. We still kow-tow to them. A simple people, whose brains have been conditioned to accept and celebrate corruption.
We always make the mistake, to our eternal suffering, of separating the government from the people. Who makes up the government? The people. But once we elect or appoint people into government, we leave them on their own, and believe they should do everything; we don’t monitor them, we don’t make them accountable. As such, they do anything they like. They loot the treasury, they become lazy, they become oppressive and arrogant, they start acting like mini-gods. And then we, the people outside government start moaning and complaining when it is too late to call them to order.
When we say Nigerians are lazy, do not separate adults from youths (in fact, the adults are worse than the youths) or government from people. There are millions of hard-working Nigerians, in the country and all over the world – we know, that is a fact. But unfortunately, it is the few lazy ones, mostly based in Nigeria, who dominate government and rule us. And it is these indolent cliques who make the most noise (and crimes) that we see every day, and the world see every day. How can a Senator who works less than 60 days a year be earning N40 million a month while a teacher in a secondary school (5 days a week, for a minimum of 8 months in a years) earns less than N40,000 a month? Where is the moral sense in this anomaly? It is absolutely ethically absurd and wrong.
Meanwhile our leadership are still struggling to understand democracy as a collective approach in meeting collective needs, such as quality education, jobs, housing, mass transportation system, quality health care services etc and plans for old age and befitting pass on
You know that country is lawless; and the most lawless are our leaders and those in charge of our resources and infrastructures, etc. Those in charge of everything that should make life better for us are the most lawless, irresponsible, insensitive, conscienceless and unscrupulous. We may never know the answer; they hide their crimes very well; we and our Press and Media don’t dig deep enough, are compromised or afraid to; and so, life, as we know it, goes on. The masses are happy with their poverty and oppression and think only by praying to God to come down and deal with their oppressors is the answer.
As Black people (remember Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world) we are looked at as different and inferior. We truly appear feeble and inferior both in thinking and in managing our affairs. And you will blame the rest of the world if this is how they perceive us? We’re hardly trying to convince them otherwise, are we not?
We elect known thieves to run our affairs and even kind enough to sympathise with them when they are punished. Former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye took tax payers money to London, it was Ecological fund for his State. In his luxury hotel suite, he was doling out 50-pound notes to anyone who came. The poor people of Plateau were dying in agony of diseases and poor infrastructure. He was promptly arrested by the British police and huge sums of foreign currencies seized from him. The smart guy managed to escape back home! Home sweet home, the land of the foolish! Dariye was later rewarded by his people by voting him as a Senator.
When some of them are apprehended overseas and chastised, we welcome them with fanfare. After all it is our money they stole, not theirs. Ibori was celebrated on his return from British jail. He was met by the first citizen of Delta State and others. Our heads of states stash monies in foreign countries and we must beg for the return when they die.
We knowingly elect leaders that are derelict in character and we go to church and mosques to pray for them to perform and succeed and for miracles or even hate our friends or relatives who have made it but can’t help us. We seem to be different.
There is something genuinely wrong with our society. Our mindset is warped. In 2014, our former Finance Minister was begging us to save in case oil prices crash but we quickly rushed to the courts to save us from a woman who didn’t want us to ‘chop’ the future of our children! Aren’t we the cursed race? Our values are warped.
Last time I was discussing with a close friend, he plainly told me that the system God designed for us in Nigeria is Corruption; he said we were better off during the corrupt years and he wanted corruption brought back. The crook who can buy votes wins, we prefer to vote for thieves so long he can pay his way through. Isn’t that what we are now pushing for in 2019? Change from the “lifeless” and allegedly nepotist Buharideen, the Fulani herdsman, to the allegedly corrupt Atikulated, the Fulani-multimillionaire former Customs Officer and former VP of Nigeria?
Decent hardworking people have no intrinsic worth in our society. Everything is upside down.
So, what do we do? The problem is most perpetrators of these crimes are never prosecuted and made to face the music. Crime and punishment in Nigeria are for the poor, not for the irresponsible elite. Secondly, our institutions are designed built to be porous and with loopholes for some people to take undue advantage; this must be reversed. Third, the law enforcement and judiciary are just too weak and corrupt; we must do something about these. Fourth, accountability and responsibility are lax; these must also be built in. Fifth, the people are not helping either, in many ways; they need re-education and re-orientation; I can go on and on.
A mountain to climb, isn’t it? Herculean task, isn’t it? Impossible in Nigeria, isn’t it?
We have to start somewhere!!!