WHAT MANNER OF A COUNTRY IS NIGERIA? KOGI STATE AS A TYPICAL EXAMPLE. - By Dr. M. M. Wokili
I can never blame God for dropping me in a country called Nigeria because His wisdom surpasses the limited vision and perception that mortal bodies like me are permitted to have or acquire. But what manner of a country is Nigeria? Nigeria is rich but Nigerians are paupers. A country where truth is murdered and deception celebrated by the institutions of governance. Brilliance is silenced while mediocrity is glorified by the very people that are supposed to lay good examples for the rest to follow. A nation where the law is harsh on petty thieves on the streets but protects the pen-robbers in government. A country where life has become the cheapest commodity that can be purchased in the market of violence with bullets as the currency. A place where dynamically outspoken and progressive people are marked for assassination by the filthily rich, corrupt and powerful bourgeoisies who feel threatened by their advocacy for equity, fairness, universal application of rule of law and egalitarian society. A country where decent and incorruptible retired civil servants are rewarded with starvation of their meager pension dues, thereby sentencing them and their dependants to untimely death while their retired corrupt counterparts seek for political posts with their stupendous wealth for more filthy lucre!!! A place where the qualities for leadership are the very ones that qualify people for prisons and psychiatric homes or asylums in decent countries. A country where leaders are selected by the few and imposed on the hapless and dehumanized populace using the instrumentality of a judiciary in a supposedly democratic setting. A place where those people who serve the nation faithfully are made to regret of their faithfulness throughout their retirement period. A country where agents of change like the trade unions, civil societies and the mass media that were once vibrant and vanguards/campaigners of justice have suddenly taken doses of comprise that send them into slumber in their various cocoons, snoring like never before even when the house is on fire of utter corruption and mismanagement of national commonwealth. The angelic NADECO, the progressive Oshimonhole & Kokori trade unions together with the vibrant and fearless mass media during Babangida & Abacha eras have no replicas in the present dispensation! The national conscience is gone. The progressive and activist veterans are now old, neglected, despised and punished by keeping them out of governance by the very regime that benefited from their sacrifices. The younger progressives seeing how the veterans ended up have to make a detour with a bell ringing in their brains: “honesty doesn't pay in this country, the country is not worthy to die for, better make your money anyhow to have a secured future, if you can't beat them, join them etc”. What a pity!
The craze for wealth using corruption as the sole vehicle is unlimited and has become a model as exemplified by our leaders and institutionalized as the acceptable and national culture for the younger ones to follow. No wonder that Nigeria is noted world-wide for internet scamming by our youth in their inordinate quest to make quick money in an evil manner in their determination to live the same extravagant and obscene life style that our leaders exhibit. No wonder that our learning institutions have become havens of corruption, cultism and moral decadence where certificates are churned out and grades awarded according to students' bids. No wonder that most of our modern university graduates know next to nothing in their academics but are experts in dubious ways of making money. The preponderance of armed robbery on the highways cannot be divorced from this mammonic affliction. What a calamity!!
All facets of life in Nigeria are affected and polluted by the culture of corruption and immorality instituted by the successive leaderships of this country, except the regimes of Murtala and Buhari that could have launched us on the path of greatness, decency and national rebirth which were abridged by the evil geniuses of our time. Truly elected leaders at various levels are denied ascension to power; people with talents and vision are denied national leadership for unpatriotic reasons ---one of such victims was described at death as “the best President that never be”. This evil cycle has been holding Nigeria hostage till date. I wonder if this country has a divine curse upon it because evil thrives while uprightness is brutally thrown down the steep slope of despondency. In modern day Nigeria, what makes a man 'big' is money, not selfless service as in the days of our founding fathers. Sages like Obafemi Awolowo, Sadauna of Sokoto, Tafa Balewa, Aminu Kano of blessed memory, just to mention a few, will be turning in their graves for lost national vision due to the inordinate ambition, corruption, greed, avarice, selfishness, nepotism and outright madness of our modern day leaders. The names of world leaders like Nkrumah, Ghandi, living Mandela etc together with their Nigerian counterparts mentioned above will remain evergreen in memory purely for their selfless leadership services and not the quantum of their possessions --- they were not rich anyway.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is sick to the bone marrow. It is really sad that the self acclaimed giant of Africa is still groping in darkness, devoid of democratic and developmental compass while the 'ants' of Africa like Ghana and even Niger Republic are already on their high ways to the Promised Land via adherence to the rule of law by all segments of the society in and outside the government as exemplified by their recent democratic and socio-economic giant strides. To me, these are the real giants of Africa. It takes real rule of law for an opposition party to displace a seating presidential government. The situation is presently unthinkable in Nigeria. The Nigerian formula is simple: silence the opposition by all means before the election via intimidation, arrest or even assassination and it fails, then rig the election, set up election tribunal and then tell the cheated opposition to go to the tribunal for a pre-determined outcome!!
Most of the present crop of Executives came to power without the will of the people. Kogi State is a very perfect example. I was opportuned to witness the last re-run in the state that could be anything but election. There was absolutely no election in most parts of Ebirraland except in Adavi L.G.A. where the opposition dared not penetrate. Boxes were snatched and stuffed with the help of law enforcement agents in the rest 4 L.G.As. Ebirraland has 5 L.G.As and the false results in these 4 L.G.As alone are significant to thwart the aggregate result of any election. It is enough to nullify the so-called election of the incumbent governor. I was told the same anomaly happened in most other parts of the state. This report is what I saw with my own eyes in Ebirraland because I deliberately drove round the land out of curiosity. Some government apologists at this point may brand me as a rabid blind supporter of Prince Abubakar Audu. It may interest such people to know that I did NOT vote for any of the contestants on that day. Of course I do support anybody that is for development. Iam pro-development and NOT pro-anybody. Coincidentally, the Prince has undeniable track records of outstanding development of the state when he was the governor of the state with the meager monthly revenue that accrued to the state then, unlike the present governor that has practically done nothing to alleviate the conditions of the people. The most outstanding projects that the governor and his cohorts can boast of are the over bloated contract for the construction of the 'specialist' hospital at Lokoja (even though it lacks adequate and proper equipments & services), the yet-to-be-completed and over-priced International Market situated within a confined area along a major highway and the less than 100mtrs Meme Bridge awarded at a very high ridiculous price. The cluster of few buildings nick-named an International Market, with no reasonable parking lot, has been under epileptic construction for the past 5 yrs!! It was recently painted to give it semblance of completion.
I have never met the governor in my life and therefore, have no cause to hate him on a personal basis. My religion forbids me from hating anyone in this world. I am a contractor and the 'nigerian' instinct is to praise the present governor to the high heavens to secure contracts!! It is indeed, 'stupid' of me to be on the side of a Prince (purely because of my pro-development stance) that was never known to me when he was the governor and who presently, has no contracts or benefits to be given to me by him. I have never collected a dime from the Prince neither will I ever. In short, it is the bad governance of the present governor that forced me to know the Prince barely 11 months ago because I consider the Prince to be the only viable and available alternative to the bad governance at this point in time and under the present political situation in the state. It is just a matter of coincidence that the Prince happened to occupy this unique vacuum ---any other Mr. “A” or Alhaji “B” from any section of the state with developmental inclination could have received the same measure of support from me. Therefore, whatever I say here is the truth and nothing more. My criticism is NOT against the person of the governor that I never met in person but against his governance of the state that I so much loath with passion because of lack of development despite the jumbo monthly allocations that accrue to the state. I pity the governor indeed. He does not know that critics like me are his real well-wishers. The sycophants and chameleons surrounding him, licking his boots on daily basis, do back-bite and condemn him much more for the same reason of non-development!! As soon as you leave the government house, the very first set of people that will attack you are your present conscience-sneared-choristers that are best described as vultures. This article may elicit venoms from these vipers, merchants of death and profiteers of blood money via rejoinders sponsored by the government.
My saddest day on my 50th year on this planet was when the tribunal upheld the 'election' of the present governor. It was as if the poor in Kogi State were sentenced to instant death by a judiciary by using technicalities of law to exterminate justice and substance of law (please this is not a blanket indictment of the judiciary--- I said 'a' judiciary and NOT 'the' judiciary). Let me open the eyes of supporters of bad governance to see the consequences of their actions: Bad governance breeds pot holes on roads due to lack of maintenance leading to avoidable deaths from accidents. Blood is spilled in the process and the number of orphans and widows/widowers increase. Promising lives get terminated from the road accidents while some are wasted on wheel-chairs. Some of these victims are most times, bread winners of their respective families. Education of some kids therefore, gets terminated while some kids become street urchins. Another example. Bad governance increases mortality rate. Many are dying in hospitals of simple and easily curable diseases because of poor medicare. Drugs are unavailable, the medical staffs are demoralized and the hospital environment is unhygienic, all due to misgovernance and maladministration. In short, the hospitals become breeding places for diseases instead of being healing centers. Supporters of bad governance are guilty of these deaths, spilled blood and calamities. Assuming you escape the judgment of God arising therefrom, what of your children? Let us know that one day, we shall all answer the call of the Almighty.
To me, bad governance is a silent but the most potent and violent 'weapon of mass destruction'. A typical example is the locust government of Idris that has not only fleeced the resources of the state but has really unleashed six solid years of holocaust on Kogi state via a combination of denial of basic amenities of life that has led to untimely death of many people and sponsored violence on the people of Ebirraland that the government is supposed to protect!! At the end of the day, it is the poor people scattered all over the state, cutting across various political party affiliations, tribes and locations that bear the brunt of bad governance. It is the sorry state of this segment of people in the society (in various political parties, locations & tribes) that has elicited this write-up. This write-up is not to protect or promote or malign any political party or individual or sectional interests; rather, it is meant to highlight the salient but obvious sufferings that the poor have been bearing due to the mindless and visionless government of Idris for the past 6 yrs. To me, all parties are the same because they have similar manifestoes ---promising all manner of goodies and none promising unrest or bad governance. Therefore, it is the operators of the parties that can be faulted. That is why PDP is a total failure in Kogi State because of Idris leadership/governorship and PDP being classified by the people as the modern day incarnate of Lucifer manifesting in Kogi state. The same PDP is relatively doing fine and serving the people in Kaduna and Katsina States (just to mention a few). Even the party did excellently well when the present President was the governor of Katsina State. AC is doing marvelously well in Lagos State. ANPP is fantastic in Zamfara State. PDP has transformed Calabar into one of the cleanest and most organized capital cities in Nigeria. It may interest readers to know that I have not done any contract for any of these state governments praised here except the rehabilitation of B/Gwari dam executed for the Kaduna State government in the year 2006, which shows that this article is wholly based on truth and objectivity. There are some governors in all the various political parties, including the PDP, who can be grouped together with Idris in terms of under-development and mismanagement of resources. Development is NOT an abstract thing ---- it can be seen by everyone. That is why there is no amount of defense that the expected government sponsored rejoinder on this article will convince any right thinking person in the society. What the governor may not know is that even travelers that pass through the state to the eastern part of Nigeria, realizing that their lives are put at risk, do curse him for lack of maintenance of the state road linking Lokoja to his hometown that was constructed during the time of Prince Abubakar Audu.
The poor in Kogi State are groaning daily; they are voiceless, powerless and even fainting under the crushing loads of their total neglect. Most parts of Igala land including major towns where the governor hails from have no portable drinking water! They line their drums along the road and fill them with water bought from water tankers that come at intervals. Smart business for the governor's cronies. Right? Shocking enough, even the government house is supplied with water by water tankers sometimes. Yet the confluence of both rivers Niger and Benue is just some meters away! What type of government is this? The hospitals patronized by the poor, are mere consulting centers while the rich go to private clinics for medical care. While the rich people take their wards to private schools; the government schools meant for the poor lack basic amenities for learning, with some having sheds as classrooms; the pupils are consequently lacking in academic contents and character as the teachers are too demoralized to instill discipline. Since January this year, all government owned primary schools in the state have been under lock and key because of the refusal of the heartless government of Idris to discharge her obligations to the sector. These are the schools for the poor! Most roads are bad within the state and impassable during raining season thereby making it extremely difficult for farmers (that constitute majority of the poor) to get their goods to the market for sale. Idris and his lieutenants belief in government for self interests promotion and preservation. Government properties are left to rot in favour of their respective personal properties. The government house where Idris resides is still having the paint given to it by Audu. Ditto for the governor's and deputy governor's offices that have become eye sores. Yet their private houses are beauties to behold! Instead of building offices for government ministries and parastatals, the government of Idris in its own financial wisdom, finds it appropriate to rent houses built by his cronies for some of these establishments. What a wasteful and corrupt government? Why renting personal properties to the government that has land and money? The commonwealth of the people is criminally diverted in building of personal hotels and filling stations all over Lokoja town by government officials with impunity. All Local Government Chairmen within Ebirraland are absentee administrators, residing at Lokoja with sparing visits to their domains to the knowledge of the governor and yet he is contented with it. How can the Local Government Areas be developed with such absentee administrators?
The wasteful expenditure of the governor knows no bounds. He has advisers of varying descriptions in their hundreds who are handsomely but wastefully paid. It took six years for the lame and blind state government to find out late March that the monthly salary wage bill of the state has been inflated by about N700m via ghost workers by his immediate lieutenants. Yet the government claims there is no money to satisfy the demands of the primary and secondary school teachers that have been on strike! Why will they not steal about N700m every month from the people when they know that the head is rotten? The monthly N700m translates to a whooping N8.4billion annually just from Ghost workers 'business' alone apart from other 'business' sectors. Imagine what the people of the state have lost over the years caused by Idris administration! However, I will be unfair not to commend Idris for having the temerity of engaging an independent consultant that unearthed the N700m being stolen monthly by his lieutenants. Rejoice not yet readers but watch! See what will happen at the end: The scam will be swept under the carpet very soon after secret horse trading. The culprits at the top also have dossiers on the governor and the stark reality will make the governor to recoil into his shell to avoid mutual destruction. At best symbolic arrests and even prosecution of some junior/intermediate workers will be made while the real culprits (top people) that have the muscle to fight back will be left alone to avoid mutual implication. Don't brand me a prophet when this happens. I have travelled round the country as a result of my business and found out that Lokoja is the worst/least developed state capital in the country. It may interest readers to know that Lokoja is not as big as Barnawa area in Kaduna state and less than the size of Victoria Island in Lagos state. These are verifiable statistics.
“Under whose authority do you speak for the poor”? I can hear the state government harbingers asking. The answer is simple: the conscience!! The same conscience has made me to veer into charity works via granting of fully fledged scholarships (tuition, feeding, accommodation & upkeep allowance) for the less privileged youth in the society with my hard earned money without any monetary contribution from anybody within or outside the country. However, I must make mention of the heavy discounts being given to me by the University as initiated by the Proprietor, Prof. Jide Owoeye. May God bless you sir. The beneficiaries cut across tribes and religions throughout the country, with one coming from a place as far as Nembe in Bayelsa State. With my limited resources, three people have already graduated from the universities while six more are still in a private university reading various courses. Only two of these people are my far distant relations while others are not related to me in anyway. One of the fortunate youth graduated last year with a first class degree while another will be graduating this year with the same grade. The doubting Thomas may cross check this fact from Lead City University at Ibadan. Iam constrained to mention this to justify my selflessness on this article i.e. to show that this article is purely written because of my passion for the poor in Kogi State that have been battered by a government designed from the pit of hell to unleash punishment on the already improvised people. I will like the government attack dogs to first of all tell the whole world what they have ever done on their individual capacities to help the poor before they bear their fangs on me via rejoinder. Their claims must be verifiable to be credible. I sank a borehole for the poor in my village and more will be sunk this year throughout Ebirraland, God willing. Yet I have no political interests or ambition of whatever description. I am not a politician. It is part of my continued sacrifice to use my money to buy up these pages to publish this article without any contribution from anyone to speak on behalf of the poor in Kogi State.
The government of Idris was installed and sustained till date not by the people of Kogi State but by a few powerful cliques who hold personal grudges against Audu. Hear their mantra: “Audu is very pompous”. That is the only sin why they will support any other person on earth except Audu. Even though they all agree that nobody has developed the state since its creation as Audu. To them a pompous person is one that cannot be controlled for ones selfish ends. What a crude definition! I have not seen any element of pomposity in him so far. To me, I will rather choose a 'pompous' person that will develop the state and alleviate the conditions of the poor than a 'humble' person that will give us violence, despair, under-development, neglect, sufferings and dehumanization as dividends of democracy. No need to remind readers that Prince Abubakar Audu was given the award for the best performing Governor during Obasanjo's first term as selected by the Federal team headed by Prof. Jerry Gana. Readers, have you forgotten so soon? People are not fools not to take note of the current antics of Idris. I have seen some induced congratulatory messages recently advertised in some of the national dailies by some of the contractors patronized by Idris. To them, Idris has just spent only “a year in office after the re-run and the renewed mandate”. What is the implication? To them, Idris has 3 more years to go! What sort of audacity of madness is this? How can anyone in his right sense ever imagine the Kogi people, especially the poor, carrying the yoke called Idris for another 3 years? Man proposes while God disposes. Can God be so wicked as to not intervene on behalf of the poor crying and dying under the yoke? God can never be wicked. Let's wait and see!
To all the poor in Kogi State irrespective of your places of abode, religion, political leaning or tribe, I say this to you: Be of good courage, never lose hope in the face of tyranny, denials, dehumanization, emasculation, manipulation, suppression, oppression and subjugation by the government of Idris even though you seem to be alone in the wilderness of neglect, deserted by your community leaders and elder statesmen/opinion leaders who ought to be your defenders but have teamed up with the government to deny you your God given rights to good life, liberty and happiness. In the wilderness, you are left alone and naked in the blistering cold of the night, shivering and longing for the day break. Nobody seems to care for you. It seems the thick clog of darkness will never move. For the past 6 yrs, you have endured the rough road to the Promised Land with no appreciable distance covered because of the lions, serpents, scorpions, tigers, hyenas, booby traps and other inhibiting factors that litter the path as created by the government of Idris. Your community and opinion leaders have jumped the ship into safety with their life jackets in the midst of ocean of misrule, leaving you with the capsizing ship under the raging storm of misgovernance. The captain of the ship, Idris, has been reckless and rudderless for the past 6 yrs without compass! You are too weak to struggle as there is neither food on board to eat nor water to drink and the sea water outside is too salty to drink in your haste to quench the thirst and hunger. All the food and drinks onboard have been consumed by your leaders before escaping. Your hearts are fast failing you with fear --- no life guards at sight, no safety jackets to rely upon and the ship is too far from the shore in the darkest hour of the night with unabated surges of nagging waves. “Who will deliver us?' I can hear the deafening wailings. But I still say to you: Be still, don't jump overboard but rather look up from where your help cometh. Thrust forth your hands to hold the forte. Be of good courage! Have faith in God and continue to pray for His miraculous intervention. From statistics from the Holy Books, the Good Lord has never abandoned poor people that look up to Him in your perilous conditions. God takes over situations when the arms/armour of flesh has totally failed as in your present conditions. That is why Iam so sure that very soon the light will shine again, darkness will roll away, joy will displace sadness, tears will cease and hope will take over despondency. Say Amen three times! My faith/hope is purely based on my knowledge of the Holy Books. After all, we don't have the money, influence, connections, incumbency power and authority that his government has but we definitely have the overriding and unfailing power that his government obviously lack---God Almighty. Where mortals have no way as it seems to be presently, God has a million ways. Don't ask me how and when – only God knows. Just keep praying!
To the opinion leaders, powerful people in and outside the government and elder statesmen/women within and outside Kogi State that support the oppressive government of Idris, I ask you: for how long shall you prop-up the bad government that has brought tears and sorrows to the poor? Do you support the bad governance all in the name of party preservation/loyalty? Do you give your support in exchange for blood money? Do you support because of your long term personal relationship spanning over decades? For how long will you allow your personal grudges against an individual (Audu) affect the wellbeing of millions of people in Kogi State especially the poor? Whatever may be your reason, your support has brought avoidable death to many families, denial of qualitative education to the poor, promoted social vices in the society, set-up a culture of theft of public funds, destroyed our youth etc. Your children are outside the state unaffected by the sufferings being inflicted by Idris government. You cannot exonerate yourself from the blood of the innocent victims and the attendant judgment of God. This is simply sinful which has divine repercussions on such supporters and their families. Why heaping curses upon the destiny of your children? Have a rethink!
To Governor Idris, hear me well: I do not hate your person but your governance. Rather, your worst enemies are the choir members surrounding you singing hosannas into your ears for their selfish reasons. I call them vultures because they feed fat on the carcasses of the poor. These people are not only castigating you presently in their closets, they will be the first to shout 'crucify him' as soon as you are out of power. Learn from history. Constructive critics like me are your best unknown friends. You know that you never won any election but imposed by INEC and some few powerful people within and outside Kogi State. Instead of serving the people, you have been serving yourself, your mentors, thugs and praise singers for the past 6 years. I have travelled to all the continents of this world and have seen what leadership is all about in descent countries. Leaders are the junior partners in the social contract between the leaders and the people. Last year, I was at Wolverhampton during one of my visits to England and in the midst of some young Nigerian students discussing Nigeria. A young girl expressed her sadness about the suffering of the masses occasioned by utter neglect of Kogi State by your government. She said people are complaining but the government is deaf to the cries and sincerely wished the government has a listening ear. She was ashamed to be associated with your government. I was a good listener without interfering in their discussions. Later, I made some enquiries and learnt that the young, slim and smallish girl of chocolate colour, is the daughter of your deputy who was an undergraduate at the University of Wolverhampton but now serving in Nigeria. May the Good Lord bless her for her honest assessment. You lack the vision, direction and determination to serve the people whose socio-economic conditions you have worsened with no mandate from the people in the first place. The poor have been the worst victims of your misrule. If you were to be among the victims of such a bad ruler (you are not a leader) without peoples' mandate, what will you wish such a government? Your answer is exactly the wish of Kogi people, especially the poor, about your government. You claim to have a law degree from the University of Abuja. You started and finished the law degree programme as a part time student while serving as a governor and yet completed the programme within a record period of 4 years? You must be a 'very smart and exceptionally brilliant' student to achieve this feat that even these 'lazy' full time students find difficult to achieve! Yes, you can produce a 'certificate' to back up the claim. That is why I do congratulate you for your 'exceptional achievements'. You ought to be recommended for a Nobel price. This is a rotten country indeed where institutions have become partners in crime. A secondary school certificate equivalent is the constitutional minimum qualification for a governor in Nigeria. Controversy is still raging that you don't legitimately posses any. Different versions of the certificate are out purportedly to be yours. If I were you, I will once and for all shame my 'detractors' by publishing in some of the national dailies all the secondary school certificates legitimately acquired just like Speaker Oladimaji did when his national service (NYSC) was questioned. Be bold enough to do just that to protect your 'integrity'.
At this stage, I wish to appeal to all people in position of power, authority and influence to stop supporting or propping up bad governance in whichever state it may be found. Let all fraudulently elected States Governors with pending tribunal cases be flushed out by the judiciary to bring sanity to the society and to save our wobbling democracy which is the best form of governance. There should be no hiding place for these interlopers and enemies of the people. There should be no alternative to democracy and the only way to sustain it is through justice.
I wish to pay tribute to some of the dogged fighters in our generation for sane society via constitutional means, in the likes of living legends like Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Rtd Col. Abubakar Umar, Mall. Shehu Sanni, Barrister Festus Keyamo, Rtd. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Balarabe Musa, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr.(Mrs) Joyce Ogbe-Odumakin, Chief Okpadokun, Chief Olu-falaye, Barrister Olisa Agbakoba and others too numerous to mention here. God and history recognize and appreciate you even if the powers that be refuse to celebrate you. May the Good Lord bless & keep you all. With the exception of General Buhari and Balarabe Musa that I met only recently, I have never met with anyone mentioned here. It reflects the objectivity and impartiality of this write-up. These people have records of selflessness that stand them out. Nigeria will one day become one of the top three in the world on the scale of positive development and responsive leadership. I pray that this utopian wish will materialize in my generation. Let us keep hope alive. As for me, I have decided to be on the side of the poor at all times by fearlessly speaking the truth even if Iam alone. What about you? God bless Nigeria.
Dr. M. M. Wokili writes from Kaduna. E-mail: [email protected]| Article source