HAUNTED BY UNSUSTAINABLE PAYOFF TO POLITICIANS MEND & BOKO HARAM
The outrageous salary of politicians, Boko Haram and MEND seems to be cast in stone since no Jupiter of criticism, logic or foreign pressure has imparted any changes. Yet it is unsustainable, bearing forbidden fruits to others as examples to pluck or loot. No country wastes trillion cash in currency and remains solvent. Nigeria can spend N63.28 billion on degradation of Niger Delta environment to employ former militants to restore agriculture, not idle them as in 2014 budget.
If the folks in the oil producing areas have a choice on what to spend their money on, the least vote getter would be militia. Enough money has been made in those areas to turn their folks that work hard and play by the rules into productive citizens providing jobs for their youths and keeping children happy in schools. Even Boko Haram would not be the choice of Hausa whose culture and belief have been maligned, suppressed and misrepresented, if jobs exist in Delta.
As in Niger Delta, we watch BP with envy declared Mississippi oil cleanup completed after $13b claims by displaced workers and businesses. Politicians are in pockets of BP, despite high salary. By legalized corruption, the Economist magazine reveals that Nigerian federal legislators are the highest paid in the world with an annual basic salary of N30.6 m (or $189,500). Of course the Assembly claimed that it is 'grossly exaggerated.' Who are they fooling? Read more here
We have a unique opportunity here to turn Niger Delta into attractive job producing area not only for indigene but for all Nigerians willing to work hard and play hard with earned money. N8billion proposed on job creation scheme, and N1billion on 'Quick Win', an empowerment program in which youths compete for Federal assistance to start their own enterprises while a good step in the right direction, N2billion on pilot initiative for Boko Haram militants falls short.
In our greed for money, we lost focus and the ability to plan for the future of our children. Too busy with microsurgery separating stealing, poverty, from corruption; delineate religion, belief and culture; defining race from ethnicity. Just for the purpose of recruiting our talikawa to fight against their own interest, against brothers and sisters in the name of freedom, democracy and God to obtain the power to destroy one another. Only crazy man cuts his nose to spite his face.
Depending on whose figures you believe, OXFAM claimed $63bn illicit funds go out of Africa every year. Most of it from Nigeria with only 23,000 registered engineers whereas over 100,000 claim to be engineers that secured contracts. Politicians whose job it is to create more enabling environment, train and employ youths for infrastructure, only fear for dear lives, as terrorists.
What we have now is a treasury that leaks and the more violent you are the better your access to money from dwindling resources. With about 5.3million unemployed graduates, it does not make sense to create a welfare state for those that graduated from Boko Haram, MEND, OPC and MASSOB universities. Unemployed Niger Delta graduate paid 19,800 per month as NYSC to manage oil clean up business more productive than MEND's 65,000 naira per month as militia.
We all know nobody has a monopoly on violence since it is so easy to destroy, even by brainless vagabond. Building takes consensus, contribution and enabling environment to create. Nobody puts a curse on black people, Africans have excel in spite of, not because of, in environments more hostile far away from home. People must have some love for one another to move closer together, not alone to sabotage your own brother or sister just to get ahead and dominate.
It does not take the act of God or a miracle to make a country productive. It takes dedication to service for the people you care about and sound management. However, violence that haunts us did not come as a surprise. Anyone could have predicted it. Indeed, warnings were given by some that saw a reckless ship ending to disaster, prophet of doom. On the other hand are those that bragged that if they do not get their ways, would unleash violence like the plague of Egypt.
It hurts so much that we had skillful political leaders like Macaulay, Nkrumah and competent economic genius Awolowo in this Continent that cannot get its bearing right today. Our children will rain curses on our generation for not producing a world power with all the opportunities bestowed on us in terms of resources and people. Western Region alone did not have as much resources as oil producing areas. But for the last ten years, which part of Africa is getting richer?
Come to think of how much Mbakwe got for all the work he did in Imo State after the war. The value of money was greater but not the most important. During negotiation to form a coalition government, Ahmadu Bello as the leader of NPC, was willing to trade off the Finance Minister. The point here is what people did with the little they had and that there were more important positions in the government than to be in charge of looting the treasury.
We thought Congo was depressing, Somali distasteful and Sudan pure madness. Africans watch as the hope of the continent destroys itself. Even those that had no country to go to wanted out of Nigeria. If Oduduwa State can be that great outside Nigeria, it could have found credible leader; if Arewa State could survive on its own it could have had its Independence delayed; if Biafra could become Sweden, folks could have stayed within and left minorities alone.
At this point autonomy is not negotiable, only the degree of affiliation is, in Nigeria. Each region must learn to live within its own means or trade by barter for what others have. Nigeria passed the point of no return long time ago, and nothing can force others into an association they do not want. The youths have shown the use of military might to be counterproductive since anyone can buy weapons in the open market.
The earlier we realized Nigeria as a country of associates the better.
Written By Farouk Martins Aresa