So, Is Every Chief A Thief? (2)
“If you steal, do not steal too much at a time: you may be arrested. Steal little by little.” – Mobutu Sese Seko to Ministers/Party Delegates, 1971.
I must apologize for taking so long to write this second part. I took time to go and launch my book: IMPRESSIONS & EXPRESSIONS. That was last Saturday, 13th February. Well, I ended the Part 1 of this piece by saying Buhari is not a friend of chiefs, and the first time he was here as C-in-C, he gave the chiefs long jail-terms; and, funny enough, they carried their National Honours and Medals along! Today, we go on.
And so history seems to be repeating itself. It is as if anytime the chiefs mess things up with their unbridled thieving, or every time our nation-wide community chiefs gorge themselves on our commonwealth to the point of suicide, Providence sends the ascetic general to come do some house-cleaning. And because Buhari is also a chief, but one of a different kind, any time the chiefs see him, they scamper.
As in 1984 when the Umaru Dikkos, the Joseph Wayas, the Uba Ahmeds and the Adisa Akinloyes ran away, today too the Mainas, the Adokes, the Kukus, the Alison-Maduekes, and the Sambos…have taken off. But where Buhari became burdened with Umaru-cargo then because of his reliance on non-state actors, today he is tempered by the demands constitutional correctness: he is, therefore, banking on Interpol, an international actor.
In 1984, he came with gun-powder; this time, he has come with Broom-power. While gun-powder maybe explosive, fast and furious, broom-power is slow, but steady and thorough.
It is now sweeping the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). From there, it is moving gradually, but steadily to the ministries, beginning with Defence. It will proceed thence to ATM machines like the NNPC, Petty-Cash points like SURE-P and cash-cows like Customs, NPA, FIRS etc. Already, 26 DGs of Federal agencies, commissions and departments, some of them chiefs in their own rights, have been shoved aside. Put another way, since some of these Dasuki-gate chiefs are versatile and rapaciously avaricious, it is very possible that many of them will also have mention in SURE-P-gate, NNPC-gate, NNDC-gate, Customs-gate, Immigration-gate, FIRS-gate, Maina/Pension-gate ….
Everywhere one turns now, there is a gate of some kind or a potential gate waiting to open and assault our already over-tortured imagination with its ugly skeletons. And mind you, these are not the type of gates that keep criminals out; these are the types of gates constructed by thieves, sorry, chiefs, who love themselves immeasurably far above their neighbours, their oaths of office, their country, their generation and their God!
This means there are many more chiefs waiting to be unveiled or unmasked, to be exposed for whom they really are. We may then discover that they may be knights, but there is no “K” in their “knights.” Meaning: They are people of the night: I am not saying they are thieves, although like thieves, the chiefs like operating in the night.
In the end, only the courts can authoritatively say whether or not a chief is also a thief. You can call that Combined Honours! But these are chiefs, so even when they are convicted, we cannot call them common thieves or petty criminals. We must, therefore, show some respect by calling them: executive thieves, posh criminals, stylish shysters, expensive crooks, classy hypocrites….
And likewise, the “hoods” in their knighthoodsmay be closer to the “hood” in hoodlums. This makes them modern-day Robinhoods! (And by the way, Robinhood, the legendary English criminal, was not convicted too! In other words, many of these our chiefs in resplendent attires and bombastic dictions may not be real Knights – despite their GCON, GCFR, OON, CON, CFR… – , but people of the night who are closer to hoodlums than knighthoods.
The worry is that they are so everywhere. My landlord is a chief! The chairman of the Security Committee in our estate is a chief! The school my daughter attends is owned by a chief! And the school is located near a massive estate said to be the property of a chief! There is a filling station adjoining it: it as owned by a chief! Everywhere I turn, I am assaulted by the sight of a chief! And crime statistics are on the rise. So is there any connection between chiefs and thieves?
Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, while he lived, used to say the only thing distinguishing a Chief from a Thief is the C. Does this mean the “C” in “chief,” most times, stands for “Criminal?” In Tiv language, the “T” in “Thief” can mean “Tchough Kwagh!” Meaning: The Thief who is no ordinary criminal, but a con-artist!
Although every financial scandal under the Jonathan government staggers the imagination, given that they always run into billions, even trillions, the Dasuki-gate, with its emerging details, is especially numbing. Dasuki allegedly collected money in the name of Boko Haram, and then commenced pumping it, wholesale and full-scale, into President Goodluck Jonathan’s Re-election “Logistics.” If his office were not clearly advertised as that of the NSA, one might think he was PDP’s Director of Contacts-cum-Mobilization-cum-Logistics. And after Contacting and Mobilizing PDP chieftains, whatever “Change” that was left therefrom, Dasuki reportedly committed same into the building his personal estates and hotels in commanding locations across the country. And it seems whatever “Change” that remained of the “Change,” he went shopping with it in Dubai or any place that caught his fancy!
So as the APC shouted itself hoarse with its “Change mantra,” Dasuki, sitting pretty on $2.1billion, knew better! CHANGE may be an English word, but it had different meanings to John Oyegun and Dasuki. And so, it had to the array of chiefs in the Dasuki army: Dokpesi, Kuku, Amosu, Badeh, Obaigbena, Yuguda, Falae, Obanikoro, Muazu, Tompolo, Segun Osoba, Ayu, Metuh, Yarkin Bello, Bode George, Odili, Tom Ikimi, Nwobodo, Yerima and, wait for it, Bafarawa & sons Ltd. You can also add: Haliru Mohammed & Sons etc, etc, etc, etc…! It is a long list indeed, and it is growing.
Bafarawa may not be a lion, but when it came to the Dasuki-Bazaar, he allegedly took the lion-share! Besides netting N100million from Yuguda and another N100 from Chairman Muazu, he is said to have grossed a hefty N4.6 billion for “Prayers and Spiritual purposes.” Since the Jonathan crowd was paying for endorsements (according Falae), and the Association of Nigerian Witches and Wizards endorsed Jonathan’s re-election bid, was settling the Witches/Wizards also part of Bafarawa’s brief? And since Bafarawa knows the efficacy of prayers in electoral victories, did he also pay for his election wins in 1999 and again in 2003? If Yes, how much? And if No, why did he collect billions from Jonathan for “prayers?” Was he really Jonathan’s helper or a buccaneer, preying on Jonathan and his vacuity?
And what about Chief Olu Falae, ex-banker, ex-Federal Permanent secretary, ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ex-Finance Minister and ex-double Presidential candidate? He collected money from Jonathan, on behalf of his party, the SDP, so the party would support Jonathan. But he kept mute and the party did not know about it until Dasuki started singing like a canary! How long has Falae been collecting money to endorse aspirants/candidates…for Senate, for governor, for president? Is the SDP a party or a shop? If it is a party, is it in the public space to secure political power or to secure lucrative endorsement deals? If it is a business, a limited liability company, how long has Falae been trading with the SDP? So much honour! So much transparency! And so much for integrity! If Falae became president in 1992 or 1999, is this the baggage he would bring to the Presidential Villa?
Even Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the World Bank technocrat, could not resist the temptation of joining the merry-go-round of corruption. She admittedly “loaned” Dasuki over $2billion! It defies logic or the international best practices she claimed to have brought from the World Bank! Is the Finance Ministry a Bank or a Finance House to loan people money out? How come some of us did not know about these “loans?” Was this how she was “loaning” out money at the World Bank? If it is a bank, which collateral did Dasuki give Okonjo-Iweala, the bank’s CEO? How many other chiefs did she “loan” public funds to? There is not even a letter that Dasuki wrote to her, requesting for the “loan!” And the money she illegally “loaned” to Dasuki was not even appropriated in the budget! But then, when you give out a loan, there is something called “commission.” And such other sweeteners like COT, banking charges, percentages etc.
Well, this $2.1billlion “loan” was not captured in the budget. This was the recovered Abacha loot! Meaning: There was money already appropriated for Dasuki’s office – close to N1Trillion. And this was outside the $1billion loan President obtained to “buy arms/prosecute” the Boko Haram war!
Plainly put, Dasuki creamed off his N1Trillion budget for the year; cleaned out the $1billion “Boko Haram loan,” and turned voraciously on the Abacha loot! Truly, only a Locust-Army could have achieved this rapacious feat so effortlessly – and all the while, mouthing patriotic slogans of “Transformation, Continuity and Consolidation!” And our Mrs. World Bank was, sadly, part of this army! Of course, she was neither the Commander nor the Quarter-Master nor even the Chief of Logistics of this despoiling army, but she was a Matron, a Coordinator, of sorts. So she was, besides being the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, perhaps, also Minister of Corruption and the Coordinating of the Dasuki Bazaar!
An authentic African High Chief, Field Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga told his chiefs (ministers and party Delegates in 1971: “If you steal, do not steal too much at a time: you may be arrested. Steal little by little.” With the benefit of hindsight, President Jonathan did not so advise members of his entourage. May be he did not know or read about Mobutu, the promising Congolese nationalist, who left the French Army for Journalism: that is one benefit of scholarship – reading.
Although the chiefs started their looting schemes with millions, they graduated to billions of Dollars! Today, the bubble has burst, and the veneer of innocence has been washed away. To paraphrase a poet from another country and civilization, we can say:“Things have fallen apart; the centre can no longer hold; the pretense of innocence has been washed away; even as the Dasuki-tide threatens to drown many….”
To be concluded:
Imobo-Tswam, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.
He can be reached at: [email protected]