THE RICH FOOL â€“ NIGERIA IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY
"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows."
– 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT)
At the retreat of Niger State senior civil servants organized by the state government recently for Vision 2020 aspirations, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed that the amount of money being spent to maintain our law-makers and perhaps including national political office holders are hard to quantify. The former president and current chairman BOT of PDP noted that it is difficult to estimate exactly how much a Senator takes home annually in the name of constituency projects.
President Obasanjo further stated, "That the amount being spent to maintain the federal lawmakers is draining the nation’s resources and should be checked immediately. He warned that something must be done about this, if the fledging democracy is to be sustained.
Chief Obasanjo noted that Nigeria could not afford to have a National Assembly that is corrupt and consuming a disproportionate part of the nation’s resources. "We should look closely at the legislature so that they can be more open and transparent in the way they do their work. Nobody knows in detail how much it costs us to maintain a senator. I believe it is more than N250 million, he said." He was quoted as saying: "We should look closely at the legislature so that they can be more open and transparent in the way they do their work. Nobody knows in detail how much it costs us to maintain a senator. I believe it is more than N250 million. "Compare what it cost in 1999 and 2000. It cost about $1.7 million. They come up and say something is constituency project, what is this constituency project? They insert it in the budget, they would find the contractor and the contractor would work for them, that is constituency project? They then accuse some people of corruption, who are not corrupt. "Now let us talk truly to ourselves seriously. We can’t continue to have a National Assembly that is consuming a disproportionate part of our resources and then expect that we would be able to make progress. "They pass a budget that can’t be implemented, because it has to be beefed up to satisfy their whims and caprices. Even what the ministries did not ask for, they put it." - Friday, August 6, 2010 Vanguard.
The above narrative is a sad commentary on Nigeria. Even though, it is the truth most Nigerians know anyway, but hearing and reading it from a three-time former president of Nigeria is strikingly revealing. This may be the most important truth that the former president has told the nation and the people of Nigeria. It is incredible, almost incomprehensible and inconceivable how our so-called honorable law-makers, those who ought to be making laws for the development of Nigeria and progress of the Nigerian people are so dubious and have such satanic conscience to steal and drain the national treasury for their selfish desires. They drain the national treasury in the name of bogus rural projects, and yet nothing is on the ground in rural towns and villages to show for it. Our law-makers have created all kinds of phony projects to sap, steal and drain the national treasury.
The former president, Chief Obasanjo and off-course most Nigerian do not know exactly how much our law-makers and national political office holders take home annually. Can you imagine what kind of country we live in? No wonder armed robbery, kidnapping, killings; child trafficking, drugs peddlers, 419; false religion, satanic churches, and all sorts of atrocities are so rampant in our beloved nation.
Let me talk of kidnapping for one second! Kidnapping has become a national disgrace and international opprobrium. It is a scourge and national tragedy – evidence of a failed state and incompetent leadership. Innocent Nigerians are no longer safe in their fatherland. Nigerians are dying in thousands just to escape from Nigeria. Nigerians living overseas are afraid to visit or return home. Those who must visit for family or business activities - sneak in and out. Rural towns and villages have become a death trap for many. Armed robbery and kidnapping at gunpoint are now occurring at broad day light in most Southeast towns and villages.
Oftentimes, these crimes occur at the gas stations, which are supposedly owned by politicians. Surprisingly, no one is addressing these issues. Our local, state and national representatives are just busy stuffing their pockets with whatever resources are destined for the development of their constituents. Yet, we have politicians who parade themselves as leaders. I wish they knew what leadership is really all about. Because of poverty, hunger, and illiteracy; majority of Nigerians follow and worship these criminals called politicians. Many have mortgaged their lives in order to get by. What a sad tale on our nation.
Many towns along the inter-state highways have been labeled as dangerous zones and the recent kidnapping of four journalists in Southeast forced the IGP, Mr. Onovo, and politicians to wake-up from their slumber. The Senate president in misguided response to the kidnapping saga called for state of emergency in Southeast region. He should be calling for state of emergency for the entire nation. Does he not know that kidnapping is an organized gang – a cultic operating with high handiness, which sadly was initiated by politicians? Today, it has gone wild. The uncontrollable nature of these crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping etc., are evidences of a failed state, corrupt politicians and lack of leadership. The Senate president should be issuing an emergency call for the entire nation not just for southeast region alone. Nigeria is in a state of emergency just waiting to explode. We cannot continue in like manner. Enough is enough. This whole picture is primitive and uncivilized and no matter how educated or polished and materials possessions one has acquired in Nigeria, America, or in Europe- a greedy attitude stinks. We are greedy human beings and covetous people.
Nigeria is in a state of emergency and in dire need of strong and courageous leaders.
It is very sad that the generation of relatively young and educated politicians representing us today in the both Chambers of the House is worse than those of the past in terms of commitment to the nation’s development and progress. Recently, the shenanigan – show of shame at the Nigeria’s House of Representatives made it to the YouTube in the World-Wide Web. An insider confided that the whole brawl began because of illegal or unjust manner of sharing Nigeria’s loot through phony budgets, allowances and projects. The Speaker, Mr. Bankole, an educated young man, who took over from Mrs. Etteh after the scandalous 628 million Naira house renovations, has stolen more than his predecessor because of his lascivious global tottering and youthful exuberance. He has been compensating those who oppose his corrupt practices with approval of funds for rural projects, which unfortunately end up in his colleagues’ pockets anyway.
If one may ask! What are these law-makers doing with the hundreds of millions of Naira they are receiving in Abuja for rural projects such as electrification, pipe-borne water, education, medical care centers and medical supplies etc? It is so sad to see or read how some low-level minded villagers celebrate these law-makers when some bags of rice are donated to the village. What a shame? Don’t you know that those representing you in Abuja should be helping your children to be educated and providing basic necessities of livelihood for you and your family? They are using your money to live lavish lifestyles, buy properties in Europe, America and now Dubai, send their children to the prestigious colleges and universities in Europe and America, while you and your children are poor and facing starvation, disease and death. By the way, majority of Nigerians do not see their local government chairmen talk-less those representing them in Abuja. Most of our law-makers sneak in like ghosts and leave town like ghosts. People don’t see them talk-less of rural projects. Most of our politicians do not know that the worth of any human does not lie in how much he has acquired but in his sacrifice for humanity and his bequeath to posterity - legacy.
The Holy Scripture – Bible teaches that, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." – I Timothy 6:10. Greed and covetousness are two major reasons our society is in such a despicable condition.
The current financial and housing meltdown that led to severe global economic crisis, in which millions lost their jobs were caused by greed of the human heart. Fear, doubt, worry, and anxiety are gripping the hearts of people around the world. Many are confused and concerned about the bleak economic and political situation in the world. Here in the U.S., the cost of groceries has gone up. Utility bills such as – water, electricity and gas are all time high. Wages are tight and shrinking. Unemployment is soaring. Taxes are high too and businesses are collapsing. Students graduating from colleges – even from the best universities are having trouble getting jobs to start paying their student loans. Personal debts are gone to the roof. Millions have lost their financial investments- stocks and 401 k savings. Relentless news of foreclosures and falling home values dominate the housing market. Anxiety and worry are high. The Tea Party shenanigans and current Arizona immigration law are all evidence of worry, anxiety, frustration and sheer greediness of the human heart. On top of all these, we have catastrophes: Haiti earthquake and man caused catastrophe - BP Oil spill in the Gulf, in a zone that is still recovering from the Hurricane Katrina.
Greed is the single reason for all human atrocities – such as poverty, hunger, crime, disease and all the social menace that destroy societies. Greed is being selfish and wicked. Greed is a sin that exist in the heart. Greed is an abomination before God and a grave vice and wickedness against humanity. It is covetousness.
Jesus, the master teacher and mentor taught on the viciousness of greed with a simple but yet powerful parable – The Parable of the Rich Fool in the Gospel of Luke 12:16-21. After his profound Sermon on the Mount- teachings on various subjects including murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, giving, love, law, worry, and prayer - Matthew chapters 5-7. To the astonishment of the disciples and crowd that followed him, Jesus began to teach in parables to illustrate the power and secret of the treasures of the Kingdom of heaven. In fact, most of the thirty-nine parables Jesus taught in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke centered on money and finances. The parables were filled with the language of business, the principle of investing, land property, banking, savings, interest, money, wealth, trade, risk-taking. The parables also taught on leadership, family life, government, church and off-course the kingdom of God. Most of the Gospel parables teach us the truths and secret about money, righteousness and kingdom of heaven.
In the Parable of the Rich Fool - Gospel of Luke 12:16-21, Jesus told the story of the Rich Fool to the disciples and crowd that followed him to illustrate the power and secret to overcome greed, covetousness and financial worries. It is a classic teaching of Jesus on covetousness and greed. Greed, the Bible teaches is an abomination before God. It is the act of a sinful and degenerate soul.
Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).
Someone in the crowd had wanted Jesus to instruct his brother to divide up the inheritance which was due him in an equitable way. Jesus’ point was that life does not consist in having many possessions. Jesus taught a powerful truth that the measure of any human being does not consist by how much material things that person had acquired but is determined by how much that person is making or giving to keep the family strong and make communities safer.
To explain further, Jesus told a parable about a rich man who continued to build bigger and bigger barns to store all his grain and goods. His attitude was that he would have an easy life because he had everything he could possibly want or need. God’s response in the parable was that the man was foolish because if he died that night, his goods would do nothing for him. They would simply pass on to someone else. Such a person is not rich toward God or to his neighbor.
Jesus went on in the same chapter to warn against worry and anxiety. He teaches that life is more important than food, material things, etc. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them – Luke 12:24. Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in his entire splendor was dressed like one of these – Luke 12:27. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well – Luke 12:31, Matthew 6:33.
The lesson Jesus was trying to teach his disciples, the crowd and people of this century is to guard against greed. The quest for earthly riches and material possessions are fatal behaviors that lead to eternal loss and damnation. King Solomon, the wisest and richest man that ever lived, said money, riches, pleasures, toil, wisdom, advancement, progress, prosperity - everything is meaningless without God (Ecclesiastes chapters 1-12). World riches, pleasures, power, authority, glamour and what have you - are utterly meaningless without God and concern for fellow human being.
Most of our politicians and rulers are rich fools. Recently I read where Mohammed Abacha, son of the late dictator, General Abacha is suing the Swiss to release the financial assets that his late father stole and stashed in Swiss banks. Through negotiation, he was given $100 million dollars but that was not enough for him. He wants the $3.2 billion Nigeria’s money that his father stole during his brutal and dictatorial regime. My question to the young Abacha is this- how much was your late father earning when he was Nigeria’s military head of state to save such monumental amount of cash? Second, why in secret Swiss banks? Third, what sort of business did he operate before or after his government service to generate such financial wealth? This same mentality is true of most military and political leaders who have ruled Nigerian since nearly 50 years including those who are still walking the political landscape campaigning to be president again in 2011.
Even the former president, Chief Olusegun, who is lambasting the senators for corruption; who will forget the monumental corruption and reign of scandals for bribe, tax evasion, embezzlement, looting and money laundering by his governors, Siemens and Wilbros bribery scandals for contracts, Halliburton, Chevron, Texaco, Royal Dutch and Bake Hughes bribe for tax evasion, the billions of Naira spent by INEC chairman that regaled PDP, the most fraudulent election in the history of Nigeria, the National Identity card project fraud, the N300 billion for road construction, PTDF looting, privatization of Federal Establishments to friends and families, trillions of waste in the energy sector etc., during his eight years presidency. In the last 50 years, Nigeria has earned nearly $400 billion from oil and gas without any evidence of it in Nigeria. Instead, those entrusted with public treasury are finding phony ways to loot it.
Greed, corruption and bad leaders are Nigeria’s worst enemies. Those vices must be purged and eradicated from our society if Nigeria and Nigerian must see genuine development, progress, and prosperity. Greed is voracious, insatiable, selfish and covetous attitude. It is an attitude of a person who has no compassion and lack of generosity for fellow human beings. Greed is the reason why Satan, an Angel of light and most respected Angel in heaven was dethroned. It is the single, if not the most important reason for societal decay – ethical, moral, social, cultural, economic, political, religious, and value system. It is the reason why our nation is in such a horrible condition. Greed is typical act of a sinful person. It is a state of mind and heart condition that needs to be purged with the transforming Word of God – not religion or spiritual hypocrisy.
Nigeria is a failed nation and I must add that Satan reigns supreme in that nation. Today, Nigeria is governed by a group of selfish, greedy, egoistic, visionless, malicious, mischievous and treacherous political rulers - people with warped ideas, incompetence, and questionable character who continue to steal, kill and destroy the land and the people of Nigeria. Nigeria as a nation, according to the late erudite scholar and Nigeria’s former permanent representative to UN, Dr. Joseph Nanyen Garba, and "is going from a nation of hope, strength, abundance, economic prosperity and high aspirations to a nation which has become the embodiment of a degenerate society." We are a degenerate race of a people. We are simply ‘educated fools’ borrowing from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Yes, OBJ is right. Nigeria’s political culture is a culture of impunity, greed, covetousness, money worshippers, egotism, avarice, envy, hatred, jealousy, immorality, idolatry, atrocities, ignorance, witchcraft and occultism. Political rituals, divination, astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, magic, and all manners of evil and satanic manipulation have become the order of the day in today’s Nigeria political landscape. Our government is an idolatrous democratic system and a totalitarian statecraft in which power is concentrated in the center. The political landscape is a perilous political environment that bares honest and capable people from running for political office. Political thuggery, cultist associations, satanic worship, violence, and killings are so rampant in our political space and culture. Imagine a nation with 50 political parties and over 250 ethnicities? What a national dilemma and political nightmare.
No honest person can risk dabbling into such secret political associations. In fact, in places like Abia State, no one can even be nominated as a state commissioner without entering into some sort of cultic and ritualistic worship. Nowadays, people who could not pass high school and first leaving certificate are being appointed state commissioners for education, health, finance, etc., in Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria that Senators earn 250 million Naira annually, while the rural villages and towns have nothing to show for the millions awarded for constituent projects. The same fools will rather invest their loot in Europe, America and now Dubai in landed properties, building estates, hotels and other businesses. We have really become a degenerate society and a cursed people. May God have mercy upon you!
Former president Obasanjo may have exposed our dishonorable law-makers by confirming what most of us already know about our political leader’s loot and illicit wealth, but this is just a tip of the iceberg.
Dr. C. K. Ekeke is a public theologian and consultant.