No matter how altruistic and clean you are, Nigeria Joint Houses of Thieves are ready to subdue you. It is even worse if you were one of them and decided to become born again crusader. So far, we have not been able to duplicate coup leaders as refined as Nzeogwu or a leader as pure as Aminu Kano. Indeed if an angel came from Heaven, the Joint Houses of Thieves would soil him before he actualized his plan to clean up Nigerian Augean stable, as Nzeogwu tried to. Had his vision succeeded in 1966, we would be celebrating him as Murtala Muhammed. But even Murtala, after he repented and gave up his worldly loot, colleagues hunted him down. So who is OBJ, at worst a double agent, against Houses of Thieves?

The regime of Buhari/Idiagbon also deserve some kudos for restoring discipline into the polity but the cost of arbitrary detention, while highly placed individuals flaunting our laws with impunity go scot free, irritated many Nigerians. You can be as courageous as Nzeogwu as ruthless as Buhari, as determined as Murtala and as principled as Obasanjo. But as double standard sets in, Nigerians would be leery. That is what undermines our admirable goal. We could not think of any Yoruba bold enough to ask Idiagbon for exemption. If you know who did, please say so. The same was not true of Buhari. He turned a blind eye to Emir of Gwandu's smuggled suitcases into Nigeria and saved Sultan Dasuki's neck under his reign.

Nigerians are still deceived to rely on: only those with clean hands must seek equity. We would wait for those angels forever until we celebrated and recognized the betrayal of Nzeogwu, as one of the angels amongst us. In Nigeria, you can only be in a privilege position to make a difference by climbing through one of the leaders appointing members of the Joint Houses of Thieves. They are made up coup leaders, crooks, 419s; and some hard working Nigerians that unfortunately, cannot form a quorum to clean up Nigeria. They are helpless without the help of seasoned cohorts in legal looting; unless they ready to be born again, to repent or be “rebranded”. Murtala repented and Obasanjo displays a guilty conscience.

It reminds us of OBJ-Atiku Show. The amount of details we were educated with could not have come out if OBJ and Atiku had not gone after each other. If it was not for Obasanjo and Atiku Show, nobody would know what and how much money went from the Government to the Development Funds to the banks of cronies, back to cronies to buy state companies. If there was one head of State that open his yansh, it was Obasanjo Government. What came out of all that, eh?

It is true that Obasanjo is not the best we have, but he is the only one with all his faults that can come out and call a spade a spade. There is nobody left in Nigeria who does not know he was telling the truth about the unaccountable salaries, benefits and esta code going into the deep pockets of the members of the Joint Houses of Thieves. When he was the President, he had called attention to this drain of treasury but he was threatened with impeachment. Those Elders had to come in before he agreed to release their unearned bloated allowances, car “loan” and salaries. Please do not stop now, more headlines.

Apart from Murtala who gave up his loot to the Government, no head of State has called in neutral auditors from outside to probe any part of his Government, Obasanjo did. Whatever the reason behind his call for self probe, he appeared before the Oputa panel as a seating head of State while former heads of states without any guilty conscience, refused to testify with impunity. Out of mind, he spoke out and institute EEFC to outsmart or go down with all of them about personal their loot. A devil deserves his due. As for those who said he used Ribadu, Ribadu said he also used him to nail his friends.

If we discourage people like Obasanjo from coming out and telling us that our Police and other members of Armed Forces are recruiting thugs and armed robbers, nobody would dare. We have been hearing it from ordinary folks for a long time but nobody could say it loud and gain credibility as the Commander of the Armed Forces. We won't do it but will not allow those who want to. There are other heads of states that are laughing their guts out regretting their mistake for supporting Obasanjo for his second coming only to reveal the details of how they all loot our treasury. They call him a traitor!

Who else could stand up to his base but Obasanjo? Every leader that had stood up to his base had paid dearly for it with his life except OBJ. The rest of Nigeria love him for that and wished he could have sucked it more to his people than he did. While it is true that he only scored a few votes in his village, not sure of those in his household, the rest of Nigeria voted for him. He replaced Yoruba from top positions in his Government with others and brought Igbo and Middle Belters into heavy positions at the cry of Fulani, Hausa and Yoruba. He denied signing any special deal with Hausa or Fulani while he took Yoruba Governors to the cleaners in “Aburi”. He is hated by all whether they benefited from him or not.

It is very difficult for a true leader to please everyone, but a leader must be missed for his decisive and principled actions down the road. Only a fool would say Obasanjo never loot while in office, he did. He learned from his subordinates that sponsored him with the money he had a chance to steal but forgo and became broke. His lesson was that no matter how sincere you are, Nigerians would ridicule a former head of state that became a pauper. Obasanjo will never be poor again. If we are going to bring all of the heads of states looters to justice, include OBJ with them. Do we prefer a looter that repented, recounted or one that kept quiet and dared you to probe him if you could?

Only naïve folks think just angels can save Nigeria. Give it to him, Obasanjo said it as it is and the Joint Houses of Thieves also came back roaring at OBJ as the corrupt leader. This is good for Nigeria and we must encourage more of it. We need a Messiah but he must come from one of us no matter how imperfect we may be. What we cannot tolerate are those that tell us to close our eyes so that we can pray while they clean out the treasury. Nigeria is the only country we know of where leaders claim they are innocent because they did not steal as much as others. They wish they had and would do anything to come back and steal more. Yet, we have people as their followers preaching for their return.

There are patriotic Nigerians willing to lay down their lives if they are sure that change will come but no one wants to die for nothing. Those that are set in their ways and enjoyed the welfare of the Country since they were born will not give in without a fight. The consequences of the coup of 1966 still haunt us and we dabble in what could and might have been if the vision of Nzeogwu was implemented according to his plan. There would have been no Biafra, ten percent bribe would not have given way to ninety-nine percent kickbacks and we could have had a Country that is focused on living up to its potential.

While it is true that what could have or might have been is not enough, some credit must be given to Nzeogwu so that others can dream. Dreams lead to plan and plan leads to action. Hope is not lost. Out of imperfection in the Country we must allow those who repent and give up the booty they accumulated to join with the rest of us who call for repercussion. We stood up to Obasanjo Third Term and it failed, we can do it again against all those who have not repented and still flourish in their loot parading as the One, the Messiah we were waiting for.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa