When I first heard that the governor of Bayelsa State in Nigeria had been arrested at Heathrow Airport and that a subsequent search of his house had found nearly a million pounds in cash, I was horrified at the stupidity of it all. What is this Nigerian obsession with cash, how can you be so stupid as to keep such huge amounts in cash?
Of course I realized that there were political undertones to the whole arrest- the governor is alleged to be in the vice-president's "camp" and his movements were apparently leaked by the President's camp to Scotland Yard. But as many Nigerian commentators have pointed out, the fact was the money had not been planted in his house by the president's camp, had it?
I half wish that these Nigerian fat cats would declare full on war on each other and expose the skeletons in their various cupboards, but it appears that that is a wish too far. In the end, these things are settled "in-house" and the looting continues. All the previous corruption sagas have come to nought, which is partly why many Nigerians are cynical about the anti-corruption moves.Why can't the vice president's camp counter leak what dirt they have on members of the President's camp?
But the EFCC (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) and elendureports are two organizations which are playing an important role- www.elendureports.com by digging out information about the things Nigerian politicians get up to abroad, including their financial misdeeds and the EFCC by investigating and arresting suspected corrupt politicians. I only wish that the EFCC would update their website- it could make it easier to report cases to them
But the most obscene aspect of the Bayelsa governor affair was the revelation that what he had gone to Germany for (long proclaimed by members of his camp as a serious medical operation) was actually a tummy tuck. Following his initial arrest the governor had lamented that his "enemies" chose a moment when he was recovering from major surgery to strike. I sympathized, imagining he had undergone a kidney or liver transplant or a heart bypass, only to learn later that it was a TUMMY TUCK he had gone in for! Is there no end to the depravity of some of these monsters we call leaders in Nigeria?
And of course, when eventually he returns to Yenagoa, the impoverished capital of the oil rich Bayelsa State he governs over, there will be thanksgiving services and solidarity rallies to welcome their son back!!!! When will we begin to demand accountability from our leaders?
I am sure, even as I type, that there will be "prayer warriors" and all-night vigils and fasting programmes being held in many churches in Yenagoa for the deliverance of the governor from his "enemies"
Another worrying aspect of the whole saga is how otherwise respected or respectable individuals weigh in to defend the indefensible or fail to speak out. Oronto Douglas made a name as a dogged fighter for the rights of the people of the Niger Delta, publishing a book Where Vultures Feast detailing the abuses of oil companies in the area. A while ago he was appointed to Governor Alamieyeseigha's cabinet as information commissioner. I am yet to see or read his view on the current scandal. Or perhaps it is acceptable for "indigenes" to exploit the poor people of the Niger Delta.
Magnus Onyibe is another young man I used to respect, but his article attempting to defend the governor, ostensibly under the pretext of defending Nigeria's sovereignty left a bad taste...
If these are the young men who will be tomorrow's leaders, the future looks bleak