Monday, 27 June 2016 18:58

Now That We've Recovered Our Stolen Loot, What Do We Do Next?

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Femi Oyeweso, in comments reported on February 27, 2013 scored the winning soccer goal when he observed that our country Nigeria and our leadership have wasted billions of oil money through embezzlement, malfeasance, and downright mismanagement. Oyeweso made reference to a speech former U S President Bill Clinton gave at the 18th Annual ThisDay Award for Teachers in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Mr. Clinton made very important and revealing observations. First: that Nigerian poverty fuels religious violence. Second: that oil is a valuable commodity that is best put to good use for development, eradication of poverty, disease and illiteracy, and quelling of religious violence and tribal rivalry. Third: that Nigeria is rapidly losing the bid to harness its human and material opportunities to maintain leadership in Black Africa. Fourth: that it would be a tragedy for the future of Africa if Nigeria fails or South Africa fails to harness the tremendous opportunities available. 

Enough bad things have been said about us: “Nigeria has nothing to show for her 56 years of existence as a sovereign nation, with the exception of epigrammatic, concise, or pithy democracy that ended in failures, and a series of military rules riddled with the most pernicious abuse of human rights and cruelty” Another:  “You Niggers ought to invite your colonial masters (Britain) back to help save the ungovernable entity known as Nigeria from extinction.” Is there truth in these sayings or are they lies, unacceptable, and should we reject them as absolutely fabricated hogwash, bunkum, or humbug? Readers, decide!

Nigeria is strategically situated in Africa and expected to be the economic battleground of the future as the world envies the minerals embedded in the bowels of African countries, Nigeria included.. The point is that Nigeria has millions of precious metals hidden in the ground, whose names are not yet known but which are as valuable as or more valuable than oil. It makes sense to train Nigerians in the scientific exploration and refinery of all we have in our soil. The States of Plateau and Benue are pregnant with metals worth billions of dollars. Our citizens should love and cherish Nigeria and we ought to pledge to live cordially, amiably, and amicably as civilized neighbors.  

Let every Nigerian voice rise like the tempestuous sea and burst into a loud and uncontrollable melody: “Although we are diverse and include the Efik, Fulani, Yoruba, Tiv, Edo, Igbo, and others, we are united by a common bond of love for Nigeria. We thank God (Allah) for our unity, and for richly blessing our land. We know that we know that as Nigerians, we can and are going to pull from our souls and every fiber of our beings that unquenchable affection that defines us as a people. That love we have for our country makes us sing out joyously. Yes, we love this land, and this love shall be the guiding spirit behind every bit of our national decision.”

As Nigerians, we are rich, not poor; well fed, not starving; and solvent, not destitute in a country equipped with mammoth wealth. We shall overcome the presence of corruption and militant groups which make modern times in Nigeria seem parlous, that is, fraught with uncertainty or danger, leading to unnecessary loss of lives and property. Such actions are negative since we are the well-meaning citizens of Great Nigeria. All of us, including our politicians, must not tolerate anything any longer that would soil the good name of Great Nigeria.

That Nigeria is the Giant of Africa must not be taken lightly. Giant is a title carrying awesome responsibility that must be discharged with care.  Lovers of Nigeria ought to picture their country as the Epicenter of Black Africa. Epicenter is the point at which, if cataclysmic earthquake hits and the fault begins to rapture in most cases, the greatest damage would occur in Nigeria, the Epicenter of Africa. The damage is devastating. It shall not be allowed to happen.

A tumultuous applause was heard across Nigeria when the announcement came that our nation had seized more than 10.3 billion dollars in looted cash and assets in the past year under President Muhammadu Buhari's anti-corruption campaign. According to the information minister Lai Muhammadu, the assets recovered include $583.5 million in cash and $9.7 billion in cash and assets under interim forfeiture including sea-going vessels, buildings and land. We are excited and we are asking:  What shall we do with the huge wealth? The purpose of this essay is to grapple with answers to the question of the best uses of our wealth and to humbly offer some suggestions.

Let us have one judicial system rather than the dual stems of Sharia and Civil. There should be a complete separation of state and religion. Muslims and Christians ought not to be interfered with in the pursuit of their religion. Muslims ought not to be compelled to observe Christmas celebrations and Christians must not be forced to observe Ramada or any of the Muslim religious holidays, if they choose not to. Muslims must not be forced to eat pork, for example, as eating such is forbidden in the Quoran, and Christians must not be penalized for eating pork during periods of Islamic fasting because the Bible considers pork suitable for consumption by followers of Jesus Christ at any time.  A complete freedom of religion should be unquestionably imperative.

We must be ashamed and conscience-stricken for our inability and failure to prevent situations where Christians and non-Muslims are being dragged to Sharia Court and found guilty and condemned to death on the basis of little understood personal religious observations and teachings, or be beheaded. It should be a crime to subject a Christian or non-Muslim to flogging and/or beheading when Sharia Court has no jurisdiction over all individuals, as when the ruling is extrajudicial, meaning done, given, or effected outside the regular proceeding, or when the action is politically or religiously motivated, or done outside the armpit of the Nigerian Constitution or is regarded as inappropriate for or inapposite to the individual. Doing so is a travesty or mockery.

Let us take stock of our assets.  Nigeria has tremendous assets in our people. When we say tremendous assets, we are simply saying that we Nigerians are something else. We are undoubtedly marvelous, wonderful, great, incredible, fabulous, fantastic, remarkable, or terrific. We are very creative and imaginative, waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. We are pledging to harness, tie together, or make use of our skills in every imaginable way in areas that would benefit our nation. It is a guarantee we can take to our insurer or banker.

We are indefatigable, untiring, unflagging, unrelenting, unfaltering, or inexorable in our pursuit of excellence. Give us a chance and watch us perform miracles. It is said that Nigerians have been doing so much with so little for so long with absolutely nothing that we can do exceedingly well when the opportunity presents itself.  We shall soar high as the eagle with wings of steel striking for luxuriant meadows to perch. Aren’t we imbued with inexhaustible energy, resulting from ambition, wisdom, aspiration, and hope? You can’t beat us for we Nigerians are something else. We are Mr. Big Stuff.

Let us mentor our citizens. Nigeria is losing thousands or smart professionals (doctors, pharmacists, surgeons, cardiologists, psychiatrists, engineers and many others) to other nations through the process of brain drain whereby Washington, London, Paris, and other European countries are stealing experts who should best be serving our nation. Nigerian is also is in dire shortage of critical scientists, technicians, mathematicians, and engineers.  Other nations are stealing them under our noses. What a shame!

Nigeria suffers an excruciatingly hurting scarcity of qualified personnel because other countries have successfully stolen thousands of Nigerian workers, offering them higher incomes and benefits. A Nigerian friend named Joseph trained as a cardiologist in North Carolina and because he was unable to land employment in Nigeria, he just accepted position as medical director of a small-town community hospital in lieu for his heavy student loans being paid by the State of North Carolina. What a loss!

Let us not give away our best Nigerian brains away.  How would you like to see a woman you paid dowry for and married in front of your friends to be fucking the mechanic you paid N5,000 to fix your Mercedes which is being driven by a man who is kidnapping your only daughter as a sex slave? This is what America, Great Britain and other powers are doing to Great Nigeria. They are insulting us. These embarrassments are being perpetrated against us several times on a daily basis.  We must mentor our people by showing them that being exploited by other countries is not the best way to build a democracy. Why don’t we ask our users to stop fucking us in the ass by reversing the games they are playing on us? Bring Back Our Girls! Bring Back Our Brains!

Let us be kind and mentoring:  Our citizens are mentored best when we decide to handle them with kindness, and regard them as important participants in a democracy, and accord them citizenship privileges, including freedom to worship God whichever way they choose (with the exception of murder, rape, human sacrifice, and enslavement). Nigerians must be given the opportunity to use their God-given intellect to achieve self-actualization and fulfillment. We ought to let our people enjoy the Nigerian society that has classlessness and equality for all people regardless of tribe or religion.

Let us provide us with common everyday amenities: There are no better ways to mentor our people than to provide them with the 24/7 hour electricity for our homes and to run small-scale industries that provide employment opportunities for our young graduates. We are tired of the use of dangerous generators which poison the air we breathe. We need of a steady supply of clean drinking water to hydrate our bodies after standing and working for hours in the sun. Water will enable us to grow house plants and vegetables as well as help us to form healthy habits of cleanliness.

Let us make travelling easy: it is necessary that we have good roads to lessen the number of road fatalities which claim countless lives of our loved ones. Since we cannot live in the open as wild animals or on the streets as vagrants, affordable housing is essential for every citizen, in addition to having access to affordable financing to facilitate home ownership. Therefore, light, water, health clinics, safe roads are some of the mundane, ordinary, or commonplace services Nigerians expect from their government. Roads connect cities and increase wealth and make us happier. Let us do all these things for ourselves.

Let us be in control of our destiny:  Our destiny is our fate or fortune, the future entrusted to us for safekeeping and to be passed on for the benefit of generations that follow us. That man is a sadist who inflicts pain on self and others, who doesn’t care for the future of his children’s children. We must be less xenophobic (hateful of strangers), chauvinistic (prejudiced), and intolerant ( small minded)of members of other tribe; but we shall always stick together as gargantuan or enormous creature that would fight off events that threaten to undermine our boundary or national unity. Let Nigerians be protective of the environment and be each other’s keepers. It is indeed an honor to be a Nigerian.  Being a Nigeria ought to be a privilege not to be taken lightly.

Let us stop being drunk with oil: It seems we Nigerians from the least to the highest are smeared with oil. Some of us stay inebriated or intoxicated with oily wine. Oil appears to control us as though we are robotic and lacking in self-determination. Oil is killing us. Are we addicted to oil as people who are psychologically dependent on smoking marijuana or inhaling cocaine?     We should stop thinking oil, sleeping oil, dreaming oil, and living out our lives as oilmen and oil women. . In fact, we Nigerians were doing better before petroleum was discovered.

Let us move beyond petroleum and seek out and invest in other sources of energy, such as solar energy and energy from water (hydroelectric) and the wind? Let’s restart our groundnut and cotton farms. Groundnuts (peanuts) are excellent supply of protein and cotton can be woven into beautiful apparels. We cannot abandon agriculture and focus only on oil. Suppose our oil wells dry up  or oil is no longer in demand, and the world finds cheaper mode of transportation (eg electric cars, mules, bicycles), what do we do?  Putting all our eggs in one basket is a horrible, terrible mistake to make.

Let us diversify our portfolio: We ought to think of many ways to revive our economy other than just petroleum. We can consider agriculture; manufacturing;  light industries, such as  like garri frying machines, brick-making machine, food processing machinery that turns yams, rice, plantains  and potatoes to flours, or that cans our fruits and vegetables to prevent going to waste when the seasons are over.

Let us alleviate extreme poverty in not just Northern Nigerian States but also throughout the land. Poverty is not just the lack or scarcity, it is a dearth or shortage that robs the victim of the most important possession of life: his selfhood. A poor person is robbed of dignity, defined as self-esteem, self-respect, decorum, distinction, stateliness, seemliness, or poise. A poor person is unable to embrace a revolutionary spirit that is conducive to democracy. His passionate commitment to make a difference in the life of community is weakened; and his dignity or state of being as an individual suffers a tragic defeat.

We owe a duty to our citizens to extricate people from the thralldom of anger, hunger and pennilessness. It is said that a hungry person is an angry man. The incidence of anger is  fanning the embers of violence of the Biafra demonstrators , MEND warriors, Bakati groups , and the boko haram. Current incidence of violence in Nigeria is easily traceable to anger emanating or radiating from being marginalized, from  having no money or jobs, and from being made to feel like outcasts in a nation of 170 million wealthy souls. Let us stop the angry inferno from engulfing the whole nation. Let us empower our people to prevent a feeling of defeat and being marginalized 60 years after independence. All is well with Nigeria, and we shall overcome very soon. 

Every Nigerian citizen is important and ought to be encouraged to become a strong, unbreakable  link in the chain in the fabric of Nigeria. No citizen must carry the stigmatized defeat of poverty and  Nigeriapowerlessness from generation to generation. Therefore, let us defeat poverty and free the human spirit to soar through social justice. Poverty is a sin, peccadillo, or crime. Honest labor attacks poverty at the root because a working man, who is guaranteed 3 square meals a day, bears a lovely face. Remember that poverty breeds hunger leading to anger which eventually turns into contempt for constituted authority, and when contempt is high enough it becomes violence against the authority that seems not to care.

V = A (P + Ho + He).  Violence is  when Anger amalgamates (joins forces) with Poverty, Hopelessness and Helplessness. Hopelessness =  Man is desperate; and Helplessness = Man is defenseless. Therefore, a desperate and defenseless Man fights off dying  from “nobodyness”  by carrying a gun and a bomb to shoot oil workers and attack oil pipelines .

Let us seek help from the privileged among us: Nigerian has a glut of billionaires and  millionaires like Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Folorunsho Alakija, femi Otedola, and meny orhers.  What are Nigeria’s billionaires doing other than being featured in Fortune 500 section of the Rich and Powerful ? Why can’t rich Nigerians give back to society by creating millions of job, training programs for others and provide scholarships for persons seeking training in areas Nigeria is in dire need of? While we encourage Nigerians to be successful and amass wealth, we must not forget that excessive money is made by exploiting opportunities and information that only a few people have access to. How many cups of garri would a billionaire eat at a time, in how many mansions and beds would he sleep, and how many Rolls Royce can she ride at a time? This writer is not envious. It is pragmatism. We are simply asking the haves to share a little with the have-nots. God wants His creation to belong to us and be shared by us, just as we share the sun, moon, and stars.   You and I cannot monopolize Nigeria, can we? 

Let us expect more from those who have more:  it makes sense to encourage Nigeria’s billionaires to join forces with the Nigerian government to fight poverty, and play significant parts in national development efforts: in building good roads; establishing power plants to provide electricity;  constructing affordable  housing units to be sold at reasonable prices to families  living in squalid tenements; and expanding billionaires’ businesses to include employment opportunities for college graduates  and school leavers.

Let us evolve a national policy that would enable local governments to tackle poverty at the grassroots: Give local government and local councils adequate moral and monetary incentives and greater power to handle poverty problems at the grassroots, particularly with regards to elimination of hopelessness and helplessness in the villages, and initiating local employment opportunities.

Let us effectively address our political problems, violence problems, and religious antagonism We must abrogate, abolish, or eliminate the use of force and firing squads at protesters as principal means to deal with problems relating to Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with government policies. A democracy encourages dissent and palaver-making as evidence that governance is working. A government is NOT doing well if there are no disagreements and palavers, and when there are no challenges from dissatisfied groups.  Democracy means demonstration against domination by a group of individuals is allowed and encouraged.  Buhari cannot and should not have short temper for disagreements.

Let us view disturbance, commotion, and confusion in the proper light;  A father does not use the whip or koboko at episodes of temper tantrums, insubordination, on noncompliance of his stubborn children. Nigeria needs to be strengthened with disturbances that are short of armed uprising. Where nobody is being killed or a village is burned out, we must NOT always respond with lethal force, resulting in deaths or bodily injuries.  However, we must respond with force to stop the rape, beheadings, or enslavement of weaker groups. The beheading of the Christian woman in Kano by Sharia animals is a travesty or mockery of our rule of law, and because no attempt was made to save the woman’s life, every Nigerian shall bear responsibility for a heinous, atrocious, scandalous dreadful, monstrous, or wicked murder.

Let’s try talking, reasoning, persuasion, and friendly bantering as sellers and buyers of rice haggle over prices. The seller  does not dumbe (kick)  the buyer who offers to buy a bag of rice at N4,000 which is a ridiculously low price  for a bag or rice that ordinarily sells for N8,500. Seller politely says to buyer: “No, Oga, ino reach” (No, Mister, the price is insufficient).

Let us encourage disagreements: Demonstrations are good and ought to be welcomed and initiated. We must regard demonstrations and protests as signs that democracy is working, and we must embrace and encourage disagreements to test our ability to put programs in place to prevent minor irritations from escalating to general dissatisfaction and loss of faith in democracy, or a vote of no confidence in leadership.

Let’s  open meaningful communication channels through which such minor irritations as the Biafra protestors, MEND militants, and Boko haram zealots can find listening ears. We must find what they need and provide more participatory involvement in government through setting up advisory bodies and employment opportunities. Everything is NOT pia-pia (flogging), or kpam-kpam (bullet), or okpo (a punch), or some other primitive measures. What are the Nigerian courts for other than settling quarrels and disagreements between neighbors? Let us use mediation, arbitration, conciliation, negotiation, intercession, or some other peaceful means to settle our differences. Remember we are civilized, not primitive.

Let us transform our leadership style: It is imperative that President Buhari and other Nigerian leaders transform from brutal dictators they once were to laissez-faire rulers, lenient, tolerant, liberal, accommodating, and nonjudgmental. Our leaders ought to be given to a certain element of noblesse oblige. Noblesse oblige is a French phrase used to refer to the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. Therefore, nobility obliges refers to the type of behavior that is supposed to be incumbent (obligatory) of people of rank or privilege. You give more when more is given to you.  

Let us prevent concentration of prosperity in and around urban centers. Build light industries in the villages to draw workers away from congested Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, and other large cities. Give small villages the incentive to flourish and flush out/ wash out/or swill out armed robbers and kidnappers who make life unbearable. Many Igbos have built magnificent mansions in the villages but are afraid to live there for fear of being kidnapped and held until ransom is paid. Let us turn security companies into huge well paid professions and provide security officers with excellent crime-fighting training.

Let us spur interests in technical areas Nigeria needs all sorts of technicians, including aircraft, information technology, telecommunication, computer technicians, auto mechanics, plumbers, building construction, road construction, automobile repairers, air-conditioning, air conditioning, and others.

Let us embrace the future in the SEM (Science, Engineering, and Mathematics) Set up secondary schools and colleges geared towards the teaching and application of pure and applied mathematics,  sciences and engineering. Young Nigerians should be encouraged to develop and manipulate hand-held gadgets like computer, game boy (video game devices), lasers, radios, toys. 

Let us galvanize around technical/industrial/ agricultural education and as top priorities in the scheme of things : Strengthen  our primary, secondary, colleges and universities;  pay teachers and principals and college instructors  well and on time to prevent frequent staff and faculty strikes and disruption of the learning  and teaching process. Examine some of the things we are wasting and turn them into use. Examples are the natural gas burning into air, hydroelectric plant, sunlight and heat, wind-turbines, recycling of tires, batteries, and paper.  

Let us love Nigeria as though our lives depend on love of country and they do: Teach Nigeria history, geography, government, including historical events and government personalities. Let us design programs that mix the tribes in education and employment, including seminars, and games. Encourage intermarriages and joint business ventures.  LONG LIVE NIGERIA AND NIGERIANS,

 Essayist  welcomes and solicits comments and opposing views directed to his email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   His other essays are at:  jamesagazies.blogspot.com   

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James Agazie Ed D

A retired college Professor  with educational backgrounds in law (JD) education (Ed.D, MA) counseling,( MS) and and mathematics.  Write on topics dealing with Nigerian families, marriages, education, and employment.