By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
The debate over the sale or otherwise of one of our prized national assets, the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas, NLNG, the multi-billion naira outfit, has brought back memories of a piece I once did on how a deadly group of people, the mafia manipulates our country and its leadership.
From one era to another, they have continued to maintain a vice-grip on our national resources, pretending to be patriots and do-gooders.
Now, they are it again: They want Nigeria to sell off its shares in a thriving enterprise. Soon, they will be putting our nation up for sale. How does the mafia operate? Please, go ahead and read this piece…
The mafia rules every society. A small, clique of powerful individuals, pursuing their narrow, selfish interests, for the benefit of the mafia and the Mafiosi. Fact two: The mafia, like an octopus, is everywhere, in every sector, and are as diverse as the society they operate. What this means is pretty simple: The bigger the sector it plays, the bigger the mafia; the more powerful it becomes, the more vicious, the more selfish and more individualistic its character reveals.
Another notorious fact: No mafia rules in the interest of the generality. Even if it pretends to, like the old Italian Mafiosi, the truth is it would not be what it is if the welfare of the masses was its primary preoccupation. The rule of the mafia is antithetical to the general good of the people, which democracy seeks to promote.
Another critical point to note: Profit is the major motif and motivating factor that drives the Mafiosi. Nothing more. It’s the game of cash, the game of crunch, the game of survival and the game of amassing more cash. The more money you have, the more influential you are in the Mafiosi and the society you operate.
The mafia is a kindred. It is the brotherhood. The brotherhood of power and greed. Nothing like ethnic or territorial boundary for the mafia. No East, West, North or South. The network is efficient and the link is iron-tight. United in the pulsating enterprise of wealth pursuit usually at the detriment of the larger society, the mafia is a family of ruthless businessmen far closely knitted than the rest of the society can imagine. What joins them is far more important than what divides them.
Nigeria is a nation of all kinds of mafia. But two are the most prominent. Political mafia: Those who call the shots at the different strata of governance and decide who gets what and when; who becomes governor or president; who gets the ministerial job, who gets appointed into what position. In the nearest future, I hope to delve extensively into the tricks and intrigues of the political mafia and how they have held the nation by the balls and the jugular, and what to do to dismantle them If our country will truly embark on the march of progress.
There is also the mafia, which controls the economy. You know them, don’t you? In different sectors of the economy, they are the guys in starched Babaringa and designer suits, with billions of naira investment portfolios, and crisscrossing the corridors of power, doling out cash donations at campaign fundraising dinners and presidential platforms where cash is the name of the game. Their vice-grip on the banking, manufacturing, oil and gas, and indeed every lucrative sector of the economy makes this mafia the deadliest of the mafias. Ruthless and manipulative, because of the monstrous cash at their disposal, you dare them at your own peril. They are also in the formidable class of the AGIP (Any Government In Power). Philanthropy and subversive generosity are the tools deployed to endear themselves to the hearts of the public, to portray them as loving, caring, benevolent corporate citizens, who care for the masses, who wish for the society to grow, who create jobs and wealth for the ordinary man on the streets to flourish and live life more abundant. But that’s farther from the truth. They take more than they give; from our collective till, they have made themselves super rich even as they enjoy all kinds of privileges from the state to continue to build empires of wealth.
The economy mafia actually rules the political mafia. They put the men in power and the leaders then turn round to empower them through all kinds of state privileges, a case of ‘you- rub-my-back, I- rub-your-own.’ The society is the worse for it. What should have been used to provide infrastructure and other social amenities is ‘scrambled and partitioned’ between the government officials and their sponsors both in the political and economy Mafia. What you then have is a community of deprived, dispossessed and disgruntled citizenry. A nation where citizens keep wondering in bemusement how come their rich country is a nation of largely poor citizens. The answer stares them in the face: A ruthless collaboration of locusts swiftly and jointly attacking the honey pot. No less.
The trouble with Nigeria is not that it is impossible to have a wealthy nation providing the best services for the majority, if not all, its citizenry. The issue is we have a few greedy individuals who seem sworn to creating a dynasty of the super-rich at the detriment of others who are in the majority.
Go to any part of the globe, Europe and the United States, Nigerians own the most magnificent buildings, drive the most exotic cars, have the highest number of private jets in Africa, and generally live life to the fullest. But they are not more than 0.001%, while over 90 % of their compatriots live on less than a dollar a day. We are endowed with natural resources, which a few have cornered for their personal benefits. We are the sixth largest oil-producing nation on earth, yet we are still battling with basic amenities of life: Water, light, housing, health care, etc.
In the 21st century when other advanced nations are talking about technological conquests, we are still weighed down by how many kilometres of roads have being constructed; how many boreholes have being sunk. By the time we finish with our roads, the rest of the world may have abandoned roads and commenced space shuttle.
In a nation that should be struggling to liberate its citizens from the pangs of hunger and poverty, it should matter to all Nigerians what happens to our major revenue earner; how the oil resources are managed or largely mismanaged. From the unpublished and unimplemented several probe panels set up by successive governments, it is common knowledge that the oil sector sits on a barrel of stench. We are submerged by oil thieves, who conservatively could have stolen over three trillion dollars. Worse still, Nigeria is unable to account for the number of crude it produces daily. We are bleeding from all points: Bunkerers, importers, exporters, explorers, government officials, etc.
Nigeria’s oil mafia are our nation’s biggest headache. They have stolen so much that the little that is left, after all kinds of parasites have feasted on the oil resources, is what the leadership of the North and South of the country are fighting over. And it has not ended.
•N.B: Excerpts of this piece were first published, March 11, 2013