WHAT citizens feel at this point is
beyond a sense of déjà vu; it is a replay
of a raid that repeats with each change
of government and it is real. For this
reason, it is easy to predict that the
current controversy over President
Bola Tinubu’s certificate-lessness will
blow over quickly and he will be left
alone to get on with the job.
This is an easy prediction for anyone
active in Nigeria’s sociopolitical scene
since the beginning of this Republic
in 1999. The Lion of Bourdillon has
mastered the art of riding the identity
storm that has dodged his footsteps

ever since. His strategy is not particu-
larly brilliant – he merely hunkers

down and stays out of everyone’s way
until emotions die down, and then
wobbles out to continue as if nothing
happened.
Let’s face it. Nigerians do not have
what it takes to push a bad ruler out of
power. After Ibrahim Babangida, Sani
Abacha taught succeeding rulers what

it takes to forcibly cling to power. Mu-
hammadu Buhari reminded us with

his 20 October 2020 #endSARS treat-
ment at Lekki Toll Gate. How many of

us crying in the social media today are
prepared to gather millions of citizens
to Abuja and physically prevent gov- ernment business from continuing?
Right now, the civil service, the
judiciary, the National Assembly, and
Tinubu’s ministers and appointees are
carrying on as if everything is well
and dandy. In a sense, everything is.
This situation reminds one of Chinua

Achebe’s kite and chicken raid anal-
ogy. The kite returned its first quarry

because the duck walked off without
a word after the trainee nestling
grabbed its baby. But they kept the
chick because Mother Hen raised
dust when it was snatched. We are the
excitable hens at this moment when
the kites are quietly attending to their
meal.

This democracy we have witnessed
since 1999 has prepared Nigeria as
a sumptuous meal that created a
voracious appetite among politicians.
The PDP finished a delicious local
meal of Nigerian assets and threw the
bones at Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Although we pitied him when he first
came, Buhari outdid himself, finding a
way around it by going on a borrowing
binge. He hauled in and squandered
a staggering N77.0 trillion loan at the
point of departure, with nothing to
show for it. And who will blame him
for doing it his own way, after watch- ing the PDP-led governments between
1999 and 2015 gobble national assets
which cost Nigeria $100 billion to
install, added N6.17 trillion in loans,
and squandered N51 trillion oil and
gas proceeds in the Jonathan regime
alone.
I was a keen observer, from the out- side looking in, when I was appointed
editor in 1999, the same year that Mr.
Tinubu became Governor of Lagos.

Two things worried me as I sat on the
Editor’s desk in The Daily Times, then
Nigeria’s oldest surviving newspaper.
One was the privatization exercise
superintended by the small but mighty
Nasiru el Rufa’i. The other was the one-man war waged by human rights
lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi against the
Lagos Governor for, you guessed it,
perjury.
On privatization, our eyes were
opened to how public officials col- luded with private individuals and
companies to influence sales of
government-owned companies.
Here are just two examples of their
incestuous transactions. The $3.2bil- lion Aluminum Smelting Company
of Nigeria (ALSCON) was sold to a

Russian firm , Rusal, for $300 mil-
lion. Nigeria lost 96 percent of what it

cost to build the company. Again, the
$1.5billion Delta Steel Company was
given away to Global Infrastructure for
$30million, a mere 2 percent of what
it cost to build. The examples can be
multiplied.
Malam el Rufai, one of those who
managed the process, admitted as
much to a Senate ad hoc committee
that investigated privatization in this
Republic. He said that in about three
decades (1970 – 1999), Nigeria spent
over $100Billion to build enterprises
but received only 0.5% of the money

as return on investment. Government-
owned companies were sold for a

fraction of what they were worth to
various individuals with connections.

At the Daily Times, we were inter-
ested in sales that negatively impacted

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host communities, such as Benue Ce-
ment Company (BCC) Gboko which

was sold to the Dangote Group. The
Mbayion host community protested
the hurried sale without guarantees
for them as owners of the land. This

protest went beyond the commu-
nity as two illustrious Tiv sons, then

Governor George Akume and former
Senate President Iyorcha Ayu, joined
forces. Akume and Ayu vowed to fight
with the last drop of their blood until
BPE reversed the hurried sale of the company. This had all the makings of
a good story and we were set to milk
it dry when everywhere suddenly
went quiet as Dangote took over. Gov
Akume also shot down a spirited effort
by the Benue Investment and Property
Company Limited (BIPC) to use the
courts to stop the sale.

The BCC Sale was business un-
usual because, rather than follow the

privatization process of conducting
due diligence before advertising the
company for sale, due diligence was
done after the buyer had made a bid!
Years later when I had already left,
The Daily Times itself also suffered
similar fate – sold for a song to a buyer
who appeared to be more interested
in stripping the company of its assets
than sustaining the legacy media
enterprise.
Last week on this column, we gave

a preview of how the Lion of Bourdil-
lon captured Lagos and the titanic

fight put up by late Gani Fawehimi
to stop him. But, as happened with
Gboko, everywhere went quiet as men
of timber and caliber lumbered out
to defend the man who made fake
submissions with everything he said
about his education.
People continue to marvel at how

Tinubu was able to escape the ham-
mer at that time. Some say he used

cash to cause things to happen. Others
said his NADECO credentials gave
him a soft landing. It is also pointed
out that the State House of Assem- bly gave him a clean bill of health,
after listening to the testimonies of
foremost human rights lawyer Olisa

Agbakoba, and the hyperactive Profes-
sor of Law, Itse Sagay. I would suggest

that those were contributory but not
the defining factor.
The defining factor that allows
Tinubu to get away with forgery and
perjury is the Nigerian attitude. It is
a game of the Kite and Mother Hen
and he wins it by exercising massive
patience to wear us down, exhaust our

impatience. This defining factor by an-
other name is our criminal tolerance

of the state capture that began in 1999
and has now been consolidated.
We are carrying on like the Mother
Hen whose power was snatched by
a political eagle. The eagle is happy
seeing us cause a rumpus because it
knows that is usually short-lived. The
eagle knows that citizens will shortly
continue in silence as policy makers
manipulate our laws, social norms,
and government bureaucracy in its fa- vour. Are we not watching in criminal
acquiescence already as public service
positions, legislative seats, judicial
positions, and management of our
security forces are shared to children,
wives, concubines, and yes-men?
Unless citizens are prepared to do

what it takes, let us leave this bicker-
ing and allow the president to get on

with the job. Or the impossible hap-
pens at the Supreme Court.


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