Yams and goats: A systematic regime of heists.

3 mins read

EVALUATED from whichever direction, it is now clear, that President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in the last election was one of the greatest things that happened to Nigeria in recent times. With hindsight now, it would have been the ultimate disaster to continue what we experienced from 1999 that culminated in the sordid and most absurd of the last five years under Jonathan.

We must acknowledge the man for the perverse explanation of the goat and the yam; if we kept yam in close proximity to a goat, then we endanger the yam. And unfortunately for Nigeria, under Jonathan, we had too many goats in the public space all with the single ambition of eating up as many yams of Nigerian finances as they could get access to Jonathan’s goats over-fed on our national yams as if there was not going to be a tomorrow.

When President Muhammadu Buhari met Barack Obama, the American President last week, one of the main issues discussed concerned assistance to repatriate loot hidden overseas for productive engagement with the Nigerian economy. It was estimated that in the past decade alone, about $150billion dollars was stolen from our country!

Early this week, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who was on the presidential entourage to the USA, also revealed that senior US officials told President Buhari that one minister of the Jonathan administration alone stole the sum of $6billion. And as Adams added further, even the Americans said by the standards of Washington, such theft was “earth-quaking”.

Over a week ago, THE NATION newspaper joined many online newspapers to reveal how Nigeria lost about $2billion to very corrupt sweetheart deals in the oil industry under the supervision of  Diezani Allison-Maduekwe, President Jonathan’s Petroleum Minister. President Muhammadu Buhari had also alerted on how a million barrels per day of oil was being sold and the proceeds paid into individual accounts. And to underline the gravity of the situation that Nigeria continues to face, President Buhari told NTA’s “Good Morning Nigeria” programme this week that an average of more than 250, 000 barrels of oil per day is still being stolen from Nigeria!

These revelations made sense of the “Jonathan thesis” of yams and goats in its most naked nastiness and because of a combination of mutually-reinforcing factors, it became easy to understand why Jonathan,  became the head of a monumental process of heists at a level which disgraced not only individuals connected to the administration, but also the political party he belonged to, and in the final analysis, became a major indictment of the Nigerian ruling class.

It became obvious sucha monumental regime of heists was not sustainable and something had to give. The election saved the ruling class project because the Nigerian people rejected Jonathan emphatically and voted President Buhari, who came to power on a platform of anti-corruption and the creation of jobs with an economy envisaged to be working for the Nigerian people through a reform process that is yet to be unfolded.

But the question that should agitate our minds is why we arrived at the sorry pass that the Jonathan administration took us to? What is in the nature of the political process and the governance structure of our country that pre-disposed us to having in place such a systematic regime of heists?

Why were no long-lasting lessons learnt from the sordid experience of the Abacha regime that remains with us even to this day? Is it inherent in the nature of the class forces that control Nigeria to be easily taken along the route of mindless looting of the country? What then can be the place of the genuinely patriotic and almost messianic zeal of an individual like President Muhammadu Buhari, in helping to stem heists and providing some reformatory leadership for a process of restitution? And can such a process last? Can it even be a success?

How will Buhari’s genuine intentions balance out against the backdrop of a federal structure and relatively autonomous states where governors and godfathers have access to huge funds that can and are equally subject to the thesis of yams and goats?  What about the structure of the National Assembly that Buhari must work with and especially its Senate component, given what we know of the controversial records of its leading lights? Have we not been conned? We have a president that is dedicated to the best interests of the country who is obliged to operate in a sea of sharks; a political elite of goats whose main interest is to corner and eat up the Nigerian yam! How will things pan out?

The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari has his work cut out and there is a very tough battle ahead. Those given the responsibility to provide leadership for development of Nigeria have not behaved better than serial rapists and the consequence of their mindless looting is a broken country that is plagued by all kinds of ills today.

This is the country that Muhammadu Buhari has to help fix in a short period of four years. It will not be easy for him and all those who believe that change is possible in Nigeria. But we must give change a chance, having seen what a regime of systematic heists looks like  these past five years!

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