By Wumi Akintide
When I served under Alhaji Ahmed Joda as my Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education in the 70s, if I had found he was a totally corrupt man that should have been a signal to me to follow his lead when he later appointed me as the Secretary to the Ministry’s Tenders Board where I could easily have become a multi-millionaire without any question. The man Joda is still alive and well, and could testify to what I am saying.
I recall what the man did to his Deputy Permanent Secretary, another Yoruba man like me and the Chairman of the Tenders Board who had recommended to the Permanent Secretary to have me dismissed from the Service because I dared to stand up to him and call his bluff. Ahmed Joda, one of the incorruptible Permanent Secretaries I have ever been privileged to work under, called his Deputy and myself to his office, brought out the recommendation from his drawer and holding it high, he told his Deputy in my presence, he should go hang his head in shame. He should be the one to be fired and not this young man referring to me.
The fish rots from the head. When the head is rotten, there is nothing to fire the imagination of the follower ship to see the leader as a role model. Because Jonathan is corrupt everybody around him is hopelessly corrupt. Who for God’s sake would have believed that Reuben Abati, a fearless journalist I so much admired before, would be sitting there in the Jonathan Kitchen Cabinet defending the indefensible because he has eaten from the forbidden fruit of corruption under a President Azikiwe Jonathan.
I cannot wait to see the court open the can of worms that the Sanusi’s litigation is bound to unravel about the sordid state of affairs in the P.D.P Presidency of Azikiwe Jonathan. I made a prediction in one of my articles on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that I would be pleasantly surprised if Okonjo-Iweala’s reputation for integrity at the World Bank was not rubbished after a year or two in the Nigerian Public Service as the Finance Minister and Economic Coordinating Minister. Those predictions have come true. I could not help but shake my head as I listened to the poor Ngozi defend her stewardship before a committee of the Nigerian House of Assembly and the Senate in Abuja.
If Ngozi had said what she told a panel of the World Bank that she was not aware that the N.N.P.C had a secret account abroad, she would have been accused of dereliction of duty at the minimum and she could never have been promoted as the M.D. of the World Bank before her appointment as Finance Minister by Olusegun Obasanjo and her retention by Ebele Jonathan for the same position. The magic of Okonjo-Iweala had been reduced to Professor Peller’s abracadabra in Nigeria. When you function among a bunch of corrupt officials like we have in Nigeria, you either beat them or join them. Ngozi has clearly joined them.
I was at one point recommending that she deserves to be appointed the President of Nigeria because I thought the lady could do no wrong. I thought she would resign and just leave the mess. Knowing what I know today, I would be the last person to think she is qualified to be President of Nigeria. She admitted to the legislative panel in Abuja that she knew over 10 billion dollars was unaccounted for by the N.N.P.C. What difference does it make if the lost amount was only 10 Billion or 20 Billion Dollars? Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been deflated and she is forever tainted in my book and in the book of many Nigerians. A fish rots from the head down. That is precisely what has happened in Nigeria. To your tents O Israel!
The richest Nigerians today must include Alhaji Dangote who is called the richest black man in the world the last time I checked. Once upon a time M.K.O Abiola used to be one of the richest Nigerians. There is Mike Adenuga and Otedola and Kabiyesi Oba Aderuntan, the Olugbo of Ugbo Nla in Ilaje Ese-Odo in Ondo State who is already claiming to be richer than her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of England. He owns many top of the line cars like Rolls Royce, Bentley, 8 door Limo and what have you in Nigeria. He made all his money from the same oil from Niger Delta.
There is also Michael Elizade Ade-Ojo my own brother from Ilara Mokin who now has the monopoly of Toyota cars in Nigeria if not the whole of Africa. If we dig deep down to how many of these billionaires make their money, much of it has to be from contracts awarded by the Federal Government and many of the State Governments. I can vouch for Elizade one of the hardest working billionaires in Nigeria that I know very well. Many of the money bags like Elizade are spending their money wisely and making a big difference in Nigeria. Many of them are making sure their wealth outlives them which is good.
I hear Omo Iya Aje, Ahmed Tinubu is one of them and if I get my facts correct our outgoing Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi may well be one of the Nigerian billionaires. Of course, the list has to include our Oil Minister, Deziani Madueke, our Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah who bought two bullet-proof BMW cars for 255 million which is 20 times the actual cost. There is our First lady Dame Patience Jonathan and the last and not the least our first PhD holder President of Nigeria who has more or less put himself in a box, so to speak. The other Nigerian I can vouch for is Chief Oluyemi Falae who was Secretary to Government and Finance Minister at one point in his career. The guy who lives in Akure and he is very close to me is not a rich man by Nigerian standards because he was far from corrupt.
Why do you think reports of kidnappings have risen to astronomical levels in Nigeria under President Jonathan? When you are kidnapped in Nigeria, the kidnappers do it to force your family to pay ransom in millions of dollars to rescue you. It is high level corruption which was not as common as it is now because the country has gone down to the dogs.
Corruption has always been in Nigeria for as long as any of us can remember. What we have not witnessed is how far it has risen under President Jonathan who came to office promising to fight it. What he is fighting today are whistle blowers for daring to expose the corrupt individuals in his Government. Nigerians can say all they want about Sahara Reporters, Nigeria must thank God we have Sahara Reporters to do the heavy listing on corruption in Nigeria. But for them, corruption would have been business as usual or completely swept under the carpet by those who benefit the most from it. Need I say more? I rest my case. Concluded
Dr. Wumi Akintide’s professional profile is on linedIn