Coronavirus Lockdown In Nigeria Is Likely Another Opportunity For Official Criminal Enrichment & State Sadism – Intersociety
The Coronavirus lockdown in Nigeria is likely to have provided another opportunity for official criminal enrichment and state sadism. Nigeria, since the return to civil rule in 1999 and particularly under the present dispensation, has been handled by the worst set of public office holders whose stock in trade is amassment of criminal wealth and infliction of different forms of state sadism on the country’s general population.
These have been sustained for over twenty years through ‘oil money’, import duties and maddening borrowings. Through the Executive-Legislative conspiracy, funds meant for social and critical development of the country are crookedly legislated through duplicated names and shared; leaving the country in ruins and its general citizens in perpetual abject poverty. Nigeria, as a result, has ended up being ‘a trash can’ for talents, creativity and social conscience and morality-totality of which has become a curse.
The above was the position of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, as contained in a statement signed by its five principal officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Head of the Organization, Chinwe Umeche, Esq., Head of Democracy & Good Governance, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq., Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights and Comrade Sam Kamanyaoku, Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation.
Nigerian leaders including legislators and past public office holders, with exception of minutest few, are so mean and wicked that primitive and criminal accumulation or amassment of wealth has remained their stock in trade. These they do till death beckons on them. This is also done to the extent that a public office holder or ex public office holder will criminally amass over $1b and still not satisfied. Heavy taxes and rates imposed on their illicitly acquired properties overseas as well as outrageous personal bills incurred, occasioned by ostentatious lifestyles have also become a torn on their flesh, forcing them to do anything to continue to steal even when they have left office.
Today, Nigeria, like rest of the 196 countries and territories around the world, is faced with Corona Pandemic and its lockdowns to save lives, prevent spread and secure environment, businesses and other social activities. While the situation calls for total humanitarianism, selflessness and collectivism, it is likely not so for Nigerian leaders including the country’s federal lawmakers, armed forces and the police. To them, it is business as usual: amassment of criminal wealth and infliction of state sadism.
It is also a truism that situation in the world presently is nothing short of ‘a state of nuclear warfare’ per biological weapons of war. This is because ‘the Weapons of Mass Destruction-WMD’, applicable in nuclear war situation, are clearly composed of: nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons. In the present circumstance, therefore, Nigerian political and security actors are clearly playing the role of ‘Coronavirus profiteers’ and not preventers and managers of the scourge.
While other world leaders are busy working day and night and donating monetarily, materially and ‘in-kindly’ or professionally in support of prevention of the scourge and its spread or infection, the Nigerian political and security players are obviously doing the opposite. Armed security personnel particularly members of the Nigeria Police Force drafted to Nigerian roads in aid of the Government precautionary measures, if any, have converted their beats into extortion and brutality arenas.
What we saw few days ago at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and along Onitsha-Owerri and Onitsha-Enugu Expressways etc are all a clear case in point. Intersociety had conducted interviews on foodstuff and medicine dealers concerning indiscriminate police extortion in Onitsha and environs. SHUTTLE and L300 bus drivers and KEKE riders are also not spared. Police personnel are “settled” ahead before carrying passengers, failure of which attracts N5, 000 to N10, 000 each if “caught carrying over-load passengers”. “Ahead settlement” is pegged at N500 to N1000 per driver or rider.
The ‘Nigerian Armed Forces’, on their part, are also busy threatening fire and brimstone against the defenseless general citizens; all in the name of ‘enforcing the presidential movement restriction order’. In other countries, soldiers have permanently un-corked their riffles and silenced their bullets, kitted themselves and joined in emergency relief operations, but back home in Nigeria, soldiers have loaded and corked their rifles and taken battle positions as if Coronavirus Pandemic calls for battlefield combats.
To make matters worse, the personnel of the Nigerian Military drafted on the roads are already serving as ‘second Coronavirus’ via beat brutality and molestation aided by ‘racial profiling or discrimination’. While their counterparts around the world are busy in their lab rooms experimenting and searching for the cure to the virus, the ‘Nigerian Armed Forces’ are here issuing threats and creating fears and panics among the country’s defenseless general population.
The Nigerian leaders as ‘masters of populism’ or ‘psychology of politics’, are presently at their ‘best’ doing it. This brings us to a recent announcement by the country’s Senators to ‘donate half of their March 2020 salaries’ in support of the ‘Government’s action towards curbing the spread of the disease’. The announcement is not only populist and misleading but also totally rejected. If Nigerians must accept anything from the country’s federal lawmakers, it must not be peanut, but half of their monthly allowances from March to December 2020.
By available records, the monthly salary of a Nigerian Senator is N750, 000 as against his or her monthly allowances of N13.5m, which totally goes for over N171m annually. In the list of the bogus allowances are: estacode, hardship, constituency, furniture, newspaper, wardrobe, recess, house maintenance, utilities, domestic staff, entertainment, personal assistant, vehicle maintenance and fueling, motor vehicle and duty tour allowances. Many, if not most of these allowances are frivolous and duplicated. It must be pointed out here too that legislative salaries are not the problem in Nigeria but motley of ‘legislative allowances’. Senators and their House of Reps counterparts, for instance, and in this ICT age, still collect over N700m yearly as “Newspaper allowances”.
Another proof of squander-mania, insensitivity, lukewarm and wickedness of the Nigerian public office holders or leaders, is the announcement (via verified media reports) four days ago (27th March 2020) of delivery and sharing of 400 units of Toyota Camry 2020 model to the 360 members of the House of Reps. This is addition to 14 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado sports utility vehicles already handed out to the presiding as well as principal officers and chairmen of select House Committees. The total cost of the brand new vehicles is independently valued at between N3.6b and N5.2b; or at N9m-N13m each. The mind boggling purchase and delivery is done at this peak of Coronavirus and its global emergencies and lockdowns.
The purchase and delivery of the over 400 vehicles are also likely to have been done using ‘borrowed public funds’. This is more so when tattered public infrastructures and social services in the country are begging for Government attention. Even when funds for 2020 capital projects have not been substantially released by the Federal Government, yet the country’s National Assembly members are already enjoying themselves illicitly with likely ‘borrowed public funds’ and at the expense of the general citizens and development of the country.
Had the Nigerian lawmakers got conscience and human feelings, they would have canceled the purchase and delivery of the vehicles and channeled the funds in aid of their constituents who are in dire need of assistance including safety kits, cushioning effects cash allowances and food items. The action of the lawmakers is therefore a clear testament of how insensitive, wicked and conscienceless Nigerian leaders are towards the citizenry and their welfare.
Also contrary to popular belief, what is squandered at the country’s federal legislative chambers is much lower than what the Presidency squanders, all done through legislated crookedness. Hundreds of millions of naira are budgeted annually for “Aso Rock computers” and billions for “Aso Rock clinic”, yet in the end, nothing happens. The money budgeted for “Aso Rock computers” in two legislative years are most likely to buy the whole of computers at the Onitsha Electronics Market.
Members of the Nigerian Civil Society and ‘advocacy lawyers’ are hereby called upon to avoid populism and surface scratching and deeply engage the country’s leaders including forcing them back home permanently to either develop the country or put mechanisms in place for citizens’ referendum to determine the final fate of the country. It is either the country develops jointly or it is allowed to live and develop apart.
In the present circumstance, the focus of the referenced ‘social advocates’ shall be centered on what Governments at all levels in the country are really doing or not doing to curb the spread of the virus including how the tens of billions of naira corporately and diplomatically donated funds, in addition to billions provided from the public funds for management of the scourge are being spent. This is to ensure that the relief cash funds do not grow wings and get evaporated through the ‘power corridor conduit pipes’.
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