African Leadership Failure (2) A brief history of Nigerian kleptocracy
The years of 1956-1966 may have marked the golden age of Nigerian economic and political development, necessitating present calls to restructure the federation along the original vision of the founding fathers
by Chin Ce
Before the era of thieving and looting, prior to the civil war of 1967-70, Nigeria was running a tripod of sprawling northern, eastern and western regions. Healthy competition in education and agriculture insured regional advancements within a high degree of independent resource control. While the north with its feudal structure maintained marginal lead in groundnut production, the sophisticated west was to excel in cocoa exports, and the enterprising east was the reserve of sprawling palm oil plantations for which the emerging Malaysia nation came to borrow a seed.
Those years of 1956-1966 may have marked the golden age of Nigerian economic and political development, now necessitating strident calls to restructure the debilitated federation along the original vision of the nation’s founding fathers, a call desperately resisted by proponents of fascist nationhood currently led by President Buhari and his fistful of adherents at state and federal assemblies.
The Era of Thieving Generals 1966-1979
It is still a subject of general consternation that the military putsch of 1966 brought in an Ironsi to the table, and he deemed it expedient in his ‘six-foot of foolishness'(1) to annex the regions and foist a strange form of centralism that was typical of poor military education in politics, which hardly reasons beyond the force of command and violence.
Strictly of buccaneer mentality during his brief megalomaniac era, Ironsi’s abolition of the regions proved a thievery of the Nigerian constitutional federalism, having set the stage for the wild state of centralised looting by blood thirsty vampires in his wake.
With Ironsi’s execution came a meretricious jack named colonel Gowon. His was a worse form of thievery in hierarchy, resulting to his colleague, colonel Ojukwu of the eastern region, refusing to recognize him as head of state.
Then overnight, by sheer audacity, the uneducated co conspirator was made general to command civil war police action against the easterners who had opted not to rejoin a federation that had assumed unitarian tyranny.
After the war, oil exportation began and this man felt money was not the problem with Nigeria but how to spend it. Consequently the general ran a mendacious military, a slew of corrupt bureaucrats and an injudicious government that neglected agriculture.
Fela Kuti was the irrepressible voice of the people at that time and used his music relentlessly to expose the profligate head of state, Gowon. But we can hear him these days, now an octogenarian in spite of the hindsight of history, passing off himself as a model of frugality by the same art of public lying which he employed to run Nigeria aground in his youth(2).
History nevertheless certifies that Gowon was kicked out in 1976 by his cohorts for corruption and ineptitude, paving the way for Nigeria to be led by a genocidal maniac in the person of Mohammed.
General Murtala Mohammed
Executioner and mass murderer in the war with the east, this veritable footsoldier whose head was made to dot a national currency was easily a hero of the northern oligarchy. By him, every northerner without a school certificate was guaranteed to become a general in the Nigerian army.
Mohammed’s looting began from the civil war years when he raided the central bank of Benin in mid western Nigeria. Although he was later to make a tendentious gesture of returning the looted funds, his anti corruption war against his immediate predecessor was barbaric in travesty, sprinkled with mindless ‘with immediate effect’ phraseology.
Yet, in spite of his vaunted fanatical religiosity, honoured by lackeys like Buhari himself, the law of karma proved exacting as a middle belt colonel, named Dimka, was on hand to send him packing barely six months into his pseudo nationalist revolution.
Mohammed’s reluctant second-in-command ran a lame duck regime from 1976-1979 which deluded itself of greatness. Nigeria was to become a world power, he boasted, while mounting a controversial election and handing off the baton to a civilian order bound to fail by its unworkable 1979 constitution, which was never written by the people, or for the people but by the army, and for the army. Obasanjo’s private stash included a humongous bank loan and the amassment of a whole colony at Otta, ostensibly for farming.
Brief Civilian Democracy 1979-1983
Here the spate of generals robbing their country dumb enjoyed a brief interregnum in a strange form of democracy arranged to favour northern Nigeria in their medieval religion inspired leadership tussle with the south.
By 1979 when Alhaji Shagari assumed power, unitarianism had triumphed in a witless document scribbled by the army and called supreme constitution.
The school teacher who became president had no vision other than running for reelection under this corrupted form of federalism that still managed to morph onto every dispensation in national history with ministers, public servants, legislators running amuck with stealing the oil mineral resources of the Niger delta.
In his waning year in office, Shagari was forced to acknowledge, in his own words, ‘the mounting rubbish of corruption’ (2) but did nothing decisive to end it.
Another Era of Thieving Generals 1983-1999
Shagari was kicked out in December 1983, paving the way for a horde of raving lunatics of the armed forces to jostle anew for authority to plunder the nation’s wealth. By this time a surfeit of generals from the deserts of Chad and Niger republics had littered the barracks of Nigerian army. There was nothing else to do but drink local broth (‘pepper soup’) at the barracks and plan coups d’etat.(3)
A trail of poverty, retrenchments and draconian decrees followed the era of this tyrant and his deputy by name Idiagbon. They had come with a vengeance, promising that certain people, like the celebrated music legend, Fela, who had derided them as mindless ‘zombies’ in his song, were going to rot in jail. His obnoxious Decree no. 4 that gagged journalists was to ensure nobody queried his past looting, the missing billions at the nation’s petroleum sector, and the money laundering involving 53 suitcases that went through the airport to their cabal emirate in the North under the watch of Muhammadu Buhari in 1984.
Insensitive to Nigerian multi religious, multi ethnic temperament, Buhari ran his Muslim-Muslim government with his Idiagbon crony and was proceeding upon their vain, arrogant Islamist project before he was locked out by his military colleagues, stolid on the queue for a taste of the spree.
Probably the most ambitious of Nigeria’s kleptomaniac generals, this head of state via the palace coup of 1985 enjoyed the singular impetus to call himself president while in the army.
A spell of eight harrowing years filled with cronyism, self glorification, hedonism, manic enrichment, media persecution and horrendous murders was the legacy of Ibrahim Babangida’s regime to Nigerians. In the end he annulled the very election that was to return the country to civil conduct in 1993, and passed off the baton to his illiterate folk’s man, general Sani Abacha.
The agreement to keep an armed Abacha in office after Babangida’s rather unceremonious exit was in order to boot out a shenanigan history will remember as Shonekan. Only in Nigeria could Africa have had a civilian head of state appointed by a discredited military junta. Like Ironsi, there was no time for Shonekan to loot the nation as he remained a pariah in his brief epiphany of ‘headship.’
Described by Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, as the most insensitive creature to preside over the Nigerian nation(4), Abacha was easily winner of the trophy for murderous psychopaths in the history of Nigeria’s thieving heads.
This man brutally executed hundreds of the opposition, laundered Nigeria’s petro dollars, sent thousands on exile and liquidated Nigerian economy, massively stashing state funds in foreign coffers. Supported by fellow yeoman, Muhammadu Buhari, who was empowered to run a queer petroleum trust fund under his regime, Abacha earned a place in the hall of infamy as hell priest of the dark age of an African nation.
After five years of eclipse, Abacha died in office, 1998, smoothening the path for more serial looting in the hands of General Abubakar. The darkness did not wane, rather more billions were swindled under this regime, along with cohorts working as service chiefs and supporters of the administration.
Under this band of looters, the winner of the June 1993 elections, MKO Abiola, was murdered, CIA style, in prison – the northern cabal’s Nazi equivalent of a final solution to the Jewish question that stopped the ill fated Abiola from claiming his mandate ever after.
Current Civil Looting 1999 – ?
In 1999, the era of civil looting resumed under the second coming of no less an armoured brigand than Obasanjo. The filthy document of 1979 was rehashed as is now glibly touted ‘1999 constitution as amended.’ But all it does is stand federalism on its head, legitimising the corrupt hegemony of an amorphous centre to the pauperisation of states and other municipal stakes in government.
The thieving generals, retired, and using their stolen wealth for politics, proceeded to fill the slots of senators, legislators, ministers, governors and the countless expensive offices of the Nigerian state designed for group patronage and self aggrandisement.
Emboldened as a civilian who won a rigged election, Mr Obasanjo superintended the millennial impoverishment of his country in impunity, corruption and sale of public assets, brute executive mindlessness and destruction of democratic institutions to the last base of municipal and state infrastructure.
And, just like Gowon, Obasanjo retired and went back to school to get some education he never really had in the beginning.
Messrs Yar’adua / Jonathan
With the exorbitant multi party politics of gun running and violence, which the armed dracos had written into their constitution, the duo of Yar’adua and Jonathan coasted ahead of the infamous personages of treasury hunters.
Like Abacha, Yar’adua died in office, 2009, paving the way for Jonathan to lead the pirate band. Until he lost out to Buhari in 2015, Jonathan enriched every sycophant in the firmament and turned billionaires of every audacious warlord from the delta conclave. Corruption and impunity soared, and the nation reeled in cluelessness, insecurity and total political and economic non direction.
The second coming of the general three decades later was initially greeted with hopefulness which, sooner than had begun, turned to wailing in the mouths of Nigerian citizens. Barely one year in office Mr Buhari, like Mr Obasanjo, proved a fiasco. Weak, inept and deeply noxious to learning or self improvement, Buhari as president failed yet again to unite the country under justice and rule of law.
Leaving anarchy to loom on the nation’s horizon, the cattle rearer forged ahead his conniving pact with his kinsmen and their murderous herder squads at the expense of the rest of the country. Corruption, impunity and flagrant disregard for judicial rulings proved the same under his ruling party and cabal government.
Like the others, public posturing on the national question was official gambit. The persecution of perceived political opponents and the protection of his corrupt minions, which had always been Nigerian leaders’ stock in trade from military rule, summed Buhari’s second attempt at leadership.
Added to the rising impunity of his men and aided by the cabal behind his watch, the secrecy of humongous expenditures on his perennial oversea medical tours lent credence to suspicions about the true nature of his ailment, putting such behavioural tendencies firmly under the speculative purview of Cloned Satanic Leaders.
(1) Actually Her Majesty’s slur for the great Zik of Africa during Nigeria’s independence talks, here deemed appropriate for his kinsman under the discourse.
(2) Gowon’s recent art of public lying goes thus: Daily Trust, May 15 2018, ‘Former military Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), said on Monday that his regime never experienced anything such as corruption for the nine years it was in power.’ https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/we-didn-t-know-corruption-during-our-time-gowon-250658.html
(3) It had taken Shagari five years, while swearing in his insane flock of 36 ministers, to publicly acknowledge the mounting rubbish of corruption in his government of the time.
(4) Police commissioner Alozie Ogubuaja was frustrated out of the rotten Nigeria Police system for exposing the Nigerian military as lazy, redolent, specialists only in cowardly coups d’etat.
(5) Soyinka escaped the Abacha gulag by the whiskers and proceeded on self exile to Europe where he mounted pressure for sanctions against the kleptomania of Nigerian military under general Abacha.