A people who elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves, and traitors are not victims… but accomplices – George Orwell I know I must be so
I know I must be sounding like a broken record but I have to say it again and again without any equivocation that those currently strutting around for elective positions, particularly for the position of the president are unsuitable for leadership positions. Their crimes against the Nigerian people and their continuous offending activities reflect permanent incorrigibility. These mercantile politicians take no prisoners and so we have to be vigilant.
As a matter of fact, their aspirations constitute an affront to all people of conscience, a clear and present danger to the present and future generations. As we seek ways out of the quagmire the present leadership has dragged us into, the Nigerian people of whatever tribe and tongue must rise in unison to reject them. I know that this is by no means easy and made more difficult by the massive stolen money in their possession to buy votes and corrupt the voting system. But we must rise now and do something, otherwise our children won’t even stand a chance by the time this gang of bandit politicians with deep pockets and who are ready to spend their loot to realise their ambitions, are done with us.
I made it clear in the part (1) of this running series that former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is currently in the news for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) must be rejected today, tomorrow and always, not because of any personal reason but because he lacks the requisite qualities of a leader. He lacks the discipline, character, democratic credentials, vision and foresight, charisma, moral authority, and above all, he is a living embodiment of all that is corrosive to our democratic system. He is a corrupt multi-billionaire politician who uses bullion vans to ferry cash to his house on the eve of a presidential election and even boasts about it (he trumps all the moneybag politicians of the ‘90s). His massive riches smell to the high heavens. He is a clear and present danger to our democracy and must be rejected in the primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or at the presidential polls (assuming he buys the primary with his bullion-van cash).
His authoritarian reign over the Lagos body politick, camouflaged as democracy cannot be allowed to continue or extended to the national level. He has become the greatest inhibitor to free democratic expression in Lagos. Having practically turned Lagos into a zombie state, he is now targeting a bigger prize – the presidency of Nigeria. How can that be? Are we so stupid as a people to allow him succeed in that endeavour? All men and women of good values must rise up now and tell this corrupt man and his disciples who have crippled Lagos State that enough is enough.
Foremost looking and peace-loving Nigerians would not forgive Tinubu and his cohorts for the lies they told to get our votes in 2015 and 2019. Each time you see them on your television screens, remember what the propagandists made you do. Remember it was them who misled you to vote President Muhammadu Buhari, they assured you and many others he would bring change to this country. What has Buhari brought to you and your neighbour’s doorsteps? Hunger, death and destruction. Nigeria is no longer recognisable, it has become a land flowing with blood instead of a land flowing with milk and honey. Don’t allow them to come with their loot to bribe you for your votes again – we know they have stolen a lot in preparation for this day. Reject them and their filthy lucre. Reject their rice, salt, oil, whatever and however they are disguised. You must never let Tinubu deceive you again. His stock-in-trade are halt-truths and true lies. His team has commenced vote buying already with bags of rice in the northern parts of the country. The same old politics of bribing the poor and vulnerable people used as pawns in political chess game.
Come to think of it, now that Buhari has failed, how can those who brought him and assured the nation of his good virtues be the ones to bring healing and change to this blood-soaked land in his watch? Don’t they share responsibility for the endless killings, kidnappings, rape, and other atrocities committed by these Frankenstein’s monsters they have unleashed on this land of our fathers? The blood of those whose precious lives have been brutally cut shot by these demented deviants is on their hands.
Under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, instead of joining forces to fight the terrorists Boko Haram, Tinubu and his party, the APC, actively worked to undermine efforts to defeat the group. The then APC megaphone and now Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed regularly issued statements that tended to excuse the atrocities and heinous crimes of Boko Haram in clear efforts to gain political advantage from the activities of the evil sect. The APC governors were more interested in generating headlines and photo ops from their visits to Maiduguri, Borno State, the heartland of the evil terrorists. They proffered no solutions to the problem. It was all designed to advance their kind of politics. Well, it did work for them for a while. The party eventually won the presidential election, by hook or by crook.
What about Tinubu, the self-proclaimed National Leader of the APC? He did his own photo ops in Kano State. He visited victims of terror attacks in hospital, some with life-changing injuries. What did he do immediately afterwards? He emerged from the hospital and called for amnesty for nihilist criminals (Boko Haram) with a thrill for destruction. How can a man who just paid a sympathy visit to victims of a deadly attack, with life-altering injuries emerge from the hospital and call for amnesty for the very people responsible for their injuries? Except for a man intent on playing politics, it didn’t make sense to me and till this day, it still doesn’t make sense. Mind you, Tinubu didn’t call for justice for the victims. It was most insensitive, uncharitable and profoundly disdainful to say the least to pay a sympathy visit to persons that had just suffered horrifying attacks and then come straight out from their bedside and call for amnesty for those responsible for their condition. He had to beat a quick retreat following the heavy public pushback.
If that was an occasional lapse of judgment, it would still have been rueful and distasteful but less troubling, but this was no occasional flop. It was a pattern of behaviour we had become accustomed to from a man and his party who believed that the end justifies the means and that everything must be used to play politics, including the fight against Boko Haram. Have the APC governors travelled to Maiduguri or any part of Borno State again in solidarity with their colleague since Buhari assumed power? No! Not even with three attacks on the governor’s convoy by the deadly terrorists could make them do that. You see the hypocrisy and politics?
Now, how does it even look to Nigerians that Tinubu who is eyeing a run for president is still silent in the face of overwhelming evidence outing Sheikh Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as an extremist religious fanatic and a supporter of Al-Qaeda? Tinubu is afraid to take a position by calling for his resignation. What about his party, the APC? All we have gotten so far is loud silence. Imagine this happened under Goodluck Jonathan, all hell would have broken loose.
Pantami’s preaching activities are so dangerous that according Rivers State Governor, Neyson Wike, no reasonable government would allow him in its cabinent.
“I don’t understand why a reasonable government will allow such a person to be in the cabinet.”
But the question to ask; is this a reasonable or responsible government?. Of course no.
In 2015, after the APC won the election, Tinubu took the credit and praise for Buhari’s emergence as president and started to walk in the air. He was called a politician of no mean repute. But now that his experiment has exploded in his face, he doesn’t want to accept blame. He and his flatterers want us to forget that he is the main architect of the tragedy our country has become. These flatterers are always quick to refer to his record in Lagos. They point to “his vision and transformational leadership qualities”. They credit him with laying the template for modern-day Lagos. When you ask them what Lagos really is compared to other cities around the world, they are usually short of words.
Tinubu himself had even once alluded to deviation from a blueprint he designed for Lagos State as one of the reasons the then governor was denied a second term ticket. I am actually quite baffled when I hear how much Tinubu’s supporters eulogize him for his performance as governor and credit him with so much. Before I dive into his overhyped stewardship in Lagos, let me ask: Has anybody seen Tinubu’s so-called template, or master plan? I have looked for it everywhere, asked his supporters to provide me a copy so that I can interrogate it but none has agreed to have seen it, let alone provide me a copy.
Now, if that master plan is what has governed Lagos since 1999 till date, I am sorry to say it must be a very shortsighted, poorly thought-out document. Despite Tinubu’s acclaimed master plan, Lagos State has maintained a front-row seat among the dirtiest cities in the world. Major arteries of this megacity-state remain an eyesore. All the canals snaking around the city constitute an environmental hazard to public health. Major swathes of the city-state are not motorable. Apapa is in shambles. The foundations for the present state of Apapa were laid under his administration.
It is curious that his secret master plan or whatever he calls it for this beleaguered city did not include provisions for potable drinking water, something so basic to human existence, for Lagosians, despite the state being surrounded by water. It is to Tinubu’s eternal shame that nearly every house in Lagos self-provides water by way of a borehole or water well. A public water system is completely lacking in Nigeria’s economic powerhouse. But the man who drew up a master plan and determines everything that goes on in the state prefers to be hailed by useful idiots as the leader of Lagos.
On education, at the end of Tinubu’s tenure, nearly all primary and secondary schools were in bad shape. Pupils sat on bare floors in buildings that neither had windows nor doors, with roofs long shredded by the elements. Public schools were never a priority to the “greatest political strategist” to come out of Africa. If he was such a visionary as his followers always point out, well, Lagos didn’t fare too well under him and his voodoo master plan. If it truly exists, it is not even nearly ambitious enough to have made much impact.
Now, let’s even excuse him for a moment because of the complexity of Lagos as a city-state. So let’s look at the Lekki suburb, a new virgin frontier that was a natural choice for urban expansion and development. It should naturally be a pilot for a visionary leader to make his mark. At the very least, Tinubu’s administration had the rare opportunity to draw up a developmental master plan to transform the then largely virgin land to a well-designed architectural wonderland with well-paved roads, city parks and the accouterments of a modern suburb that will be the envy of all and the pride of the black race. A place to prove to the world that we can build great, beautiful sub-cities. Lekki was the emerging new Lagos for the middle and upper middle class. It provided the opportunity to test our planning capability and vision to have a futuristic city. Well, he did as far as his vision could see. In another 10 years, Lekki will be an upgraded Oshodi – a slum on the peninsula. So much for a visionary leader, cheered on by flatterers.
In 1999, when Tinubu became governor, where was Dubai? How many people had heard of Dubai? Can anyone remember? Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum is the leader renowned for overseeing the meteoric growth and transformation of Dubai into a top business and tourism destination – which is today the favourite city of choice for Nigeria’s thieving politicians and government officials to hold meetings and enjoy holidays.
One man’s enormous vision, created Dubai’s most recognisable icons – the Burj Khalifa, Emirates Airlines and the Palm Islands. Dubai is on a speed trajectory – breaking new grounds, with a single-minded determination to build the best and biggest in the world. It does not build small, it builds big with its eyes on the future. “Man’s development depends on the power of his ideas and his ability to spread them from one person to another across deserts, continents and oceans.” Dubai is what it is today because it has leadership that combines ideas, ingenuity, vision and a team of dedicated people to actualise that vision in a remarkable way.
But here in Lagos, almost every policy decision of Tinubu’s administration was mostly driven by self-interest. Nigerians should ask Tinubu what happened to vast lands meant for public use in that Lekki/Ajah axis? What also happened to various properties belonging to the state government in Ikoyi? Perhaps, Tinubu’s grandest vision was the conception of the Fourth Main Bridge. But where is the bridge? It’s still a mere design on paper.
Those hailing Tinubu for his “performance” haven’t seen anything yet. These people are carried away by his woeful performance. They are proponents of small dreams and narrow visions. Any objective observer will tell you that what he achieved in his eight years of “superlative performance” according to those who worship him was below what subsequent governors of Lagos achieved in their first term of four years.
To me, Tinubu’s only master plan for Lagos which he claimed was breached in the run-up to the 2019 election was a plan to continually fleece the state of its resources. He had no master plan for developing the state. What he has is a plan that ensures he controls the state’s resources, loots as much as he can and controls political power to ensure his continuous reign.
Now, where is the State House of Assembly in all of this? It is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism and mind-boggling corruption that flows from Bourdillion on a daily basis. Oh Bourdillion, that centre of iniquity and vice.
The Assembly is even in cahoots with the godfather to fleece the people of Lagos of their resources. Remember how the House of Assembly in their brazen demonstration of loyalty to Tinubu inserted his company’s name, Alpha Beta, as a consultant in the State’s Land Use Charge Act in 2018 – to be engaged in the verification of land use payments to the state government?
“Alpha Beta or any other designated person(s) or corporate body who has the responsibility of monitoring the incoming revenue of the state through the collecting banks, shall provide a report to the Accountant-General of the State”, a section of the Lagos State Land Use Charge Act, 2018, said. Clearly the intent of the lawmakers was to maintain Alpha Beta’s exclusivity over revenue collection in the state. The reference to “any other company” in the law, was a deliberate smokescreen because they knew very well that there was no other company collecting revenue for the state. In the heat of intense criticism, the House later claimed that, that irresponsible, disgraceful insertion of a private company into the law was a “costly mistake” and promised to delete it.
But what good can possibly come from such a House? That action was not only criminal, it was deliberately done to forever secure Tinubu’s exclusive hold on revenue collection in the state and to prevent any governor from terminating that fraudulent contract with his company without first repealing the law. The Assembly was only sorry because it got caught in the act of subjugating the peoples’ interest to the interest of their godfather. Without a shadow of doubt, Tinubu is the greatest beneficiary of Nigeria’s democracy.
Now, let’s do a deep dive into how Alpha Beta came to be the revenue-collecting company of the Lagos State government. In 1999 when Tinubu took over the reins of power, he met Olusola Adekanola & Co as the state revenue-collecting firm. What did he do? First he opposed the payment of commission to the company, and later cancelled the contract and established his own Alpha Beta as a replacement in 2002. Ever since, Alpha Beta has enjoyed exclusivity of revenue collection for the state government. The company currently enjoys a 10 percent commission on any amount collected above N6 billion. What this means is if Lagos State generates a total revenue of N30 billion in the month of April, Alpha Beta is entitled to 10 percent of N24 billion which comes to a whopping N2.4 billion. Since the state government entered into the contract with Alpha Beta in 2002 for an initial five-year period from 2002 to 2007, it has been renewed three times. Other companies that are prepared to collect less as commission and may even perform better are not considered or allowed to bid for the contract.
Now imagine how much Tinubu has pocketed from just one revenue stream since 2002. Anyone still doubting why he regularly boasts of his ill-gotten riches – he even once boasted that he was richer than Osun State in the run-up to the state’s governorship election in 2018.
Here’s the thing: With the advent of fintech, mobile payment technology platforms and smart phones, the basis for the Alpha Beta contract no longer exists since individuals and corporate bodies can at the touch of a button make payments directly to Lagos State Government without having to pass through a middleman such as Alpha Beta. Even before the advent of technological platforms, all commercial banks in the country today serve as revenue collections points for the Lagos State government, making it easy for residents to work into any bank branch to pay all taxes, levies and charges imposed by the state. Alpha Beta, as such, is nothing more than a meddlesome interloper between the public and the state government. It does absolutely nothing other than issue demand notices already issued by the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS). So how does one justify the 10 percent commission paid to Alpha Beta for all the revenue generated internally paid directly to Lagos State accounts? Truth be told, the evolution of payment systems has rendered the justification for Alpha Beta dead in the water. At the very worst, one would have even thought that the huge commission it rakes in every month would have been renegotiated downward as the revenue accruing to the state swelled.
According to the full year 2020 report just released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Lagos State occupied the pole position among all the states of the federation as the state that generated the most revenue internally, amounting to N418.988 billion last year. Going by the agreement with Tinubu’s Alpha Beta, the company would have pocketed a whopping N34.7 billion as commission from the 10 percent it was paid from Lagos’ IGR. To put this in perspective, the said amount paid as commission to just one company topped the IGR of 30 states of the federation including Osun State which posted N19.604 billion and was even higher than the combined revenue generated by four states, viz. Taraba (N8.115bn), Yobe (N7.779bn), Adamawa (N8.329bn) and Ekiti (N8.716bn), amounting to N32.939bn.
In other words, Tinubu’s earnings through Alpha Beta alone, for essentially doing nothing, topped the IGR of 30 states! The irony here is that while the company was purportedly collecting taxes and issuing demand notices to individuals and corporate bodies to pay up, it paid zero taxes to the state or the federal government. If you are still not incensed by all this, nothing will ever outrage you.
In essence, since 2002, for the opportunity to govern, Lagos State and its people have been paying Tinubu through Alpha Beta an inexhaustible debt they never owed him. The experience of Lagos is staring you in the face if Tinubu gets the keys to the presidency. Two former governors, Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, are serving jail terms for fraud. What they were accused of pale in comparison to what Tinubu has gotten away with and continues to get away with. While Nyame got 14 years in prison, Dariye is doing 12 years.
Now, do you want a president that will enslave you in perpetuity? For those who continue to defend him as a hero despite his looting they are not victims, they are accomplices. The Holy Bible has a word for them in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” There is an inferno searing down this land of our fathers, those who poured fuel into it to get us to this desperately critical situation cannot be trusted to extinguish the fire they helped fuel. What we need is a root and branch removal of their brand of politics from our body politic, not hand them the keys to the highest office in the land.
Shaka Momodu is a journalist based in Lagos