Monday, 14 April 2014

Jonathan and the new Dark Age


 
Salisu Suleiman.

Now that the new Dark Age has come, I have no more fear. I have learnt to see in the dark and think through noxious fumes. The growling of diesel generators, the long lines at fuel pumps, the unending obituaries of nameless, faceless compatriots, and interminable emergencies in this troubled land do not distract me anymore. I was born in this cacophony and will die with it. 

Now with new vision, I see with a new clarity. I see the one who promised transformation and fresh air himself transformed into a lethal toxin, smothering millions into the depths of despair and death. In this new age of gloom, I can see my homes are dark; my industries are hushed and one knows if they will ever echo with activity again. Through the fumes of mechanical pollutants, I see the cults and power poltergeist coming and going, hither and thither, reaping billions even as the darkness thickens.     

Now that the last hope has flickered out, I see in the dark, a putrid plate spiced and spliced by further billions stolen in the name of phantom subsidies and Second Bridges that lead nowhere. Through the mind-numbing, metallic monotony, I make out the tragedy of a family of six. They celebrated their elevation from the pits of daily darkness with a new generator. It turned out to be their last feast, because the morning stillness was sheared by the moaning of neighbours mourning their death, choked to death on the fumes of their new generator.

Now that a new age of doom has dawned, I see another family that was also downed – burnt to death when a power surge overwhelmed an appliance. They all came out soles first. There was no explanation, no compensation, just anemic commiseration; one more dead family. I see the artisan who can find no work, and when he does, can get no power to do his chore. I see the repairman, sallow with sorrow. Every soul in the land is broken by the burden of presidential fairy tales; every spirit shackled by the weight of eternal darkness.  

Now that the last wick can give no more light, I see with a new clarity the brave entrepreneur whose courage was crushed by the dearth of power; I see the millions of homes dying slowly from the noise, the fumes and the price of generating power to light a few misty bulbs or drive the blades of antique fans. I see the offices where no work gets done and the tall building no one can get into.

Now that the last glare has sputtered out, I await the release of sleep. I think of today’s brood whose first sights in this world are the miasma of darkness. They do not know what it means to wake up to the sounds of birdsongs at first light, or the simple silence that sighs from nature.  This generation breeds on the blare of generators, grows with the fumes of fossil fuels and thrives with the flames of a million flares. Without the drones of generators, they are restless; without the fumes of fossils, breathless; without the burden of darkness, clueless.

Now that the last beam has waned, I have no more worries. I have learnt to sleep through the heat and through the noise that seems to spring from just outside the transom; mean medallion for many midnights murdered. I sleep through it all. I see the dreams that got stolen; I hush the hearts that got broken; I speak the truths never spoken; I flash with ideas never proven and curse the crooks that keep this nation craven. I see everything ever so clearly in the dark.

Now that the last light has faded out, I cringe inside my heart about the jokes on my country, rubbed in by the antics of he of the fedora. Even old Mugabe, down yonder, now has a reference point. Where else in the world, but in this realm of darkness and avarice, would $20 billion grew wings and no one can be bothered, a land where the reward for honesty is wretchedness, but where thieving knaves are knighted. Ours is a land where we claim God everywhere, but eyes are unseeing, ears unhearing and hearts unfeeling.

Now that this great land has been sold into a new dark age, blighted by the ambition of a clueless, spineless ghoul and greased by greedy aides with dubious intents, we must reach for the ultimate reality. And that reality is, even as they pull the levers of power, obfuscate all reason with matchless thievery and plunder the country to poverty, this land, this people, this nation, will remain. The darkness will pass, the feckless fedoras will fade and reason will prevail. That is the definitive truth. We have seen it all before.

 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Diverting Attention with the National Confab



Salisu Suleiman.

The golden age of Nigeria’s National Theatre was between the early 1970s and 80s, when Nigeria participated in cultural activities around the world and hosted cultural troupes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Nigeria hosted the unmatched 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts, dubbed FESTAC '77. It was a grand art and cultural assembly of Africans and peoples of African descent that brought visitors of all races and nationalities to Nigeria.   
With its booming petro-dollar economy of the 70s, Nigeria hosted the most lavish and extravagant festival before and since. Its date might have been unintended, but it served to divert attention from the impending economic decline that some observers had warned about, as oil revenues dipped and manufacturing activity declined.
Politicians and other leaders have different ways of diverting attention when faced with social, economic and political crises. Some sidetrack attention or simply distract the polity in order to carry out political maneuvers or implement hidden agendas, while others spend their ways out of trouble, as the King of Saudi Arabia did at the start of the doomed Arab Spring. The King bought peace my massively increasing the allowances payable to all citizens. Even if temporary, it diverted attention from critical issues and brought respite to the kingdom. 
However, not all leaders have the purse to buy off public anger and resentment, so must find others means. Former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy picked a foreign fight by orchestrating the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, never mind that French and British forces could not have succeeded in Libya without American help, or that ultimately, the overthrow of Gaddafi did not save Sarkozy from humiliation at the polls.
Yet, other politicians create imaginary enemies, then mobilize the entire population into a war-footing, as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair did with false dossiers that led Britain to war in Iraq. Similarly, former US president, George Bush deliberately kept most Americans in fear of imminent terrorist attacks, and in the process, rolled back freedoms that would have been regarded as invasive and dictatorial in any ‘developing country’.
In Africa, it is easier to whip up religious and ethnic sentiments to deflect attention from major state failings. And in Nigeria, where leaders can ignore laws and even the constitution, they prefer to allocate unbudgeted sums without legal appropriation to gather a mish-mash of actors and jesters to entertain the court in a calculated attempt to divert attention from pressing national issues.
For example, before the start of the ongoing National Conference, the major issues in Nigeria were Boko Haram’s relentless and possibly drug-induced massacres of innocent citizens. Another issue was the spread of herdsmen/farmers clashes to states like Kaduna and Katsina. The carnage and ethnic conflicts in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba state were other issues, not to talk of fuel scarcity and the small matter of a missing $20 billion.
But in the two weeks since the conference started, all of those issues suddenly disappeared from the headlines or became appendages to the drama at the conference. While subjects like the religious and regional composition of the membership dominated the debate, President Goodluck Jonathan quietly admitted that indeed, $10 billion was missing, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. While the statement by the Lamido of Adamawa took over headlines, the Senate quietly confirmed a new Central Bank Governor and President of the Court of Appeal – two arguably pro-establishment figures.
While the jesters at the national confab were shouting themselves hoarse over voting percentages and perks, few people had time to notice that the entire national electricity grid suffered a near total collapse; while newspapers carried photos of snoring delegates, not many had time to remember that the National Assembly was probing our ‘do-no-wrong’ minister of Petroleum for spending tens of billions of naira on private planes because traveling by commercial airliners, even first-class, was beneath her status.
As the overdressed charlatans struggled for attention, nobody had time to reflect on the words of former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, who reminded us that the confab was not only illegal because its funding was not duly appropriated by the National Assembly, but a waste of time because all their decisions had to be voted on by the same National Assembly – after N7 billion of public funds had been wasted on what amounts to no more than dubious distraction.  
For those who continue to underestimate President Goodluck Jonathan, he has shown again, that he may look like a dunce, but behind that fa├žade of insipidity is an obdurate political tactician who is bent on remaining in power at all costs, regardless of the consequences. And part of his strategy is to deflect public attention from our worsening insecurity and rising poverty by converging a theatre of the absurd.

 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Why Amaechi Should Challenge Jonathan for President


Salisu Suleiman.



At a time when many northerners feel the region has been deprived of power for too long, any call for a southerner to contest the presidency may be seen as heresy. Already, elders like Junaid Mohammed and Ango Abdullahi have suggested that the north must produce the next president of Nigeria.
But considering existing socio-economic and political realities, what is the point of barking, when there is little substance behind the posturing?
Since the northern political elite badly miscalculated by gambling on a seemingly pliable Olusegun Obasanjo, they have been on a retreat – a retreat that may turn into outright surrender if Goodluck Jonathan retains office in 2015. If that scenario plays out, power and the privileges that come with it would have slipped from their grasp forever – as will the prerogative of choosing, and therefore controlling the levers of power in Nigeria.
Now that the elite’s political blunder has come to haunt them in the form of a president that is bent on destroying the very last vestiges of unity in the north by deliberately playing ethnicity and stoking up religious sentiments, they have forgotten that it was the quest to protect their selfish interests that has led us to the brink of the current political and economic disasters.
Has the northern elite forgotten that in 1999, they supported the ‘amenable’  Obasanjo over the ‘upstart’ Olu Falae; in 2003, they helped Obasanjo to rig out Buhari; in 2007, they rode roughshod over their people’s choice to impose a fatally flawed Umaru Yar’adua and in 2011, helped Jonathan’s rigging machinery.
In every instance, they had their wish and took their share of the loot, but ignored growing poverty, which in turn has led to social dislocations, economic fractures and political amputations. Now that the Jonathan gambit is proving to be a catastrophe, they are complaining.
Who has forgotten the various roles played by such northerners as Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Atiku Abubakar, Adamu Ciroma, Barnabas Gemade, Solomon Lar, Bello Mohammed Halliru, Samaila Sambawa, Olusola Saraki, Hassan Wakilin Adamawa, Sule Lamido, Modu Ali Sheriff, Ibrahim Mantu, David Mark, Ahmed Makarfi, Jerry Gana, Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, Jonathan Zwingina, Mukhtari Shagari and many others in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011?
Who can deny that the likes of Ahmed Gulak, Labaran Maku, Ibrahim Shekarau, Attahiru Bafarawa, Jonah Jang, Gabriel Suswam, Isa Yuguda are only copying their more illustrious northern forbears towards 2015?
In truth, it is a measure of their hypocrisy that if Buhari were to indicate interest in the presidential race and actually picks the APC ticket, most of the northern elite would scramble to line up behind Jonathan.
So the question is; are they fighting for the north or just for their political and economic relevance, or it is that Buhari is not the ‘right’ northerner, simply because he cannot be manipulated or persuaded to throw them the keys to the public treasury?
The point is, the clamour for a northern president is not about regional representation or political balance as much as the need to have access to the levers of power. Knowing that a Buhari presidency would probably shut them out of the privileges they have come to assume as birthrights, they consistently supported his opponents.
In the same way, if another uncompromising and ‘stubborn’ northerner, in the mould of say, former FCT minister, Nasir el-Rufai, were to emerge as a candidate to challenge Jonathan, many of these so-called ‘protectors’ of northern interests would find themselves immediately converted to the party of Jonathan.
Clearly, it is not about the north. It is about and privilege – for a select few. Which is why thinkers and other well-meaning Nigerians must seek another way of sacking Jonathan, who seems to take perverse pleasure in smiling while rubbing mud on the face of Nigerians.
Why not neutralize all the arguments that Jonathan has marshaled to divide Nigeria simply to further his ambition? Why not think out of the boringly predictable Nigerian political box?
Thinking outside the box may include going against all odds and against all political permutations to agree that the overall interest of the country is greater than any regional aspirations to the presidency. This means coming together to back a candidate from the same zone, religion and background as Jonathan.
Would any forfeiture that would sack the current government not be worthwhile, given that there may not much left to scramble for if Jonathan and his lieutenants remain in office until 2019?
What if, for instance, the opposition, with northern support, backs Rivers state governor Rotimi Ameachi for president and he not only succeeds in holding Nigeria together from the disintegration hinted by Jonathan’s camp, but successfully tackles insecurity, corruption, unemployment, economic decline and other challenges confronting not just in the north, but all of Nigeria?
Would Nigeria not be better-off?

 

 

 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Tragedy of Jonathan’s Pulpit Politics


 
Salisu Suleiman.

That politicking for the 2015 presidential elections has started in earnest, despite the protestations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not news. That President Goodluck Jonathan and his campaign team have been traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria under the guise of political rallies – which amounts to little more than naked campaigning - is an open secret. What is less open is Jonathan’s abuse religion for his campaign.
Religion and ethnicity have always been part of Nigeria’s politics: As soon as elections approach, our politicians are suddenly struck by the fire of conviction, and begin to approach the clergy – who are usually primed and waiting – for support. The politicians demand spiritual support through prayers and practical support through votes in return for very handsome (and usually unannounced) donations to these ‘men of God’ – whether they mouth Arabic or Latin to their congregations.
In fact, to ensure ‘comprehensive insurance’ for their political ambitions, Muslim politicians have been known to approach Christian clergy for prayers and support, while Christian politicians routinely seek Muslim spiritualists for prayer and support as well. The practitioners of both religions sometimes engage in pagan rituals, just in case. From Sani Abacha to Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, the demand and supply of ‘prayer warriors’ – whether Muslim, Christian or Pagan – has become a multibillion naira industry.
Nigerians are getting used to hearing state policy proclaimed from one church or another by President Jonathan. Those who thought it was an isolated incident were surprised when Jonathan himself announced that he would, henceforth, worship outside Aso Rock Villa Chapel every last Sunday of the month. He made the announcement at the headquarters of Dunamis Gospel Church in Abuja, where he attended a Sunday service recently.
There is nothing wrong with the president attending the church of his choice for worship. Indeed, if the level of gross incompetence he has shown in tackling the problems of insecurity, poverty, unemployment, corruption and lawlessness is anything to go by, then the president and by extension, Nigeria requires all the prayers we can get. What is troubling is the president’s explanation.
According to President Jonathan, “This year, we have decided that from now onward, until I leave the State House, every last Sunday of the month I will go to different churches. The reasons are very obvious, not because if I worship in the State House I am not worshiping God…I feel that it is good for me to go round and continue to appreciate what our brothers and sisters have been doing”. Is this the president of a complex nation like Nigeria speaking, or the head of a local parish?
President Jonathan’s allusion to ‘our brothers and sisters’, in clear reference to Christians, to the exclusion of other Nigerians are reminiscent of his utterances after the October 1st 2010 bomb explosions in Abuja when the president said, “What happened yesterday was a terrorist act and MEND was just used as a straw; MEND is not a terrorist group…it is erroneous to think that my people who have been agitating for good living will deliberately blow up the opportunity they have now”.
For a president who claims to be representative of the whole country to make such statements – whether in public or private - is not only insensitive but indicative of the provincial mindset that has characterized the Jonathan administration from inception. This attitude was on show recently when the president ‘wasted’ the careers of several Nigerian Army generals simply to ensure that his kinsman becomes the Chief of Army Staff. Similarly, when he replaced his erstwhile Chief of Staff, he made a point of fishing out a fellow Ijaw man, even if from Ondo state.
Still, provincialism and pulpit politics aside, the tragedy of President Jonathan’s exploitation of religion for political ends is the fact that not one of the clergymen – certainly not of recent – has had the genuine fear of God to tell the president a few home truths. And this applies to preachers from both religions.
For instance, when former Zamfara state governor Ahmed Sani Yerima led a group of Muslim clerics to the presidential villa  in June last year to ‘pray for peace’ in Nigeria, none of them remembered  to tell the president that there was hunger and injustice in the land. Do they then have the moral authority to harangue their congregation, when they could not speak the truth to power?
In the same vein, which church leader visited by the president in his church-to-church political campaign has had the courage to tell him that most of the promises he made about security, power supply, jobs and development have failed or that Nigeria has only been transformed for the worse? Which one of them has publicly or even privately, broached the small matter of corruption? 

     

 

Monday, 27 January 2014

North: From minor quarrels to major bloodbaths


Salisu Suleiman.
It goes without saying that northern Nigeria is facing unprecedented political, social and economic crises. At a time when it should be experiencing historic levels of economic growth, the region has, within the last decade and half, moved from the most stable and peaceful to the most volatile in Nigeria. Most attention is focused on the Boko Haram uprising and terrorism in the north-east, but a number of other ethno-religious and inter-communal conflicts exist in other parts as well.  
The perennial herdsmen-farmers clashes have become more violent of recent. Many states are scrambling to deal with the situation as population growth increases tensions over new farmlands and ancient pastures.
The slightest disagreement now provides opportunity for bloodshed, as happened recently in Otukpo, a previously peaceful town in Benue state, when a minor difference over the location of a livestock stand led to the burning of the homes of most Hausa and Muslim residents –including many who were born and had lived there for decades.
In nearby Nasarawa state, many inter and intra-communal tensions exist – not the least of which is the Ombaste imbroglio which led to the slaughter of over 100 policemen and security operatives last year. There might be a truce, but the underlying grievances remain unsolved.
And as we enter another election circle, the drums of war are beating louder and harder, fuelled in no small measure by the ambitions and utterances of recently empowered politicians like Labaran Maku and old war-horses like Modu Ali Sherriff in Nasarawa and Borno states, respectively.
Meanwhile, the hostility that resulted in what can only be termed as genocide and ethnic cleansing in Southern Kaduna following the 2011 elections remains largely unsolved, with tens of thousands of refugees unable to return to their homes. Though the future these internally displaced persons remains uncertain, intense politicking for next year’s elections has taken over the attention of government and policy makers. In adjoining Plateau state, despite the intense blood-letting of the past 13 years, the crisis is unrelenting.  
Several factors are responsible for transforming the north to a land of anarchy: Many underlining tensions and grievances – left for too long – created distrust among people that hitherto coexisted peacefully. And politicians – from the region and elsewhere – have tapped into these sentiments to create havoc.
That said, the north’s wounds are actually a reflection of the region’s poverty, ignorance and hopelessness. These are the key factors that drive people to religious and political extremism. It has become routine for ancient quarrels or new political arguments to ignite mindless violence which can engulf whole towns and villages in just hours. And the security operatives sent in to settle such disturbances end up doing more damage.
In the end, there is a self-perpetuating cycle of violence, leaving people at the mercy of known and unknown warring factions with no defined rules of engagement. For every Baga and Bama that was reported, there is evidence of crimes against humanity everywhere.   
Incidentally, even with the recognition in some quarters that ethnicity and religion are mere veneers to mask the conflicts, not much is being done to rein in poverty, unemployment and hopelessness in the region. And so the economic situation is worsening by the day. Unemployment is higher than in other parts of Nigeria. Factories, even in the commercial heartland of Kano now echo more with silence than the buzz of commerce.
Assuming peace returns to the north today, it would take about a decade to return the factories of Kano and Kaduna to where they were in the 1980s – by which time, they would be a further 20 or 30 years behind the rest of the country.  
Agriculture, the region’s pride and mainstay of its economy is largely subsistence and remains dependent on the vagaries of weather. This is in spite of the many dams and huge tracts of fertile land the region possesses. Properly developed, the north has the capacity to produce enough rice to feed Africa, yet it is a fact that Nigeria spends about N1 billion per day to import poor quality rice.
How the region’s leaders can allow such huge economic resources to waste is unfathomable – as the fact that northern farmers can earn even more from wheat farming. No one, it seems, can be bothered.
If the governments and leaders of the north had massively adopted a policy of ‘economic determinism’ - the provision of basic needs and economic empowerment of their people by developing the real economy, they might have spared the region and Nigeria the anguish that is crippling our progress as a nation.  
Alas, northern elite still insist on monopolising all economic and political spaces to the exclusion of the majority – a policy they sustain by leaving most of their people illiterate. It is no wonder that the end may not be in sight for the cycle of poverty, unemployment and insecurity.

 

 

Monday, 20 January 2014

This cassava bread matter . . .


 
Salisu Suleiman.

If there is anything symbolic of the warped, one-directional and ultimately, fruitless process of policy-making and implementation in Nigeria, it must be the federal government’s obsession with cassava bread, and its resolve, so to say, of chocking it down the throats of Nigerians whether they like it or not.
Cassava bread first gained prominence around 2003 when former president Olusegun Obasanjo endorsed loaves of cassava bread at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council. That the promoters would not choose to eat cassava bread was obvious even then, but government continued under the illusion that the rest of the country would drop everything else in favour of cassava bread.   
Since that initial presentation over 10 years ago, cassava bread as a product has not caught on. Consumers of bread do not go out of their ways to specifically ask for cassava bread, as they would for say, wheat bread. Bakers too, have not bought into the cassava bread business because demand, assuming it exists, may not be worth their while or profitable. It should have been clear to the federal government that the policy had inherent weaknesses that needed redress.
However, as is typical with policy-makers and public officials in Nigeria, it seems that the same stale cassava bread that Obasanjo presented to Nigerians in 2003 has been repacked and is now being re-presented again, this time by the Jonathan administration.
In a presidential villa that spends billions of naira annually on feeding, would cassava bread find space even in the waste bins? Who would imagine that the present tenants of the villa, who by their own admission, were born into and grew up in extreme poverty, would upset their sensitive palates with coarse cassava?
Knowing how government operates in Nigeria, there is probably a task force, unit or even desk in charge of the cassava bread project. It is also not inconceivable that it has a budget line in the ministry of agriculture with very fat funds released to the project annually. So to justify their existence, if not their relevance, they occasionally organise public activities to talk about the wonders of cassava bread and its nutritional values – while the real issues remain largely ignored.
To begin with, how many Nigerians really eat bread by choice? With growing poverty and incomes being constantly pared by inflation, bread, which should be a food for everyone is basically out of the reach of many Nigerians. For policy-makers ensconced in the luxury of government offices, this may be hard to believe, but the reality with many Nigerian families is that they do not have the capacity to make food purchases every day or two – which is the case with bread because it does not remain fresh for long. With tens of millions of people living on less than a dollar a day, how many people can afford bread, cassava or not?  
But assuming that Nigerians want to eat bread and can afford to, why should government assume that people will opt for cassava bread, when there are varieties of breads, cakes and other confectionery to choose from? Even if cassava bread is supposed to be for people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, it would an insult to their sensibilities to assume that they would not aspire to eat richly buttered and creamy wheat loaves.
Moreover, if one eats garri, eba, fufu and other meals derived from cassava daily, the last thing on that person’s mind would be another cassava based food.  
The fundamental challenge of government’s cassava bread policy is the fact that it is not driven by economics. Profit-making is a powerful drive, and if there was a profit to be made somewhere along the line – from cassava farming and processing to the buying and selling of cassava flour and bread, government would not have needed to shout and preach over and over again about the virtues and desirability of cassava bread. Economic factors would have driven the process and made it a multi-billion naira industry long ago.
The cassava bread strategy also seriously under-estimates the obsession of Nigerians with preposterously expensive lifestyles: If Nigerians could import drinking water from Mars, we probably would. But since that isn’t feasible, we are doing the next most ludicrous thing: importing bottled Perrier water from France at huge cost. Even now, some newly affluent Nigerians will not be caught drinking anything else – such is our mania for all things foreign and expensive.
It was no surprise that the House of Representative rejected a bill seeking to make it mandatory to include cassava in the manufacture of all flour products in Nigeria. The fact is, unless the policy is overhauled, all those insisting on recycling stale ideas, if not stale cassava bread, should just let the matter be.  

Monday, 13 January 2014

Nigeria: Where thieves are rewarded


 
Salisu Suleiman.

Last week’s piece on the attitude of Nigerian motorists elicited a number of responses. A few felt I hadn’t treated the topic in sufficient depth. Others shared their experiences about how ignorance or carelessness on the part of drivers led to fatal accidents. Another reader pointed out that drivers’ licenses were bought and sold like goods in a flea market.
Yet another recalled the case in 2011, when a 22 year young truck driver from Anambra who, on his first trip to Abuja, ended up crushing over 20 people to death after running into eight vehicles close to the furniture market in Kugbo. The last that was heard of him was from his hospital bed. He has probably since recovered and is driving another truck. He was neither prosecuted, nor was the accident investigated.  
The point being made was that if we could not respect the sanctity of lives by punishing those who carelessly endangered other people, how could we hope to punish the supposedly lesser crime of bad behavior on the part of politicians and public officials?
Perhaps, nothing exemplifies the issue better than a review of life, culture and politics in Nigeria in the last 15 years – as well the tragedy of our distorted political, social and economic landscape. What stands out clearly is that we have become a land where doing the right thing may actually be risky, but where wrongdoing and impunity are well rewarded. 
There are thousands of instances, but just three examples will illustrate this point.
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha needs no introduction. As governor of oil rich Bayelsa state between 1999 and 2006, he was convicted of having stolen a mindboggling N126 billion from the state. I cannot stop thinking about how drastically that amount would have changed Bayelsa, with its 2 million people and nine local government areas. If he had any vision, Alamieyeseigha might have changed Bayelsa state and his people beyond recognition.
The key thing, however, is that Alamieyeseigha didn’t end up in jail for stealing; his troubles began because he was seen by former president Olusegun Obasanjo as an Atiku Abubakar loyalist.
To cut a long story short, Alamieyeseigha has not only obtained a presidential pardon, but is a regular presence at the Presidential Villa, where he is a key part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s reelection bid. In return, he may win a senate seat. If Jonathan manages to hang on to office, it would not be inconceivable to see Alamieyeseigha appointed as minister of foreign affairs, since he enjoys travelling, but hasn’t managed to in quite a while!
At any rate, since Alamieyeseigha’s departure as governor, others, including then Governor Goodluck Jonathan simply continued the tradition of mismanagement. By Nigerian standards, all of that is normal enough. What is difficult to get over is the popularity that each of these thieving governors, past and present, still enjoy among the people of Bayelsa.  
Another case is Rev. Jolly Nyame. Like Alamieyeseigha, Nyame also governed one of Nigeria’s smaller states of Taraba - in his case, for a cumulative 10 years. Given its relatively small population and vast resources, Nyame had every opportunity to transform the fate and fortunes of his people by laying a strong foundation for social and economic development. But he was so busy importing local entertainers and praise-singers to Jalingo that he only left behind a legacy of waste and unmatched profligacy. Yet, because of our value system, Nyame still draws large crowds of followers – the same people whose future he frittered away.
Finally, Saminu Turaki, the North’s weeping governor (apologies to late Sam Mbakwe). Turaki entered office as one of Nigeria’s youngest governors in 1999 but seems he did all he could to frustrate the development of Jigawa state. In retrospect, some argue that a simple psychological evaluation might have disqualified him from running for public office. However, he not only won election twice, but went on to plunder the state. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is supposed to be investigating him over an alleged N36 billion theft.
As a major sponsor of Obasanjo’s third term bid, Turaki, allegedly transferred about N10 billion of state funds to the third term project treasurer, Nnamdi (Andy) Ubah. Incidentally, his weeping in public was not in sympathy or apology for the poverty of his people, but for himself for facing corruption charges. Today, not only is he popular among some of the people he so badly mismanaged, but is rumored to be a top ministerial contender from Jigawa.
The crux of the matter is, from presidents, state governors, ministers and other public officials, as long as Nigerians to accept impunity and theft, while rewarding bad behavior, there will be no incentive to do the right things, just as we cannot hold people to account for wrongdoing.