Kwara, our rotten state
From Iyiola Oyedepo
Smart guys are in authority in Kwara State and they are inflicting deadly blows on its economy, psyche of the people and relationships in the heterogeneous composition of the State. Smart boys and I dare not call them crooks, who are adept in the use and manipulations of information technology (I.T.) have seized Kwara by the jugular, they may eventually squeeze life out of us all.
Bad boys that are well dressed and with a mannerism of the upper class are in authority, they kill, they maim, they steal and they destroy. This rampaging category has no regards for ethos, ethics and good values that decent societies take for granted. Kwara State is in trouble and danger from the rampaging predators whose only purpose is in pilfering and pillaging of common patrimony. The immediate future of this rotten Kwara is bleak.
Corruption may be a well-known Nigerian phenomenon. If Nigeria is the most corrupt country in world, there must also be the most corrupt state in Nigeria. Kwara State is the state: the most corrupt state of the most corrupt country of the world. Could that not be interpreted to mean that Kwara State is the most corrupt spot of the world? The most thriving industry in Kwara State which runs ceaselessly with unimaginable efficiency is this wicked engine of corruption. It has a solid foundation, reinforced with concrete walls of greed, incompetence, pride, selfishness, godfatherism, ignorance and docility of the elites. The above reinforcements make corruption to be deep-rooted in this rotten state.
Governed by an alien, not necessarily by their place of birth but more by upbringing, experience and exposure, what the leader has is what he can give. If his youthful and adult years have not been in the swampy back water of Asa, Baruten and Ifelodun Local Government Areas of Kwara State, he would never know the need for fresh water in the rural areas of the state to eradicate guinea worm in the 21st century Kwara. Having never seen guinea worm in London a place of his birth or Lagos, the city of his residency, the disease to him does not exist. Never seen or imagine how human beings could dwell on literate or untarred roads in his entire life, what he sees is what he is used to. It is unimaginable to him that there are Homo sapiens that would live on poor literate roads that are untarred. He has never taken water from a village pond. To him such does not exist. His world is poles apart from a state of his occupation. To have permitted him to rule a rural backward state of Kwara is a form of corruption and antithetical to the aspiration of the people of Kwara State.
And what are the qualifications for governance? They are: training without a career and competence in the field of training, and imposition as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in a family business. What qualified for CEO of a bank was not a background in economics or an expertise in a curriculum that has something to do with Finance; it is not even a stint in the management of a similar outfit. The only remaining criteria to direct billions of depositors’ fund is being “daddy’s son”, “founder’s pet” or “it is our family heritage”. Then, what came out of square peg in a round hole? The bank collapsed, depositors still weep, families ruined, but the owners of the bank acquired properties in London, South Africa, Dubai, Lagos, Abuja, Ilorin etc. Depositors weep, bank directors hilariously laugh. If the bank went under or collapsed, choice properties acquired by the Directors with depositors’ money still make money for them elsewhere. Suspects become untouchable and they move from the Board room of a terminally distressed bank to Government House and legislative houses. Oh, punishment where is your venom and pang?
Experience recommends or dis-recommends for positions? What then could have recommended a person that once ran and ruined a bank for a Special Adviser on budget to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? What also recommended for governorship of a state, a person under whose leadership a bank was phased out of the Nigerian financial industry? If good performance has meaning in recommending a candidate for elevation, poor performance must also demote. It is curious that poor performance eventually made a failed banker, a Special Adviser and later a governor of this unfortunate rotten state. If a candidate have always been failing and has acquired no further training and skill to change his status, nothing good can come out of him. If Kwara State is rotten for eight years and continues to be so, it is because we have installed failure to construct our state. If failures always get promoted, it could not have been out of merit, but rather because he runs the father’s business where nobody dare competes with him. The failed bank was his father’s business. Kwara State is also his father’s business. There are 36 states in the federation of Nigeria. You will never find any other that is entirely in the pocket of a family like this rotten Kwara State. There was one that came close to this in the Second Republic of Nigeria. That was when Joseph Tarka and his son, Simeon, were both in the upper and lower Houses of the National Assembly 1979–1983. Chief J.S Tarka was a doyen of the middle belt political resistance of the pre independence and the First Republic. What struggle whether economic or political qualifies our kingpin of Kwara politics and his family to capture and appropriate the whole state for them as we continuously witness especially for the past nine years? Greater political leaders like Awo, Zik, Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Shehu Shagari did not achieve the feat of the kingpin of Kwara politics. Can any of the leaders above foist their incompetent sons and daughters on their various states? Perhaps, it is only in the rotten state of Kwara that this can take place. And if for eight years, and after taking well over 300 billion Naira in the form of statutory allocation, and billions of Naira loan in the form of bonds and yet, there are no corresponding values of development on the ground, what other evidence of rottenness do we need? But all I know is that, if the kingpin is not the biological and political godfather of the CEO of a distressed bank, perhaps the later would not have been qualified to be a councillor of a Local Government in a society that is not rotten.
What you learn is what you exhibit. You cannot learn prolificacy and be prudent even with public money. You cannot learn arrogance and be humble. You cannot learn selfishness and be selfless. You cannot learn corruption and be incorruptible. To a person given to corruption as a way of life, any amount can be misappropriated. If corruption is a way of life, it may be incurable and no amount is too small to embezzle. If a son and daughter were charged to court in the early 90s for embezzlement of about half a million, from where did they learn the art of fraud as a way of life? Perhaps, they were brought up on a diet of corruption. If the larger society is not rotten too, the case ought to have gone for full prosecution, may be Kwara could have been saved of these long years of agony. But it could as well be like the Iboris of this world, that falsified and destroyed conviction to be a governor for eight years. Nigeria is a place of anything goes.
Kwara State is a place of “legal” and illegal corruption. The hallow principle of democracy of one man, one vote is profaned in Kwara State. The constitution of government here is by ballot stuffing, deliberate falsehood through the use of state owned media to announce imaginary figures at the conclusions of state INEC conducted elections. When you win an election by an act or art of rigging, legitimacy is given to a corrupted process. Rigged election is like a military coup, when it is successful, it becomes legal. That indeed is legal corruption. When a House of Assembly is ordered to pass a law that will allow the state governor to have unhindered access to local government fund, as the access is by law passed by “the boys” it appears legal. What has been passed as a law could be a stealing instrument. That too is a legal corruption. Recently school heads are being instructed to create fake students in JSS 1–3 and to cover the years 2009/2010,2010/2011,2011/2012. For example, where students on the roll was actually 29, school Head was told to increase it to 228 where they were 30, figures rose to 243. What will a decent government do with this deliberate falsehood? Is it to cover fraud or to commit fraud? Let us note that when illegality is canonised or legalised by a purchase of legal instrument, what is created is what I call legal corruption. It is illegal corruption when the Chief Executive does money laundering, inflates contracts bills, out rightly steal from public treasury etc. In a rotten Kwara, corruption is business, a way of life.
Those that think that the situation will always be rotten are myopic. Leaders that think they will always be in charge are regrettably too short sighted. They are unmindful of insatiable grave of history. The wombs of history give birth to leaders. The graves of history consume leaders. Those that thrive today, though can be alive, they could be consumed by the insatiable grave of history. They may be alive, yet events will bye–pass them. That which has been foully accumulated will not last. Such may be spent on sickness or image laundering. The offspring of such leaders will no more see political limelight and such family will go into infamy and eventual extinction. Such is the end of the proud and the wicked. A rotten society is known by its products. Kwara State is known for bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, appropriation of public assets and property for private use and influence peddling. That is our Kwara, rotten Kwara.
AKOGUN IYIOLA OYEDEPO,
82/85 Stadium Shopping Complex,
Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Ilorin,
Tel : 08037147948