Desirous of foreign loan to invigorate the ailing Nigerian economy, a Nigerian President set off from the sprawling, multiple mansion presidential lodge in Aso Rock, Abuja to London for a meeting with his British counterpart. Driven in a 36-car motorcade of stretch limousines and other luxurious cars to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), he boarded one of the ten presidential jets and zoomed off to London. At Heathrow Airport, two stretch limousines, some SUVs and six dispatch riders are at his service including a retinue of staff from the diplomatic mission who virtually “drop to their knees to catch every drop of his sneeze”. At No 10 Downing Street, Mr. President is ushered into the modestly furnished office of his host, the Prime Minister (PM) of Great Britain. The PM lives in an equally modestly furnished apartment in the same building on a street that is open 24/7 to everyday traffic for everyday people, a rather striking contrast with the maximum security exclusivity of Aso Rock, far away from the reach of everyday Nigerians.
The GDP of UK is $3.198tr (September 2022) while that of Nigeria is $445bn. Meanwhile, UK has a population of 68.7m compared to Nigeria’s 220m; in other words, UK population is less than a third of that of Nigeria with a GDP that is seven times that of Nigeria. Even with this whopping comparative economic superiority, the PM flies British Airways along with the public; he has a six-car motorcade and two dispatch riders; he lives a frugal life. This scenario paints a pathetic pen portrait of a man living an obscenely ostentatious lifestyle going cap-in-hand to a humble and modest man for alms. President Ronald Reagan of the US was right in saying that “African leaders spend like drunken sailors; only that drunken sailors spend their own money while African leaders spend public money”. In a recent OP-ED, the author lamented the alarming number of “Magnificent Mansions of Melancholy” in Nigeria that have absolutely no economic value as they only massage the bloated ego of corrupt public officers. Again, a video clip that made the rounds recently in the social media shows a senator arrogantly displaying his private collection of more than two hundred expensive wristwatches, an endless array of equally expensive clothes and shoes, sets of suitcases, perfumes and the luxurious interior of his bedroom. The grapevine has it that the senator has more than a dozen exotic cars in his sprawling garage. The senator’s exhibitionism is emblematic of the behavior of legislators, public office holders and authority figures at all levels of government in Nigeria. The point remains that Nigerian legislators, ab initio, abused their legislative privileges by creating for themselves spurious allowances that put them in an exclusive socioeconomic class, which has no parallel amongst public officers, globally. For instance, Nigerian senators take home N37m per month in a country where the minimum wage is N18k; the President of the United States currently earns N17.2m per month.
In another setting, one of the wives of a Governor is captured on video sharing one million Naira each to her aides numbering up to twenty while the state government is owing worker’s salaries and pensioners’ entitlement for months. Invariably, the aides made up of police and other operatives are being “motivated” to be effective and efficient in their duty of protecting the lives and property of the Governor and his family thereby exacerbating social distance.
Down the societal strata, to celebrate his 50th birthday, a Nigerian attorney took out various advertisements in seventeen glossy color pages of major national newspapers. At the modest cost of about five hundred thousand Naira per page, that unnecessary display of affluence gulped more than eight million Naira. Further down the socioeconomic ladder, an unemployed Nigerian sells land to buy a car for personal use. In other words, he sells an asset to purchase a liability. He borrows humongous amount to provide “befitting burial” for a parent that starved to death; he is suffused in the wasteful cultures of a society which priorities sit on their heads. This has produced the paradox of Nigeria being the home to the richest man in Africa vis-a-vis having the ignominious moniker of poverty capital of the world. During the last quarter of 2022, Bishop David Oyedepo was quoted as saying that “the 2023 election will show how many insane people there are in Nigeria”. It is the demented that voted for an obviously ailing octogenarian, who shamelessly claims to be septuagenarian to preside over the affairs of the most populous nation in negrodom. From INEC’s results and based on Oyedepo’s hypothesis, Nigeria has eight million, seven hundred and ninety-four thousand, seven hundred and twenty-six enfranchised citizens who, due to their state of mind, voted for an excessively greedy man whose background and education remain a national mystery instead of one who has a proven record of character, credibility, capacity and competence. From the bleeders of our economy who masquerade as leaders through the rats that are called technocrats and bureaucrats, the randy predator professorial illiterates that encourage cheating in schools and the electoral process, to the prosperity-preaching parasitic and predator priests and millions of touts in every inch of our public space, Nigeria is, undoubtedly, the domain of the demented. If this trend persists and citizens do not rise up and demand and insist on probity and accountability from authority figures and public officers, the country is on the fast track to becoming a doomed domain of the demented.