Indeed, how much money does a man need in a lifetime? This is a question that has often dwell on my mind. I refused to turn to Socrates for an answer as I feel that this burning question carries a moral weight and should not subscribe to the monopoly of wisdom of a single individual. Obviously, the answers to this question would be as varied as there are different needs and desires of human beings. The answers would reflect our attitude to wealth acquisition and the degree of discipline each one of us has over those primitive human instincts especially greed. The answers would reflect the environment in which we grew up, our early nurturing and exposure and our life experiences. This question agitated my mind again when I read in the Sahara Reporters of Tuesday the 18th of March 2014 about the ongoing court action instituted by the EFCC against the incumbent Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji currently stands accused of embezzling over 600 million Naira of Lagos State fund.
For those new to the â€œprogressiveâ€ politics of Lagos State, Mr Ikuforiji is a three-term Speaker of the State House of Assembly, a powerful lieutenant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a potential gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state. He has continuously been the Speaker of the State House of Assembly since 29th December, 2005 in a fashion typical of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which later metamorphosed into the APC. A fashion characterised by complete subservience and reverence to the whims and caprices of the supreme godfather, who in his infallibility, could even install a mosquito as the Speaker of the House of Assembly. The â€œprogressiveâ€ brand of politics in Nigeria leaves one in so much awe as to its uniqueness in terms of frivolities, submissiveness, god-fatherism, nepotism, massive corruption, audacity and hypocrisy.
Kudos to the EFCC counsel, Mr Godwin Obla, for his graphic and painstaking details of the atrocities of Mr Ikuforiji. The details are as sordid as they are shocking. A quick glance at the details as reported by Sahara Reporters (http://saharareporters.com/news-page/efcc-details-how-assembly-speaker-ikuforiji-lavished-lagos-funds-foreign-trips-wife-others) showed that in eight months (January to August 2011), Mr Ikuforiji and his wife stole the sum of 137.2 million Naira from Lagos State â€“ Eko o ni baje o! Details revealed by Mr Obla demonstrated that Nigerian women actively give succour and encouragement to the nefarious activities of their husbands. Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji was a classical example, as despite the fact that she holds no official position in the scheme of things in the state, yet had unfettered access to state resources courtesy of the exalted position of her kleptomanic husband. The 6.4 million Naira she received in August 2011 has no preposterous prefix, like some attached to the money stolen by her husband. For example, the sum of 4.4 million Naira received by Mr Ikuforiji on the 1st of August 2011 had the prefix â€“ â€œcost of allowanceâ€. It is only in Nigeria that an allowance would even carry a cost! Yeye dey smell!!
The present Ikuforiji saga is a classic tale of high profile corruption with its intrigues and uncanny deception. Money was siphoned out under various guises and with shameless false intents. To Mr Ikuforijiâ€™s apologists, this would be a vexatious article as the â€œcase is still ongoingâ€. Going by our antecedent in this country and with the legendary inaction and vulnerability of our judiciary, it is often possible, most times, to predict the outcome of such cases, no disrespect to Justice Ibrahim Buba who is currently handling this case. In the present scenario, I feel the weight of moral burden to highlight this case in public court devoid of parochial political consideration. I am not a politician and would never support any of the clownish political parties currently deceiving the people in Nigeria.
A respected elder statesman once cried out in anguish when he could no longer fathom the gradual death of our dear country in the hands of corruption. He cried out that if corruption does not kill Nigeria, Nigeria would kill corruption. Obviously, since Nigeria alone cannot kill corruption, the only choice available is for corruption to kill Nigeria. And we seem to be in no hurry to alter this inevitable fate. It has even gotten so bad that Robert Mugabe used Nigeria as the butt of his joke whilst celebrating his birthday anniversary recently in Harare. Flashback, Abel Muzorewa at the Lancaster House meeting prior to the independence of Zimbabwe. Abel Muzorewa also made a historic statement on Nigeria. Muzorewa wondered at what his then country, Rhodesia, could gain from Nigeria. This is a memorable speech worth reading if only to assimilate the depth of our rot and the magnitude of international joke we have become as a country.
I have previously read Adeyemi Ikuforijiâ€™s reaction to his ongoing trial wherein he attributed his ordeal to the handwork of his political detractors. This response has two clear-cut interpretation as indeed, Mr Ikuforiji may be very correct. His political detractors, who after all steal the country blind in their own ways, may have for reasons best known to them ganged up against him. Of course, we do know that Mr Ikuforiji is not alone in this pastime of â€œgovernment stealingâ€. The other explanation is that poor Mr Ikuforiji may actually not see anything wrong in what he has done. Perhaps being an elected Speaker of Lagos State, to him, makes him sacrosanct and above constituted laws and obvious common sense. Common sense in that an elective position is a sacred opportunity to improve the lot of the masses.
Indeed, we should not crucify poor Mr Ikuforiji so much. When the chips are down, there are many â€œBarawosâ€ in Nigerian politics, even in the midst of our modern day progressives and saviours. The grandfather of â€œprogressive politicsâ€ in Lagos State and now nationally, still encourages tongues to wag as to the origin of his stupendous and ever growing wealth. This is despite the barely hidden University of Chicago debacle (yes, we have not forgotten). More than half of Lagos State and her wealth belong to this single most powerful individual. The sitting governor of the state too has, despite his much flaunted achievement, left little in doubt as to his indifference to and succour for corrupt practices. Before Joe Igbokwe shouts himself hoarse, is there any rationale for the continued occupation of the Speakership position by Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji despite this nauseating expose of his unbridled greed?
In the decadent Nigerian society, the likes of Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji are the right candidates and suitable recipients of numerous chieftaincy titles, state and national honours. In a country where thieves are adorable and greed is idolised and honoured, the Ikuforijis are the role models for younger generations who are patiently waiting in the wing for their â€œown turn and share of the national cakeâ€. If not for the post he presently occupies, Adeyemi Ikuforiji would have been a member of the current Abuja jamboree termed National Conference and perhaps a recipient of the highest national honour Nigeria can confer â€“ Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCRF). Thieves do indeed have honours in deranged societies.
Every man has the right to decide his own destiny says Robert Nesta Marley of blessed memory. Indeed, every country elects the type of leaders it deserves, apologies to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The masked musician, Lagbaja, also has a point here. In a country of 170 million mumus, anything goes. Thieves are honoured and made kings. Rule of law is in abeyance and social vices and greed reign supreme. This is the sad picture of Nigeria, a country currently in the vicious grips of psychotic and rudderless leadership. A country with a docile and condescending populace â€“ 170 million mumus!
I am back to my original question, indeed, how much money does a man need in a life time? A life time that moves so far in the scheme of things. A life time that is ephemeral and very insignificant in cosmic order. How much does a man need that he would willingly sacrifice his soul on the altar of greed? How much does a man need that every human value and etiquette becomes secondary to incessant material acquisition? Indeed, how much does a man need in a life time?
As for me, my suggestion remains the same. Why tackle only the tip of an iceberg and leave the base to rot? For as long as the â€œpolitical detractorsâ€ of the likes of Adeyemi Ikuforiji remain un-arrested and un-molested, our society has no moral right to prosecute or embarrass Ikuforiji any longer. As long as we as a people continue to keep quiet and allow unbridled corruption unfettered reign in our land, so long shall we have no option than to allow Adeyemi Ikuforiji unfettered access to his loot. The point is that there are so many Ikuforijis out there, how many have been successfully prosecuted and punished for their misdemeanour against the Nigerian state? How many have the people risen against? How many have been used as a deterrent against state corruption, also popularly known as pen robbery? For as long as we Nigerians remain as mumus, for so long should we leave the Ikuforijis alone. A sad tale in the moonlight is the summary of the Nigerian state.
Dr Olusegun Fakoya