The Evangelist News edition, Saturday July 29, 2023. By Emeka Obasi
Policy decisions are taken outside Aso Villa, this is the practice even if we do not want to say it. Since 2010, those who determine what the country gets hardly sleep within the precincts of the seat of power. Call them power brokers, I see them as the real bandits.
Jerry Rawlings did not mince words in 1979 when he announced that while Nigeria was busy executing petty thieves at the Bar Beach, Ghana had taken down jumbo size robbers at Labadi Beach. He was talking about the death of three former Heads of State and some Service Chiefs.
The real bandits in Nigeria control our lives. Fuel Subsidy sounds abstract to citizens who are yet to figure out how a country with four refineries continues to be outsmarted by a few individuals who milk the nation dry, live big and sit on the future of compatriots.
In the past, there was Kaduna Mafia. Those who made it up were more interested in power, using their influence. Many of them were top military generals, with a spice of civilian collaborators. They had business interests but it was not to the detriment of the people.
Biafra was not free of power play. There was what was generally known as Nnewi Mafia. Gen. Emeka Ojukwu was no doubt the Head of State and Mafia. The other members were Chukwuemeka, Odumegwu and Christopher Mojekwu. It was so powerful that all major decisions were taken by this four – man committee of two.
I lived in Biafra as a boy. I do not remember going through what I have experienced in Nigeria in the last 72 hours. When Federal troops set Owasa and Eleme ablaze or captured oil facilities that were vital to the Biafrans, necessity gave birth to invention.
Refineries were built. Biafra did not last more than three years. It was war situation, that everyone could understand. Engineers were encouraged to think out of the box. Clement Onyemelukwe and his group set up refineries in Amandugba and Uzuakoli. Airports sprang up, from Uli to Uga. Fuel was made out of coal.
That was true ingenuity. Gordian Ezekwe, Willy Achukwu, Ben Oragwu, Roy Umenyi and Frank Mbanefo were not imported from outer space. They made themselves available for the good of country. These men were not placed on jumbo salaries.
We have people who can do the same in Nigeria. They are in the West, you will find them in the East, they are available up North and ready to be engaged down South. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has been negotiating with bandits instead of our best brains.
Today, petrol is pure death sentence. Citizens have been condemned to the gallows by a small group of individuals who make all the money, ensure that the refineries remain dead and use government to confuse fellow countrymen with big words like Subsidy and Palliatives.
In the Second Republic, I never heard of the Federal Government negotiating with Maitatsine. In the Fourth Republic, we have seen Boko Haram, Herdsmen and Bandits. How wonderful, that sight of a state governor taking photographs with assault rifle bearing bandits.
However, the Buhari Ndajis, the Shekaus and Oshishikankwus that were gunned down amid celebrations, did not pose as much threat as those who are doing deadly business with our oil. These powerful merchants are not Unknown Gunmen. They are known by those in and outside power.
If government could invite Niger Delta militants to Aso Villa, the Federal Government can also invite the Saints behind oil deals to Abuja and grant them audience. We the people of Nigeria are now asking for amnesty from our oppressors.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is poorer than those who run oil business in the country. There is nothing to show yet, that government has the political will to pursue a military approach. While our troops are sent to the North – West to fight bandits, they are being ridiculed before the world in the fight against oil thieves.
Nigerians are tired of unworkable policy statements. Let Abuja gather all those who are using oil to grind us, to a summit. Since they are wealthy and untouchable, we may reach a compromise. Let them lend money to government to subsidize the suffering of the masses.
Taxation is not only for the poor. You can tax the rich to save the poor. There are middlemen who know how to negotiate with bandits. Some of them can negotiate with oil thieves. All this big grammar about saving money makes no sense to a hungry Nigerian.
There is no point wasting cash in the name of Palliatives. This is the highest form of Yahoo Yahoo, experience showed it in the immediate past. The ministry of Humanitarian Affairs should be scrapped. The way money entered and disappeared will make a James Hadley Chase novel.
If government needs to beattend to Womanitarian Affairs, there are smarter ways and better names. Affirmative action is not about the Oza room. The women who need attention urgently, are legion and littered all over the space.
The truth is that our country has been taken over by bandits. The ones you see in the North are just freelance criminals. General Taoreed Lagbaja can wipe them out, I trust him and our gallant soldiers. The oil bandits are soft target should Admiral Ikechukwu Ogalla and his Navy Seals get the necessary support.
We are all held hostage by Bandits In Power ( BIP ). These ones are jumbo players that have kicked us so hard in the ass that we have moved from 184 naira per litre to 458 to 658 and are steadily sliding to 1000 per litre. Neither Lagbaja nor Ogalla can defeat them in battle.
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