In my opinion, the only difference between Anini and some of our politicians is just the style deployed in carrying out their heinous acts against Nigerians. So, in as much as armed robbers would not be celebrated or honoured after death, there is no reason to celebrate their ilk disguised as politicians in our polity.

The title of this piece will definitely irritate many people who knew or have read about Lawrence Anini’s atrocious lifestyle, but they need not get irritated. After all, honouring the dead is allowed in our culture.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not doing a tribute to Anini’s horrible life or trying to be iconoclastic. However, I think if the memories of Anini would ordinarily irritate and provoke us to rain curses on him, why should memories of political and administrative pen-robbers who wreak more havoc in our polity be different?

Honouring the dead with bogus words in a hypocritical manner might be a norm among our politicians, but, it makes no sense for impoverished Nigerians to lend their voices to this shameless praise singing in memory of corrupt politicians.

To be specific, the tributes that followed the demise of the duo of an acclaimed “Governor-General”, who died a few weeks ago and “The Prince of the Niger” should baffle anyone who knows even a little of the scandals they were involved in during their lifetimes.

Let’s face it; the deceased politicians in this context are not different from Anini if we want to be objective. This abrasive assertion is not borne out of malice and I believe that juxtaposing Anini’s heist and their pen-robbery would suffice.

History has it that Anini’s most remarkable heist at the African Intercontinental Bank, Agbor branch fetched him about N46,000 (not more than $10,000) then. Can Anini’s booty be compare to the £1.8 million loot found in cash and the bank accounts of the acclaimed ‘Governor-General’? Yet, after he fell, he was eulogised as a remarkable achiever, a political bulldozer, political tractor and political shovel. Why?

Similarly, all that Anini stole in his lifetime is chicken feed compared to the N11 billion loot for which the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) stomped the agbada of the late ‘Prince of the Niger’ who passed on a few days ago. Funny enough, many are still iconising him as an indomitable democrat, a political Iroko and a political toothpick as I write. Again, I ask why?

Several stories of how petty thieves have been savagely lynched by angry mobs portrays how much we claim to loathe thieves. However, seeing many of us suddenly become hypocritically empathetic when a corrupt politician dies all in the name of honouring the dead is arrant hypocrisy.

I am not a judge, but how some folks try to justify the kleptomaniac activities of these politicians who enriched themselves and left the respective states they governed poorer than they met it is absurd. Even if they delivered the moon on a stick, like their praise singers would want us to believe, it behoves on us to understand that none of them funded any project with their personal monies and, most times, those projects were executed at highly inflated rates.

Summarily, the so-called achievements of these politicians we often celebrate after their demise are nothing too dissimilar to what Anini once did, as the Wikipedia describes: “Anini after one of his heists became a ‘Father Christmas’ as he strewed wads of naira notes on the ground for free picks by market men and women at a village near Benin.”

If this incident is no reason to applaud Anini, why should the fact that a politician, who stole the people blind and left his state poorer, be eulogised, after delivering on a few projects, which were actually conduit pipes for corruption?

I might partially agree with those who might claim these politicians were not reckless murderers like Anini but the truth remains that the negative multiplier effect of their kleptomaniac leadership has directly or indirectly killed more Nigerians. For the purpose of clarity, for every one kobo embezzled or ‘misappropriated’ by these politicians, there are many Nigerians deprived of good roads, healthcare, good education and, more importantly, security. The truth is obvious.

Several stories of how petty thieves have been savagely lynched by angry mobs portrays how much we claim to loathe thieves. However, seeing many of us suddenly become hypocritically empathetic when a corrupt politician dies all in the name of honouring the dead is arrant hypocrisy.

In my opinion, the only difference between Anini and some of our politicians is just the style deployed in carrying out their heinous acts against Nigerians. So, in as much as armed robbers are not celebrated or honoured after death, there is no reason to celebrate their ilk disguised as politicians in our polity.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo, ahmedoluwasanjo@gmail.com, writes from Abuja.