We are paying the price. The kleptocrats distract us from focusing on their crime by invoking religion, ethnicity or whatever identity suits them, and the kakistocrats distract us from their ineptitude and mediocrity by attacking free speech. While we are engrossed in bickering, the kleptocrats steal more and the kakistocrats plunge us into depths of inaction or zealotry…


The near constant news reports about staggering amounts of funds traceable to former and current public officers are troubling. With every humongous find, one begins to wonder if there is any iota of hope for Nigeria in the management of its finances. Aside from theft is the problem of crass incompetence and profiteering from misery. If in doubt, ask a determined Governor Zulum of Borno, who is getting a daily dose of the bitter pill of kleptocracy, corruption and kakistocracy in his efforts to protect his people from Boko Haram terrorists. He is undermined everyday as he fights for normalcy in the Borno system.

Nigeria is under the siege of criminals and incompetents. Nigerians face a long walk through tortuous alleys to freedom. Freedom is a long journey of faith for a country that is a textbook example of criminal behaviours that are not situational, individualistic, opportunistic or sporadic. No! We are governed by a rabid collective whose kleptocratic behaviour is strategic, systematic and permanent. From top civil servants to elected officials, everyone dips their hands into the till to enrich themselves. Thereafter, the stolen money is used to fund their ascendancy to higher offices and perpetuate themselves in power. Several indicators of failure like insecurity, epileptic power supply and low infrastructural base, show that kleptocrats do not care. To kleptocrats, people’s need do not matter, as common good is secondary, unless it enables more power and more access to the public treasury. Unfortunately, this is widespread and has gained acceptance as an ideology. Even the governed expect holders of public office to steal.

Who has taken the blame for the thirty people who lost their lives in Auno, Borno State because soldiers withdrew and terrorists took over? No one has resigned, no one has been suspended or removed. The president gave his standard meaningless tripe, while the rest of us moved on to our bread and butter issues. We have heard the same thing over and again, and we have rather unfortunately become inured to violence. Everywhere, scoundrels are a permanent fixture in the halls of power. What President Muhammadu Buhari has done is to give voice and elevation to scoundrels, legitimise mediocrity, ineptitude and empower amateurs. I have a feeling he has enabled and encouraged official madness. The grave consequences of his administration runs faster than the earth rotates in its axis. The speed at which Nigeria lags behind less endowed African countries because of myopia, notorious short-termism and ineptitude is confounding.

Every passing day, our problems assume more frightening dimensions. Productivity is sinking, the tax to GDP ratio is laughable, borrowing has increased so much as to threaten growth and economic viability. None of these discourages the kleptocrats, and there is no let-up in the stealing of public funds.


Who will protect and restore human dignity to the North-East? Boko Haram festers and slaughters not only because the top military brass get kickbacks for buying weapons, terrorists are having a field day because of the wholesale diversion of funds, lack of welfare of soldiers, and the elevation of class dunces to positions of strategic importance, far above their pay grade. We live in the era of government by the worst. A government which shuns talent in preference for the inept, parochial and weak. A kakistocracy.

Every passing day, our problems assume more frightening dimensions. Productivity is sinking, the tax to GDP ratio is laughable, borrowing has increased so much as to threaten growth and economic viability. None of these discourages the kleptocrats, and there is no let-up in the stealing of public funds. We are constantly tormented and traumatised by people like Theodore Orji, who allegedly has N521 billion stashed in his sons accounts. Chinedum Orji’s hundreds of accounts reveals a vast, sophisticated money laundering nebula and permanent network of corruption through monthly transfers from state allocation.

Does a man need N521 billion when he does not own a manufacturing concern, has not invented anything nor generated an idea that can improve living on the planet? What motivates this nuclear level of stealing? Nothing is sacred anymore. It is so bad that intervention funds for the health sector are looted. Internally generated funds are being stolen and externally generated funds from donors are at risk of being stolen, unless tightly monitored by the donors. To what end? For the newest cars, homes in world capitals, fees for the ivy league education of their children and enough to oppress poor Nigerians?

How many thieving officials or terrorists have been successfully prosecuted and punished? All the brazen criminality in the land is traceable to political connections by way of appointments or subsequent protection from consequences. Of course, big league thieves and advance fee fraud moguls are the main financiers of the political parties under whose umbrella they function.


That a man would steal N521 billion stretches the imagination. This humongous level of stealing signposts a total breakdown of discipline in the management of public goods. Sadly, it is now a culture due to personal greed and the predilection for get-rich-quick and ostentation without recourse to the source of wealth. When Buhari promised us change, we weren’t expecting institutional stupidity like the $500 million that is claimed would instantly transform the dour, weak and ineffectual Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to the level of CNN. Such grandiose projects is full of loopholes. The $500 million will eventually become a gravy train for the corrupt and looters. And NTA will remain the way it is.

Political connections in Nigeria catalyse criminal behaviour. If the current state of affairs will provoke us to question our leaders and demand accountability and responsibility of them, may this rise to a crescendo. No nation can survive this level of systemic subjugation of public institutions to the narrow confines of ethnicity and privilege. Public institutions are hopelessly subject to ethnic and religious agenda. Employment is auctioned to the highest bidders. How can those recruited on the basis of ethnicity, religion or partisanship act in the national interest? That is where we found ourselves. How many thieving officials or terrorists have been successfully prosecuted and punished? All the brazen criminality in the land is traceable to political connections by way of appointments or subsequent protection from consequences. Of course, big league thieves and advance fee fraud moguls are the main financiers of the political parties under whose umbrella they function.

We are paying the price. The kleptocrats distract us from focusing on their crime by invoking religion, ethnicity or whatever identity suits them, and the kakistocrats distract us from their ineptitude and mediocrity by attacking free speech. While we are engrossed in bickering, the kleptocrats steal more and the kakistocrats plunge us into depths of inaction or zealotry by their ignorance. Nigeria will go no where until it stops treating systemic corruption as a secondary, stand-alone issue, but as a potent threat to socioeconomic development, security and governance. Again, we pay the price.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo