Ibori - My Thief Is Bigger Than Yours, by Tunde Omopariola
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Ibori – My Thief Is Bigger Than Yours, by Tunde Omopariola

In the last few days there has been a lot of noise about the release from a UK prison of the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori. Some rejoiced and others were disgusted that some people had the guts to celebrate the release of someone convicted for stealing money meant for the welfare of the people who gave him a mandate to serve them. I want to say a few things that we seem to be forgetting while this is going on. Please read with a clear mind, I am not a politician and I do not belong to either PDP or APC because I believe they are just different sides of a very rusty, useless coin!

First and foremost Ibori has a family, both nuclear and extended that will celebrate him no matter what happens, he also has a lot of beneficiaries, and I mean a LOT. What you also need to realise is that in Nigeria, we have a really messed up situation. The only difference between Ibori and those walking free and actually in positions of authority today is an arrest, a proper trial and imprisonment! You also need to remember that the trial was not even conducted in Nigeria (I believe this is the reason he was imprisoned). So having said that, the comparison is between Ibori and other fellow thieves who are walking free and rewarded with another opportunity to steal by being given political appointments.

I have discussed this issue with friends who are from Delta and those who lived there while Ibori was governor. I discussed this because it bothered me. We have a very low standard in Nigeria and we have no excellent examples for comparison. Most of my friends from Delta will tell you he is still their best governor with all the money he stole!!! That in itself tells a story, Nigeria is in deep trouble. Ibori is the ‘best thief’ according to my friend from Delta. ‘They are all thieves but he at least did some things for the people and he also went to jail for his crimes’ he added……..wahala dey!

This is my interpretation of their reasoning: They prefer a thief that benefitted them a little compared to other thieves who did nothing else apart from steal from them. Please note also that he sponsored a lot of those currently in government in Delta state and beyond. As long as ‘godfatherism’ exists in Nigerian politics, it will always be like this. Not sure how true it is but he was also rumoured to have been mandated by the powers that be to sponsor Yar’adua’s election in 2007.

At the end of the day, Ibori is being compared to a field of fellow nonentities and he comes on top according to their experience. You can only beat the competition that is in front of you and in this case, like Fela sang in his album, Big Blind Country, ‘In the country of the blind, na one eyed man be king’……. So sad but that is our current reality.

We currently have a system designed to fail, a system that serves the moneybags and their stooges. They (the moneybags) who already stole from us are the only ones with the capacity to get back in power, with the type of money required to campaign for election in Nigeria, it is a stranglehold and it will not ease off anytime soon. Until we change this moneybag system that is designed to fail we will not get anything better unfortunately.

So those who are rejoicing have their reasons (whatever they may be), our real problem is the failure to erect institutions, checks and balances within the system that makes it difficult to steal. We cannot expect excellent results with a failed process, no amount of prayers will change an outcome prepared with laziness and inability to improve how we do things. 2019 is near, politicians will roll out the money again and we will choose who we perceive to be the ‘best of the thieves’ and expect miracles as usual.

I wanted to end this with the usual ‘God help us’ but hey, God has done more than enough for us, excellent weather, so many mineral resources, great brains all over the world, hardly any natural disasters etc. What more do we want Him to do? Tell me! I will rather say thank you God for your mercy and patience, for not choosing to wipe us off the face of the earth. We are blessed beyond words can describe, time to be honest with ourselves and put in the work required.

Mr Tunde Omopariola, who lives in London UK, is a social-political commentator. He is not a member of any Nigerian party, so his views are always devoid of any partisanship or bias. He is a down to earth, practical individual with large following  on Twitter (@Tund3_) to attest to this. 

 

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