By Muyiwa Olayinka
When we were younger, it was a huge challenge between me and my younger brother to share toys. It is common between two brothers almost of the same age bracket. Your toy is bigger or finer than mine was the common phrase.
Many mothers tired of siblings rivalry found a way-out.
She would buy the same toy but of different colors. As a result of child’s naivety an argument of who has the finer or bigger toy could come up..
This played out on 12th of May, 2017, when former and the only military President of Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, popularly referred to as IBB gave out his daughter Halima in marriage to Auwwal Abdulahi in Minna. The event took place at his hilltop mansion in Minna, Niger state, north central Nigeria.
IBB left office in a controversial manner. He was forced to step aside in a fruitless, infantile and endless transition program to civilian rule in 1993.
He annulled the freest and the best election ever conducted in Nigeria.
Ever since he stepped aside, he remains a political figure in Nigeria. Many political office holders continually solicit for his advise on political matters. Other top government functionaries court his support for state and other sundry matters.
However it was a glorious moment to the entire family, simply because it tends to erase the sadness over the loss of IBB’s wife (Maryam) and former First Lady to a terminal illness some few years ago
It was not a surprise that his house became a Mecca of sorts on the day he gave out his last daughter, Halimah for marriage.
The Minna international airport experienced heavy traffic with over 24 private jets taxing on the tarmac with VIPs from across the country. Among the dignitaries were former President Goodluck Jonathan whose jet with registration number N717 AL taxied to tarmac at about 12.15 pm. The president was accompanied by his wife Dame Patience and others.
All Progressive Congress national leader Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu flew in a private jet
Former Vice President Namadi Sambo came with his entourage in a private jet, while Senate President Bukola Saraki and his entourage including Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Phillip Aduda arrived in a private jet.
Other Governors sighed at the airport with private jets were Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe, Rochas
Okorocha of Imo, Dairius Ishaku of Taraba and Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara.
The minister of Defense Mansur Dan Ali arrived in an air force jet with registration number NAF961 in the company of the minister of interior and others
The business community were not left out in the private jets’ race. The business mogul Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Wahab Folawiyo and Mike Adenuga were present .
There was a time when luxury SUV was the fad. We were bombarded with different ranges of state of the art SUVs. Times have changed, many have abandoned traveling by road because our roads have become death traps. Sadly last year a federal minister, his wife and his son died in a federal road while traveling in a SUV. It became scary to embark on long distances on Nigerian roads. Alternatively, our skies have been practically taken over by private jets.
These are the new toys that caught the fancy of our political gladiators.
From traditional rulers to pastors, there is a mad rush to acquire these latest fad or “adult toys”.
In Nigeria we embrace foreign goods. That is why we consume what we do not produce and produce what we do not consume. We are quick to consume rather than produce.
How many of these private jet owners have viable and productive ventures that contribute substantially to the national GDP?
But how can pastors or politicians that are not real producers of goods and services, feel comfortable maintaining luxurious items such as private jets, when most of their church members and political followers are living in abject poverty.
They will not invest in real productive ventures but they prefer soft businesses like education, hotels, real estates or set up media houses to propagate lies and deceit.
We know this acquisition of private jets were copied from the Americans. The Americans can afford these luxury items because the system is buoyant and robust to accommodate such an ostensibly lifestyle.
For example, many Hollywood stars watched the May 2nd, 2015 welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The Las Vegas airport was filled up with private jets (see the picture above)
In Nigeria, basic amenities like electricity, housing, feeding and clothing are non existent. Our political leaders are quick to copy luxurious lifestyles but fail to create conducive atmosphere for people and investments to grow.
In privacy among the politicians, the discussion would have been my jet is finer or bigger than yours at the wedding. A visitor or a foreigner will marvel at our crass opportunism and celebration of impudence by our political leaders.
The number of jets brought by government functionaries outnumbered the number of jets by the business and private community.
While one could not begrudge the business communities for flying in private jets displaying the reward of their labor or ingenuity , it is rather disappointing that despite the fact the nation is in recession, government officials with impunity encourage waste and display of flagrant opulence.
It smacks of insensitivity on the path of our political leaders.
We are being educated to prepare for tougher times with the application of harsh and belt tightening policies. Majority of Nigerians are on daily basis, going through harrowing experiences to survive but our political leaders are insulting us with the display of ostentatious lifestyles.
How many jobs have been created by these people assaulting and oppressing us?
The truth is that they are rent seekers and commission takers on government contracts. Most of them are parasites, economic saboteurs and the most corrupt bunch you can ever imagined!
It is also laughable when they talk or professing to be in support of the fight against about corruption. They must be corrupt to maintain these expensive lifestyles
A cursory look at the 2017 national budget shows that more funds were set aside on recurrent expenditure, emoluments, appurtenance, and allowances of public officials, but little were earmarked for capital expenditure. The more reason why our leaders have enough at their disposal to spend on frivolities and inanities.
The National Assembly members have an opaque and nebulous welfare packages.. They have consistently and stubbornly refused to disclose their salary structure, hinging their defense on separation of powers and independence of the legislature.
Many state governments could not pay government workers but they can afford to fly in jets to stupid engagements that are not beneficial. That is why they continuously remain in the corridors of power to enjoy the allure of office and repeatedly feast as parasites on our common patrimony.
Most ministers, directors of government agencies, senators, House of Representatives members, Governors, Chairmen of local governments, other political appointees and government functionaries are yesterday and spent men. They have nothing new to offer but just continually to be a drain pipe to the national purse
This is the reality of our political situation.
The saddest part is that we are all guilty of encouraging this parasitic system. How?
We were fallen over ourselves to be part of this society wedding. We wanted to have a piece of the action. It had been the talk of town. We glean eyes onto our Television sets, buy and patronize soft sell magazines and bloggers like me falling over each other to break the news.
The wedding was well publicized. The press went agog to talk about it. It received a wide coverage through the print, on line and electronic media. Anything about IBB is hot news.
People talked about its grandiose but we have not asked ourselves real questions.
Questions like how we could celebrate a man who truncated an election that should have united us, a man who introduced settlement syndrome thereby bastardizing the fabric of our society with corruption. We tend to forget easily how he wasted public funds on endless transition program that ended in a cesspit of corruption. He left the nation more divisive and confused.
In a saner clime, such a person would have been ostracized. He would have lived the rest of his life in frustration and depression but not in my country.
I hope a day will come when we’ll be ready to ask real questions, find answers and collectively take progressive actions to make a progressive change that will set us on the path of redemption and national rebirth..