That was almost three decades ago. We have since raised the stakes. “Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the State Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly,’’ former President Olusegun Obasanjo – a man who ought to stand trial for his unqualified misgovernance of Nigeria — said a few months ago. Obasanjo should know. He, more than anyone else, facilitated the emergence of these scoundrels who have taken over our democratic space.
Very few countries in the world can take the unrepressed pillage, outrageous abuse and unmitigated violation which the self-acclaimed giant of Africa has received and remain standing. David Cameron, British PM, has been quoted as saying, “If the amount of money stolen out of Nigeria in the last 30 years was stolen in the UK, the UK would not exist again.” There are many figures in the public domain about how much our leaders have siphoned from the country since independence. From Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), we learnt that the amount is “more than six times the total sum that went into rebuilding Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War via the famous European Recovery Programme, ERP programme or Marshall Plan”. The ERP programme was $13billion. Interestingly, Germany, the choice location for medical care for our leaders, was one of the beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan.
We can spend the next few weeks cataloguing the problems of Nigeria and we would not have scratched the surface. Where do we start? Is it something as basic as education where it has been revealed that “Nigerians commit about N160 billion ($1billion) to the education of their children and wards in Ghanaian universities every year”. A recent newspaper report quotes the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Dr. Wale Babalakin, as saying “the cost excludes huge amounts also spent on education of Nigerians in other countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and Malaysia”. From Dr. Babalakin we also learnt that there are about 75,000 Nigerian students in Ghana, a country which, in the last decade, has been spending up to 35 percent of its annual budget (far beyond the UNESCO recommendation of a minimum of 26 percent) on education.
Let’s take a minor issue like polio eradication. Just recently, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) issued a report which noted that “of six global sanctuaries for the poliovirus (which stand against the anticipated eradication), Nigeria’s Kano and Bornu States are the most problematic”.
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