Opinion: Fathers and sons Incorporated. By Is'haq Modibbo Kawu
ONE of the most significant issues of recent revelations of high wire corruption in Nigeria today, is the way that leading politicians have brought their children into the corruption loop. Top Nigerian politicians are appearing in courts together with their sons. Humungous sums of public money are stolen and shared by fathers and sons (their daughters are entering the political fray too). Ruling class irresponsibility has led to the detention and arraignment of fathers along with their children, for stealing monies in their care, expected to be used for the betterment of society.Grand theft has become domesticated and turned into a family enterprise. Politicians "won" elections ostensibly to make life better for all citizens, but turned the privilege of access to state funds, into avenues to carry out the unconscionable looting of our states and country. This they have done in cahoots with their children. In the "DASUKIGATE" affair, the same Fathers-and-Sons tag teams have also emerged: Aminu Baba Kusa and son; Attahiru Bafarawa and son; Dr. Bello Haliru Muhammed and son; while in earlier cases, there were Murtala Nyako and son; Bamanga Tukur and son; Amadu Ali and son; Sule Lamido and sons.
It is customary in feudal culture to prepare children for successions; and there are very elaborate processes of leadership development to ensure that these children become ready to assume leadership. In the United States, we have seen the establishment of political dynasties within the context of democratic politics, as in the case of the Kennedys and in recent times, with the Bush family producing two presidents, and a third now aspiring, as well as the Clintons, man and wife. Modern Nigerian politics has never really seen the trend consolidated. In the First and Second Republics, the Awolowo family attempted to create a political dynasty; Segun died, but Oluwole and Tokunbo became politicians of some visibility. However, they came from a background of genuine service to community and country and had been tutored within the disciplined ambience associated with their patriarch, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. People knew what they stood for and their followers could plot their public conduct as politicians and their values to society.
The new Nigerian form of Father-to-Son intervention in contemporary politics has nothing honourable associated with it. It is elaborately concocted within the context of a capture-and-control form of politics, where individuals become governors for eight years and they then use the opportunity to loot their states blind.
One of the major phenomena of Nigerian politics, in the period since 1999, is the emergence of governors who after their years in power, have ended up becoming richer than the states that they have governed. They institute processes to retain power through proxies after their years of governance, in order to continue to control the finances and the political processes of their states.
This process has been implanted in Kwara, Lagos and Akwa Ibom, for example, and is the template that most governors have tried to implement, to varying degrees of success.
In many instances, stolen funds have often been kept with business associates who often ended up betraying their governor benefactors/associates, after they vacate power. The fear of what might happen to stolen funds, kept with friends and associates, has largely been responsible for the new phenomenon, where fathers now use their children to keep stolen funds. President Muhammadu Buhari's emergence is helping to expose this grand process of theft and the budding Fathers-and-Sons-Kleptocratic Complex that is taking shape in Nigeria.
The final piece of the jigsaw of this complex is an attempt at creating a copycat political and economic scheme. The Saraki family is the most successful example of a family that has taken full control of the political and economic space in Nigeria. The patriarch of the family, the late Dr. Olushola Saraki, was the most dominant political force in Kwara state for over three decades. While it lasted, he built and oiled a political machinery that installed and removed a succession of politicians in Kwara state. Most people did not reckon that he had a grand plan, and that was to bide time until his children came of age. By 1999, he kicked that final piece of the jigsaw into place, with the son, Bukola, becoming a Special Assistant in Obasanjo's presidency, while the daughter, Gbemisola, entered the House of Representatives. Finally from 2003 to 2011, Gbemisola served as senator for eight years and Bukola Saraki governor for the same period. The funds of Kwara state literally became an extension of the Saraki purse and the family through Bukola Saraki, has remained in control for twelve years and counting! The Saraki process of political and economic control as well as financial domination has no parallel in Nigeria. They took Societe Generale Bank under (along with the funds of hundreds of Nigerians); they also superintended the demise of Kwara and Kogi states' owned Trade Bank and at a point, a long-term Bukola Saraki sidekick also ran Intercontinental Bank!
This unique template of grab-and-control has also largely escaped interrogation. The family seemed able to weather any and all forms of political, economic and security storms. What other politicians want to do is assume political, economic and financial control in their states, in the same suffocating bear hug way that the Saraki clan has held Kwara state for decades. Bola Tinubu is trying to institute the same process in Lagos. Fortunately, these new-fangled Fathers-and-Sons Corruption Complexes are now being exposed by the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency's anti-corruption drive. Those who want to copy the Saraki (or even the Tinubu) template of domination and control have chosen a very difficult moment in Nigeria to implant that form of domination.
The truth is that a new era is dawning in Nigeria, where citizens are much more dedicated to interrogating the excesses of the ruling class. A Fathers-and-Sons Corruption complex can no longer work in contemporary Nigeria!
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