Daily Courier | Opinion
It is odd and even absurd having to settle down to deceive people to gain popular acceptance political; but very unfortunately, that has become the go-to game of politicians in Nigeria, particularly those devoid of sellable antecedents and historical achievements, but would choose taking advantage of the mass of gullible citizens who have become somewhat programmed to sentimental acceptance and bandwagon followings.
In the last few days, the lies and intentional deceptions behind Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party has been repeatedly laid bare and yet, his followers would not care of his pandemic scale of fact distortions and the red light it foretells of his personality. They are following him not because he is fit for the position or even care to have assessed him thoroughly, but because to the majority of them, there is no difference between support for BB-Naija, the reality show and support for their presidential candidate; it is all about emotional sentiments and breeding hatred for the other contestants.
I have been here and around for a while to know what Nigerians are; and why it has perennially become too easy for politicians to take advantage of us to ride on to power again and again. We have had and still have fools and nonentities becoming governors and legislative members, both at the state and the federal level and even presidents in the past. Honestly speaking, rightly as a wise man once said, the only people to be afraid of are idiots. Why? Accordingly, because there are always too many of them, and by being many, could even elect a president. Truly, they have elected governors and legislators across the states and constituencies of Nigeria; but at the presidency, and now, it is not possible and cannot be allowed to fly.
Nigerians are so gullible that a politician could just wake up and become their messiah overnight not because he has gotten proven antecedents that speak volumes nor history that sets him apart, but because he told them so, and his oratory and sentimentalities are captivating. We Nigerians would take anything, believe anything, swallow and accept anything without caring about authenticity and validity of the story lines. We would become blind disciples engaging in street fights over individual politicians we do not even care to know.
Another striking challenge we face is that politics to us is an extension of tribal and religious identifications; and as such, we lose our reasoning for both sanity and reality on the altar of uncultivated support for ethnic and religious attachments. That is what has happened to the people of South-eastern Nigeria; the fight for liberation, the Biafra agitation and the IPOB mission has become equated with a blind support for a candidate in Peter Obi.
I read a piece written by someone few hours ago before writing this article, and I quote: *“because a lot of us don’t even understand what real politics is, people of my age think politics is equivalent to big brother Naija or some kind football game…..they don’t think deep and straight and they allow their emotions to becloud their reasoning faculty. Idealism doesn’t work in politics, and no one becomes a president by parading sets of ridiculous, blind and delusional supporters.”*
This is exactly the story of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party. The man came out, presented himself as the best thing to happen to the new Nigeria we all dream of, rolled out lies in figures and bundles and floated a social media support propaganda that caught fire on the street. He got his handlers to work his abandonment of PDP and his perceived maltreatment by PDP into a deceptive storyline of a saint that has been persecuted.
But in a saner society, the Peter Obi that walks the street of Nigeria today with fabricated lies and distorted facts, claiming to be a saint, belongs in the group of individuals that should be hiding in shame of societal rejection; because he is got recorded dents on him that in a saner system would have gotten him locked up and totally ostracised from the political system.
Way back in 2018, during the build up to the 2019 election when the same Peter Obi was the running mate to the current and recycled PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on one of the presidential town hall meetings anchored by KadarIa Ahmed, an issue was brought up by the anchor which caught the attention of many reasonable citizens. He was asked to explain his involvement in the investment of Anambra state fund in NEXT, a company that is owned by his family and in which he is a serving director. Talk about glaring vested interest. His attempts to derail the conversation from his interest in the company failed as he had to eventually agree to his family and personal interest in the company. The video clip can be watched online by anyone interested in verifying just one of the controversies of Peter Obi.
Today, Peter Obi is being praised for making the investment, with claims that he had done the same in the interest of Anambra state; but the reality of the deal is that Mr. Peter Obi, as the governor of the state, took advantage of the power he held to disbursed $30 million of the state money in his own company. While this is contrary to the position of the Constitution of Nigeria and would have receive knocks from appropriate official corners in saner societies, Peter Obi parades himself as god-sent candidate, with utmost interest of Nigerians at heart.
I keep wondering why people are busy discussing the worth of a criminal investment rather than the criminality of the investment that fails due process; would returns on the investment to the state hide away the crime behind the investment or would it become a new order that public office holders can begin to investment public funds to their personal benefits. Why aren’t we asking the question, how much till date has Peter Obi’s family made from the investment?
Another verifiable dirt on the man that deceptively stands as an advocate of good governance, transparency and openness was the revelation contained in the *PANDORA* paper that was released some months ago. Impossible to deny, Peter Obi defense simply was that he was not aware it was illegal to fail to declare ownership of businesses he co-owned with others. As educated as he is going to scores of some of the best business schools in the world, and as knowledgeable as he continues to present himself with data and figures, yet he claims he didn’t know that he had to declare businesses where he makes returns on investments.
The truth about Peter Obi, a successful former banker no doubt which should be the rallying point of discussion about him is that once he became the governor of Anambra state, he devised ways to siphon the state funds, invest them and evade tax payments on the investments. To do that, he set up convoluted business structures, in offshore entities, in renowned tax evasion havens of the world; and with hidden identity of the real owner of the businesses that are then run by paid directors, Peter Obi, the saint of many gullible Nigerians joined the league of global crooked business men and corrupt individuals who rob their country of legitimate tax payment. In his defense, Obi didn’t deny the fact of the secret investment nor of tax evasion but merely said, *“I am sure you too will not like to pay inheritance tax if you can avoid it.”*
The fifth schedule part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution was clear on this. Section 11 (1) says *“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter – (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years. (2) Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorised in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this Code. (3) Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this Constitution and which is not fairly attributable to income, gift, or loan approved by this Code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of this Code unless the contrary is proved.”*
While it is the duty of every good citizens to declare their income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay their taxes promptly, as backed up by Section 24(f) of the 1999 Constitution, Peter Obi, the self-declared messiah, was intentionally and constantly in breach of the law. In a saner system, he should either already have paid for the gross offense against the country or still be in court defending himself against section 40 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act; but unfortunately, he is gallivanting around serving the appetite of his ignoble fringe – and often hostile – disciples and enjoying his new found popularity, while hoping to ride on the same to the presidency. He is no different from the charade of politicians in the country and who has done what they all do; he started from APGA promising to never leave his ‘native’ party with his sweet political voice. He not only used and dump it, but has dumped PDP that gave him a platform for a long time and is in his third party, the Labour Party, that he never laboured for but only taking advantage of it at the eve of an election. We also know of his high handedness to control his successor in Anambra State who had the courage to resist him. What made him a different politician and messiah as being purported by his fringe supporters still baffle sane and discerning minds and at the least, an amusement.
I have said it repeatedly, no leader has ever forced himself or herself on a people; it is either we accepted to be deceived or we voluntarily follow a bandwagon for considerations outside the welfare of the united societal system. That is the ball game in Nigeria; again and again, we have sold our support for sentiments and divisive considerations. At this point, the foot soldiers of Peter Obi do not care about his atrocities and the fact that he is no way different from other politicians in the past and present, that have feasted on their commonwealth; and despite the continual exposition of the many lies and the distortion of facts he is riding on to popularity, they wouldn’t want anything but the lie that he is.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
• Ussiju Medaner
Is a professor, penology and criminal justice theorist. Legislative researcher/analyst.. Newspaper Columnist