Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, on Saturday dropped a bombshell in Akure, the Ondo State capital, saying no Nigeria billionaire could be said to have acquired his wealth without getting involved in illegal deals.
Mr. Akinyemi stated this while responding to questions after he delivered a lecture as part of activities marking the inauguration ceremony of Governor Olusegun Mimiko for a second and final term of office.
"There is no billionaire in Nigeria who made money without evading taxes, inflating contract prices or getting involved in one illegal deal or another," the former minister said. "It is sad that most businessmen are not sincere, they get their wealth through illegal means, there is no one that can be a billionaire without being corrupt in Nigeria."
Speaking on the topic"Leadership, Democracy and Development: A Paradigm Relationship", the former minister said for somebody to become a billionaire in Nigeria, he or she must have indulged, one way or the other, in corrupt practices.
Mr. Akinyemi listed the corrupt practices to include: tax evasion, using government money for personal business and going through illegal means to win contracts from government.
The former minister wondered whether Nigeria is currently operating a democratic system of government saying, "We still need to ask whether on the national scale, we claim to be operating a democratic system in Nigeria. Or is it a civilian system. I will concede without much conviction that we are operating a version of democracy especially in contradiction to the years of military rule."
He continued, "Irrespective of the cynical game between the military and the civilian political elite in the governance of Nigeria, the biggest threat to our putative democracy is not from the military, but from the state of our un-development.
"The real tragedy is that we have bred several generations who have lost hope in today and tomorrow. They have given up on Nigeria because Nigeria has given up on them.
On the way forward, the former minister advised that oppression and marginalization must be discarded by all.
On the way forward, the former minister advised Nigerian leaders to discard oppression and marginalization and work for the benefit of the generality of the citizenry.
He said, "The political elite must make a conscious effort to arrive at a consensus that will be the outcome of negotiation, give and take, compromises among others. The system to be put in place should not reflect temporary advantages secured through a temporary monopoly of power.
"We must find a way to building a nation where no man or woman is oppressed, where no man or woman is maginalised where there is hope for everyone, where a man or a woman through hard work, honesty and integrity will have the opportunity to achieve his dreams. When dream are killed and vision dulled, the nation is finished, "the Guest lecturer submitted.
Present at the event are a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Christopher Kolade, who chaired the occasion, former Oyo State Governor, Bayo Alao Akala, first Governor of Old Ondo State, Retired Brigadier David Ikpeme, first Civilian Governor of Ondo State, Bamidele Olumilua, Retired Major General Alani Akinriade, Afenifere Leader, Ayo Opadokun, Kunle Olajide, and a former Minister of Information, Alex Akinyele