Kaduna — Nigeria's current leaders, unlike those of the past, are thieves who exploit every available opportunity to enrich themselves, former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said yesterday.
The elder statesman who spoke during a visit by civil rights groups on his 77th birthday also blamed the system that controls all aspects of development and the political leadership it produces which encourages prioritisation of self interest above public interest.
"The situation today is such that we have leaders who are really thieves and if you doubt it, let me remind you that anybody who is able to become a councillor in Nigeria or a member of a state House of Assembly or Senate, governor or president ends up serving himself to the extent that he becomes the richest in his constituency".
"A councillor in most parts of Nigeria is the richest person in his ward. The president in Nigeria, whoever he is, will be the richest in the country by the time he leaves office even if he is the son of a grass cutter hunter. This means that truly the leaders in Nigeria are thieves," he said.
Querying how they could have acquired such wealth, he added, "You cannot compare them to the leaders we had during the colonial times and the first republic. The Awolowos, the Nnamdi Azikiwes, the Sardaunas, the Aminu Kanos, and so on. How rich were they after they left office? The only people that you could say that were fairly rich were Awolowo and Zik and they acquired their wealth purely from professional practice. But, what is the situation today? It is completely different and why do we have thieves as leaders in the country with a few exemptions? It is simply because of the system that controls all aspects of development in Nigeria and the political leadership produced by the system which is based on self interest first, and public interest second,"
"I will give you another example to show that thieves are running the affairs of this country. As I said, when Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe left the political scene, they never had any illegally acquired property. If any president is leaving office today in Nigeria he must have acquired a fortune before leaving and it is a systematic arrangement to also enrich a few people at the expense of the majority in order to protect the ruling class," he added.
Commenting on the recent sale of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) he said, "PHCN by my estimation as a chartered accountant as at today will cost Nigeria about N7 trillion to establish but with this criminal privatisation, the PHCN which cost the nation so much to establish was sold to those few that you all know for N404 billion and you know that those who bought it have the audacity to say that nobody should expect stability of power until after they have recouped their investments".
Speaking on behalf of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria (CRC) Shehu Sani said northern and southern parts of Nigeria are bedevilled with socio-economic and political crises, noting that Nigeria is a class society divided not only along ethnic and religious lines, but also along class lines and that the class of the oppressed is in the majority while the oppressors are in the minority.
"We live in a country that showers praises on people when they are dead. Balarabe Musa is not listened to today; his voices, positions are still being regarded as radical and that of a rebel but these are the bitter truths that our country needs to swallow for us to get back on track. We are here to appreciate his life, which has been 77 years of commitment to the cause of the common man and that is why we are here in view of the fact that Nigerian politics is politics of bread and butter, politics of self interest, politics of ethnicity and religiosity,"
"For over 10 years, we have been trying to convince Balarabe Musa to allow us to celebrate his birthday but he has been resisting, so this time around we decided to force it upon him and he surrendered. Our presence here is to celebrate the life of a freedom fighter, a revolutionary, a principled politician and a committed socialist. His life is a history of struggle for justice, freedom and liberation of the common man. He exemplifies principles, sacrifice and dedication. He is a man who has been an irritant to reactionary, unjust and evil rulers in this country. He is a man whose politics is politics of principles and ideals, he is a man who has given a sense of direction, leadership and vision to progressive politics in Nigeria," he said.
According to Sani, Balarabe Musa's politics is all that Nigeria lacks and also all that Nigeria needs. "We believe that if our politicians will emulate his kind of principles and ideals Nigeria will be a better place. The likes of Balarabe Musa are endangered species," he stressed.