Transparency in Senegal, Uganda Mocks Nigeria


By Ikeddy ISIGUZO

MAJORITY of our leaders act like aliens in their scramble for Nigeria. They inspire each other with their uncommon craving for everything, including things they already have and will not need. They are not greedy. Their conduct is vastly worse than greed for it harbours an unquenchable desire for more at the expense of everything.

Nothing is sacred. Nothing is sacrosanct. They appropriate the law. They would cuddle lawlessness if it is the path to their famed unimportance. Then they brag about it.
Their motto appears to be to grab as much as they can before the party is over or ahead of one of their member. They do not believe in Nigeria.
A worse scramble than the scramble for Africa is on. If you understand it, you will not find anything strange about the conduct of those who lead the scramble. They care about their mission.

We are wrong to accuse them of not caring about Nigeria. They do. We see Nigeria differently. We care differently.

A fundamental mandate of governments in Nigeria, it seems, is to erect unbearable standards of suffering for the people. The competition to outdo each other in this sphere is high, intense, incredible and certainly crass. It is slightly matched by the scramle for Nigeria’s resources. While at it, they brag, they spite us.
Their ostententious living at our expense is an exhibition of their firm belief that “there is nothing you can do about it”. How right they are. The hunger in the land has elevated ability to cater for one’s family to a major achievement.

We have no rooms left to think about the ploys of governments that have made it clear from the beginning that they are for themselves.

A political philosophy that officially admits that selfishness is legitimate remains the President’s top shot at transparency. The ECOWAS President was happy as he congratulated 44-year-old Senegalese Bassirou Diomaye Faye who assumed office 10 days after the presidential election of 24 March 2024. No court indecisions, no votes were lost in the clouds, though the cost of conducting the election could be a fraction of what our INEC splashed on computers that only glitched once it was time to transmit results of Nigeria’s presidential election.

Faye had been detained for “spreading false news, contempt of court, and defamation of a constituted body” following a social media post he made. A court ruling released him and made possible his participation in the election that he won with 54 per cent, leaning on the support of his ally Ousmane Sonko. He has announced Sonko as Prime Minister.

According to his asset declaration, released during his campaign, Faye trained in law, estate management, tax inspection. He has a house in Dakar, as well as land outside the capital and in Ndiaganiao, his village, and about $6,600 total in his bank accounts. He has two wives; he brought both to the inauguration. He has four children. He told us. One of his wives has no child yet. It is public knowledge.

The schools he went to are known. His age, certificates, name, village, career records are all verifiable. He has started implementing his programme that will hit hard on corruption, create jobs, promote economic growth and transparency.

Senegal handled a simple matter of conducting an election simply, excellently. It did not empty divisions of its armies on the streets to intimidate voters though thousands died in riots to throw out Macky Sall’s government that was attempting a third term. The opposition was not run out of chances by their INEC Chairman. There was no need for helicopters, sophisticated gun-boats and deployment of thousands of policemen to watch the election rigged. The computers did not refuse to upload certain results.

Waste of money at elections is an extension of the specialised businesses of our politics. The beneficiaries line up for their own cut of the deal unbothered about how a few billion Naira padded to cost of elections should deny anyone sleep.

Trust the President to mention transparency in his speeches. His asset declaration, if made, is not public. He reminds us that he is an economist, right in the middle of economic challenges that are tackled with applauses if the value of the Naira makes a most miniscule gain. The economist in the President saw him triple the cost of electricity without knowing that industries would pass the burden to consumers of their products.

Uganda has a different meaning for transparency. Its President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa, 78, has been in office for 38 years, and may stand for election again in 2026. His 50-year-old son General Muhoozi Kainerugaba Museveni who heads Uganda’s armed forces, is the top contender against his father. He was a Minister, and an Adviser to his father. One of his brother-in-laws is also in the presidential race.

His sister Natasha Karugire, 48, a University of London-trained Fashion Designer and Consultant, last week, in a Fool’s Day prank, was announced as the new Governor of the Central Bank of Uganda. She is Private Secretary to the President of Uganda, his father, for Household Affairs.

Patience Rwabwogo, 46, pastor of Covenant Nations Church, another Museveni, seems not to hold any formal position in government. Her sister Diana Kamuntu , 44, “formally and absolutely renounce and abandon the use of the name Kamuntu and assume and adopt in place of that name the name Kyaremera,” in 2022, marking her divorce with Kamuntu.

Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, a former journalist, now a parliamentarian, is more gracious in his praise of the sacrifices President Museveni, whose transparency, should be applauded, makes. “The President has sacrificed his family for Uganda,” he said in a video that makes rounds of the social media, before listing Musevenis who by birth and marriage hold top government positions.

Ugandans accept that “anything can happen” with Museveni. His 75-year-old wife, Janet, and mother of the four listed children, is a two-time Minister. Questions about her education have not stopped her from being Minister of Education and Sports since 6 June 2016. She was Minister for Karamoja Affairs for seven years and First Lady for 38 years. Longevity runs with the Musevenis. Their marriage is in its 51st year.

It is a country, but Uganda looks more like a Sole Proprietorship.

Why are the details of Uganda’s version of transparency important? A comparison with Nigeria’s is a waste of time, granted that time, the most expensive resource, is the cheapest thing in Nigeria.

How much of our President do we know? Someone said these things cannot happen in Nigeria. If they happen how would we know? We know Museveni’s children and in-laws. Is that level of transparency available to us in Nigeria? How then would we know if the President’s son is Governor of the Central Bank? Would the Senate not approve the President’s daughter if nominated as CBN Governor? All she would need is to “take a bow” if it would not inconvenience her. She could have read Fashion Designing, like Museveni’s daughter or nothing. Her certificates could be muddled up or missing. These would not count.

We can laugh at Uganda or Senegal but the real joke is on us. Big as we are, we cannot count ourselves. We cannot feed ourselves. We cannot contribute anything meaningful to improve the conditions of our people.

Our claims to expertise rest on electoral malfeasances, manipulation of laws, and mismanagement of public resources in frighteningly incomprehensible manners. We are experts at doing no good and bragging about it as our strategies for managing a country run on borrowed funds that are further mismanaged.
The judiciary is irredeemable gone. Lawlessness is the law. Conflicting judgements contend for places in our law books. Nobody has an interest in resolving them.

It should bother everyone that Nigeria is broke, almost incapable of paying its debts while still borrowing to fund lifestyles of those whose main interests in Nigeria are to get all they can and ensure that discourses about Nigeria lead nowhere.

Finally…
NOBODY should pretend to know the priorities of the President better than him. He approved N90 billion as subsidy for pilgrims. People are suggesting the money could build 10 power plants. Geometric is their benchmark. It is a surprise that people can confuse power plant for pilgrimage. Do they know how much prayer goes into governance? Prayer is no longer cheap. Of course, it is beneath the President to explain these things.

EFCC’s current tangle with Bobrisky shows the agency has little to do. What crime is mutilation of the Naira when compared to billions that are reportedly stolen in the presidency, government houses, local governments, ministries and their agencies? What is the outcome of the investigation of Dr. Betty Edu? Has EFCC’s case with Senate President Godswill Akpabio died? Is anything unique about Bobrisky’s alleged mutilation of Naira? Now, EFCC does not know whether to address Bobrisky as “he” or “she”. Good for the agency. Why not “it”?

IGNORE claims that peace is back in Rivers State. “His display of arrogance, obstinacy, and a conqueror-like attitude, or succinctly put in his words, “I will win them” has always deceived him to live in self-denial that it was a Wike we nurtured from political obscurity to national limelight who has now assumed a godlike posture to warrant him to appear on National Television to lambast us as those without integrity,” Hon. Austin Okpara, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives on Nyesom Wike, FCT Minister. Wike’s words for Rivers State Elders on his raging fights with Governor Sim Fubara are too unkind to be published here.

Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues


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