I watch a lot of Crime and Investigation. I have always found the motivation behind crime fascinating—how an individual goes from happy-go-lucky or the regular guy next door—to a criminal mastermind. I am even more drawn to the painstaking effort detectives apply in uncovering who this villain is.
The stories I find most troubling are those that revolve around spousal betrayal. How a husband or wife connives to hurt their significant other for the purpose of gain. Many times, a life insurance policy is at the core of these sort of crimes.
The sums insured often range from $50,000 to $500,000 in most cases. Loyalty is shoved aside and vows are forgotten when huge amounts of money are involved. Sometimes, the offending spouse colludes with an outsider, many times, a lover, friend, or family member to execute the heinous act.
At other times, it’s the story of two business partners. The one with no scruples defrauds his naive associate. If he doesn’t leave him dead, he leaves him penniless. Even though these scenarios play out all the time, I have never really gotten used to them. Betrayal fuelled by the love of money is a concept I still grapple with, in much the same way I marvel at the Nigerian politician’s penchant for thieving.
A few days ago, it was revealed that the anti-graft commission, the EFCC was investigating former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji for siphoning some head-spinning amount of funds from the State’s treasury.
The humongous sums like N383 billion, N55 billion, N2.3 billion, N1.8 billion and others left me mentally swooning. Even as I write this, I am unable to wrap my mind around the motive for one man to steal so much more money than his next two generations have need of.
Even if one were to play the devil’s advocate by contesting the fact that one individual can pilfer N525 billion (the alleged total sum he stole) unhindered and argue that he couldn’t have looted more than half that amount, what does ONE man need almost N263 billion for? How many cars can he drive at a time? How many houses can he occupy at once?
What makes it even more ludicrous is that the individual at the end of this allegation is one that held power in trust for the people. A people who have been impoverished by successive governments; a state that is void of any meaningful development for the longest time.
I cannot begin to imagine how the people of Abia feel
Only a couple of weeks ago, they witnessed the conviction of Orji Uzor Kalu, Theodore Orji’s predecessor, and now, they have to contend with this.
Theodore Orji still holds an important and sensitive position as a lawmaker in this country. He is one of the crops of leaders who have an affinity for power and are bent on holding on to it in spite of their uninspiring pedigree.
To make matters worse, his son who is also indicted in the case holds sway as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly And who knows, Chinedum Orji may be prepping to become the next governor of Abia State to continue the legacy of looting.
The Nigerian brand of greed is unique in a preposterous way
When Nigerian politicians deep their talons into the nation’s treasury, they aren’t looking to take enough for their immediate family or even the next generation. They are on a quest to ensure that aeons after, anyone who has the slightest connection to their lineage benefits from their stash.
How that makes sense is beyond me, but how else does one explain it?
Former military head of state, Sani Abacha died more than two decades ago. He is alleged to have looted around $5 billion during his five-year in office. It’s no exaggeration. Ony last week, there were talks of returning another $300 million, apart from the other monies that have been recovered so far.
To be clear, stealing is not the exclusive purview of any race or group of people
People steal everywhere in the world. There are corrupt politicians everywhere in the world. World leaders of different countries across the seven continents have been indicted for corruption.
However, what makes African leaders the biggest culprits is not just the fact that they purloin staggering amounts they have no need for, it’s that they do so in the midst of poignant penury.
Again, how does one deaden their conscience to the abject poverty around them? The same hardship they were elected to solve so much so that they not only fail to proffer solutions to the glaring problem, they also go ahead to worsen the situation.
It’s the lethal combination of unfettered avarice and undiluted evil
The African brand of greed is evil. It sees its neighbour in dire need but looks away. He is aware that his friend is dying because he cannot afford a cheap malaria drug, yet, he claims he is too broke to help, but jumps on the next available plane overseas when he feels the pangs of a slight headache.
Selfishness and an insatiable appetite for riches are the driving force for the African version of greed.