Nigeria: Why we’d kill to be President

By Edwin Okong’o

If you’ve ever wondered why we Africans would kill anyone who stands in our way to the State House, look at Nigeria. News from the country often described as the “giant of Africa” has it that more than $16 billion is missing from the government coffers. Apparently, in 2014, the last year of Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the state-owned company, failed to remit the money to the government.

There are allegations that Lamido Sanusi, who was the governor of the Central Bank, was relieved of his duties because he tried to raise an alarm upon suspecting the heist. This — the ability to do as you please with the peoples money — is why we would do anything, including killing, to get to the State House.

When you are President of the Republic, all the money belongs to you. It’s why the likes of Pierre Nkuruziza of Burundi, and Paul Kagame in neighboring Rwanda work night and day to change their constitutions to keep them in power forever. Money is the reason Yoweri Museveni thinks he’s the only one fit to [mis]govern Uganda.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with Nuhu Ribabu, who had at the time was exiled from Nigeria after his job as the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led to two assassination attempts on his life.

“I have given up on trying to get Nigerian leaders to stop stealing,” he told me. “Now I just tell them to spend the money they steal in Nigeria so it can benefit Nigerians.”

But I can bet you that the $16 billion is sitting in secret bank accounts somewhere in Switzerland, Gibraltar, and the Cayman Islands.

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