By Matthew Agboma Ozah
A new game is coming to town soon for wealthy people only. It is not so new anyway since it has some familiar spirit.
The game is exclusively for those who joke among themselves about whose bank account is the fattest and derive pleasure to show off exotic cars in their garage or thumb their cheat and speak volume about assets and buildings in highbrow areas both home and overseas. However, the above would be too much to describe as a joke for many among whom the impending revolution may consume for their lust for wealth and the inability to explain the source of riches.
Countrymen and women, all ye with questionable wealth, be warned and take no delight to be arrogant about your wealth in society anymore. All ye who ride exotic cars and wear expensive clothes, jewelry and live a flamboyant lifestyle without genuine means of livelihood, and worst still unable to explain your source of wealth, again, beware, there is nowhere to hide. Did I hear you ask why? There is an impending monstrous masquerade that would impede the way and fish out those with questionable wealth for scrutiny.
By the way, how dare you, at a time when the majority of Nigerians, especially the federal government is in want and feel gravely endangered by the ravages of an economy that has defied every standard remedy of economic experts flaunt wealth publicly and you cannot explain the source. Country people, be assured that in no time from now, the night will soon be over for those who cannot explain the source of their wealth and it will no longer be business as usual to have a pleasurable day to enjoy and oppress with ill-gotten wealth. To this class of people, the long arm of the law will sooner than later, go on the offensive with the current prayers to sign an executive order that will confiscate property (ies) that lacks sufficient and convincing explanation. Indeed, you are a lawbreaker if you fall in the category of unexplained-riches candidates. Therefore, weep not, for the law is no respecter of persons, neither does it show mercy for crocodile tears. In that case, try not to seek the law as a shield for it will forsake you on judgment day.
That seems to be the message, former Senate leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume is trying to pass across to Nigerians as he seeks President Muhammadu Buhari’s nod to sign an executive order to curtail the increasing cases of unexplained wealth in the country. Without being told, it is decidedly injurious sabotage and unhelpful to the nation as questionable wealth continues to flourish. Considering the fact that in this time and season of the COVID-19 pandemic, a weak economy, and shrinking employment opportunities some Nigerians chose to recklessly flaunt wealth without being able to defend how they made the money. No doubt, the days of these unscrupulous citizens are numbered. As things stand, there is angst in the land already as many wealthy people have developed high blood pressure despite Ndume’s proposal at its yoke stage. This is proof that Buhari’s administration’s declaration of zero tolerance to corruption is not poetic or mere prescription without an antidote to fight it. What is more, the ominous, indeed martial realities for those with unexplained wealth as they are an inch away from losing their wealth and freedom as it could also lead them to find abode in a government secured maximum apartment, where freedom and pleasure is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps Ndume’s proposed unexplained wealth order (UWO) will teach Nigerians a hard lesson to follow the path of honour even as the culprits learn their bitter lesson too.
As far as one could guess, the UWO if and when it sees the light of day, would have its fortress among politicians and fraudsters generally referred as yahoo yahoo boys among others. This class of individuals takes great pride in rubbing the name of the country in mud. Given the humongous wealth dubious public servants derive from elephant projects, ghost workers’ pay, and shabby road constructions among others the unexplained wealth order when implemented would create a sordid drama that would be Nollywood best series. To curb the excesses of these corrupt individuals, Senator Ndume argues that, the President has the right to sign an executive order, which nobody can challenge in court. Ndume maintained that the president should also send a bill on Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) to the National Assembly to domesticate it because he believes most advance countries are practicing it. He further argues that, despite the law been embedded in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, if the government truly wants the newly appointed chairman of EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa to work efficiently, a law on unexplained wealth should be enacted so that it can stand alone.
Good talk indeed. But in all fairness, it is shameful that the government and its officials have particularly adopted the laughable habit to copy laws from foreign land which is now assuming the character of state policy that anything foreign is better. But Nigeria’s leaders would not adopt the foreign leaders’ patriotism and selflessness in service and make infrastructure, like electricity, housing, and create jobs just to mention a few, be available and affordable here at home as it is over there. The present government should not insult Nigerians intellect by trying to use the UWO or any law for that matter as an excuse to gag the opposition or perceived enemies in the society to ridicule. When the government is challenged by human rights activists and civil liberty organisations to make available and explain how some of its programmes are handled, it quickly turns tailor sometimes go on the offensive issuing threats. It is unfortunate that those who have taken upon themselves the task of governing this country knowing or unknowingly created a vacuum for political jobbers, sycophants, and questionable characters become wealthy overnight. What would society become now that practical steps are being devised to strip unexplained wealth from their owners? I foresee an ethnic or religious sentiment that may play out and heat up the polity. A case in point is the recent call in Kaduna the other day by Abdusalam Mohammed Kazeem, President, Northern Nigerian Youth Forum on behalf of seven other northern groups that either former governor, Imo state, Rochas Okorocha be arrested and prosecuted for alleged looting or Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame both former governors from the north and serving prison terms for corruption cases be released. There is no gainsaying that, the staggering and weak nature of our institutions encourages discriminations or distinguishes between administration of justice. Hence the judiciary continues to find itself in a mess of miscarriage of justice, even as some law enforcement officers turn the other way once a legal tender exchanges hands. Over the years, there has been a crying need from well-meaning Nigerians for moral leadership, dedication and honesty, and above all strong institutions. That is what Nigeria needs not a multitude of laws that cannot bite or when it does, it is being selective.
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