Going by all available records, Nigerian politicians generally, shortly before and immediately after independence from Britain, were often referred to as ten percenters. This was a reference to a situation where ten per cent of the worth of any contract awarded by the then political leaders ended up in their pockets or personal coffers. It is another way of saying that a tenth of the nation’s resources was misappropriated or stolen by those politicians. Not unexpectedly, this was a phenomenon that was to be the harbinger of all other forms of corruption. Those were the heady days of Regional politics.
However, according to records, in one or two of those Regions, the leaders, at least, managed to use the remaining ninety per cent of our resources to introduce free and qualitative education and to ensure that the people had access to good medical care. There was full employment. There was also a well- thought- out programme of integrated rural development which meant that development was extended to people who lived in the remotest parts. This was the era of farm settlements. Even though there was no oil boom at this time, the first modern sports stadium was built. The first television station in Africa was also built. Those leaders were able to notch up several other firsts. All these things were accomplished using ninety per cent of our resources.
Now, looking back longingly, one could say that the politicians of that era were mere choir boys compared to the present ones who are dangerously rapacious by any standard. It is a shock that what happens these days is that our politicians steal ninety per cent of our resources. Perhaps, this was why the immediate past president of the country, Goodluck Jonathan, defiantly refused to accept that stealing is corruption. To him, political banditry is normal. This is hardly surprising considering that this was a man who presided over the looting of the nation’s treasury. The former president’s stance was simply a confirmation that we are dealing with depraved, hardened opportunists.
Is it any wonder that with only ten per cent of our earnings remaining, we do not have enough left to develop the country? How can ten percent of our resources be sufficient to run a country of almost 200 million people? Why should people then be surprised when many of our poorly equipped soldiers who go to the war front are brought back in body bags? Should we not all spare a thought for the family of an Air Force pilot who is ordered to go on a sortie in a rickety, malfunctioning, Stone Age military aircraft? In all these, the death wish of the ninety percenters is simply coming to pass.
What about our youths? Millions of these youths are idle as they roam the streets. It is because only a meagre 10 per cent is left in the national coffers. There is simply not enough to keep them usefully engaged. Many university graduates cannot get jobs. There is no doubt that an idle mind becomes the workshop of the devil. This explains why many of these youths are attracted to cults which promise them heaven on earth. They do not realise that they are just being set up for destruction. Rather than build hundreds of 21st century colleges of Arts, Science and Technology all over the country where the youths can be trained and retrained in all kinds of trades, they are left to roam the streets. We would rather pander to the wishes of the ninety percenters than care for the future of our youths.
Our motorways, the railways and the waterways are all in a state of disrepair because 90 per cent of our resources are in private accounts. Money is needed to repair, rebuild and revamp these transport infrastructures. It is a shame that a nation that generates billions of dollars can also not pay government employees simply because the ninety percenters must have their fill first. What about our senior citizens, people who have spent their whole lives serving the nation. Some God-forsaken ninety percenters do not care if these retirees perish as they criss-cross the country chasing their stolen pensions.
The ninety percenters make sure that Nigerians do not have access to good medical care as there is no money left to build modern, excellently equipped hospitals. Many people, as a result, die from easily preventable, treatable ailments and diseases. We must not forget the poor, the weak, the disabled and the disadvantaged who are mostly all on their own. The 90 percenters have always chosen to turn a blind eye to the plight of these people.
Ultimately, the wish of the ninety percenters is for the hopes of the people to be dashed. It is their fondest desire for our collective aspirations to be destroyed and for the union to die a slow death. Frighteningly, the grim reality is that should this trend continue, the dispensation of the ninety nine percenters may just be around the corner. This connotes a period when only one percent of our resources will be left to run the country. When the era of the ninety nine percenters arrives, the chances are that places like Banana Island, Lekki, the exclusive residential areas in Abuja, all government reservation areas in all the state capitals and other places regarded as safe havens by our deluded elite may no longer be safe. It is then that our leaders will come to the realisation that it might not be wise after all for them to think that they can always shut themselves away from the plight of the generality of the people.