“A mental illness in which somebody has a strong desire, which they cannot control, to steal things.” This is how Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines Kleptomania. But is stealing a mental illness? Could it also be spiritual? I should have read enough and life experience should have taught me to answer in the affirmative. Yes, stealing could be due to mental illness or some kind of spiritual attack form those chasing a thief right from their villages to Tinubu Government.
That said, I am not comfortable with Oxford’s definition given above. Perhaps the Oxford did not take Nigerian Government appointees into consideration when it defines kleptomania as it does. I am not saying the definition is wrong, English isn’t my native language. I am a struggle learner—struggling to learn it as a second language. If Oxford’s definition is anything to go by, we may conclude that many of our rulers and government appointees have mental problem. To say they are kolomental might be too outrageous. Though I am convinced kleptomania is the right word to use, yet I am trying to give it another meaning which will rid it of mental illness inflection. I really do not think Betta Edu—the sacked Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation—and her co-travellers have any mental disturbance.
As I racked the brain in my small head to give Kleptomania a Nigerian definition with Nigerian connotation, a free online dictionary saved me the pain. It defines it as “An irresistible impulse to steal in the absence of any economic motive.” Accordingly, kleptomaniac is “Someone with an irrational urge to steal in the absence of any economic motive.” This perfectly makes sense to me—being a Nigerian discussing official theft in Nigeria. My sense is that people in Nigerian Government squander money insanely though they are sane and good-looking. Hon. Betta Edu, like Halima Shehu, just joined the long list. Halima Shehu was sacked from her leadership of National Social Intervention Program Agency. She allegedly signed off N44 billion from government account to some individual accounts in five days. It was Betta Edu who alerted the EFCC on the incident but unknown to her that she was digging her own grave too. These women! I wonder why Betta Edu, not Halima Shehu, gained much attention. Maybe it is because she is a minister.
May I join other Nigerians to rain accolades on President Tinubu for his alacrity to do what is expected while investigation digs deeper for more revelations. Though he promised to continue from where “Maigaskiya” (Buhari) stopped, he has proved to be different from “Maigaskiya” in some ways. Literally, maigaskiya is someone who is truthful. A man of integrity. It is loosely used for Buhari to mean a righteous, incorruptible, candid, just, and no nonsense man. While it took many Nigerians about eight years to realize that the concept of maigaskiya in relation to Buhari is a scam, it took very few of us less than a year to discover the scam. Before Edu, it was Sadiya Umar Faruq. The same ministry, the same characters. Under Sadiya, it was Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The Ministry was disastrous; and anything but humanitarian under her.
While Sadiya miraculously fed school children who were at home during COVID-19 lockdown, maybe through some evil spirits, Betta Edu politely Betta Edu-cated us on how to mysteriously travel to Kogi State where airport never existed by air with government ‘free’ money. Maigaskiya turned deaf ears to all allegations made against Sadiya to the extent that many taught they were lovebirds as she was husbandless, then. I wrote about this four years ago. They even said Maigaskiya created the ministry for her—such ministry never existed before. If President Tinubu had not acted promptly in the case of Betta Edu, trust Nigerians na!
For Maigaskiya, his appointees can steal, loot, embezzle; it does not matter provided they are loyal. For Tinubu, you must, of course, be loyal; but it seems you cannot steal, loot, and embezzle anyhow. It is safe to say “anyhow”. I am not very sure if this government will not tolerate stealing, looting, and embezzlement at all. These few cases of kleptomaniac appointees being sacked isn’t enough to conclude even if it had shown some sense of probity. During Maigaskiya regime, gargantuan allegations of corruption levelled against prominent thieves were either swept under the carpet, or investigated till eternity without outcome, or pardoned even when alleged thieves were found to be true thieves. It took EFCC about a decade to establish beyond a shred of doubt, through our law courts, that two certain former governors were kleptomaniac looters. It took Maigaskiya a twinkle of an eye to undo the justice and grant these big thieves presidential pardon.
Though Nigeria’s torturous journey to the present state of poverty started long time ago, Maigaskiya, no doubt, is the reason our poverty becomes so grinding that there isn’t a glimmer of hope on the horizon or any earthly idea on how to abscond from it. But “with God”, as it is said, “all things are possible.” While Nigerians continue to struggle to breathe under the oil subsidy removal regime which threw us into the most unthinkable difficult situation, Maigaskiya cannot suppress his happiness for the subsidy removal which he orchestrated. In his words “I was happy when Tinubu increased the petrol pump price, thinking that will reduce the number of people visiting me at home, but they later resorted to organizing funds to barge into my house.” Maigaskiya was referring (tauntingly) to the masses he thoroughly immiserated.
Maigaskiya hasn’t only the legal right but also the moral right to give corruption a deadly blow; disappointedly, he woefully failed. His government became synonymous with advanced corruption. Tinubu, many argue, hasn’t any moral right to fight corruption. Even if that is true, already he is the President, we must encourage him to use his constitutional right to fight it. And whenever he does so, he deserves our praise. Tongues are wagging: “Betta Edu should not go down alone. Hon. Tunji Ojo must also take an exit. He is also an accomplice.” Why shouldn’t he be relieved of his job if he was found guilty? I must confess that I admire him for the good work he is doing as the Minister of Interior. He, without wasting time, broke the spinal cords of the passport cabal who made life difficult for Nigerians in need of passport. Anyway, that is not an immunity if he had actually dined with Betta to better his condition which is not miserable by any stretch.
While the sack of Betta is apt, President Tinubu should exercise caution in the case of Tunji Ojo which is not similar to Betta. He should verify Tunji’s claim that he had resigned from the directorship of New Planet Project Limited since 2019. This is the company that allegedly got N438.1 million from the Betta-gate as consultancy fee. The allegation against Tunji Ojo is that a serving minister’s company could not have benefitted from such humungous consultancy fee. There is, according to Public Service Rules, a conflict of interest if the allegation is true.
My take in all this? One, if you think there is no money in Nigeria, you must have lost your thinking cap. If you can find your thinking cap and put it on, you will realize that Nigeria is full of money even if it is in debt. It is only that the money is not meant for the production of additional wealth to facilitate national development. Two, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is jinxed and bereft of humanity; it has created enough humanitarian crises and widespread poverty. It is a disastrous ministry; it should be scrapped. Three, women are not inherently evil. Many have concluded. Admittedly, those mentioned in this article may not be good models. Lastly, Maigaskiya’s former over powerful Minister Sadiya is currently under EFCC’s investigation. Would she come out unscathed—as innocent? Many do not think so, but time will tell.