Bottomless greed

You be thief (I no be thief)

You be rogue (I no be rogue)

You dey steal (I no dey steal)

You be robber (I no be robber)

You be armed robber (No be armed robber)…

Argument about stealing

Somebody don take something

Wey belong to another person…

The god of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti released that hit song 39 years ago. It is remarkable that just as his fans and family were rolling out the drums to celebrate his memorial in what they fittingly  call Felabration, his song quoted above came to life in the form of a movie-style saga starring Citizen Abdulrasheed Maina, erstwhile chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force.

Facing prosecution for allegedly pinching or mismanaging N24 billion, Maina had voted with his feet and secured citizenship of the UAE. But when he learnt that his house cleaner had stolen $1.7 from his home in Nigeria, he sneaked into the country to teach the lowly thief a lesson. The cleaner claims innocence, accusing Maina’s family of being behind the theft. Maina had spent a couple of months in Nigeria moving from den to den before EFCC operatives finally caught up with him.

Then news came from Niger Republic where Maina has another home. Nigerien authorities blew the whistle on a stash of cash totalling $1.7 million (about N605 million) found in an apartment believed to be owned by Maina in Niamey. The money is thought to be part of the pension loot. Twenty-nine assets worth about N1billion also suspected to belong to him have already been seized. After the Nigerien Government alerted its Nigerian counterpart of the discovery of the hidden loot, Abuja directed the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to move in. It was found that the apartment used to be the fugitive’s hideout in Niamey when the heat was turned on him at home and that the $1.7 million cash was the same sum he was accusing his house cleaner of stealing and that it was part of the stolen pension funds.

Security operatives are investigating the allegation that Maina’s son, Faisal, with the knowledge of his mother, moved the cash from Nigeria to Niger Republic and conspired to accuse Maina’s nephew, Sadiq Abdullahi Ismaila of stealing the money. As it turned out, Sadiq was so stunned that he could be arrested and tortured for an offence he did not commit that he shot a video which he shared on social media revealing what was going on.

When security operatives moved in to arrest Maina, his son, Faisal drew a gun on them. Apparently not a spring chicken, he is a chip off the old iniquitous block. His mum has reportedly now reached out to the wife of the IGP to explore the possibility of turning a blind eye on the young man’s Rambo stunt. Influence peddling!

During the operation, the agents seized 31 SIM Cards of UAE, MTN, 9Mobile and Airtel; 19 cellphones; one iPad and  two laptops; 13 flash drives and Kentucky  US ID card; UAE Certificate of Naturalisation; and UAE ID card from Maina. Four drones were also reportedly seized. Drones! More assets estimated at another N1 billion have been traced to him and the EFCC has applied to the high court for forfeiture of the assets to government. The agency is also making efforts to seize the fugitive’s assets in the United Arabs Emirate and elsewhere.

What is clear is that influence peddling and palm-greasing are some of Maina’s strengths. He knows that there are few things/people that money cannot buy. The fact that he can escape and sneak into the country at will betrays the kind of system we are running. He is not just audacious, everything revealed so far points to the possibility that the man feels entitled to his loot.

What would Fela have said in these circumstances?

While we leave Maina in the competent hands of the security agencies and the courts, a nagging question tugs at one’s innards: how much does a human being need to be happy? When is enough truly enough?

Could this type of greed be what the Bible is referring to when it declares, “Everyone’s toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied”? Or when it says, “The leech has two suckers that cry out, More, more! There are three things that are never satisfied— no, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire” (Ecclesiastes).

The Quran warns those who make the acquisition of wealth their goal in life: “Greed for more and more distracted you [from God] till you reached the grave (102: 1-2). The Hadith quotes Prophet Mohammed as saying, “If a son of Adam were to own a valley full of gold, he would desire to have two. Nothing can fill his mouth except the earth (of the grave)…

The 14th Dalai Lama, the foremost spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, agrees with the aforementioned major religions. “One interesting thing about greed is that although the underlying motive is to seek satisfaction, the irony is that even after obtaining the object of your desire you are still not satisfied. The true antidote of greed is contentment”, he warns.

Back to Fela jare: “Authority stealing pass armed robbery/We Africans we must do something about this nonsense….”

Shall we?

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