Opinion

Bandits as Central Bank, By Emeka Obasi

Strange things are coming up in our country where the Central Bank sounds like an ocean of free flowing money drowning the economy while those saddled with responsibility fill their mystery and phantom accounts with solid and liquid cash.

 

Recently, sixteen persons were abducted by bandits in the Gonin Gora part of the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. What came as a shocker was the 40 trillion naira ransom placed on them. How the poor souls will be able to raise that huge amount is not debatable. Literarily, they have been condemned to death.

 

Money is not just the root of Nigeria’s comatose economy, it is the oxygen that gives life to insecurity. In the midst of abject poverty, some of those who stole the people’s commonwealth are buying houses in Dubai, London and Paris.

 

The bandits have now shown that they are smarter than the few who ruin our economy. Remember, during the days of naira beautification by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2023, there were more new naira notes in the forest than in the bank.

 

Bandits captured themselves on camera, displaying the scarce naira notes. Law abiding citizens were sleeping within bank premises, treated like criminals by the system. I am sure if there were free passes issued by the Robin Hoods of our jungles, many would have gone there for transactions.

 

We have been told severally that Nigeria is broke. An oil rich nation that was Santa Claus to even some parts of the Western World, has become a leprous beggar, ignored by erstwhile poor neighbours. Our people are walking about in rags, stinking of poverty.

 

While those who live in metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities smell sour, the bush landlords have sweet smelling naira notes to spend. How they use ransom money in the system without being fingered by security operatives is a bigger question.

 

Nothing goes up and comes down in our society. Those who talk of Law of Gravity should confine themselves to the laboratory. Now that ransom has been hiked to trillions, there is danger. If you kidnap the whole of Lagos, no one is going to drop 40 trillion naira which the 16 abductees are expected to pay.

 

There are no visible bandits in Lagos, anyway. They operate majorly in the North-West Geo Political Zone. The unfortunate part of their lucrative business is that they do not kidnap billionaires. Those who suffer are peasant farmers.

 

I have a feeling that pretty soon, those in need of scarce dollars may be forced to go the forests. It is nothing strange. During the Civil War, there was what Biafrans called ‘Ahia Attack’ (Attack Market). Everything but death was lacking in the war ravaged areas.

 

In an unwritten agreement, starved Biafran brave men and women would cross over to Federal Lines, purchase essential commodities and bring them back for sale, to the hungry. The good thing was that five Biafran pounds could purchase more than today’s five thousand naira.

 

The governor of Bank of Biafra, Dr. Sylvester Ugo, did not have to print money like we have seen of recent. And there were no bandits abducting people in villages. During the war, those who starved to death did so because there were no millionaires to help.

 

What an irony that in Nigeria today, where trillions of naira were printed outside our shores, people are dying of hunger in a country of trillionaires. Who knows what the bandits are planning to do with the trillion naira ransom. They may use it to make the bush more alluring.

 

It is a shame that our country has become another Central African Republic where Jean Bokasa, after bankrupting the country, continued to print money. That is exactly what the previous government of President Muhammadu Buhari did.

 

We all laughed at Bokasa’s ignorance when during the International Women’s Year in 1971, he ordered the execution of all men convicted of crimes against females and released all women serving sentences in Bangui jails. Papa Bok, as they called him, will be laughing at us in his tomb.

 

Francisco Macias Nguema of Guinea Equatorial did not waste time with the president of the National Bank. President for Life put him in jail and had the man beaten to death but left the signature on bank notes. At least, the dead man had honour.

 

We are not better than Haiti, under Jean Claude Duvalier, also known

and addressed as Baby Doc. In 1975, half of the total revenue accruing to the country was paid into 3,000 Special Accounts. His father, Papa Doc, (Francois Duvalier) ruled the country with iron fist and his mother, Mama Simone, still left something for the people.

 

Here, leaders loot our treasury, print more money, loot again, then rush to international creditors for loan. The National Assembly does nothing, hears no evil and asks for expanded budgetary allocation. And we do not see that as banditry.

 

The Bush Bandits are learning from the Bourgeois Bandits. While the Central Bank controls trillions, the Jungle Bank collects trillions. It is all about money and there are no saints in this business of sinners. The signs are ominous.

 

Those who think Bandits are numbskulls should study their modus operandi. They abduct, force government into negotiations, get all the ransom, are never punished, go for more jobs and get paid the more. In the forest, minimum wage comes in millions.

 

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