A senior advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, has lamented over the current crop of political leaders in the country.
In an interview with Punch, he cites the inception of military rule as the point at which things took a turn for the worse in the country.
He said: “When we got independence, the first group (of leaders) we had were God-fearing, unlike the politicians that we have nowadays. Not that there was no bribery and corruption but it was minimal. So things were normal then. “Nigeria changed for the worse when the military took over. Certain individuals who knew a military officer would get something that others could never think of getting within the next years, so we had what we called the nouveau riche (new money or new rich) being created overnight and it did not augur well for Nigeria.
“We transited into a so-called democracy and it was aborted by the military but when this transition came in 1999, we were very unlucky to have Nigerians who were very selfish; they sat down and formed what is called the 1999 Constitution, basing it on the American system.
“A Nigerian who had stayed in America for years came home and told me that we copied the American system which is being operated by normal human beings but the Nigerian system is being operated by vagabonds. He said that was the difference and it can never work and it has not worked.
“This is a constitution that allows a governor to sit down and say that he needs N7bn for security vote. A governor awards all contracts without a tender board. If you are a commissioner, you cannot award a contract, a governor must do it.
“We have a constitution which also dictates that by virtue of Section 5, all executive powers vested shall be vested in the president. We have seen circumstances whereby presidents in Nigeria misruled this country.
“Nigeria has never had a leader and we are praying to have starting with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is trying to stop corruption; which I believe he cannot do. But he is trying.”
Clarke insisted that the country’s greatest problem is corruption, which he said is being carried out with impunity.
He said: “Corruption is the greatest bane of our society. It is not that there is no corruption in other places because it exists in America and England but when it comes to corruption in Nigeria, there is this effrontery that if I do it, nothing would happen to me; and even if I do it and I am exposed, people would not say anything.
“I am not a politician and I do not believe in politicians because when you see those who are canvassing for votes today, many of them who had served in different positions should be stoned but they are the people asking us to vote for them today.
“Governors have been imprisoned today and are receiving salaries in prison. Many of them go to the Senate after leaving their governorship position and they are earning basic salaries at the Senate and getting pensions as being governors. These are the people that are still asking us to vote for them.
“If I were God, I would send thunder and fire on all politicians in Nigeria so that we can start all over again. Or I wish that by the grace of God, something should happen and the system is destroyed – not the people but the system – and there are people who can bring in a new system, I would be so grateful.”
“Do not kill yourselves over politicians; they do not even know you and will reconcile with each other after the elections, long after you are gone,’’ Sukada told his congregation during mass on Sunday, February 3.
He said that no politician was worth dying for, adding that some of them were more concerned about their personal interests.