Please, if you know you were involved in the looting of public and private properties on the heels of the #ENDSARS protests across the country, either by direct participation or by subtle conspiracy, kindly return the loot to the owners.
Also, if in your capacity as a government or public official, at any time in the history of Nigeria, you looted public funds, please kindly return the loot to the people in any way you deem fit. Let every looter return the loot.
This is a very passionate call and I am making it with all sense of patriotism. Let nobody approach this matter with any form of puritanical arrogance.
If you know you have stolen what does not belong to you in the past, biro, books, balls, food, clothes or other such fripperies, this is the time for restitution.
I remember when, as a small boy, I forcefully seized a friend’s bicycle. The boy had stolen my brand new ball and denied it.
To revenge, I drove his chopper bicycle away while he screamed and ran after me. Later in the evening, he came to my house with his mother to demand that I return the bicycle.
I told my mother that he must return my ball first. His mother looked at him with disdain and to everybody’s surprise, he admitted stealing my ball.
He returned my ball and I returned his bicycle. Everybody was happy. It will be immorality of an elevated proportion to ask someone to return loot while you luxuriate in a loot of a higher value.
Thinking about loot, looting, and looters, my mind naturally drifts to Literature and Art. There is no human condition or circumstance that is not captured in Literature and Arts. Literature is life. Art is existence.
They both provide the animating catalyst for humanity to find happiness. Music, as an aspect of art, is Olympian in status.
Life is incomplete without it. For many people, music serves various purposes. While for some it provides entertainment, for others it provides a critical mirror for constant appraisal of humanity’s warring impulses.
I love music more as a tool for social analysis and reawakening. Unfortunately, music has gradually lost its flavour as a source of imagination and introspection.
Nowadays, music is bland and uninspiring with meaningless, often lewd lyrics.
That is why the legendary afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti will remain one of the greatest musicians to grace mother earth.
Anytime I think of the world or more specifically Nigeria, anytime I consider the various layers of executive barbarism and brigandage in our country, any time I engage the steady regression of our country, a song by the late afro-beat king helps my course.
It is in that state that I found myself now while thinking of two categories of looters those who recently high-jacked the globally acclaimed #ENDSARS protests to loot public and private properties across the country and those who have criminally looted Nigeria’s commonwealth and public treasury to disgraceful dimensions.
Following the #ENDSARS lootings, the federal government and state governors have called on looters to kindly return everything they looted.
In that same spirit, let those who have siphoned and plundered our collective patrimony return all the loot to the public purse. Looting is looting no matter the circumstance or situation.
Those who became billionaires after serving the government in some capacity, those who acquired exotic appetite and inordinate craving for materialism must answer some questions.
Government offices and positions are not certified business enterprises. Now the muse reminds me of Fela’s song, “Authority Stealing”.
How accurate and precise can a musician be? Although Fela’s songs sometimes thrive on humour, they are ultimately satirical.
I am not trying to undermine humour as an aspect of art. I recognize its exalted posture in the comic popular culture.
Humour provides victory over sadness and melancholy. With humour, the mind maintains a stoic stance over constant provocations of reality in a triumphant assertion of its invulnerability.
Humour pushes a chaotic world into an occasion of pleasure. It allows humanity the rare occasion of the gratification of our delicate sensibilities.
With humour, we laugh but in laughing we must not lose sight of the message. While I acknowledge the humorous angle of Fela’s song “Authority Stealing”, I want us to quickly set aside all humour provoking ideas in the song and concentrate on the real message.
In Fela’s song “Authority Stealing”, the accusation of being a thief and the counter denial of not being a thief provide lyrical harmony which increases in tempo but fades with grace as the sonorous voices of the female singers approach a crescendo.
The accusation straddles three different status, thief, robber, and rogue. Indeed, the accused persona must be a renowned stealing champion from the depth of Hades.
While the accusation and counter-accusation go on, Fela identifies two different kinds of rogues – the armed robber who uses a gun and the man in authority who does not need a gun but uses a pen.
The deployment of a mischievous irony in the song is quite profound and symbolic. While the armed robber with a gun steals eighty thousand naira, the rogue in authority with a pen steals two billion naira.
Was Fela merely singing a song for us to dance and enjoy or was he addressing a present reality in Nigeria’s chequered polity?
At this point in the song, I am enthralled by the zigzag puzzles with which the afro-beat sensation inserts to capture Nigeria’s covetous, prodigal identities.
Again, according to Fela, when the armed robber steals eighty thousand naira with his gun, shouts of thief, thief, thief rend the air.
But when the rogue in authority steals two billion naira, no voice is heard. Unfortunately, such contradictions have come to define our country’s structural realities.
In what looks like a final judgement, Fela declares that the man in authority is a bigger rogue than the thief with a gun.
He goes on to warn that Africans must do something about this kind of pervasion where someone who steals a lesser amount is hounded while a rogue in authority who steals a bigger amount is celebrated.
A rogue, a thief, an armed robber – they are all enemies to humanity. I condemn every act of stealing.
It is antithetical to the laws of the heart. It diminishes the vibrant confidence of the soul and compromises personality.
When people in public offices steal funds meant for millions of people, they inflict eternal bruises on the psyche of millions of people but unknowingly blight the future of their offspring.
Karma is a beast. It smacks of low life for people to primitively steal and acquire even what they do not need as long as it is taken away from the public purse.
Such people have consciences that are seared with hot metal. While ten million naira can equip a local health centre and save millions of children from dying, a man in authority will rather drive a bulletproof car worth fifty million naira while mothers and children die from lack of adequate Medicare.
The roads are also crying, begging those who looted funds meant for the construction to return the loot. Let every looter return the loot before judgement day.