You Can’t Get Rich In Politics

By Ikenga Chronicles September 25, 2018

–By Philip Odoemena

Way back in the early 1940s, the President of United States of America (USA), Mr. Harry Truman once said:
“You can’t get rich in politics”

In his effort to give a little clarity on what he meant, he said the following:

“You can’t get rich in politics unless you are a crook”

If this writer was living in the 1940s, I would have said to Mr. Truman.
Mr. President, speak for yourself.
If President Truman is living today, I would have said the following to him.

Mr. Truman, I hope you are not talking about Nigerian politicians, are you?
Still on President Truman on his, “You can’t get rich in politics” The 33rd President of the United States further said.

“……. You have to let your conscience be your guide. An honest public servant can’t become a millionaire in politics, he can only attain greatness”.

Well, 1944 was a long time ago, there was no way for him to know the dynamics of politics in this century especially in Africa and more so in Nigeria. President Truman had no idea that in today’s Nigeria’s polity, “own conscience” and “honest public service” are not included in Nigeria’s political mantra.

In a civilized society, the idea behind politics is for the politicians to serve their constituencies as well as their nations. In a nation where the only thing the politicians knows is: myself, me, and I alone slogan, the issues affecting the electorate are not on top of their priority list.

Most politicians in an uncultured political society such as the one we have in Nigeria in all the levels of government are blinded with greed such that the issues affecting those who elected or should I say “selected” them are left in the back burner. Their main objective is wealth, that is the reason why most politicians in Nigeria are either millionaires or very close to becoming one.

I wrote “MOST” above because I believe there are still few good politicians with good conscience. The sad thing in this whole scenario is that the grassroots still believe in these politicians, especially when bags of rice are given to them during campaign and voting period…Pathetic.

Pathetic in the sense that some of these politicians make their monies in ways that leaves many concerned citizens sick to their stomachs. In the “real” world politicians serve the electorate by offering their time and expertise for the betterment of the citizens, of course, the reverse is the case in Nigeria where most politicians serve themselves and family members using all kinds of innuendo, illegal and unethical practices. It is always a quid-pro-quo or nothing else.

In Nigeria, politics is a big business. Everyone wants to be a part of it, not for nation building but solely for personal wealth. Seldom do they make sincere effort to create value or make the society a friendly and safe environment for investment and development. It is understatement to say that some of them are very comfortable with their own corruptions which results to pathological apathy with an end to the nation’s ruin.

Nigerians are not advocating that politicians should work without been compensated. Politicians while in office should be compensated with modest salary and per diem like their counterparts in other countries. It is on record that Nigerian senators and the representatives are the highest paid civil servants in the world. Even at that humongous compensation, that is not enough to make them millionaires while in the office.

In USA for instance some politicians are filthy wealthy, but most of them don’t become millionaires while in the office. It is either that they made their monies prior to their entrance into politics or on exit from office that they become wealthy In other words, their ”payday” begins when they leave office because they are paid huge amounts of money for speaking engagements and book writing. Unlike Nigerian politicians that their “pay day” begins when they are in office by way of embezzlement and other illegal and unethical practices.

According to Francis Belux in his research on “Politics in Nigeria” published in June 28, 2018, the top five richest politicians in Nigeria are: Rochas Okorocha is worth $1.5 billion, Atiku Abubakar has net worth of 1.4 billion, Bola Tinubu has $1.5 billion, Ifeanyi Uba has $1.7 billion, Olusegun Obasanjo $1.6 Billion and the number one is Ibrahim Babangida with a whopping net worth of $50.0 Billion. Accept for Atiku Abubakar who made most of his money prior to coming into politics, the others were not millionaires before they ventured into politics.

In fairness there are few Nigerian politicians who had financial security prior to assuming a political office, however, many get wealthy when in the office serving and leaving the people who elected them in the cold. Pathetic

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