The ordeal Wednesday of the former minister of Power, Sale Mamman who was reported to have collapsed on hearing the news of his sack by President Muhammadu Buhari is a sad story of Nigerian politicians who have no second address outside politics.
The former minister was said to have been taken by surprise by the announcement of his sack. Some reports said he must have been hard hit by the development because of the “enjoyment’ in the office he never thought was going to end so soon.
Although Mamman has since denied he collapsed, saying he had been ill and had been receiving treatment before the sack was announced, it has been discovered that Nigerian politicians degenerate very fast a soon as they leave office.
Apart from the recent case of the sacked minister, it has been observed that as soon as these politicians get into a situation that tasks their stress level, they usually cave in.
But the Nigerian masses who have been bearing the brunt of their maladministration have continued to move on, looking healthier than their “oppressors”.
Sometime ago, a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) collapsed while answering questions before federal lawmakers in Abuja.
There have been cases where highly placed individuals in politics have had to throw up openly in the courtroom as they are being arraigned for one case of fraud or the other.
Some of them have been seen going paralysed momentarily and were wheeled into the court on stretchers and wheelchairs.
It has also been discovered that a number of them do not enjoy sound health immediately they leave office, despite the money and property they have acquired while in office.
In Nigeria as in some other African countries, many politicians never retire; even when they are old and are no longer useful in the system, they always prefer to die in the corridors of power.
A few politicians only go back to their original trade after their exit from politics.
Only a few move on with their lives without hanging around the power corridors of Nigeria looking from crumbs from the masters’ tables.
Some of those who have moved on to other meaningful things include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (former Finance Minister); Akinwumi Adesina (former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development), and Arunma Oteh (ex-Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission), these are now playing on the global stage.
Unlike in some other places in the world where professionals who ventured into politics go back to their trades after their tenures in government, Nigerian politicians after they leave office continue to hang around the seat of power and refuse to engage in other meaningful jobs. At best, they become overnight contractors and consultants.
In advanced democracies where governors contest for higher position as President, the reverse is the case in this part of the world; after serving two-terms as governor, an average Nigerian politician contests for senatorial seat not necessarily for service but as ‘pension’ to remain relevant in politics.
While a school-of-thought considers the development as a ‘demotion and retrogression’, another school-of-thought disagrees, insisting that politicians who have tasted higher political offices and taking responsibility at a lower level would bring their wealth of experience into such positions.
To career politicians, politics is seen as an end in itself and not a means to an end.
An Abuja-based political analyst, Taiye Odewale, told our correspondent that Nigerian politicians strive to hold on to public offices not because of genuine service to their community but to the fact that politicians now see politics as the fastest means to financial empowerment.
He said: “Politics in this part of the world is one of the easiest ways to immediate fortune. If you are a politician and you are lucky to stand for election and you win at whatever level – be it from counsellorship level to presidency – definitely the person will have a sudden turnaround in terms of material wealth far above his or her peers who remain in their profession. His peers may improve on the average but his own will be a catapulted one. And he won’t want to drop back to their level.
“And you know, we have a very wrong value here. Anyone who succeeds in winning election into public office is already rated very high in the society. He will not want to go back. For example if the person came from the classroom like Ibrahim Shekarau (former governor and Minister) did in Kano, so you expect him to go back to the classroom as a secondary school teacher?”
Analysts say it is the fear of the unknown that normally drive them into seeking to hang in on political position till death.
“It is that fear of tomorrow that makes the governors to want to go to the Senate, just to sit idly and wile away time. Some of them even prefer to die there in ‘active service’ to dying as ordinary people. It is a phobia,” Matthew Onyendi, an economist, said.
“Again, most Nigerian politicians do not have a second address. These are those who were not doing well in business before finding their way into politics. Some of them have hospitals and other businesses that are still on, but they have so much seen free money that they no longer value the trickles from their businesses. So, they are always thinking what would happen if they leave office. It is the nature of man.
“Sometimes, if you look at them, despite the money they have, they are not happy; they are always agitated and insecure. Their outward look does not show the money they make because some of this money does not come the right way. The poor are being denied while the politicians amass the wealth. The money itself becomes a torment. I think it’s a spiritual thing,” he further said.
Doyin Odubanjo, a public health expert, said: “They probably increased their spending so much while in office that it was difficult to cut down on it on leaving. Hence, with dwindling inflow, their high-maintenance lifestyle quickly consumes all that they have.”
Another observer, who did not want her name in print, also believes that the major problem with politicians is their lifestyle.
“Politicians, the Nigerian type, are always showing off. They are wasteful. You see one person building a residential house that covers acres, just to show he has made it. He heeds constant inflow of huge amount of money to maintain that property. Some people have it two or three in the country and outside. So, they are always thinking about how to maintain their excesses. A very few of them that understand this life, live modest life and are not under pressure. For those who do not have a second address, a dislocation in the chain of their financial inflows causes a heart attack and sudden death,” she said.
She also alluded to the alleged reason why the sacked Mamman collapsed on hearing about his removal.
According to her, “Most of the politicians are involved in dirty deals that attract the excess money they make for themselves using their office. If for instance, a minister has set a business rolling and he is expecting several millions of naira to role in as kick back (which they are known for anyway), and it does not happen, it could cause heart ache. In fact, it can even lead to sudden death.”