I remember this popular line in Africa China’s song “Mr President” concerning the aftermath of the rich man that stole money and the poor man that stole maggi (a popular spice in form of small cubes). This line, however old, is evergreen in my memory especially when I come across news about petty thieves being lynched in open places like the market or even on the busy streets. What comes after is this very sad feeling – this sad feeling engulfs me so much that I feel like it is my brother or sister that was beaten up.
That was exactly how I felt when I heard the news of the two ladies that were beaten to the point of death in Iyana Ejigbo market sometime in September 2013. I didn’t just feel like they were my sisters, I felt they meant more than just that because I live not very far from the market where that barbaric incident happened. I was so pained to the point of tears. I thought to myself why someone will get so much beating from some shameless vigilantes and so called “Iyalojas” for stealing pepper. Just like Africa China said in his song, it beats me so hard to understand why these so called vigilantes go after the poor thief and fail to look in the direction of the rich thief. I call it a weak system where the low class steals maggi and lands in big trouble, even bigger than the magi he stole and the high class steals in the name of the authority and gets a very light judgment. I remember the popular story of Bode George and how he got away with a light punishment. There are many stories and judicial decisions to cite on this one but I will skip it lest I bore you with similar facts.
- They are angry not just as a result of the stealing but as a result of the pain that they cannot get to lynch them, therefore they transfer the aggression to their fellow low-class who steal
All these stories in the news concerning authority stealing will take me to the epic song by the musician tagged “troublemaker” for the kind of lyrics that makes up his songs, Fela Anikulapo Kuti titled AUTHORITY STEALING and the few observations that I have after listening to the lyrics over and over again.
First, one would agree that the stealing happening at the top which Fela Kuti has tagged authority stealing has made the masses under become very angry. They are angry not just as a result of the stealing but as a result of the pain that they cannot get to lynch them, therefore they transfer the aggression to their fellow low-class who steals. It is a psychological effect that overcomes the body when you wait bitterly to beat a thief who has been robbing you off all your millions, then you finally get one that robs you off a thousand you treat him like he is the same thief. This is wrong however for we cannot be punishing the petty thieves for the greater crime committed by the politicians.
Secondly, the lyrics points out that the judicial system takes seriously the crime of stealing, but attaches extra importance to the crime if it is committed by the low class, passing sentences as provided for in the Criminal Code or the Penal Code as the case may be. So, while we are at the moment of believing that our Judicial System is really waging war against indiscipline, we realise that it is not as true as it seems for the war against indiscipline is incomplete and therefore partial. We see this in the case of various politicians and past State Governors.
Fela Kuti points out in his lyrics that our Judicial System has failed to look into the stealing committed by the high class, the real thieves! When the low class hustles to steal N100 and the high class easily steals N100 Million, we hear the chant of “thief” because they robbed on the streets but the real thieves are not disgraced on the streets for they rob from their offices using a pen and various political terms such as maladministration, embezzlement and the likes, however, the newest one for me is campaign funds.
- I don’t know if that president is General Muhammad Buhari, all I know is what I have heard about his military regime as Head of State and the positive fight against indiscipline
When Africa China wrote that song titled Mr. President, I believe he was directing it to a President who will wage serious war against indiscipline without discriminating between the classes.
I don’t know if that president is General Muhammad Buhari, all I know is what I have heard about his military regime as Head of State and the positive fight against indiscipline. However, I have a submission in my heart – it is now or never, we cannot continue to punish the people picking pockets, stealing maggi and pepper then ignore those transferring the nation’s treasury into their pockets buying all sorts of gadgets and using the nation’s income to campaign all because they are in power, all because they are among the high class, all because they are in the ministries, all because they are in the office (I won’t mention names here), they feel they can steal in the name of authority. We cannot allow this to continue, just like Fela Kuti said towards the end of that beautiful song – “authority stealing pass armed robbery, we must do something about this nonsense!”
FATILEWA OLUWABAMIYO GABRIEL