When the multi-billionaire died as pauper
…Do not seek perpetrate corruption on earth… (Q29: 74).
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
BRETHREN, It was at an event on the University campus that met. He was invited to chair the occasion. He arrived on schedule and entered the hallowed precincts of the mosque incognito. I looked at him and beheld a combination of wisdom and experience. I looked at him and began to wonder how he had overcome the many trials and tribulations of life all of which had made a believer out of him. I was enthralled by the way he carried himself. He was flat-bellied, healthy looking and athletic. What else do you expect of a man who follows the strict Islamic regimen: no alcoholism, no debauchery, no adultery, no gambling. He caught a personality which was built on simplicity. His mien gave a sense of a man who appreciated what divine grace meant.
Brethren, after Alhaji had taken his seat, we began to while away the time in expectation of the official commencement of the event. What better way could we have spent our time other than in lamentation. We were grief-stricken by the failure of those at the helms of affairs today who are hell bent on mortgaging the future of Nigeria tomorrow. Alhaji happened to be a witness to some of the scenes of that inglorious past which Nigeria still strives to overcome today. He went on to share one of the stories of that odious past with us. It was a story that is worth being shared with you, at least in storeys. It was a story of how some Nigerians collaborated to destroy the national patrimony In order that they might build their own economic empire. It is the story of how some Nigerians have become billionaires today though the very root of those billions is the plunder and pillage of our national wealth.
Brethren, he was appointed secretary, over forty years ago, to one of the Federal Ministries in charge of economic prosperity of this country. He was appointed after he passed a qualifying exam and series of interviews. Part of his schedule of duties was the supervision of procurement of certain materials for the whole nation. Brethren, if Alhaji F had wanted to fraudulently become a multi-billiionaire today, he could have achieved that through the privileged position he occupied. But that would have meant an infraction of the divine rule. Thus he chose to live within his means. He swore to remain incorruptible. He opted to prevent corruptible actions even from among his superiors.
Thus he was loved by some among his subordinates who shared his vision. He was loathed by others most of whom desired to exploit and corrupt the system but could not do so. In other words, while Alhaji F was in the civil service, he ensured every kobo of the ministry was accounted for; he would not steal and would not allow others to steal.
Brethren, one day, he returned home after close of work to learn he would never go back to his office again. He never knew that the powers-that-be had decided that it was high-time he was sacked from office. Thus before dawn, the office complex was taken over by military men. His office was put under lock and key. Messages were sent to him that he had been sacked and that he should not venture to go near the ministry. The person who was asked to take over after him happened to be Mr J who took the sixth position when the test for the position of Company Secretary was conducted years before then. He was asked to take over the secretariat of the company not because he could add any value to its operations. Rather, he was asked to take over because he could ‘add value’ to the fraud and corruption the leadership of the Ministry wanted to perpetrate.
Brethren, three things subsequently happened. Junior officers who worked with the former secretary and had thought that probity, honesty and integrity were needed to survive in the civil service quickly joined the new dispensation. They queued behind Mr J who opened the pathway to sleaze and corruption in a manner that was previously unknown in the ministry. Soon, the company under his watch became bankrupt and was consequently declared insolvent. While the company was being wounded up, its managers were busy counting millions of naira.
Brethren, Mr J became a billionaire like the Minister in Charge of the Ministry. He bought nothing less than fifteen houses in London and over a dozen of mansions in Nigeria. He also changed his name. He was wiser than Rasheed Maina who was the ‘newest hero’ in town a couple of years ago for setting the record for the most corruptible public servant in the country. But I thought Rasheed Maina was not smart enough. He ought to have resigned from the Civil service immediately he cornered the billions of naira which belonged to the Pension Fund Commission. He ought to have changed his name like Mr J, and probably his face too!
Brethren, we often forget that money cannot buy happiness. Mr J was eventually ‘liquidated’ by the unseen mover of movements in our world. The fate which befell him awaits those who are amassing wealth illegally all around the country. At the onset of the political experiment that followed the liquidation of the company, he sought to become a member of the Nigerian Senate. He, therefore, sold all his mansions in London. When this proved inadequate, he also sold his houses in Nigeria. Eventually, he lost his bid for the political post.
Soon, he began to find it difficult to live and survive. One day he was invited over to Abuja by one of his old friends with whom they stole millions which belong to the said ministry. The day he set out to meet the said friend of his happened to be his last day on earth. He died in his car before he could begin a new life.
Today dear brethren, we have many Mr J in the civil service: “servants” of the nation who have become ‘masters’ of the nation; public officers who have become millionaires and billionaires. The question is never asked: how could a civil servant whose annual salary is not more than a million naira end up building mansions in choice cities across the country or even establishing a University?
Brethren, the worst scenario is the assumption by some among these elements that once they build mosques and establish Islamic charitable outfits, these will obviate the oddities of their treacherous and iniquitous ways. They assume the Almighty will not question them thereafter with reference to how and where they got their wealth. How mistaken they could be.
Al-Ghazali says the example of those who commit fraud and bring same to the mosque is like that of a woman who commits adultery and proceeds to prepare a sumptuous meal with the money the adulterous partner gave her after the act for her husband. No matter the quantity of the honey added to the cup, poison will always be poison. No matter how hard the thief strives to keep what he stole, what belongs not to him will never stay with him. (08122465111 for texts only)
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