The ‘Monivorous’ Animals

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While the world is still struggling to unravel one of the biggest mysteries of the 21st century; the never-empty, ever-loaded Sani Abacha ATM, which has become Nigeria’s most reliable money reservoir, this country of ours is already queuing up another mystery. Well, until a proper study and experiments are done and answers provided to all the questions, I’ll like to refer to this latest Nigerian mystery as, ‘the monivorous animals’.

When it comes to money, don’t ever think you’ve heard the worst until you hear from Nigeria. This is a country of normal people who do very absurd and weird things for, with, and in the name of money. We’re neither the richest nor literally, the very poorest people in the world, but we’re just extremely weird like that. So, here we are again, in our full regalia of weirdness. In February 2018, it was reported that a snake swallowed a whooping N36million from JAMB office. It’s been more than one year, neither the snake nor the money has been found. Last week, we heard another one; a gorilla swallowed N6.8million in Kano zoo.

Until now, there were only three types of animals (based on their food chain) in the world. The three diets of animals hitherto were, herbivores that eat only plants, carnivores that eat only meat, and omnivores that eat both plants and meat. That was before ‘monivorous’ animals were discovered in Nigeria. This type, in addition to their natural diet, eat money, too.

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Like every other new discovery, the world is still finding it hard to come to terms with the existence of this animal specie. Nevertheless, monivores exist in Nigeria. So far, just two of this strange specie have together eaten about N42.8million. That’s equivalent to the sum of one month salary for 1,400 least paid Nigerian workers under the new minimum wage scheme.

It was some time in June 2018, that Nigeria was declared the poverty capital of the world, when it overtook India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, with an estimated 86.9 million people measured to be living on less than $1.90 (N684) a day.

According to data courtesy of the World Poverty Clock, a web tool produced by World Data Lab, that number increased by nearly four million more Nigerians within the next six months that by December 2018, the country had about 90.8 million people living in extreme poverty. Despite the abundance of resources abound, Nigeria’s poverty rate has continued to rise at a very alarming rate.

The Nigerian situation is perfectly captured in the opening line of Sri Mulyani Indrawati’s article, “The way out of poverty and corruption is paved with good governance”. This is how the former World Bank managing director and chief operating officer opened her discuss;

“Twenty years ago, the World Bank took up the fight against corruption as an integral part of reducing poverty, hunger, and disease. The decision was groundbreaking then and remains valid today. Corruption diverts resources from the poor to the rich, leads to a culture of bribes, and distorts public expenditures, deterring foreign investors and hampering economic growth.”

In addition, another article by World Bank Group, “Combating Corruption”, published on October 4, 2018, considers corruption as a major challenge to ending extreme poverty. “Corruption erodes trust in government and undermines the social contract. This is cause for concern across the globe, but particularly in contexts of fragility and violence, as corruption fuels and perpetuates the inequalities and discontent that lead to fragility, violent extremism, and conflict.

“Corruption impedes investment, with consequent effects on growth and jobs. Countries capable of confronting corruption use their human and financial resources more efficiently, attract more investment, and grow more rapidly.”

According to World Bank Group, data on international financial flows shows that money is moving from poor to wealthy countries in ways that fundamentally undermine development, adding that curbing corruption, financial misappropriation, money laundering and other related corrupt practices is a major step towards tackling poverty and in the world.

WBG also notes that more stringent international monetary/financial policies will significantly reduce money laundering in many poor countries. This is because there is a direct nexus between a country’s corruption rate and poverty level. In my opinion, the world’s poorest and most under-developed countries are like a balance scale with corruption and poverty in both pans.

The little exposé above attempts to explain Nigeria’s steady fall into extreme poverty. Over the years, so much has been stolen from this country that even if the economic rape were to stop today, it will still take the country many decades to recover. Apparently, the tightening international monetary/financial  laws in recent years, complemented with new stringent policies by the country’s financial regulators, have reduced laundering and stashing of money in foreign countries as well local accounts.

However, it appears that since the hunters have learnt to shoot without missing, the birds are now learning to fly without perching. It seems that since foreign and local bank accounts are no longer safe for launders, they are reinventing. Clearly, any money ‘swallowed’ by an animal cannot be traced to any bank account or anybody’s name.

The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has even admitted that what the country is suffering, is not mere poverty but “extreme poverty”. He noted this recently when he said, “I think what keeps me up at night has to do with extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor”. Yet, a pocket of privileged people are restrategizing on how to continue pilfering the country’s meager resources. The kind of crimes thriving in the country is a clear proof of what a joke our legal system is, and an indictment on President Muhammadu Buhari’s much touted corruption fight.

We’re giggling over these absurd stories of animals swallowing monies that should be used in bettering the lives of the citizens because these small monivores are eating only millions. Soon, a giant anaconda will invade the office of the Accountant-general of the Federation, and a big shark will jump from the Atlantic into CBN’s vault and we will be hearing figures equivalent to the country’s budget for 10 to 15 years. This is Nigeria; look how we are living now, even animals be criminals.