Herbet Wigwe, Bankers and caricature Capitalism in Nigeria

Tony Abolo

The shock of his death in a helicopter crash in the United States a week or two ago, while on his way to watch the American Super Bowl event alongside, his wife, son and a business colleagues, Ogunbanjo remains unsavory for his family, friends, business associates and those who knew him intimately.

But then the greater shock hidden from our eyes was that he had just built a $10 billion penthouse with its digital state of art design, held a 9% share in Access Bank, where he held away as the GMD and a personal net worth of $34 million. These wealth facts jolted Nigerians into the true meaning of “monkey de work, baboon de chop”, a more pidgin statement but the underbelly and truism of our Capitalism.

However, anyone may want to interpret it, capitalism does not quite have a beautiful side, excepting for the exploitative class, for whom there is a “Surplus Value” to be manipulated to their advantage. This digs us deeper into the argument recesses of Karl Marx and his Marxian philosophy on the rise of the proletariat, the working class, who create the real ‘labour value’, which when the class realizes the condition, their condition is in and the destructive and exploitative structure of Capitalism, they are good to upturn the oppressive system; free themselves and create a classless society – his ideal construct of the ascendancy of socialism. This Marxian definition kicks up two critical scenarios and important questions in our national life.

Firstly, what do bankers really do to justify the humongous profits they make annually. And is there much difference between the bankers, the ideal rich who they support with the surplus value’ in form of underserved loans and the kind of asinine and very corrupt All Progressives Congress administration such as we are now seeing in a post way, from the Buhari and profligacy, waste and unexplained and irrational distribution of billions of fund that are throne at everything and anything but in the most critical areas.

Little wonder Minna, Kano, Oshogbo, Ota, parts of Lagos have reacted in protest and revolt. We must then ask, is Karl Marx prescient? Is red revolt in the works? Are the oppressed ready to throw off their chains and is the caricature capitalism in Nigeria about to flounder? You never can tell.

At least in boldness, retired General Ibraham Babagida has sent a caution so we read, to Tinubu, to handle the collapsed economy and the revolt situation more carefully, otherwise, the disgruntled and enlightened sections of the army may go for broke, and upturn this wasteful and indeterminate system of governance that is seen as nihilistic, corrupt and purposeless.

But before that happens, we must ask pertinent economic questions. How can in a cursory glance at the stock market business listed, do not do well or we could say, despite that banks provide overdrafts for them, they are not seen to rise in value and growth, whereas our Nigeria Banks, unlike in the other times are supportive and prop up businesses, are the only do wells in the economic and business environment of ours. Come to think of it, all the years of COTs, all the few naira and kobo clicks for buying airtime through the Banks, all the VATs, all the extra service charges, impoverish all bank users, but benefit the bank owners and their CEOs.

Could this be why the Elumelus, The Jim Ovias look so prosperous? Could the round tripping of dollars in collusion with a pretentiously inattentive CBN be the source of the voluminous wealth of the Bank CEOs? And could be the stupendous wealth of Herbart Wigwe, the erstwhile GMD of Access Bank be attributable to all of these? However, the former Access Bank CEO/GMD’s story and that of Access Bank, goes into the rumored under the table deals in the days of Bank recapitalization and Sanusi days at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

But could the wealth of a bunker be that stupendous, so quickly at such a young age of Wigwe? Could it? Maybe. There is the other question now coming to light. We cannot talk of corruption, stinking corruption in Nigeria and not link the Banks as accomplices.

No one really, come to think of it, can hoard billions of Naira under the pillow. They allegedly are kept, moved and transferred through the bank. This is the kind of alleged collusion that exerts between bankers and the politicians to the detriment of Nigeria; in a decadent Capitalist system that we operate.

Rose Luxembourg was right and so was Dr. Joseph Zwingina in examining our kind of capitalism and used the operational word “Caricature”, for that is what our capitalism is. However, Capitalism is not altogether a bad word. It represents a journey of hard work, thrift, savings, investment and then the flowering of capital.

Sadly Nigeria’s journey has been that of pillaging, brigandage, outright stealing, primitive wealth acumination and suddenly people are seen as Wealthy, which we in surreal terms describe as Capitalism.

Nigerians cannot in any sense of honesty call what we operate a capitalism system. Ours is destructive of capital, erosion of stored value, disincentive to hard work and creativity.

In the end the consequence is a severe pauperization of a people. Neither the Banks, nor our political class who are in cahoots are any helpful. Their thought patterns are similar, that of accumulation, primitive accumulation.

Otherwise, what explains the rifling of the treasury that we saw in Dieziani, Sadiya Faroouq, and recently the alleged misdemeanor of Dr. Betty Edu. What can explain how Nigerians instead of investing at homes, have homes, in New York, London, Paris, and Johannesburg thereby impoverishing the economy and Nigerians.

Sowore had called and is calling for “Revolution Now”. Falana is calling for a “Social Revolution”. Hungry and angry Nigerians are rising on their feet in revolt in Minna, Ilorin, Kano, Ota, Lagos and Oshogbo and who knows where else next? It looks like Karl Marx was right in predicting an ideological revolt which can enthrone a socialist state. Walter Rodney and Frantz Fannon were right.

The slaves have nothing to lose but their chains. To all intents and purposes and historical directions there is a new awakening in Nigeria with the revelations on Wigwe, which is symptomatic of our Bankers and the daily sordid and angry details of the massive corruption of our politicians such that a historical tipping point is here.

Nigerians seem all ready to chant like the French in revolt as they stormed the Bastille in the 18th century (May 5th 1789), Egalite!! Equalite!! Libarte!! And the Germans in May 18th, 1848. The slaves want an end to slavery and the complete overhaul of our caricature capitalism that seem to benefit only the Bankers and Politicians. Are we at the gate of Socialism?

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