The world has witnessed and keeps witnessing flamboyant politicians who flaunted or flaunt wealth or affluence and they are not short in supply in Nigeria.
The wife of former Philipine President Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos who reports say, had over 1000 pairs of shoes, 2000 hand bags and jewelries worth millions of dollars readily comes to mind here. She was a four-time House of Representatives member and twice ran for the post of President.
She and her husband or do we say family lived a very lavish lifestyle....sadly at a time Phillippe as a country was facing harsh economic situation and citizens were living a very "low life" as New York Times puts it.
In the first republic, Nigeria had a certain Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh who was Minister of Finance. He had an identity of public appearance with a flowing wrapper held at the tip by an aide. He was always in full regalia of comfort so to say. He goes almost everywhere with his wife dressed gorgeously.
Today, we have seen politicians like Senator Dino Melaye who has a penchant for and of flaunting wealth. His friends would prefer saying, "flaunting his God given wealth".
Many may not like his style of showing off his wealth simply because it makes a mess and fool of the 85% of the Nigerian population living in penury or abject poverty....but his associates will quickly remind whoever cares to listen that Melaye is not the only "sinner" here as there are politicians with worst lifestyle.
They say, these politicians live luxury or luxurious lifestyle outside the shores of Nigeria...throwing big birthday bashes for themselves, relatives, associates and friends.... warming new houses in choice cities and places across the world, shopping regularly in the best and most expensive malls, cruising on sea, in the air and on the land. But once they returned home, they pretentiously live a low profile live....giving the public the impression that they are selfless.
But many will argue that if God blesses you....you have no choice but to testify and show gratitude. Perhaps, part of the testimonies is to flaunt or show what you've got. Well, your argument will depend on which side of the divide you belong.
Following this line of reasoning or argument, some will say, it is better to see a Melaye who shows off his wealth than several of his colleagues or top government functionaries who hide their properties including crazy amounts in banks overseas. Yet they come home to pretend and act like they live moderate lifestyle.
They declare false assets. They live in the same bungalow they built in 1930. They claim to be driving the official car acquired by government aside the old Peugeot 504 they bought in 1977.
Yes, it could be argued that Melaye could have used his office as a senator to better the lots of millions of Nigerians who he and his colleagues served...even as some are still serving rather than living large and displaying his wealth in the face of hunger, starvation, poverty and unemployment in the country.
But a critical look at the makeup of the Senate shows that some senators truly meant well for the masses who they are serving but have their hands tied to the bureaucracy and politics of religion, regionalism, tribalism and sectionalism which is the bane of Nigeria. Often, this style of politics ensures they end up as selfish individuals or politicians who merely line their pockets.
I have equally heard some analysts say, flaunting wealth doesn't indicate selfishness or greed. They argue that the politicians like Melaye flaunting wealth may have equally touched scores of lives. They may have lifted many out of poverty, sponsored the education of many up to University level and given many lifetime jobs.
Despite the very modest and unassuming low profile and selfless lifestyle of President Muhammadu Buhari, critics were still quick to slam his son, Yusuf when he was involved in an accident with his powerbike said to worth millions of naira. They say millions of Nigerians are hungry yet Yusuf own such expensive bike.
However, the mere fact that one is public office holder should curtail or checkmate some of his or her excesses....to help paint a picture of public servant who is selfless and not materialistic. Indeed, public office holders or government functionaries should not be seen to be flaunting wealth.
Desmond Ekwueme is Renowned Nigerian Journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria.