After The Pain In Spain…

The Nigerian Village Square (NVS) has opened up another front post-Osamuyia Aikpitanhi crusade. Late Mr Aikpitanhi, it would be recalled, was racially killed aboard an Iberia Lagos-bound flight by the Spanish security officials deporting him violently. The NVS, after the announcement of this macabre news, organized a global protest that sensitized a sizable world population on the callous way and manner the life of this Benin-born boy was wasted by the racist Spain.

The success recorded by that singular NVS feat was multi-dimensional: the Nigerian government that hitherto treated issues of this kind with levity suddenly sprung up to its responsibility issuing official statement and mandating both the Nigerian docile embassy staff in Madrid and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back home to take up the matter investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of the young man. Additionally the Mrs Patricia Etteh-led Federal House of Reps summoned the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria to the floor of the House to give the Spanish government account of what led to the death of the youth.

The Nigerian national dailies have done critical editorials in support of our efforts to see Spain not only apologise for the inhuman crime of its security officials but pay compensation to the Aikpitanhi family in Benin City whose breadwinner had suffered unjustifiable foreign state-assisted murder. The ‘Vanguard’ newspaper version was masterfully poetically captioned “The Pain in Spain!”

The Ambassador though apologised for the death went ahead to accuse the dead of raping offences and refusal to be deported on few occasions prior to the assassination episode. Since the dead can no longer defend itself it is condemnable for the Spanish Ambassador to want to justify what happened prior, during and inside the Iberia flight. Thank God there are living eye-witnesses aboard the Iberia ill-fated flight that brought back Osamuyia Aikpitanhi in body bag — manhandled, brutalised, gagged and covered with a sack!

Following that resounding sensitisation across the board (something which without the NVS-initiated loud cyber-space-spurred protestations would have been buried like many cases before it) the global community is now wiser and better informed about how our foreign friends trample on our rights just because the great wealth providence blessed our land with has been abused and ‘shared’ among the thieving clan, the greedy elite ruling us.

The new frontier in the course of wrestling back our humanity from the political clowns, godfathers et al making life unbearable back home for the silent majority which has just been opened up targets these criminals masquerading as leaders. It is a D-Y-A (Declare Your Assets) campaign which seeks to take the battle to the doorsteps of some senior elected government officials who are yet to declare their assets publicly.

Over a month ago when the President, Umar Musa Yar’Adua, a self-branded “servant-leader” declared publicly his assets making the world know his net-worth not a few well-meaning Nigerians have been calling on the Vice President Jonathan Goodluck and the state governors to follow in the footsteps of the number one citizen by making their assets non-secret and in so doing afford Nigerians the opportunity of peeping into their opulent world and drawing conclusions as to the source and manner of acquisitions.

Thus far with the exception of Ibrahim Idris the Governor of Kogi State and Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State the VP, Senate President Mark, House Speaker Etteh and other 34 governors has been reluctant in heeding the call for probity and accountability in public affairs which declaration of assets represent. If one is not afraid of transparency there should not be any justification to hide under the constitutional non-mandatory take on the issue.

VP Goodluck was over the weekend pontificating on why he did not believe declaring his assets publicly is worthwhile. “I have gone through relevant laws and did not come across it anywhere that I should declare my assets publicly. It is not mandatory…That means it is a matter of choice but I don’t see any big deal about it”, the Bayelsa lucky man had told newsmen in Yenagoa Saturday. But by saying that much one hopes Jonathan was not telling us that he is smarter or more intelligent than his boss who has in the spirit of the times gone public with his net worth.

Though one recognises the fact that the Yar’Adua assets declaration gesture is a populist move aimed at endearing him to Nigerians whose legitimate mandate Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu stole to give Yar’Adua the crisis of legitimacy and its concomitant ominous clouds hanging in and around the Yar’Adua presidency is fast disappearing with bold steps and positive moves of the former Katsina Governor. Slow but steady and focused President ‘Umoru’ is making some early difference.

His strong respect for the rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption are good strategies to disarm critics. Yet it’s too early in the day to begin to shout ‘hosanna’. Babangida began on a good note popularly cornering wide acclaims. Obasanjo started well but ended like failed African dictators before him: Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha, Kamuzu Banda, Mobutu Sese-Seko, Idi Amin.

As the Nigerian Village Square launch yet another campaign for elected officials to declare their assets openly this is hoping that those feeding fat on state resources like Goodluck Jonathan hiding under Code of Conduct semantics would re-consider their nebulous stance and go public on how much they are worth. Agreed the Constitution or the Code of Conduct act do not make assets declaration mandatory (but) it is not criminal to so do; President Yar’Adua never contravened any existing law doing so.

The pressure being applied should be re-inforced and consolidated so that together we can give official corruption the final kick out of our shores. So that we can start living, at long last, like humans in this beautiful planet we know much better.

The way to rectitude is by concerted efforts by Nigerians home and abroad to tighten the noose around the bull-necks of our political tormentors in Abuja and other capital cities across the nation. Doing otherwise will spell further doom for our children and children’s children. And that will not be in the best interest of the next big battle after the pain in Spain!

Written by
SOC Okenwa
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