“Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it’s set a rolling it must increase.” (Charles Caleb Colton)
If anyone ever tells you that you have seen everything in Nigeria please call him or her a liar! Nigeria is a country of no laws and I stand to be contradicted by any living mammal, dead or alive. What happened on Monday, November 21, 2005 will go down in history as one of the biggest scandals in our political space, but by many accounts can never be the most significant given that more scandals are on the way like many gone past. In a country with over two hundred and fifty thousand paid policemen, thirty thousand custom agents, fifteen thousand immigration officers, eighty thousand military personnel, and nearly fifty thousand men and women in the law enforcement circles, a common criminal called Governor Alamieyeseigha just strolled in unannounced and to the jubilating arms of a despicable and decadent society!
It is a very sad time in the history of our nation, and I will be deceiving all my readers to say I am not ashamed to be carrying the same passport like this storied jail bird. In the most dramatic twist to the events leading up to his incarceration, release on bail and spirited fight to regain his passport in the British courts, the Governor of Bayelsa state sensing that he is up against a tide that he cannot subdue decided instead to run away from justice. He supposedly escaped by sea entering Nigeria disguised as a woman and using forged documents according to mixed but yet unconfirmed reports.
By any standard the escape of the ‘thief of Yenagoa’ is an indictment of the British law enforcement apparatus. Indeed it is a specific ‘in your face’ to the Nigerian authorities. How did he pass through custom check at both Britain and Nigeria? Who cleared him for air travel and landing in the territory of Nigeria? Who was the designated law enforcement official in Britain, even after a testimony of the Attorney General, allowed this fugitive move beyond his restricted radius? Are Britons safe? If the governor can run away from London what stops suspected terrorist from flying in? To Ribadu and his boys, it creates a very succinct problem since they essentially lack the power to enforce British laws in Nigeria.
All hopes are not lost, however, and what went wrong is definitely fixable. What Nigeria cannot afford is inaction or indifference by this administration that has a history of looking the other way when the all powerful governors of our land break the laws of the land. At least the Sharia issue was one of those cases when the constitution was clearly undermined with the taciturn support of the President. Another one of these incidents was the Plateau issue where Dariye is today ruling a state even when clear impeachable offence was preferred against him while on sabbatical leave at London jails!
The President has four options at this point. One of the options assumes that the Governor remains legally in office and cannot stand trial under our ridiculed constitution that has created the present quagmire we find ourselves. Under this option, the governor should be deported, kidnapped or abducted (whichever name you want to call it) by a high powered security force that should claim total ignorance of who, or how it took place. At least it was God who brought the governor to Nigeria; it is definitely Him that will take him back. Most Nigerians readily suggested this option across internet message boards and as a democrat I totally subscribe to it.
Another option will be to pursue stripping the governor of his immunity by removing him from office. This will involve tabling just one of his many impeachable offences before the state house of assembly. Since he entered Nigeria with a forged document we do not need any saint from heaven to determine that a crime has been committed. If the President want to prove he has balls and he is the true leader of his party (Pindipi as Bola Ige likes to call it) he better marshal those thieving boys occupying the Bayelsa state legislature to immediately commence impeachment proceedings before this generates to an international incident. After his immunity is stripped, he should be allowed to face either the music in Nigeria or Britain. I have definitely lost faith in the British judicial system, but will also like to see the look of his face in handcuffs when he gets back to Heathrow!
The third and the most convenient method for the President is to make life uncomfortable for Bayelsans that have decided to aid and abet this very corrupt individual. Imagine a group of people that cannot muster enough political courage to remove a disgraced man from office. Even the conscience of the people did not stop them from jubilating when their triumphant hero came to town. Indeed, the people of Bayelsa have given credence to the argument of the Northern Oligarchy that they already get too much from the national treasury anyway and they cannot be trusted with more (even though I still disagree with this position). Beyond this however, the fact that stares us in the face is that Bayelsans are a reflection of the larger decadence that pervades our society: the Nigerian society is rotten!
If all fails, then as a concerned Nigerian I think a state of emergency should come to force forthwith in the state of Bayelsa. The National Legislature will take over the functions of the state assembly and the process of impeachment should begin (this tactic is definitely high handed and should be properly considered before this route is taken). This will make the impeachment easier and orderly. Indeed it will remove the dangers of public disorder that can result from a change in government at Yenagoa. Undeniably a deletion of the immunity clause from the current constitution will also be a quick fix to the problem of fugitive governors holding forte in our Government Houses; but I doubt the courage of our legislators to take such radical action.
In addition to any of the above course of action, the noose should tighten around the governor. The federal government should press that his wife remain in jail at London, his ‘corrupt’ relatives should be picked up and all his commissioners charged for varying crimes ranging from accessory before to accessory after the fact. In criminal law, the friend of the criminal is a criminal! If they all know that this man has a warrant of arrest out for him and he still dining and wining with them, then they are all pa
rtakers in his crime. Oronto Douglas for his turncoat behavior since the beginning of this democratic dispensation is my recommended public enemy number one. Oronto has sold his soul for a pot of porridge and he is a disgrace to all activists out there trying to do their best for their cause. A lonely man will either die of hypertension or give up his position: I am sure the governor will make the choice a lot easier for his God if he has any!
It is my hope that while this is ongoing, hitherto educated Ijaws and Bayelsans who otherwise will have sided with the law, but have been previously blinded by the false claims of political or ethnic victimization emanating from Governor Alamieyeseigha’s camp, will see beyond the smokescreen and rise beyond the tribalistic comments that have marked their knee jerk response on message boards and forums across the web space that made them react angrily to anyone that criticized their ‘Governor General’. In reality, Alamieyeseigha is not different from his feudal masters or cohorts from the North, East or West of the Niger. While the drumbeat of madness goes on, we keep our fingers crossed and hope someone of courage does something about the mess the Nigerian elites have created.
“The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means”