Our kleptomaniac former governors must be in a rude shock right now – confounded and dazed. The story that used to make the rounds at many State secretariats was that once president Obasanjo left office, Nuhu Ribadu and his troublesome Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would be silenced; even disbanded, with Ribadu himself excoriated and excommunicated, and probably even tried and jailed for trampling the “rights” of those thieving public officials.
And for a hot minute, it seemed like Ribadu was in a retreat. During the months immediately preceding the elections and the exit of Obasanjo, the EFCC was silent. No newly announced allegations of corruption, and hardly was there any threat to arrest any politician. We now know that the EFCC’s silence and retreat were tactical. It would be indecorous of the Commission to inundate the political atmosphere with accusations of corruption during the elections. Such an act could unnecessarily heat up the polity and tilt the elections in favor of one party or the other in a country (not
Well, the elections (if you want to call them that) are over and now we have cascading arrests of hitherto VIPs (Vagabonds In Power a la the late Fela Anikulapo) stumbling over each other as they are herded to jail. Was this not what the EFCC had promised to do? When the Commission announced last year that it was going to abide by a court’s ruling baring it from arresting some “impeached” governors, former VP Atiku’s hirelings masterminded the massive disinformation that circulated within the club of the roguish governors that Ribadu and his EFCC would be a thing of the past after the elections. The intent was to provide aid and comfort to those governors that were on his side as he, Atiku, battled unsuccessfully to explain away his role in the PTDF scandal.
Those governors, naïve as infants, took Atiku’s words to the bank (literally) and continued the raping and fleecing of their respective treasuries.
Probably the most pathetic of those governors was Jolly Nyame of Taraba State. Reverend Nyame (a man of God, what a shame!) could not battle his conscience any longer, so he confessed. The EFCC had accused him of stealing N1.6 billion (please do not confuse that with N1.6 million) and he has admitted to stealing most of that money. He even went further: he graciously agreed to return the loot. What a genial man and a thief! This so-called Reverend bilked his state of money to purchase three aircrafts. He bought two (at a highly inflated cost, I would imagine) and then pocketed the money for the third. What good do two aircrafts, or even one aircraft, do for the poor people of Taraba state who do not have potable water, decent housing, tarred roads and steady electricity? This man of God approved the purchase of office equipment at the cost of N250 million. He did not recall if any of the office equipment was actually bought. “I did not investigate,” he wrote in his confessional statement. He did not remember how much some of his contractors contributed to his various campaigns and how much direct kickbacks he got on sundry other contracts. But the preacher was not a complete moron. Just on the off-chance that the EFCC might come after him later, he used one of his adherents, Abubakar Ibrahim, as conduit to siphon N80 million out of the contract for a water project that was…you guessed it…not executed! He awarded a N25 million (also unexecuted) contract to a friend for…take a wild guess…the study of erosion! We will write an endless epistle here if we are to mention all of the 41 charges leveled against this blind thief.
Reverend Nyame is the exact caricature of the banality of governance as seen by many of those in government today: invest a pittance of your previously stolen money during electioneering (either as a Customs officer, as is the case with Atiku, or as a Police officer, as is the case with Oyo State’s Alao-Akala), or get your friends and godfathers to foot the bill, so that when you “win” you can reap multitudes of your investment. It does not matter what the people of your state want or need. Every so often, let a crumb of bread or a morsel of Amala (as we have seen at Baba Adedibu’s Molete residence in
Another tragedy of a governor was Joshua Dariye of
Also cooling their heels in the custody of the EFCC are former Jigawa and
Dr. Kalu, we all remember, was that motor-mouth entity that matched Obasanjo gaffe-for-gaffe in the last administration. With a penchant for sticking both feet in his mouth every time he spoke, Kalu promised hellfire and brimstone if he was ever arrested. So confident was he of his ability to hoodwink Nigerians, and so contemptuous was he of the EFCC that he ran for president. He ran for president! He must have reasoned: why not? If Abubakar Atiku could run for president, why could I not run for president too? Name it, Kalu owned it. He owned the Sun Publishing Companies, publishers of the Sun group of papers. He owned Slok Air Nigeria Ltd, which was angrily grounded by Obasanjo a few years back. He also owned Slok Marine Vessels. In other words, the man owned airplanes and ships! He owned an insurance company, a recreational resort and he even owned his own bank – Banque International – based in
This, surely, is a season of cataclysm for our erstwhile governors. They had thought that they had gotten away with the loot. Back when Obasanjo was president, many of those thieves argued convincingly that OBJ used the EFCC to witch-hunt them because they did not support the much-ballyhooed third-term agenda. We all bought that crap. Now that OBJ is gone and we have a seemingly less intimidating president Yar Adua, who will they blame now? The former governors that are now hyperventilating in the EFCC boiler rooms were the same ones that supposedly delivered the PDP’s “landslide” electoral victories. So, why are they being victimized? The truth is, whether you like OBJ or not, the EFCC is one beautiful gift he gave to Nigerians. The Commission will not catch all thieves, but it will catch some and deter many. And that is all we need in