Matters Arising: War Against Corruption Revisited

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

When the people fear the government, there is Tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is Liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.- George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried. – Sir Winston Churchill

“As a process, governance may operate in an organization of any size: from a single human being to all of humanity; and it may function for any purpose, good or evil, for profit or not. A reasonable or rational purpose of governance might aim to assure, (sometimes on behalf of others) that an organization produces a worthwhile pattern of good results while avoiding an undesirable pattern of bad circumstances.

Perhaps the most moral or natural purpose of governance consists of assuring, on behalf of those governed, a worthy pattern of good while avoiding an undesirable pattern of bad. The ideal purpose, obviously, would assure a perfect pattern of good with no bad. A government, then, comprises a set of inter-related positions that govern and that use or exercise power, particularly coercive power.

A good government therefore, following this line of thought, could consist of a set of inter-related positions exercising coercive power that assures, on behalf of those governed, a worthwhile pattern of good results while avoiding an undesirable pattern of bad circumstances, by making decisions that define expectations, grant power, and verify performance”. (quoted from Wikipaedia)

Events in the past two weeks and beyond have cast very serious doubts on Nigerians’ optimism that the war against corruption in the polity and in governance, by the government of President Yar’Adua is being fought convincingly and being won. It was the same doubt that we eventually had with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s eight-year administration. If I am wrong, please tell and prove to me otherwise. However, in this new administration, we are being clogged up and bamboozled with the term “Rule of Law”. I have said it before, and will continue to say it, that much as I love the term “Rule of Law”, it is not the right time to apply it to the extreme situation of Nigeria, at least as far as corruption in high places is concerned. In a country under very serious siege by corrupt politicians, corrupt leaders in government, corrupt business community, the rule of law cannot be applied so soon and very serious re-consideration of Yar’Adua’s government on this position is required. The President does not need to reinvent the wheel, neither is it rocket science to know that this stance is not working.

If leaders conveniently and arrogantly ignore the rule of law to get to power, then ignore the rule of law to govern their people and continue to loot treasuries in defiance of the rule of law, why should they be judged or tried under the rule of law? We all love and admire the Rule of Law, but I will submit that before there is Rule of Law, there must be “Obeisance of Law” or something to that effect. If a people want to be governed under the Rule of Law and all its attendance qualities, then there must be a system in place where the law is adhered to in the first place. Certainly, over the decades, our leaders have never adhered to obeying the rules, or the laws for that matter. In fact, they have always flouted the rules in stark disregard for the people of Nigeria. They do not give a damn for the people, only themselves. This then brings us to the crossroads. How do we juggle the application of this often misinterpreted, misapplied and misused phrase with the reality on the ground? The reality on the ground being that at present, we are letting the Rule of Law interfere with meting out appropriate justice to corrupt leaders and politicians. The reality on the ground being that the Rule of Law now seems to be used as a cover or hiding instrument by these corrupt nonentities who have been piling misery, death, poverty and catastrophe on the people of Nigeria. Every corrupt politician is now asking to be tried under the rule of law when they have not adhered to the rule of law in the first place. What an irony?

Let us start from the following:

Speaker of the House, Mrs Patricia Etteh (Etteh-gate) – Why this lady (if she’s really a lady) is still hanging on to power beats my imagination. I know that the singular and dignified act of Nigerian leaders resigning in the face of very strong opposition, ineffectiveness and criminal indictment is virtually unknown, but this is going too far. Until most of them are disgraced from office, they can never bring themselves to resign. It is an unfortunate trait even when their positions become untenable. They still fight to stay in power. “I will not resign” is their byword, and they start fingering unseen elements that are out to get them. In this case of Madam Speaker, even with the overwhelming evidence and the indictment against her, knowing the power play and the behind the scenes intrigues, this woman might actually weather the storm and continue to be our Speaker. In other more civilised countries, she would either have resigned or been removed. Here in Naija, we let it drag on and on, until people get sick of it, and then she stays. That is our lot.

Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa and ex-Governor Ibori – Apart from his misguided involvement and personal interest in the cases of former governor Orji Kalu and the EFCC, as well as his ill-advised pronouncement on the Naira Re-denomination debacle, there he is again allegedly involved in Ibori’s acquittal in London over the freezing of a $35 million asset. Several Nigerian newspapers and also the respected Sahara reporters (please read them all and their allegations) have carried stories that the position of the Federal Government and the Attorney General on this Ibori case has either inadvertently or deliberately let ex-Delta state Governor Ibori off the hook from the UK government. Therefore, Michael Aondoakaa is either incompetent or deliberately misleading the country. How on earth can a Governor allegedly make $35 million in eight years of governance of his state and nobody wonders how he made it? I have written about this before. Now the man will actually get away with his loot, and I would not be surprised, knowing that James Ibori was widely regarded as the major financier of Yar’Adua’s ascension to the Presidency of Nigeria. Ibori was also reputedly the best Hostage Negotiator with the Niger Delta militants. In fact, at a time before the elections, he was being touted by the PDP machinery as the next PDP power broker. Can you see the pieces falling into place, my people? So that is the rule of law, Nigerian style, as applied to very special corrupt people. The Punch (4th October 2007) reported that the Federal Government might have contributed to the reprieve of Ibori in a London Court, due to a letter allegedly written by the Attorney General of the Federation (or someone in the Government) to Ibori’s counsel that he has no case to answer. (Aondoakaa has denied writing the letter, but this does not appear to be the truth, as there were definitely correspondence between the AGF and Ibori’s counsels).

The Punch newspaper reported that new evidence showed that the AGF and Minister of Justice personally wrote a letter which might have played an important role in the acquittal of ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta State by a London court, corroborating the report of Sahara Reporters published in Nigeria Today Online on Wednesday 3rd October 2007.

Also, THIS DAY Newspapers (4th October 2007) mentioned that they were told that the EFCC were no longer forthcoming with evidence, quoting a source that said So when the people who instigated the action are not forthcoming, what can you do? The government of your country (i.e. Nigeria) didn’t want anything to escalate the crisis in the Niger Delta and other issues,” hence, the EFCC, for undisclosed reasons “was no longer keen on providing any more evidence to the UK investigators.”

There goes the Rule of Law again, and with it, the neighbourhood of Nigeria and one of the biggest thieving Governors in the history of Nigeria. It will be a Herculean task for Ibori to be brought to justice now, mark my words.

And you know what, Governor Uduaghan of Delta State, a cousin to James Ibori (Ibori actually put him in power) has promised “to organise a thanksgiving service to express gratitude to God for the landmark victory”. You are kidding me, aren’t you, Governor? Exactly what God are you giving thanks to? Are you using Delta State money to do this or your own or Ibori’s loot? Let the looting continue unabated, that is the game plan.

Still on Political Intrigues bordering on corruption – Sahara Reporters reported that Mike Adenuga, Globalcom Chairman and James Ibori were in New York to meet with President Yar’Adua ostensibly to plead with him on their lingering corruption investigations by the EFCC. Ibori flew into the US from South Africa, where he is alleged to have substantial business interests, including majority shareholding in an oil refinery. He was also said to have real estate properties in Florida. Can you believe the magnitude of corruption of these people? Mike Adenuga wanted to facilitate his safe return to Nigeria without further harassment from the EFCC while Ibori would like the President to call off the hounds of the EFCC off him. This is really getting out of hand, isn’t it, when dubious characters, irrespective of their standing in the society, are seeking and getting audience with the President of my country. That is corruption in high places for you. In Nigeria, the more corrupt you are, the more important you become. And they can even flaunt it in our faces.

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1 comment

NELSON October 9, 2007 - 1:34 am

I am an assidious believer in the Nigerian rennaisance thats why i want each and every one of you outside the shores of this land to join forces together to tell this corrupt dogs where they should be in the pit of hell fire.


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