Plane Crashes, Corruption and the National Security of Nigeria

by Priye Torulagha

a.  President Obasanjo seems to be very vengeful.  He does not tolerate opposition or constructive criticism.  He does not also forgive and forget.  As a result, it appears that the war against corruption is being waged against his opponents while his friends and relatives are not or barely investigated.  As soon as a prominent Nigerian is viewed as opposed to the president, the EFCC is directed to probe the person.  Look at the effort the federal government is making to strip Vice President Atiku Abubakar of any dignity.  The government is going so far as to document the indictment of the vice president in the national gazette even before the case is prosecuted. This means that the vice president is technically already considered to be guilty of the alleged crime.  The documentation in the gazette is designed to prevent the vice president from contesting the 2007 presidential election.   In this matter, Nigerians must be grateful that Atiku did not remain quiet like others. By releasing critical financial information about the Petroleum Technology Development Fund to the public, Nigerians now understand better what is going on.   Due to the revelations, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, a chieftain of the PDP, returned the sum of N5 million which was donated to his  “Ahmadu Ali Endowment Fund.  Atiku’s revelations have resulted in the call for the probing of both the president and the vice president (Ogbodo & Ebiri, September 22, 2006).  Chief Gani Fawehinmi wants the Code of Conduct Bureau to charge the president for violating the Code of Conduct of Public officials in his business dealings with the Trans-National Corporation (Transcorp) through the Obasanjo Holding Limited  (OHL) (Akosile, October 05.2006).

b. Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State are in the same legal category.  Both were charged for money laundering.  Both were caught in London, England.  Both fled to Nigeria to escape facing prosecution in England.  Yet, they are treated differently by the EFCC.   The EFCC rushed in troops and the police to arrest Alamieyeseigha in Bayelsa State and removed him as the governor of the state.  The EFCC immediately filed a case against him and have him detained while trying to prosecute him.   The EFCC has not rushed troops to arrest Mr. Dariye.  Instead, due process seems to be applied to in his case.  

c.  The manner in which the president reshuffles his cabinet reinforces his manipulative tendencies.  In particular, the unceremonious removal of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister, at a time in which her services are most needed as this administration begins to wind down its presence.  She was one of those who spoke about corruption in the country.  She was probably the first to mention that the IMF had submitted a report listing the names of Nigerians who had probably embezzled public funds.  If there is one person that the president needs to have around as he begins to prepare his hand over, it is Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, yet, he sent her away without any explanation, thereby, fueling the conspiratorial theory that she was sent away because she probably knew too much about the financial operations of this administration.  Indeed, as soon as she was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she detected unexplainable financial transactions.   Perhaps, frustrated by the system and the way the president does things, she quit.

d.  The president’s commentary on the report which Mallam Ribadu, the Chairman of the EFCC, submitted to the National Assembly, created the impression that the president was not too pleased with the revelation that 31 governors were being investigated and many could face prosecution.  As the leader who initiated the anticorruption war, he would have spoken in total support of the EFCC Report to the National Assembly, instead of creating doubt about the veracity of the evidence gathered against the public officials.   His reaction threw mud at the EFCC effort, thereby, encouraging the public’s believability of Col. Abubakar Umar’s statement:
 “Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure is marked by an all-time high government revenue earnings but a tenure, which coincides with an unprecedented destitution among the broad masses.  The minimum action a successor government would take is to ask Chief Olusegun to proffer some explanations.  So, presumably, it is likely that the President would rather die in office than face the disgrace of justice which his successor may have to dispense for his ineptitude and his many transgressions” (Edomaruse, September 21, 2006).

e.  Like Gen. Babangida, President Obasanjo rules through manipulation.  This creates uncertainty and poison’s the democratic process.  Consequently, his manipulative style adds fuel to the conspiratorial theory that the government was responsible for ‘doing something’ to end the officers lives, just as Babangida’s manipulative tactics added so much fuel to various conspiratorial theories. 

f.  It is sad that the president did not realize that used planes are dangerous to the safety of Nigerians until high ranking military officers paid with their lives in a plane crash.  President Obasanjo and his advisers must have known that most planes flying in Nigeria are really not airworthy, yet, no effort was made either through legislation or policy to stop the practice of government officials and commercial airline owners buying junk planes.
To save Nigeria and boost its national security, it is imperative that corruption is eradicated or minimized.  Therefore, if the president shows any wavering in his commitment to the war, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu should try to garner support from the Nigerian populace and those in the National Assembly who support the war against corruption to continue the war.   Similarly, civil society organizations which have not been tainted must render their assistance to the EFCC in order to perpetuate the war against the social evil.  Mallam Ribadu cannot afford to fail in the effort to rid Nigeria of the deadly social disease.  If he fails, there will be no other constitutionally acceptable means of attacking the epidemic that has wrecked tremendous havoc on the country.

As the Buddhists would say, the law of proportion or kharma has “catched” up with Nigeria.    Planes are crashing at an alarming rate and the lives of Nigerians are being lost by frequent plane crashes.   The national security of the nation is filled with holes, hence, it was so easy to have eight or ten generals sacrificed without any major concern.  More planes will continue to crash and more Nigerians will continue to die, unless the country is cleaned of corruption.

The fact that some of the surviving victims of the plane crash were flown to South Africa for medical treatment tells a lot about Nigeria.   Why is it that Nigerian leaders find it exceedingly difficult to build modern hospitals in Nigeria?  Why is it that some Nigerian leaders would build medical facilities in other countries even though Nigeria needs all the modern medical facilities it can get?  Why is it that many of them prefer to invest in other countries rather than in Nigeria even though they are the national decision-makers and the governors of the states of Nigeria?   Why do they send their children to study in other countries and allow Nigerian universities to die a slow death?   Why is it that Nigerians no longer hear of the medical ingenuity of the country’s teaching hospitals, such as the University Teaching Hospital (Ibadan), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) again?  In the 1960s and 1970s, these facilities performed wonders.

It is obvious that plane crashes, whether military or civilian, is directly related to corruption in the country since used planes are bought most of the times and their maintenance is always questionable.   In an environment filled with corruption, a plane carrying groups of soldiers can crash either due to mi

sfortune or premeditated to serve selfish interest of some people.  Consequently, an effective national security system is not possible at the present moment in Nigeria.   In this regard, a time may come when armed fighters in the country would be able to easily overwhelm the national forces in combat. Right now, if the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign States of Biafra, the Igbo Peoples Congress, Bakassi Boys, Arewa Peoples Congress, and other ethnic armed fighters were to join together to confront the Nigerian Army, the national force will crumble because many soldiers would choose to join the ethnic fighters against the national force.  The members of the armed and police forces, it seems, are getting tired of being the sacrificial lambs for leaders who have no consideration for the national interest and are willing to sacrifice everyone else so that they can accumulate wealth by any means.  Only in Nigeria can eight or ten army generals perish in a twinkling of an eye.


Ajani, J., Ajayi, R. & Ighodaro,J. (September 19, 2006). ” Govt probes crash.”  Vanguard.  9/19/06.

Akosile, A. (October 5, 2006). “Transcorp shares; Gani drags Obsanjo yo Conduct Tribunal” This Day.  10/6/06.

China Economic Net. (September 19, 2006).  A Military plane crash in Nigeria.  10/06/06.

Edomaruse, C. (September 21, 2006).  “Umar: Why presidency is afraid of credible contenders.” This Day. 9/21/06

Jamiu, H. ( September 19, 2006).  “Ehindero’s revelation and the Nigerian State.” Guardian Newspapers.  9/20/2006.

Ogbodo, J.A>, & Ebiri, K. (September 22. 2006).  “Ali returns controversial donations to PTDF.”  Vanguard.  9/22/06.

This Day (September 29, 2006).  “Crash: Osborne seeks number reduction for travelling generals.”.  9/29/06.

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