The Banana Skins Called Ibori, Etteh And Odili

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

The first two ex-governors who must be fully investigated and prosecuted are Ibori and Odili. But can they? Does this government have the heart, the courage, the willingness, the sincerity to face these two dinosaurs, these embodiment of corruption? From the look of things, I doubt it. The government and all its enforcement authorities are even having difficulty dealing with “petty” crooks like Dariye, Turaki, Nnamani and Kalu (if you can really call them petty thieves).

But we can take heart in the words of the Holy Books that said definitively that the sinner shall never go unpunished.

The Guardian, in its editorial of 16th October 2007 stated that “because corruption is aggressively destructive in both intent and method, it must be matched with no less ferocity if we are to curb it, and the starting point should be a review of observable structural problems. And we can do this fully within the ambit of the rule of law. One example: Sections 11 and 12 Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the extant constitution requires public officers to submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of their assets both on coming into office and at the end of each term of office. Penalty for a breach of the stipulations of the Code of Conduct is clearly spelt out in the relevant sections. In effect, there exists a law, and a structure – the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal – that, if alive to their constitutional duties, can do much to bring to book, thieving governors and other miscreants in high places. There is also a need to make assets declaration public through Constitutional amendment.”

The editorial went on “Because the law is foundational to government and its processes, it is critical that a president and his chief law officer must be in complete agreement on matters of both principle and policy. We regret to say that, much as President Yar’Adua may be saying all the right things on the matter of corruption, his attorney-general does not appear to operate in tune with the expressed sentiments of his boss. A well-meaning AGF should, notwithstanding his constitutional powers and authority – or indeed because of it – be eager to collaborate with, even strengthen the EFCC, ICPC and indeed any other body that can help fight corruption in the land. Not so the incumbent. Put starkly, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa has so far proved himself unable to work in tandem with the very strong anti-corruption sentiments of the Nigerian people, and the global public. This country cannot afford a chief law officer whose motive is in the least questionable; who discharges his duty in a manner not manifestly in “public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent the abuse of legal process”. As things stand now, the president may wish to consider a fresh hand for this important office and assignment.”

This is a very strong and truthful indictment of this man of straw who was given the lofty position of AGF and Minister for Justice. He is culpable for this mess and should take full responsibility. In the Ibori case, was the AGF acting for and on behalf of Nigeria or was he acting for and behalf of Ibori? Within 3 months of his being in position, he has been courting controversy and he has taken all the wrong steps and actions, especially with regards to the anti-graft war, thinking he can get away with pulling the wool over the eyes of Nigerians, because he thinks he knows the law more than everybody. He has not only shown himself to be a legal charlatan and unworthy of his position, he has also shown that he is helping corruption and not combating it. Thus he has single-handedly cast doubt on this government’s anti-graft war, if it is a war at all. And he and Ibori might well be the banana skin on which Yar‘Adua may slip. There is only one thing remaining for him to do, and he should do it as soon as possible.

If Aondoakaa can accomplish all these controversy within three months, only God knows how much damage this man could do in four years to the anti-graft war, and also other matters of law and justice, and therefore to Yar’Adua’s Presidency. The man is fast becoming a liability and it seems only the people in the corridors of power do not realise this. Those who have been very critical of him have even been accused of tribalism. But then, this is our vocation in Nigeria everytime things are going against us. We tend to see conspiracies in every nook and corner – Speaker Patricia Etteh is also seeing plots and conspiracies. Interested selfish parties leave leprosy untreated and instead start treating for ringworm.

Another banana skin is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh. She is an accident waiting to happen to this Government, if it has not happened already. Why this hairdresser, who should not have been elevated to such high and respected position as No 4 citizen of Nigeria in the first place, is hanging on to power is something that confounds all reasonable Nigerians. However, knowing the Nigerian mentality of sitting tight because of the benefits, I am not surprised at her stance. It is however very disgraceful. Obviously, the majority of her peers and Nigerians do not want her, so how can she continue to enjoy the confidence, the trust and respect of Nigerians if she stays in power? Her position is now untenable, but apparently, only she and her God-father backers do not see this fact. She obviously has an ace up her sleeve, but the rest of us can’t see this ace. She must be right while the majority of Nigerians are wrong.

Already the first casualty of this shameful debacle has been claimed in the death of Representative, Honourable Aminu Safana, member from Katsina State, The lawmaker, who until his death was one of the supporters of the Speaker, slumped amid the scuffle between the two opposing groups in the House, complaining of exhaustion and was immediately rushed to the National Hospital, Abuja, he died in the hospital. (May his soul rest in peace). Yet the Speaker is still refusing to resign.

Yet another can of worms waiting to be opened is the ex-Governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili. I cannot not recount all the misdeeds against him here, suffice it to say that when his Pandora ’s Box is opened, this Government might find itself in very deep trouble, as will the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. A lot of people in the past administration are said to be heavily implicated in the monumental fraud that went in Rivers State for eight solid years under Odili, that “kind and gentle doctor”. Yes, the man sure knows how to “doctor” accounts. Right now, the “Best Governor of Obasanjo’s Administration” is taking out applications for injunctions to prevent investigations into his eight years of gross mismanagement and monumental corruption in Rivers State where he is alleged to have bilked the poor people of his state of billions of petro-dollars, engaged in nefarious activities that has led to Port Harcourt being in the sad state and situation it is today.

On our Independence Day, 1st October, the Government of Yar’Adua told us we are making progress; well if this is how we are making the progress, then God help us.

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