The Slave-Master In Uyo

by SOC Okenwa

Jérôme Cahuzac was until recently a Minister of Budget in the PM Jean-Marc
Ayrault-led government of President Francois Hollande in France. Elected
less than a year ago in a hard-fought presidential poll that saw
Hollande defeat the incumbent ‘hyper-President’ Nicolas Sarkozy the
bespectacled leader has not found his bearing yet. Before becoming a
Minister in the socialist administration he was a Mayor and a
parliamentarian. Born in 1952 Mr Cahuzac was forced to resign few weeks
ago after an investigation was launched into alleged tax fraud. The
trouble for ‘Monsieur’ Cahuzac started in December last year when
Mediapart, an investigative whistle-blowing website, published an audio
conversation he had with an aide in which he made allusion to an
undeclared Swiss bank account. He has since been replaced by the Europe
Minister Bernard Cazeneuve but the affair is creating lots of
credibility problems for President Hollande.

The disgraced former Minister committed perjury and even lied to the President when he confronted him over the allegation in private. He had dismissed the report as “crazy speculations” when Mediapart came out with its investigated scoop. Cahuzac lied and lied to everyone including his
fellow Senators when he appeared before them and declared that he never
had any foreign account anywhere, “never before and not now”. After
months and weeks of sustaining these lies at every fora Mr Cahuzac
confessed to the crime, acknowledging that he has had a dormant bank
account in Switzerland for over ten years containing more than 600,000
Euros! He apologised profusely for being seized “by demon of falsehood”
asking for forgiveness! But the French public has become more skeptical
about their politicians with opposition forces demanding for the
mass-resignation or dissolution of the Ayrault-led government and others
advocating for new elections.

Mr Cahuzac gained a reputation as a vocal crusader against the use of overseas tax havens whereas he knew all along he was living in a maze of hypocrisy and falsehood. Right now in France there is the moralization of public life campaign featuring the open declaration of assets and other measures to curb any malfeasance by public officials. The popularity rating of Hollande and his Prime Minister has taken a hit — falling to below thirty percent in recent times! But let us recognise one fact here: Mr Cahuzac never embezzled any funds under his Ministry nor stole any money meant for
anything. The money in his Swiss bank account was made ‘legitimately’ as
a private medical practitioner with his divorced wife, years before
becoming a Minister. But he ran foul of the law by hiding same as if it
was fraudulently acquirred. And reportedly forged some documents with
which the deposit was made.

Now compare and contrast that with what is happening in Nigeria where Ministers and Governors stole the commonweal and invest same in different foreign bank accounts without any fear of any sanction coming their way. You think about the jailed James Ibori, the rehabilitated DSP Alamieyeseigha and ministers with corruption cases hanging over their heads (like Diezani Alison-Madueke) and conclude that there is something definitely wrong with the system of justice delivery in Nigeria. Cahuzac resigned when he recognised that he could no longer continue in the lying game faced with a sound political system in a great democratic nation whose institutions have been empowered by the constitution to do the right thing at all times without fear or favour. If Mr Cahuzac were to be a Nigerian and a
Minister for that matter (with just a paltry six hundred thousand Euros
stashed away in Geneva or Zurich) do you think he would ever resign or
be faced with judicial consequencies for his action?

We have witnessed and seen more than a thousand Cahuzacs in public life in
Nigeria giving no damn about probity and accountability. But how could
they give a damn when the boss himself had said he never gave a damn
about declaring his assets? Doesn’t such executive hubris encourage the
‘freedom’ to loot without let or hindrance? To be a leader one must be
conscious of his/her reputation (if there is any to hold on to or
protect that is) and measure always the public opinion rating of his/her
performance in office. Seeking to come to equity without clean hands
amounts to an exercise in futility since no one has ever succeeded in
fooling all the people all the time. Nigeria is suffering from crass
hypocrisy of the political elite because the system is not only
defective but subjects itself to the whims and caprices of executive

When you compare Jerome Cahuzac with the profligate Governor of Akwa Ibom state, for example, you are likely going to come out with what is wrong with us as a nation: leadership ineptitude! The squandermania we are witnessing in Uyo and its environs by Godswill Akpabio must bring out the indignation in every patriot desirous of accountability in the gubernatorial setting. Akpabio has always been in the news for wrong reasons whether travelling overseas and/or around the country with some briefcase loaded with minted millions or doling out millions to party men and women or donating jeeps to musicians and their wives or donating millions to churches and ‘men of God’.

He seems to bask in the euphoria of negative media attention whether the
reports were saying he was a retired cultist and godfather of cults in
the Ivory Towers or that he had spent millions of dollars to buy
executive jets for his flying comfort or customized armoured vehicles
for his security a la Paul Biya of neighbouring Cameroun. One thing is
certain under the Uyo skies: Governor Akpabio has since metamorphosed
into a confused executive Santa Claus unable to control his inner
comportment when it comes to over-flowing slush funds under his control!

From being the man-Friday of Aso Rock gutless man in desperate search of
political redemption in a land dripping with blood of the murdered
innocents up north (no thanks to Boko Haram) Akpabio was manipulated
into the leadership of the so-called PDP Governors Forum in order to
upstage the influence of the Governor Rotimi Amaechi-led much-broader
Nigeria Governors’ Forum. From openly confessing to election
manipulation and outright rigging in favour of a preferred candidate
(captured on video posted online) Akpabio has transmogrified into
another James Ibori waiting to happen! A reckless spender, the
publicised acts of dubious generosity associated with Akpabio could have
been understood better had Akwa Ibomites been living like Libyans under
the late Ghaddafi with free accommodation, good infrastructure and
employment provided and happiness seen on majority of faces around towns
and villages.

The relevant question that must be asked at this juncture is: Is Governor Godswill Akpabio an oil bunkerer or a plain executive thief? How come he is always with slush funds to spread and share about? Who controls his fiscal activities and excesses? Who made Akpabio the ‘king of the kingdom of Akwa Ibom’ — one in which no one dares challenge his perfidy and spendthrift? Or has too much money made Akpabio mad somehow? What is the state House of Assembly doing about it? Is Governor Akpabio above the law? Or better still, is he the law unto himself in Uyo? There is every need to rein in this madness with power and money!

Someone must remind Gov. Akpabio that majority of Akwa Ibomites are doing menial jobs outside their state of origin for survival. You have them as artisans, ‘shit’ packers, newspaper vendors, grave diggers, morgue attendants (morticians), gatemen, houseboys and girls and prostitutes eking out a living in Lagos and other cities outside Uyo in particular and Akw

a Ibom state in general. For such a Governor of a ‘rural’ but rich state inhabited by poverty-stricken souls to be governed by a profligate PDP ‘loyal party man’ ought to be a study in modern day slave/slave-master relationship.

Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio, the glorified slave-master in Uyo, and his
misguided benevolence fraught with megalomania and magniloquence,
deserves nothing from us but our collective prayers. May God deliver him
from himself and the demons within! With the Akpabios in government
houses across the country any wonder, then, that our country is
developing in areas like terrorism, cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery
and fraud? But these are social problems sound statecraft can solve.
Sadly, the ‘Naija’ men of today, obsessed with power, possess none!

Between the fallen French Minister and our ebullient Governor with majestic
swagger, therefore, exists two worlds: one in which impunity and fiscal
irresponsibility is the order of the day and another in which no one is
above the law no matter how good you are in your position or how high
that position. For the French power belongs to the people and for
Nigerians power belongs not to us but to PDP godfathers, godmothers and
rogue governors and ministers and politicians. Pity! May 2015 come

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