Nigeria Matters

Who Really Qualifies to Fight Corruption in Nigeria?

I thoroughly enjoy reading essays that encapsulate my thinking or feelings on various issues. It is even more so when such persons express my feelings in much clearer terms, than I could have mustered and marshaled! It is the same way I feel when I find a non-Nigerian who speaks any of the many Nigerian Languages, say, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Tiv or Esan!

I literarily read everything on Nigeria related websites. I mean everything! written about Nigeria by anyone and everyone everywhere! And once every while, I nod in agreement.

Eric Terfa Ula-Lisa is a Nigerian lawyer who lives here in America. He frequently writes commentaries about Nigeria and I enjoy his presentations. Even when I disagree with the views expressed on particular occasions, I still enjoy his presentation skills and style.

I saw Eric Terfa Ula-Lisa’s comments to an article titled PDP Trojan Horses at Work and I was elated. Simply elated! I then wondered why hasn’t anyone in the past felt, or asked the questions that he asked? Why haven’t I articulated his thoughts? Why did I not think of his questions, especially, given the fact that I wholeheartedly support Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s war and crusade against corruption! Eliminating corruption is an imperative.

The key question that had been asked by Ula-Lisa Esquire, among other questions, was, “So who qualifies to fight corruption and when can we start?” He then proceeded to ask more questions that quite clearly very poignant; regarding the recent EFCC list of persons unfit to run for public office in Nigeria, and the demands, allegedly made by some Americans and European governments and agencies, demands, of proof of actual corruption; Mr. Ula-Lisa asks why is it that everyone claims to know about corruption in Nigeria, everyone seemed to possess this authoritative and infallible corruption perception index about Nigeria and yet, nobody believes the EFCC list?

He then queried in these words, whyEvery person knows of the corruption index and Nigeria’s ranking, who showed them proof of corruption? Ribadu was indeed appointed by OBJ government, he is doing his job.”

“Which of the IBB Boys would stand reputation to reputation with Ribadu and do better? Remember that IBB banned two sets of politicians from even contesting elections.” ” Name one Atiku person that has better credentials to substitute Ribadu.” “Even Buhari had his taint of 53 suitcases.” “They can ban all of the looters from ruling and the heavens will not fall” Wow! And Whoa! Were the expressions that I could find to summarize my reaction to Mr. Ula-Lisa’s glow, flush and florid of questions! He was succinct, he was clear and direct!

It is amazing and beguiling, just contemplating Ula Lisa’s clarity of thought!

Why can’t some Nigerians see what Ula-Lisa esq. sees so clearly? And why haven’t many Nigerians asked the following questions? Is the infamous “Perception Index” made notorious and applied to Nigeria by Transparency International authoritative?

How does anyone empirically measure a perception? Indexed or not? Is there corruption in Nigeria at all? If so, do we want to fight corruption, if yes, who qualifies to do so? Yes! Who in Nigeria qualifies to fight or embark on the war against corruption, who indeed qualifies to embark on the crusade against corruption? Who qualifies for the necessary efforts to eliminate and eradicate corruption from Nigerian soil? Who Qualifies?

General Muritala Ramat Mohammed became the military head of state of Nigeria on July 29, 1975; One of the key policies for which he is remembered, is his war against corruption! General Mohammed retired and retrenched civil servants who were unproductive, lazy or engaged in fraud. He also fought the corruption that was represented by the phenomenon of ghost workers, which had, at the time become prevalent in Nigeria.

Despite General Mohammed’s best efforts, cynics, pessimists, pranksters and affected criminals who sought to detract and distract from the laudable efforts by General Mohammed, started to spread word about his pre-war rule violations, and his war time looting, robberies and sundry violence and rule violations.

Then came General Mohammadu Buhari, and his brother, the unsmiling General Tunde Idiagbon who upon overthrowing the government of President Shehu Shagari and his National Party of Nigeria (NPN) led government. President Shagari by all account is a nice guy, who had rogues and bestially corrupt politicians in his party the NPN, and they robbed Nigeria of public resources!

They abused Nigerian laws and constitution like drunken sailors. NPN members in Shagari government were brazenly corrupt and indulged in egregious behaviors with stinking impunity! Buhari/Idiagbon were angered enough to overthrow the Shagari government and Nigerians agreed and hailed the duo.

Soon after, Nigerians were to become disenchanted with the Buhari/Idiagbon arbitrary and draconian tactics with which they pursued their worthy causes! Buhari/Idiagbon, as you will recall, jailed almost every politician of every political party then in existence in Nigeria.

Politicians of the NPN, politicians of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, politicians of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, politicians of Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, politicians of the People Redemption Party, PRP, and many more were jailed for upwards of 300 years each, this even though, the life expectancy in Nigeria was less than 70 per capita!

A majority of Nigerians cried their impatience with the arbitrariness, the draconian nature of Buhari/Idiagbon. I like the War Against Indiscipline, which compelled us all to be reasonable and to behave better than bush animals. I liked the Environmental Sanitation rules. But we rebelled eventually! We voted with our collective feet for free-will cleaner environments in Nigeria, we kicked against dictatorships and tyranny of the Supreme Head-Quarters folks. No election, instead, a cheeky General in the Army, otherwise now known as the evil-genius and Maradonna or Ibrahim Badmouse Babangida or IBB took over Nigeria’ reigns. He legitimized double-speak! He legitimized corruption or settling, he legitimized immoralities and ordained highly perfumed decadence in Nigeria and Nigeria has never been the same ever since that 27th day of August 1985 when the forces of evil of the evil genius struck our moral fiber and fabrics!

General Sanni Abacha, as bad as he was, also fought corruption. One of his famous and laudable roles, was his attempt to sanitize banking. And he made those who confused their shareholding in banking companies with personal pocket-money or personal safe-deposit box or sacks of money under their mattress pay heavily for the consequences of their misconducts. General Abacha also fought corruption and people now wonder why he should be given any credits at all for his corruption war, all things considered. He was a ruthless and meanest dictator and tyrant. He was a brutal killer and Al Mustapha and others were used as General Abacha’s Jackal and Abacha’s Jackals lasted and lasted!

General Olusegun Obasanjo’s first foray into the limelight of Nigerian leadership was as number two man, with his brother General Muritala Ramat Mohammed, then General Obasanjo was the one who continued Muritala’s policies, as Talaka Umaru Yar’Adua of Katsina State will continue Obasanjo’s Reforms.

One of the first policy items which General Obasanjo as Head of state of Nigeria, established after Murtala’s assassination on February 13th 1976, was to declare belt-tightening fiscal policies of prudence in expenditures. He also announced the elimination of ostentatious consumption. He insisted on what he had then termed Low Profile, he sold or got rid of Mercedes luxury cars, in their place, he instructed and insisted on the introduction of Peugeot 504 cars as preferred official vehicles or cars, even for himself as the head of state and of course, the state governors/military administrators followed suit. He decongested the Nigerian seaports, where it was discovered that some folks imported sand and sawdust to cover their corruption.

Fast forward, 1999! President Obasanjo was elected President of Nigeria, this time as a civilian president. He once again, made the eradication, the elimination of corruption from Nigerian soil, one of his cardinal programs! This witnessed the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which is headed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, scion of a famous senior police officer. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is a lawyer, he joined the Nigeria Police in 1986 and he was appointed to the EFCC from there. So, he knows a thing or two about law enforcement and policing. He has more than 20 years experience in law enforcement.

Strident critics have queried, in the most vehement, and sometimes, in even uncouth styles, accused Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of selective targeting of the looters, the pillager and plunderers that he and the EFCC have targeted since the inception of the EFCC and the appointment of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who I fondly call WMD, that is, Nigeria’s Weapons of Mass Destruction against corruption.

Accusations that are clearly unfounded as they are unfair, particularly, and especially against the background of the EFCC record so far at least. The evidences and the facts on ground so far, are that, a majority of those arrested, indicted, prosecuted and imprisoned so far, are members of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP.

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