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Answering Your Father’s Name


governTHE way I hear it, there are curious signs of improvement in Nigeria. Among them: electricity and petroleum products seem to be more available.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seems to have a bolder and firmer understanding of economic and financial crime. The police appear to be reinventing policing, slowly turning its focus to crime and criminals, and somewhat away from law-abiding citizens.

Alongside—or on top—of all of this, is a new industry: the manufacturing of excuses and explanations, which are in favour of Nigeria’s former leader, Goodluck Jonathan.

Among its most notable: The National Peace Committee, headed by General Abdulsalami Abubakar; Dr. Mike Okonkwo, the leader of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM); and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

Professor Soyinka gave his remarks when Jonathan was still in office, although they have just been published by the EFCC.

“There are forces around Jonathan, you put your fingers around it, which he himself does not understand and that is why I stressed that, you’ve got to choose your circle of advisers very carefully, when you are in charge,” he said. “He’s been caged; things are going on…he did not know about.”

He added: “When it comes to the issue of corruption, Jonathan surrounds himself with certain unsavoury characters and that is something you don’t have to do if you are in charge.”

Bishop Okonkwo, for his part, told Vanguard newspaper that GEJ appeared to have been under a spell, from which Nigeria’s “Men of God” failed to deliver him. The Christian chieftains, he said, had “the responsibility of taking him out of the spell, [praying] with him even for three days and whatever was holding him would have been removed…”

Then there is the “Peace Committee,” which visited President Muhammadu Buhari last week supposedly “to discuss how to “wind up” and to check if there was a new national assignment they could undertake.”

Committee member Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, the respected Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, explained that the committee was not against combating corruption, but wanted to ensure “due process”. They wanted to make it clear this was a democratic 2015—not a 1983 military contraption—and that all are innocent until proven guilty.

It was curious that the committee went to the president, who has consistently underlined the rule of law, to make the case about the rule of law.

Contributing to the same developments last week was the PDP’s Senate Caucus, headed by former Akwa Ibom State governor and now Senate Minority Leader, Goodswill Akpabio, which denounced Buhari’s push against corruption.

“The current war lacks transparency, fairness to all and appears to be aimed at political adversaries,” the group said in a statement. They alleged that in the PDP States of Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom, the State Security Service was hounding government opponents and intimidating electoral officials using “trumped-up” charges.

“The PDP Senate caucus is worried, alarmed and shocked by the recent development in our polity where the DSS is now involved in electoral matters,” they said.

All of this is coming on the eve of an anti-corruption comeuppance that Buhari has promised since he began to contest for the presidency in 2003. That was before GEJ was ever heard of as a politician; before Akpabio became governor; and before one Marilyn Ogar—not a Buhari government—dragged the DSS into electoral matters.

The problem is that all of this constitutes dancing on the periphery of the dance floor, which is that Mr. Jonathan will find it hard to avoid a corruption mud-bath in which he could drown.

Such an embarrassing prospect could have been avoided, perhaps in 2010 when Jonathan routinely said he would combat corruption, only to embrace it. It could have been avoided in 2011 when he erected his vast mountain of electoral promises that he would scandalously ignore. It could have been avoided in 2012, but that was when he scornfully rejected the notion of declaring his assets, and then began to provide philosophical cover for corruption.

Nigeria is the funniest village on earth when it comes to corruption. Every single citizen wants the menace to be confronted and defeated, unless where it involves us or our relatives, political or otherwise. That is when we call the idea unprintable names.

This is the fork in the road at which we now arrive. At one end is the meaningless Peace Committee, hiding under the umbrella of “due process” to trumpet GEJ’s “spectacular achievements” as a currency.

Where did GEJ hide his “spectacular” achievements? Did he defeat Boko Haram? Did he defeat unemployment? Did he defeat corruption? Did he implement his electoral promises? Did he implement a presidential report? Did he Transform Nigeria? Did he Bring Back Our Girls? Did he inspire a child?

Hopefully, the Peace Committee will provide answers, or else leave us with the conclusion it simply wishes a “soft landing” for GEJ ahead of the imminent probe of his kleptocracy. Otherwise, why preach due process to a government that has declared it to be non-negotiable, especially when you have never said anything productive about the scorched-earth corruption in the land?

Soyinka has unfortunately also provided the sour suggestion that GEJ may somehow be less than culpable for the mess he made of his leadership because he was “caged,” and had surrounded himself with “unsavoury” characters?

Who caged GEJ? The characters he surrounded himself with were his, and at no point did he reject anyone as undesirable. In fact, he went out of his way to bring back to respectability such characters as former Bayelsa State Governor Dipreye Alamieyeseigha, granting state pardon to a man recognized internationally as a byword for corruption in our country.

Similarly, if you take away Bishop Okonkwo’s coded language, Jonathan was a good man with great intentions. He wasn’t caged; he was trapped behind a spell.

Finally, Senator Akpabio, himself the poster child for lack of accountability, now leads the PDP’s charge against what the party describes as lack of transparency and fairness.

Akpabio ran AI like a personal estate from an executive jet, an expensive toy AI never needed. And it is on record that in 2014, he confessed the malfeasance that was the PDP. “We have messed up…” he told Obasanjo during a well-publicized encounter. “For me, I don’t want to go to jail and my children are too young.”

Akpabio was begging that his children not have to face such a threat imposed on them by the menace of the PDP, but he showed absolutely no concern for the children of hundreds of millions who suffer deprivation and pain every day for the same reason.

In the end, the question is whether, in the Jonathan years, what passed for governance in Nigeria was one, and whom it benefitted.

The time has come for those who ran Nigeria to answer questions about what they actually did, and how. It is a question of justice, not opinion.

Where I come from, that is called “answering your father’s name.” It is actually a simple question, unless you have no idea whom your father is.
In that case, you might call the question malicious, or a witch-hunt.

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  • Okey

    Everybody must be made to answer his or her father’s name, not some. There is everything dishonest and corrupt to require a few to come and answer while you suppress many from coming up for “answering.” Please, let everyone be made to come up for the answering.

  • bedex

    Everything is supposedly working and improved when even nothing has been done. That is interesting. We are yet to get PMB”s public asset declaration. This one he does not need an angel of God to do it for him because all he needs to do is make it public himself. I have a reason why he has not declared his asset publicly. It is because the image of him as a poor man is different from what his assets say. So he was duly advised to let the sleeping dog lye. This is so because ones the public knows that he is not what he claims to be he loses credibility. And that will be it for him. I do not expect him I mean PMB to make his asset declaration public. For you to fight corruption and make a dent on it, it must be holistic. You cannot pick and choose who to go after and expect to put Nigeria on a good footing. Remember Jerry Rowllings of Ghana. He was successful because he killed all the said corrupt ex leaders without exception. Not that I support killing of people like chickens, however, Nigerians are ready to fight corruption ones and for all so let IBB, Abacha, Abubaka, Obasanjo, Yaradua and Jonathan’s governments be investigated. Jonathan’s government did not institute NNPC so for us to restructure it, you have to go back since its inception and find out what went wrong. I do not know how much money people stole under Jonathan, but you will agree with me that may be ten times that might have been stolen since its inception. We have many millionaires from oil. How did they make their money. All those people that have oil wells, how did they get them and how much did they pay for them. So this are relevant issues that need to be addressed. I see a problem with the so called restructuring of NNPC that is ongoing. Wasn’t NNPC established by a law? Does the president on his own have the authority to dismantle the corporation without an enabling Law? Do we have a national assembly? It is their job to debate whether NNPC has to be restructured or not and not the president acting like a detector he is struggling not to be associated with. Whatever plans he has regarding NNPC needs to be sent to the National Assembly for them to debate it and pass it into law before the president can implement them. So sacking people left and right for whatever reason does not cut it. Sooner or later all these people he is throwing into unemployment market will start fighting back. Are these people not Nigerians? What is the labour Union doing. Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well. My advise is that PMB should send whatever plans he has to restructure NNPC or any other corporation for that matter to the national assembly pretty soon before he throws the country in chaos. As far as I know, PMB is not known for being a genius, a deep thinker or an economist. He may be a fine soldier and a disciplinarian, that does not make him an alpha and omega. We are still waiting for the angels he is claiming to be assembling for his cabinet. People will be surprised to see the number of petitions that will flood the system once he makes the names of his angels known to the public. Anyone who is expecting PMB’s cabinet to be seated in September will be disappointed. The way this thing is done is to fly a kite from time to time. Make some names available to some journalist who will find a way to be speculating on these names. Through the process those that have one thing or the other to disqualify them for ministerial position will be known and normally will not be nominated or presented. However, if he is relying only on the so called security apparatus for vetting he will be disappointed big time. So you better start releasing some names before you find out at the last minute that even your so called clean men and women do not come close to what you think. We do not expect a government of angels because for all intent and purposes we are no angels

  • okwuchukwu

    Did you observe that you just danced around this issue of corruption and probe? For me this issue must be approached holistically for it to have some integrity among the masses of Nigerians. We should start by asking what is the goal of this anti corruption crusade and probe? Is the aim just to rope in Jonathan and the other functionaries under his Govt. Or is the goal to entrench a long lasting culture of probity, sincerity and forthrightness in Nigeria?

    If we want to banish corruption entirely then President Buhari must approach his crusade holistically to involve other past administrations before him. On the other hand if the goal is to arrest President Jonathan then I don’t think we need a probe to do that.
    If this crusade is made selective only to arrest Jonathan, then we will all be in trouble because there will be no peace. We have to be very careful. What normally leads to civil war is the tendency to dismiss people as weak and incapable of doing anything even when their dignity is being trampled upon.
    So Mr Sonala Olumhense, I expected you to analyse this issue for us to make our judgement instead of dancing around it and giving us news stories we already know and saying nothing in effect.