Is impunity our middle name?
The primary purpose of government, is to ensure the security of lives and guarantee the welfare of the citizenry. So states Section 14 (2), (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The unfortunate scenario, however, is that sundry heinous crimes such as the killing spree by Fulani herdsmen, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, ritual murders and the Boko-Haram insurgency take place here on daily basis, as if they are the rule rather than the exception. Yet, some otherwise respected citizens are wondering why government should clamp down on these misguided, blood-letting thirsty vampires in human skin, masquerading as religious fundamentalists. Others even ask that the perpetrators of pure evil be granted Amnesty!
Are their own lives more valuable than that of their helpless victims? Of course, not. It is despicable that while we are not in the brutish, animal kingdom some citizens have turned themselves into predators unleashing terror on their hapless preys. These are fellow Nigerians who have been left naked to the elements by successive governments, that have said more than they have done in reining in this culture of crass impunity.
Similarly, Nigerians are regaled every blessed day with news reports of sundry acts of brazen fraud, steamy and screaming financial scams of monumental proportion and abuse of the exalted offices as perpetrated by elected and appointed politicians. But years later they still walk our streets as free men. For instance, all the hue and cry that trailed the probe into the $10billion(or is it $16 billion) sleaze in the power sector a few years back has long died a Nigerian “natural death”. “But that was not the first time and it may not likely be the last unless government musters the much needed political will to bring the perpetrators to book.” That was my warning a few years back. These days we read about the humungous amounts, even in dollars found stashed in the private vaults of some former public office holders. But some hungry and disenfranchised poor citizens caught for stealing fowls and goats are either sent behind bars or hounded to hell!
It speaks volume about how those in government interpret words such as accountability, probity and transparency. It demeans us all as a people that those vested with the sacred trust of holding the destiny of men and materials of a country as vast as Nigeria are allowed to go scot-free after committing various heinous crimes against the state. No one talks about the $12 billion Gulf War windfall again because some people are above the law. Not a few former state governors were once paraded by the EFCC as suspected to have siphoned state funds for self-aggrandizement.But years later some of them have the audacity to want to go back to their former offices, or find their ways to the hallowed Red chamber to make laws for you and yours truly. All these because of the insidious culture of impunity
Once upon a time, we were told that there were underhand practices with regards to the disbursement of PTDF funds. But someone found it politically expedient to turn it into a weapon of witch-hunting or a tool of treachery. Yet, that fund was meant to enhance capacity building for young Nigerians wishing to go into oil-related fields such as petro-chemical engineering, geology and petroleum technology.
Sad to note, that after the official rigmarole and horse-trading some vested interests were given a slap on the wrist and told to “go and sin no more.” It is not much different when one remembers that a former CBN Governor once accused of unhealthy financial transactions was similarly left off the hook because he has since belonged to the class of Nigeria’s untouchables. One is not surprised, therefore, that some corrupt politicians who defected from the PDP to the ruling APC are surreptitiously enjoying some ignoble immunity. It has happened before. That was when Nigerians were treated to a comedy of unpardonable errors as some former bank executives were paraded from one court to the other, after which they feigned sickness and otherwise serious crimes were reduced to weeks in a hospital bed, prelude to another controversial freedom.
Meanwhile, depositors are allowed to have a taste of hell while trying to get their hard-earned money back.
All of these make a mockery of our judiciary process. Many of the proceeding are centuries away from the Information Technology and Communication(ICT) age as obsolete type writers are still used for recording purpose. Series of laughable injunctions take over the well scripted drama of the absurd, characterized by the shameless display of former politicians suspected of grievous financial crimes, raising their hands in bravado as their paid praise worshippers fan their battered and bruised ego.
It is little of a surprise therefore, that virtually all notable institutions of government; from ministries to departments and agencies have in the past eighteen years of our democratic experience been probed for one fraud or the other. But after years of turning their searchlight to unveil the rattling skeletons in their cupboards, nothing meaningful comes out of it.
To several of those accused of such financial misdemeanor Nigeria is one big, slumbering elephant to be milked dry. And the easiest way to have a piece of the national cake is to get elected or appointed into any plum political post. But for how long can we go on this way? Not much longer, I dare say. The facts are there for those who care to look deeper.
Corruption, which is a debasement of set moral values and a violation of standard professional ethics is like a two edged sword that cuts both the victim and the misguided beneficiary. When those who have short changed the system are not brought to speedy justice it emboldens others with similar criminal inclinations to commit worse crimes. It is responsible, as in the Nigerian politico-economic situation for the countless pot hole riddled roads, the epileptic power supply, pervasive preventable diseases and mass youth employment that have turned into daylight monsters haunting us all.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration must therefore, shame all critics and muster the political will, backed with the enabling laws by the National Assembly to transform both the EFCC and the ICPC into toothed bulldogs that bark and bite. And no one, no matter his political persuasion, must be above the rule of law.