The Guardian/Sonala Olumhense
October is our national birth month. Our 48th anniversary came around last month, about 30 days ago.
I would like to move the following motion: That October be adopted as National Hypocrisy Month.
For most of last month, I argued in this column that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) had deliberately sabotaged the statute by which it was created by failing to file the Commission’s annual report. I called for its chairperson, Mrs. Farida Waziri, to be fired.
Mrs. Waziri did not resign. She was not fired. In fact, she got up to argue that the law be amended to eliminate the immunity being enjoyed by chiefs of state. I agree with Mrs. Waziri on this point; that immunity should never have existed in the first place.
But it seems to me that she is herself enjoying the privileges of the National Hypocrisy month. Here is the chairperson of the EFCC who has refused to conform with the law that brought her to office by sending the annual report, her first, to the National Assembly. Brushing such an inconvenience aside, she wants even greater authority. Authority without responsibility. Are some outlaws better than other outlaws?
Yes, I know that the EFCC’s Femi Babafemi has claims that not only am I mistaken in demanding the 2008 Report, but that the 2007 Report has been submitted to the National Assembly. I have tried to obtain the report, but failed. I know journalists that have tried to obtain it, including from Mr. Babafemi, and also failed.
In the spirit of National Hypocrisy month, I do not know of any member of the National Assembly that has asked the EFCC for the report. Not one, even though Mrs. Waziri met with many of them during the month. This is perfectly understandable in the context of National Hypocrisy month. I guess the members of the Assembly would argue that they make the law, which makes them superior to it. They do not have to be outraged even when the law is broken over their heads.
In the context of the National Hypocrisy Month, it is also understandable that President Umaru Yar’Adua, who last week fired 20 Ministers allegedly for non-performance, finds no contradiction in pretending he has no interest in whether the EFCC meets this statutory requirement or not.
All of this is particularly interesting when you consider that, during the same month, Mrs. Waziri claimed she could not prosecute 31 former governors because their case files were either “distorted or missing.” She said that our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has no case to answer because no petitions had been filed against him, a claim we have since proved to be empty.
She has since taken half a hesitant step back from those statements, but she has not confirmed she is prosecuting anyone. She simply wants the additional authority to prosecute live governors; with those, she has no strings, unlike the former ones, some of whom she is known to have done business with.
At the Federal Ministry of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, the Attorney-General and Minister, with the support of President Yar’Adua, is using federal resources to help James Ibori to avoid justice in England. He is telling the court that some of the evidence that can send the former Delta State governor to jail and deny him his loot is inadmissible because it was obtained from the EFCC without his permission. You would be outraged, if you were a Nigerian who cares about people like Mr. Ibori getting what they truly deserve…unless you considered the matter in the context of National Hypocrisy month.
In the context of National Hypocrisy month, it is fully understandable that Mr. Yar’Adua and Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo are once again bosom buddies. Yar’Adua needs Obasanjo to consolidate his tenuous hold on power, while Obasanjo needs Yar’Adua to clean up his image at home, and win back some international respectability. Both men, reports say, traced their disagreement not to any principles, but to Baba Gana Kingibe, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and Tony Anenih, the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling party. Dead men tell no tales.
In October, the State Security Service (SSS), under the direction of the president, returned to its old bad habits, detaining journalists and commentators who do not sing the party song. Among others, they picked up Jonathan Elendu of Elendureports and Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe of Huhuonline, and sent them to detention without being charged. Some operatives said Mr. Elendu was guilty of writing stories for SaharaReporters, the unwavering national crusaders I celebrated in this column on August 1. Mr. Elendu does no work for SaharaReporters.
In October, Mr. Yar’Adua told the United Nations General Assembly: “Nigeria is determined to do everything to ensure the realization of the Millennium Declaration Goals targets.” He spoke in New York while lying in his sick bed in Abuja as Nigerians hoped he would be able to appoint a cabinet.
He said that while Obasanjo waited to be announced winner of the $5 million Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in Africa leadership. Mercifully, that prize went to a respectable and deserving African, Festus Mogae of Botswana, a worthy successor to the inaugural winner, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.
But of course it is National Hypocrisy Month. If it were not, Mr. Kofi Annan of Ghana ought to be made to explain to Nigerians how his committee arrived at Obasanjo not only on the final list, but as first runner-up. If people thought that Mr. Annan, because he once served as United Nations Secretary-General is a first-rate mind, his performance at this year’s Mo Ibrahim clears that up. And if Africans want the institution to survive, they should investigate the link between Annan and Obasanjo.
Our National Hypocrisy Month should think about the army of Senior Advocates of Nigeria who convey so much concern during the day about what is wrong with Nigeria, but are falling over each other at night for the privilege of “defending” the thieves that looted Nigeria blind. During National Hypocrisy Month as they swim in the mud that cannot be washed off, these lawyers ought to be inducted into the National Hypocrisy Hall of Infamy.
Let us celebrate October. It is our month, the one when we hug Nigeria warmly from the front, and coldly plunge in our knives at the back.
By Sonala Olumhense