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Government as real enemy of anti-corruption war

October 14, 2009

No matter the enthusiasm of Nigerians about the desire to rid the country of corruption, such public support will come to nothing if the Yar’adua administration doesn’t demonstrate sincerity in the pursuit of the crusade. The awesome influence of former Governor James Ibori of Delta state in the Yar’dua administration, despite the badge of corruption hanging prominently on his neck, leaves most Nigerians questioning the sincerity of the present administration to purse a policy of “zero tolerance” for corruption.

The over-zealous and disgusting efforts of our Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aaondoaka, to protect James Ibori from prosecution for corruption and money laundering have confirmed the allegations by critics that this administration is paying lip service to anti-corruption crusade.

 By the posturing of our Attorney General, who seems determined to frustrate the EFCC in its efforts to prosecute Ibori, only a moron will be left with the feelings that this administration is sincere to fight corruption. The open and blatant refusal by our Federal Attorney General to cooperate with the British police in the trial of Ibori’s aides in London was not borne out of patriotism. On the contrary, the display of pseudo- patriotism in his refusal to hand over witnesses in Nigeria was borne out of his determination to protect rogues from justice.

It is now apparent that the so- called rule of law, which is one of the major items of President Yar’dua 7-point agenda, is intended to protect criminals from justice. Hiding behind this policy, many high profile corruption offenders are walking freely because their lawyers are exploiting it to slow down or ground the wheels of justice. In fact, the rule of law is now like a legal bunker that provides shelter to criminals. Our Attorney General now speaks as if he were the chief defence lawyer to former Governor James Ibori, who is widely believed to have influenced his appointment.

Taiwan was lately in the news when it sentenced a former President, Mr. Shui iaban and his wife to life imprisonment for corruption in addition to refunding millions of dollars illegally stolen by them. A former Costa Rican president was also recently sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for diverting millions of dollars which were granted the country by Finland to improve the conditions of public hospitals in his country. In Nigeria, however, only the ordinary citizens are sentenced for stealing. Despite the big question mark over his integrity, James Ibori is now like a power behind the throne in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, influencing key appointments and securing choice contracts for his companies. Only recently that his company was awarded a N44billion fertilizer contract, despite the corruption cases against him. Another ridiculous dimension to his impunity is that he successfully influenced the appointment of his former Finance Commissioner, Dr. David Edevbie, as President Yar’dua’s principal private secretary, despite the fact that he is currently wanted in London for corruption and money laundering charges. He also has a pending case with EFCC since the days of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

 James Ibori is believed to have financed President Yar’dua’s electioneering campaign in 2007, which is currently giving him special immunity from prosecution. In fact, even his previous arrest and arraignment in the court was intended to fool Nigerians into believing that Yar’dua’s administration meant business in the crusade against corruption. Our so-called Attorney General has demonstrated in words and deeds that the government is not enthusiastic about this war. You can’t have an anti-corruption crusade when criminals and discredited former public office holders call the shots in the affairs of a government that claims to have “zero tolerance” for corruption.

 If indeed, President Yar’dua takes his own reputation seriously, he will have no reason to be consorting with indicted politicians. He can’t carry Nigerians along in this anti-corruption crusade. This administration is widely perceived as being too protective of criminals. And you don’t need to look elsewhere for evidence; the activities of our Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the recent past have confirmed that the Yar’dua Administration is morally spineless or irresolute to tackle his indicted friends like Ibori.

 Curiously, while the Yar’dua administration is enthusiastically making effort to extradite former FCT Minister, Nasir El-Rufai and former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu to face trial at home for alleged corruption, the same government has lost the will to prosecute large-scale looting of public funds by its friends in the corridors of power. Nasir El-Rufai was accused of allocating plots of lands to his friend s and relatives. And since El-Rufai is no longer in office, let the new FCT Minister, Adamu Aliero publish the list of those who have benefited from land allocations even within the first weeks of his taking over. In fact, how did Aliero become the FCT Minister? Was it handed to him because he was the most qualified? Why did he abandon his Senatorial seat to move to the FCT if his motives were purely to “serve” Nigerians better?

 When U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton told us that the enthusiasm for fighting corruption is dying down, she was greeted with “patriotic” floodgate of angry reactions from the officials of the Yar’dua administration, who advised her to keep her sermon to herself because they didn’t need it. Whether they needed it or not, the truth is that she spoke the minds of millions of Nigerians. The Yar’dua administration would have abandoned the anti-corruption crusade altogether but they are held back by the fear of international pressure out of deceitful efforts to salvage their tattered reputation.

With the unholy alliance between James Ibori and the Yar’dua administration and with an Attorney General who has lost the respect of even his colleagues in the Nigerian Bar Association, the anti-corruption crusade is going nowhere. What President Yar’dua should bear in mind is that his alliance with crooks is badly undermining his sincerity and credibility in fighting corruption. Does a President who relies on the support of crooks have the moral authority to lead the anti-corruption crusade? EFCC and ICPC have been defanged by the very government that is supposed to give the teeth to perform.

 Let us stop deceiving ourselves; the real enemy of the anti-corruption crusade and electoral reforms is the Yar’dua administration itself. The hypocrisy of the Yar’dua administration over these crucial national issues is obvious to all Nigerians, let alone the international community, which the administration is desperately trying to impress. But the international community cannot be fooled by this charade.

 As far as the anti-corruption war and electoral reforms are concerned, Nigeria is going nowhere; we are stuck in a cul-de-sac of government’s insincerity. In all honesty, can we achieve effective anti-corruption crusade and genuine and enduring electoral reforms, when Michael Aoandoakaa, the Justice Minister and Professor Maurice Iwu of INEC are still kept in office by the very government that says it is committed to these reforms?

 It is therefore, evident that the Yar’dua administration is pleased with the dirty work, which these two notoriously unpopular public figures are doing on its behalf. And a government benefiting from this dirty work is morally incapacitated to remove these unpopular public figures. The effrontery with which they assault our moral sensibilities almost daily suggests that they are holding the Yar’dua administration by the balls! Sadly, Nigeria is a place where honour is in short supply and where crooks decide the fate of the nation. With this damning reality, the anti-corruption war and electoral reforms are virtually in a state of suspended animation. As a result, the present administration will have a Herculean task to convince even a moron that it is sincerely committed to electoral reforms and anti-corruption crusade. May God save Nigeria from this kakistocratic order (the influence of disreputable elements in national life)!







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