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So why did the chicken cross the road? (The Bode George prison-uniform edition)

Umaru Yar’Adua, President: I think Bode George should have a choice whether he wears the uniform or not.  These are just general rules and regulations, not law.  And Bode George is a major Nigerian fa, a senior citizen.  As the rule-of-law president, I have to check whether this is not misrule-of-law or rule of lawlessness.  Prison uniform is just procedure, it is not that important, chikena.  What is important is that we make sure that his prison quarters are okay, because this is a Very Important Prisoner.  Let us make sure his standard of living is not inferior to his standard of living.  I have set up a Committee of 37, one person from each state and the Federal Capital Territory, to investigate who designed the uniform, because I do not recall the Federal Executive Council issuing any contracts for new prison uniforms!  

  Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President:  This is all really very sad.  I think we are treating the wrong ailment.  What is corruption?  We must remember that things like this arise out of insecurity as most people accumulate wealth for fear of the future.  They worry about how to pay school fees for their children, provide food and other essentials. Some people may not want to be corrupt, but because they want to secure their future, they go the extra mile to get out of the way.  Looked at this way, what we call corruption may merely be a response to insecurity.  When a man goes to jail for something like this, we have to question whether the law got it right.  And while we question ourselves, let us not compound what may be an error of judgment by insisting that an important citizen be made to wear a prison uniform.  That is going too far.  
Olusegun Obasanjo:  Well, this is what Nigeria has come to.  First, they send him to jail without real proof of his involvement in any crime, and now they want him to wear a uniform.  This is pure miscarriage of justice, and you can quote me.  The punishment does not fit the crime, if any crime has been committed at all, so why should the uniform fit the man?  I have been the leader of Nigeria twice, and I know Bode George to be a fine man.  He has served Nigeria in many capacities and I appointed him to the Nigerian Ports Authority.  To say that he was corrupt is to say that I am corrupt.  Nigerians are very ungrateful, I tell you.

James Ibori: Why are you asking me this question?  As the Ofufugborigbo of Africa I should not have to talk to journalists.  Tony Eluemunor does that for me.  You people have put an innocent man in jail, and now you want to dress him in emm..Tony…Tony E., what do you call it… yes, in the robes of a criminal?  How can such a distinguished Nigerian who has served the country so well, a former governor and one of the leaders of the greatest party in Africa be asked to wear a uniform?  This is a man for whom we should be building a palace, instead, you send him to…to…to…in fact I hate the word…prison, and you want him to wear a uniform.  What insult?

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State:  As I have said before, it is a sign of poor leadership that Nigeria, the world’s 6th largest producer of crude oil, still imports fuel.  Investors will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, crime and civil unrest or corruption that taint every transaction and decision.  When common criminals are permitted to carry on as kings—or as presidents merely visiting prison quarters—that credibility will never be there.  Such states will be shunned by others, and by-passed by development.  Bode George is an important asterisk.

Michael Aondoakaa, Attorney General: It is a curious situation.  You blink in this country, and people take advantage!  It is incredible that His Honour gave the ruling that he did, sending BG to jail.  I had completely forgotten to have a word with him.  Do you know that this is the political equivalent of an earthquake?  How can anyone construe BG and jail in the same sentence—unless in the sense of BG himself sending someone to jail?  This is a grave embarrassment to the president, who is the successor of a man who thought so highly of BG he appointed him to run the NPA in the first place.  And now they want him to wear a prison uniform?  What uniform is big enough for a man of that substance?  And how are they going to put it on him – remove every other item of clothing in his cell?

Turai Yar’Adua, First Lady: Well, we are in Abuja, and it seems people are just doing as they like in Lagos.  But Lagos is close to Otta, and close to Obasanjo.  This is an indictment of Obasanjo, not my hard-working husband.  Obasanjo knows his way around prisons.  He should drive to Kirikiri Maximum and beat up every tailor in Apapa.

Nuhu Ribadu: The problem is that people forget that the rule of law means the equality of every person before law, rules and regulations.  Prison regulations require that every convict legally brought into the system gets a regulation uniform and a number.  It is part of the definition of the prisoner that he accepts them as part of his public identity and imprisonment.  Bode George cannot decide whether to put on his uniform or not.  If he is allowed to do that, that means that he is being permitted to rewrite the rules.  Prison officials should give him the uniforms and let him know that unless he wears them, he can neither see anyone, nor be seen.  You cannot have one set of rules for other prisoners, and another set for Bode George.  A crook is a crook.
Patience Jonathan, Second Lady:  It is a sign that something is wrong when a man that is one of the foundations of the ruling party can be casually sent to jail.  It is those UPN people – I mean AD people, in Lagos.  They hate our success.  Bode George is a big man; how can he be accused of pilfering a few million Naira.  What is Naira sef?  And they want him to wear prison uniform?  Does this mean the prison people think he will really remain there?  Let them wait until my husband finishes his fish pepper-soup!

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Farida Waziri, EFCC Chairman: This is what I have been saying.  Given the right tools, the EFCC can achieve a lot.  We have put this man in jail, which Ribadu could not do.  We have been working hard to get many of them.  We got the other one, Lucky emm..Lucky Somebody, and we sentenced him to plea bargain.  Whether somebody is serving plea bargain or jail term, I don’t think uniform is the issue.  The man is not in the force, like the police or the army, why should they make him wear uniform?  If he does not want to wear the uniform, they should leave him alone, or he may be angry.  Do you know what a powerful man like that can do when he gets angry?  That is why I am always careful with them. 

Charles Soludo, Anambra State fire-starter:  I am not surprised they are asking him to put on a uniform; I am surprised he got caught…I mean, convicted.  Nigerians are funny.  I was in the Central Bank for ages, and they express surprise I could buy an expensive home in England, and send my children to school there.  I want to pay cash for Anambra State, and some people think I cannot afford it.  It is a country where there is no respect.  How much money was there in the NPA for a man of Chief George’s stature to loot?  Did he print money or cause money to be printed?   Did he have every bank chief on speed dial?

Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Osun State:  This is sacrilege ke!  They are asking Baba to wear prison uniform?  That is complete disrespect.  Ours is a party that protects its own, and the chief should not suffer such humiliation.  If you remember, even when the late Lamidi Adedibu was caught with ballot boxes in his house on behalf of the PDP in the 2007 elections, President Obasanjo protected him from embarrassment and prosecution.   It is time for PDP to show again that it is one family.  I will ask the Ooni to put a curse on anyone who gives chief a uniform.

Debo Adeniran, CACOL:  Well, of course Bode George would resist the uniform.  People like him have always felt they were above the law.  They believe the law is for the common people.  In his own case, part of the problem is that he was sent to Kirikiri.  For a man who calls himself Lagos Boy, he must feel mightily insulted to be sent to jail in Lagos.   He should take comfort in the fact that Kirikiri is actually in Apapa.  The only problem is that when he graduates, he will be known as “Apapa Boy.”

Iya Iyabo, Lagos Contractor:  How can they send LB to jail?  How can they put uniform on such a fine man?  How can they do this abomination to the man that built PDP?  Yes, he told me that himself: he built PDP with his bare hands from the ground up.  Without him, there would have been no Obasanjo, and without Obasanjo, there would have been no Yar’Adua.  So LB is Nigeria because he is both Obasanjo and Yar’Adua.  Lagos women will fight this.

Nasir El-Rufai: They say he is “government pikin”?  Someone should tell Bode George that Kirikiri is a prison, not an Owambe party.  He cannot determine the colour and style of the aso-oke that he will wear, or what woman he will dance with.  This is the trouble with the Yar’Adua government: they want to preach one thing and do another.  If Bode George considers himself a privileged guest of Yar’Adua, rather than just another prisoner, we will soon find out.  Govt pikin!

Lamido Sanusi:  This is not really my area of concern, but if you are asking me as a Nigerian, not as the Governor of the Central Bank, I can only remind you of the cliché: “Whom the cap fits, let him wear it.”  Bode George has earned a prison uniform; he was fitted for one, at public expense, and he refuses to wear it?  All they have to do is announce that all prisoners must dress for meals, whether it is prison semi-cooked beans or meals brought by family.  You know these people are all cowards: I can bet you that two missed meals and he will be begging for his uniform.   

Chris Uba, Anambra fireman:  But I thought Bode George had friends in semi-high places.  That cannot happen here in Anambra State, as we have proved for early 10 years now.  Sometimes, especially in Lagos, people carry themselves as if they can move mountains when they cannot even climb molehills.  It is like Soludo coming here as if he was driving into the Central Bank, expecting the gate to throw itself open.  Here, if you want to open the gate, you come out of the car.  That is how people know who is who.

Nnamdi “Andy” Uba, former palace insider: Chief made a big mistake.  No, not Chief Bode, but Chief Obasanjo.  It is that third term thing.  We needed term extension, and the President could have declared it before anyone knew what was happening.  We would all still be in Abuja now.  While fanning him to sleep, or giving him chewing stick, I would have told him about Lagos Boy, and this would never happen.  Friend of president cannot go to prison, talk less of prison uniform, tufiakwa!

Maurice Iwu:  Bode George has nothing to do with INEC.  But I think it is ridiculous that people are focusing on the uniform.  That is not the issue.  The question is, was he qualified to contest the election in the first place?  In my view, he was fully qualified.  The next question is, did he win the election.  As the Chair of INEC, I pronounce that he did win the election.  Finally, was he duly certified?  Again, as the Chairman of INEC, I affirm that he was duly certified and presented with his certificate…W.what?  Oh, this is not about elections?  Bode George did not run for office?

Balarabe Musa, CNPP: Perhaps Bode George was not fully debriefed.  Maybe he thought they were taking him to a new private palace built for him at lavish public expense.  They should just tell him the prison uniform is the latest lace design, and that Sunny Ade and his band will be along shortly.  He will wear it, believe me.
Emma Sani, Abuja bus Driver:  Me, I nor surprise say the man no wan wear uniform.  He nor go wear am because him belle too big.  People go think say na because him proud.  No, the real reason na because him dey shame of him size.  All the people when dem belle too fat dey take style wear agbada and babanriga and aso oke and things like that.  All the money when Bode George thief and chop don make am bloat, and prison uniform go come expose am like say him naked.  As former military man, dat shame pass the one when jail put am.  But dat one no be our business.  He must wear dat uniform sha.  Dem dey him dey shout say make dem no bring the uniform close to him body.  Dat one na Lagos Boy shakara.  Who is he to dey give command for inside prison, if no be say Yar’Adua Nigeria don rot pass prison?

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