Last week, I did a deep commentary on the deceitful publication by the Jonathan government on what they termed “Sure and Steady Transformation”. I dismissed the book as nothing, and particularly stated that the president and his team wouldn’t need to write books to show us their works which, ultimately, are expected to be visible on our roads and in our homes. I was clear on my assertion that the president is a bumbler, and that that book was another needless waste of our money by Mr Jonathan and his handlers. And as expected, his supporters rained their anger down on me. From Facebook to Twitter, and from Ekekeee to SaharaReporters, they were everywhere, calling me names. Some said I am a recruit for the opposition, and that I cast aspersions on the person – and office – of the president, just for the sake of money. Of particular interest to me was the comment of a reader who simply typed; “Nice article. Mumu writer.” I guffawed when I saw it, and just mumbled to myself; “What a paradox!” At the last count, I’ve read three rejoinders on that piece; and the writers all tagged me. None of them could prove to me that any of the trumpeted achievements could be seen on the streets. None could prove to me that mere meetings attended in Ministries were not part of what was termed “achievements”. It was all hubris, falsehoods, and then more hubris.
Well, such is the fate of the critic. You don’t rail on the president of 160 million people, especially on a project he considers key to his public rating, and expect everybody to rise in instant praise of you. Those who particularly see President Jonathan as a performer simply because of where he hails from were the most hurt. They had thought that the minor – actually, quite negligible – improvement in electricity generation, in the last two months or so, was significant enough to hush us up. They must have been quaffing expensive wines in their closets in celebration of what should amount to the eternal silence of the twittering children of anger, a standing member of which I am. It was shocking to them, therefore, that I made attempts, and I was the first person who did, to reduce their ‘performance’ book to what it is: nothing.
Here’s a notice I wish to serve my critics: I will not be stopping my critical analysis of the Jonathan administration any time soon; not until he addresses the one and only real issue holding Nigeria on the ground. For now, Mr Jonathan is the chief promoter of that killer: sleaze.
In one of my essays, I wrote on The Time Value Of Corruption. Those who claim I have never proffered any solution to my criticisms were blind to that piece. Well, that article was celebrated everywhere, in churches, mosques, the academia, corporate circles and amongst civil society organizations, as a clear blueprint to any serious government on the reason why the fight against corruption should commence now and be sustained. Of course, the only place it wasn’t seen must have been in government circles; the bakery of corruption.
In that piece, I proved, in quantitative terms, using the basic concept of finance, how a kobo stolen today becomes naira tomorrow, and how we will be jeopardizing our 20 years from now if we keep quiet on the massive stealing of our oil subsidy funds. I equally showed in clear terms, using a steady exchange rate, how much the Gulf windfall stolen by Babangida’s regime was worth this year. If you want to read or re-read the article, search for it on the home page of www.ekekeee.com.
Our case against Jonathan is corruption. I am convinced – and this is one conviction I hold strongly to – that once we take the fight against corruption as seriously as we should, more than half of our problems as a nation will be solved. Unfortunately, in every way, President Jonathan has demonstrated his love for corruption and the corrupt, and his desire to put those fighting them in check. I have heard several arguments against my conviction on corruption. But none of those arguments is convincing enough.
We have tried all manner of things, and they have all failed: we have zoned the presidency and other political offices, we have created many states and local governments, we appoint at least a minister from each state, we appoint two ministers to handle some ministries, we have uncountable parastatals and agencies, we have set up innumerable committees, we have set up probe panels, and we have coined up acronyms that never worked: FDRI, MAMSER, SAP, FEAP, NEEDS, SURE-P. We have done many things which never really sent any criminal to jail. In all these, we have not demonstrated to anybody the powers of the Nigerian state in upholding that which is fair and just. Everything we have done has been to, in truth, avoid the real work which is to jail thieves and deter others from stealing what belongs to all of us.
We have tried every other thing, and they failed us. Why don’t we try fighting corruption and see if we won’t get this solution that has eluded us for decades?
There are proofs that the corruption rate in any country has an inverse relationship with development and a sound economy. The higher the rate of corruption, the more sickly the economy and the higher the lack of development. In other words, corruption and development cannot share the same room. They are incompatible. In November 2011, in an article titled Seek Ye First The Death Of Corruption, I wrote about how Nitish Kumar, the chief–minister (equivalent of governor) of India’s once poorest and most lawless state of Bihar, grew the state’s economy to the second healthiest (Second only to India’s capital) by simply waging a tough war against corruption and lawlessness in the state. How did he do it? Here’s an excerpt from that piece: “Kumar’s formula for good governance is based on straightforward, effective initiatives. He set up fast-track courts that convicted nearly 66,000 criminals – including three members of parliament…” Properties of rogue former government officials were confiscated by the state; police was allowed by the governor to do their jobs. The culture of ‘order from above’ in not prosecuting offenders became a thing of the past. I published that article, but I’m sure those who think I am a destructive critic didn’t see it, just as those who survive only on corruption will never see it. I am still accused of not proffering solutions.
But that isn’t only the place where a sincere fight against corruption has grown the economy and spurred rapid national development. There’s a country called Georgia which used to be, in every aspect imaginable, what Nigeria presently is: a disgusting criminal empire. In 2004, Mikhail Saakashvili was elected the country’s president. That was the beginning of a new Georgia. Saakashvili set out to confront the criminals of the state, the IBBs, Anenihs, Iboris, Akalas, Ubas, Otedolas and many others of Georgia. In robust research carried out by Johan Engvall, a Nonresident Research Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, which is a Joint Research and Policy Center affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, the world was given an insight into how a sincere leader rescued his nation from the hands of the criminals intent on keeping it non-functional.
Read Johan; “A particularly important component in rebuilding the state was to confront the entrenched authority of Georgian organized crime bosses. From the outset, the new administration took on the task of breaking up this vicious cycle of criminalization of the state by confronting criminal authorities head on. In February 2005, the Parliament passed an anti-mafia law, which allowed persecuting and convicting persons for the crime of being members of mafia groups. The law was inspired by the American RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) as well as Italian anti-mafia legislation. As a result of the law, it became possible to criminalize affiliation with organized crime groups. The law also allowed for plea bargaining and large-scale confiscation of property acquired through corrupt or criminal deals, and strengthened the protection for witnesses in crime-related cases. The new legislation was vigorously enforced from the start.”
“… To confront the entrenched authority of Georgian organized crime bosses”. That’s how to rescue a country from the hands of its killers. Compare that to what is happening here. The bosses of crime who were confronted and jailed in Georgia are in the mould of the crime bosses here who President Jonathan trembles before, and offers his worship. That explains why Ibrahim Babangida would be allowed near our national assets, and then watched as he buys them without being made to answer to how he got the money. It is Mr Jonathan’s worship of questionable elements that allows him to gloss over the sale of Nigeria’s power station to an Otedola, a serial bank loan defaulter and a beneficiary of fuel subsidy funds theft. It is Mr Jonathan’s adoration of the organized crime bosses that is stopping those who stole our N2.6trillion from being hauled to jail. In January our resistance to his strategy of avoiding their prosecution, subsidy removal, forced the world to know how much we have been raped.
Our case against Jonathan is that he supports corruption, and has laid a firm foundation for its growth, even as the monster has already attained a troubling peak in Nigeria. The only way we will drop this case against him is if he immediately confronts the criminals who have stolen Nigeria empty. He can begin, as Prof Okey Ndibe once opined, by granting them amnesty – which is to ask them to surrender all they stole peacefully. If they fail to surrender within the set timeframe, then the force of the state will be applied in bringing them to justice.
He must equally tackle the criminal elements in the nation’s judiciary, because those have shown how well they want to sustain the current misnomer in the polity.
Those who run organized scams in various sectors of Nigeria’s economy cannot continue to be in the good book of any president who works for Nigeria's progress. Those are the people President Jonathan must face squarely. Ironically, those are the same people he likes to see as his friends. This is why his supporters claim the task is tough, another laughable argument.
There’s nothing difficult about this task for a president who understands patriotism and the need to return his country to a prideful place in the comity of nations.
A state in India jailed as much as 66,000 criminals. It didn’t cause war, it didn’t result in earthquakes, and the world did not end. Let Mr Jonathan set up fast-track courts and prosecute 66,000 people in Nigeria for corruption and see if sanity will not return to this country! It is only then that people like me will take him seriously, and begin to see him as a patriot.
The question now is whether he understands patriotism and nationhood, or just politics of rent-seeking and patronage.
Whichever one he demonstrates his understanding of, in the weeks and months ahead, will determine what we would want to say – or not say – about him and his government.
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