November 2, 2006
We all know that corruption is a very big problem in the country, and that all hands must be on deck to frontally confront the recurring menace, in fact, the present government has at various times said, it will wage a relent war on the scourge that has continued to underdevelop the polity in all its ramifications. However, with the benefit of hindsight, it is very obvious that not only is the government of the day merely playing lip service to the critical issue of corruption in Nigeria, but the agencies set up to fight corruption, as well as the personnel are more corrupt and rapacious than those they claim are corrupt. In the true sense, those that are fighting corruption do not only lack the moral right and legitimacy to fight corruption, they have been compromised and therefore, they don’t know what corruption is. For instance, when it became obvious that President Olusegun Obasanjo bought about 600million shares in Transcorp and the denial they had offered in the past could no longer hold, they argued that it was an error of judgement or a conflict of interest and not a corruption issue, so, if this is not corruption, what then is corruption.
This takes us to another very germane and interesting issue in the fight against corruption, which is the fact that, the fight against corruption since 1999 has been lopsided, vindictive, selective, biased, one-sided and meretricious. That is why the campaign against corruption has been counter- productive, instead of it abating, it is festering controllably, and this is because when the president or those close to him commit an act of corruption, it is usually glossed over, because the agencies put in place to fight corruption in the country think the president can do no wrong, in other words, the president is above the law, therefore cannot be subjected to the due process or the rule of law. But when it involves people that are opposed to the president politically then, it is corruption and they must be summarily dealt to serve as examples to others. The point here is that this double standard, these warped treatments are in themselves acts of corruption, and if those who claim to be fighting corruption cannot get over this basics, then they are not fit and proper to do the job they have been given. For instance, what has the EFCC done about the N84billion naira that is missing in NPA? What has EFCC done about the N311billion that is missing in NNPC? What did EFCC do about the N50million bribe that was given to pro-third term legislators, during the tenure elongation debate in the National Assembly? What did EFCC do to Senator Ibrahim Mantu, when he mismanaged N400million in the failed hajj operations last year? Just to mention but a very few instances of the selective procedure of the EFCC, which is also corruption in the real sense.
Another very important issue when talking about corruption in Nigeria, is the fact that EFCC is not an independent agency of government, that could discharge its duties and responsibilities without fear or favour, this is because it is the president that appoints the chairman of EFCC, and since, the president has the power of hire and fire, the topshot in EFCC cannot but be loyal to the president to remain in office, in a similar development, it is also the president that approves the funding for the agency, if they want to be too assertive or discharge the functions independent of the president, the president can cut them to size by starving them of funds. It is a well known fact today that, before EFCC undertakes any task or even commences any investigation, it must sought the official imprimatur of the president, also when investigations are concluded, reports are submitted to the president for perusal, the implication of this is that, EFCC cannot do anything outside of what the president wants it to do, and this has been the bane of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. There is so much deceit, lies and manipulations in the anti-corruption debate. That is why those who claim to the spearheading the anti-graft campaign are blacker than those the say are black.
Furthermore, those campaigning against corruption in the country think they are above the law, they think the law is for every other Nigerian, but themselves. The EFCC is now behaving as if it is the law courts, issuing out judgements, it was responsible for the illegal removal of the governors of Bayelsa State, Oyo State and now Ekiti State, and it is also responsible for on-going lawlessness in Plateau State. We are in a democratic dispensation, and where the rule of law and the constitution are supposed to guide the operations of democracy, but the EFCC is misbehaving and taking laws into its hand, thereby putting the burgeoning democracy in the country in jeopardy.
It is at this juncture that, it is important to take into consideration the submission of the Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, the former governor of old Kano State on the present state of the nation. He raised an alarm over the looming danger in the country, with a warning that Nigerians should rise up and resist the destructive tendencies of the President Obasanjo administration before everyone becomes a victim. He likened the president to a bull in a Chinese shop and expressed the fear that the future of the country is no longer certain as long as the president is allowed to continue to destroy the constitutional framework of the nation. Speaking against the backdrop of the gale of impeachment plots against governors across the country, Rimi said this induced by the EFCC, signified a bad omen for the nation’s democracy, stressing that the whole process was a design for the self-perpetuation agenda of president Obasanjo. He described the president anti-graft war as hypocritical, he asked, “how can they be fighting corruption when we know that the presidency is the most corrupt institution in Nigeria today? Ribadu and EFCC take away their face from there by getting too busy destroying lesser evils when the big evil looming big”. He went on to explain in great details that, he (Obasanjo) is not ready to go. He tried to stay longer through a 40-man constitutional conference which failed him. He turned around to organize third term in a fraudulent manner to get the constitution to allow him continue in office. That also failed. Now, in the name of fighting corruption, he is intimidating governors and other elected representatives so that they will be scared of impeaching him. The tragedy of his action or so-called anti-corruption crusade is that he is using corruption to fight corruption.”
He pointed out that, “we can see all the tactics. Now, he is delaying the release of census results to the last minute. He is holding the local government elections to the last moment so as to create chaos. When confusion is created and intense, there will not be election, and that is why they have flown the ING kite ahead of time. The only way out of the looming crisis in the country is for President Obasanjo to vacate the presidential villa immediately. He should resign and leave now, because he is doing a lot of damage to our psyche and constitution. This is the best way to stop his brazen rape of democracy. He shouldn’t even wait a day longer or even till 2007. The nation and Nigerians are tired of his corrupt and evil regime”. He accused the president of several shady business deals. “Everybody now knows the president has a hand in many businesses and in the sale of government properties. People know now that he has a hand in Transcorp, Virgin Nigeria and Oando oil”.
Apart from this above assertion which represents the views of majority of Nigerian people on the state of affairs in the country presently. In the same token, the Action Congress only recently said, president Obasanjo and his group have blatantly turned Nigeria into a unitary constitutional state while the centre reserves the right to remove elected leaders by reckless deployment of soldiers and mobile policemen from the barracks. Never in our national life, not even at the height of undiluted military dictatorship have we witnessed this level of flagrant, callous and unbridled dictatorship. Nigeria today is a private estate with one ruthless landlord who deals with his hapless tenants as he pleases. The Obasanjo administration has virtually suspended the Nigerian Constitution. He chooses which section of the constitution to uphold and which to disobey”. The AC further stressed that, EFCC has become an agency with powers to investigate, arrest, try, imprison, overrule court orders and detain in prison for months without trail, all in the name of fighting corruption. This is certainly not how to fight corruption and follow the due process. It is indeed a negation of everything that is good, noble and enduring; hence, it must be jettisoned by all.