In Celebration Of Jonathan’s Exit

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By Erasmus Ikhide

By Monday next week – to be precise – the son of canoe-carver-born
former university teacher would have bitten the dust. Results of the
presidential election would have humbled him. It would be the heaviest
political fall from grace to grass where he was wrath primitively on
the luckless nation. If he wins by default, through deceitful
manipulation of the poll or announce himself as the winner of the
election, he would have succeeded in manipulating Nigeria out of
herself, in the same token.

The relief of President Goodluck Ebele “Azikiwe” Jonathan’s exit from
the nation’s top job would be profound in many ways. If he loses, it
would mean that the nation’s participatory democracy has attained some
appreciable level of liberal maturation. It will explain that the
country’s democratic experiment has taken the will of the electorate
into account. It will also give credence to the fact that the era of
deploying dollars to buy people’s votes is over. It would again means
that no criminally corrupt government as Mr Jonathan will ever force
itself on the nation, indefinitely.

However, there are no indications Mr Jonathan wouldn’t be tempted to
use the military to its ultimate destruction, given the thickheaded
and irresponsible egoism of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with
their politics of cattle trading where national interest is utterly
subordinated. This still cannot deters a people’s resolve that the
highest and truest expression of human spirit lies in the volition to
determine their existence. It could come by blood and iron.

Another issue is the deceptive propaganda which sullen whatever
reputation Mr President has mustered. The president expects Nigerians
to watch the minimal dents his Administration made on airports
renovations, road rehabilitation in televised advertorials in a
country where power stability is less than an hour per day after
trillions of Naira was looted in the name of power generation! He even
swore to go on self exile if he failed to complete the Second Niger
Bridge by 2015.

It’s now the butt of joke on ‘Instant Media’ and elsewhere, where the
president’s minders regularly ask those against him to go and hug
transformer. The responses of those against the president now come
with pictures of young boys and girls hugging transformer with the
saying, “I been hugging this transformer in the last twenty hours
without electricity”. That is how deep in the abyss of national
wreckage the nation has sunk.

We are in this horrible state because from the beginning, Mr Jonathan
has confused himself with the role propaganda can play in modern days
society. He seems to believe propaganda creates leaders! Such terrible
assumption has robbed him of the earlier empathy which was wrongly
ascribed to him by Nigerians who were deceived by the merest of his
simple appearance, but coated in slyness, spinelessness, infinite
shrewdness, serpentine slush and gross deception.

In 2013, before Jonathan finally submerged into morbid corruption, a
catalogue of President Jonathan graft was submitted to the United
States Congress by the Secretary of State, John Kerry which stated
categorically that Mr Jonathan Administration levitates corruption
beyond what is humanly acceptable, even in stone age. The document
titled:  “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012” was
prepared by the Department of State using information from US
embassies and consulates abroad, foreign government officials,
non-governmental and international organisations, and published
reports.

In the report under the chapter on Nigeria in Section 4, which deals
with “Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government,” states:
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of
government and the security forces.” Noting that though Nigerian law
provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the report said,
“government did not implement the law effectively, and officials
frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”

The judiciary was not left out: “There was a widespread perception
judges were easily bribed and litigants could not rely on the courts
to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and
alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases
or obtain favorable rulings”.

The report further stated: “On April 18, a House of Representatives
Committee led by Representative Farouk Lawan and charged with
investigating the fuel subsidy programme from 2009 to 2011 released a
report showing massive fraud, corruption, and inefficiencies in the
operation of the program. The report alleged misappropriation of
nearly half the subsidy funds, with poor or nonexistent oversight by
government agencies.

“The report estimated government money lost to “endemic corruption and
entrenched inefficiency” amounted to 1.067 trillion naira ($6.8
billion). The committee recommended reform of the oversight and
enforcement mechanisms and further endorsed investigation and
prosecution of culpable officials.” It further stated: ‘In July the
government released a list of those who had benefited illegally from
the subsidy programme, which included relatives and colleagues of key
government officials. In late July the EFCC began arraigning suspects,
first with a group of 20 indictments, including six oil companies and
11 individuals.

“By year’s end the EFCC initiated prosecutions of approximately 50
cases related to the subsidy scam. The majority of these cases
involved companies and individuals who had fraudulently received
subsidy revenue. Investigations and trials had not produced any
convictions by year’s end.” It also recalled the twists in the subsidy
probe, noting that in June (2012) “allegations and a video surfaced,
allegedly showing Lawan accepting a 94.2 million naira ($605,000)
bribe from entrepreneur Femi Otedola, who had advised Lawan on the
investigation but whose company had not received fuel subsidy
payments.”

The report stated: “After Lawan solicited the bribe from Otedola, the
latter approached the SSS to record the hand-off as part of a “sting”
operation. The attorney-general referred the case to the police for
further investigation. The allegations initially overshadowed the
committee’s findings, but the EFCC continued with investigations at
year’s end.” It also cited the stealing of 32.8 billion naira ($210
million) Police Pension Fund, which led to the arraignment of six
suspects including a director at the Police Pension Office, Atiku
Abubakar Kigo, who later rose to become permanent secretary in the
Ministry of the Niger Delta, and the criminal charges against former
Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, for laundering close to five
billion naira ($32 million) of funds belonging to state.

Noting that the charges were instituted on February 24, 2012, the
report said the court adjourned the trial until January 2013. Other
corruption cases cited in the reports were the arrest of former
minister of Works and Housing, Hassan Lawal, for 24 counts of
fraudulently awarding contracts, money laundering, and embezzlement of
75 billion naira ($480 million); arrest of Mr. Dimeji Bankole, former
speaker of the House of Representatives, and Deputy Speaker Usman
Nafada for the alleged misappropriation of one billion naira ($6.4
million) and 40 billion naira ($256 million) respectively; arrest of
former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Oyo  State
Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Nasarawa State Governor,
Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, and former Gombe State Governor, Muhammed
Danjuma Goje.

“The four (governors) allegedly misappropriated or stole 58 billion
naira ($372 million), 25 billion naira ($160 million), 18 billion
naira ($115 million), and 12.8 billion naira ($82 million),
respectively. Their trials began in December 2011 and continued at
year’s end”, the report noted. It also cited the guilty plea entered
by former Delta State Governor James Ibori  in the Southwark Crown
Court in London to charges of money laundering and other financial
crimes totalling 12.4 billion naira ($79 million) he had committed
during his eight years in office.

The report shrilled further: “Soon after the court announced Ibori’s
conviction, the EFCC issued a statement it intended to pursue a case
against Ibori in Nigerian courts.” On the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA), signed into law in May 2011, which allows any person to
request information from a government office, the report said “Civil
society groups continued to introduce an increasing number of cases at
the national and state level to test the FOIA during the year. Despite
the number of cases introduced, there was only one reported successful
prosecution during the year.”

The report also contained the controversy over declaration of assets
by Nigerian public officials noting statutory provisions that provide
that, “Public officials, including the president, vice president,
governors, deputy governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at
both federal and state levels), must comply with financial disclosure
laws, including the requirement to declare their assets to the Code of
Conduct Bureau (CCB) before assuming and after leaving office.
Violators risked prosecution, but cases rarely came to conclusion.” In
conclusion, the report: “In June the Socio-Economic Rights and
Accountability Project and other groups demanded President Jonathan
disclose his assets from 2007 to 2012. On June 24, the president
refused the request.”

Nigerians can now know where Mr Jonathan is coming from and the
composite ruin his Administration visited on the people. Any gain
saying it’s unknown to him that corruption is the greatest problem
confronting the powerfully endowed nation and that frontally combating
the hydra-headed monster is the CHANGE Nigerians need? How else can
Nigerians celebrate themselves than Jonathan’s rustication? It will be
a celebration of an end to his tartuffery government and hollow
platitudes.

Erasmus, A Public Affairs Analyst writes in from Lagos, Nigeria.

Follow me on twitter @Erasmus_Ikhide
Visit: www.fresspress.com.ng

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