The most inequitable conduct any leader can exhibit in a country that faces the kind of challenges Nigeria does is being corrupt or supporting officials who engage in embezzlement, nepotism, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. The Jonathan administration, or at least some members of the administration, have not only asserted exactly that behaviour in theory but it seems, exercised it in practice.
When accounts of Minister’s purchase of hundred million naira bullet proof cars, reports of extortion in courts where requests by judicial officers for bribes in exchange for favorable rulings are allegedly made and the embezzlement of billions of dollars in Malabu oil deals are exposed, it is difficult for the president’s underlings to compile a defence for him and his administration that could even remotely be considered as credible.
While the president quietly watches and muses over the corruption that continues to thrive under his administration, even in the face of national and international outrage, without taking any concrete action, there is little doubt in people’s minds that he is giving corrupt officials a free passage, pass and reign to do whatever the freak they want.
The current deplorable case of the minister of aviation’s shady practices is just the most recent reveal of what can only be termed as a blatant disregard for the massive, widespread, and pervasive corrupt practices with impunity that everyone, including the president, is aware of.But beyond the alleged actions of the Minister of aviation, the most damning indictment of this most recent corruption report on the Jonathan administration is the absolute ignorance and deliberate inaction with which the president has draped all of it.
Since the scandal broke, in-fact it seems like, whenever the expose of the corruption of one of the officers in his administration comes to light, the president seems to clam up. The least one could expect from him in the instances would be some effort to penalize wrongdoing in light of their exposure. Instead we get silence. And woe betide he or she who interprets President Jonathan’s silence amidst so much corruption as an endorsement of the corrupt actions! But, for a commander in chief to run a government that has zero transparency and zero accountability and continuously watch in silence while officials representing his administration have a jolly good soirée with the public funds of 169.99 million impoverished and poverty-stricken people, it is a crying shame.
In other better-run countries, there would be a bellowing for the removal and prosecution of those who embezzle government coffers, but in Nigeria there is a stony silence on the part of those meant to checkmate such incongruity and those who are supposed to look after the interest of the nation, especially the president.
Honestly, there is so much wrong with the manner in which President Jonathan has navigated his war against corruption. By responding to queries either with an apology and a promise to set up a committee, or with basic silence as if to say to the public that it is none of your business; by not giving a damn about declaring his assets, by appearing to protect bad behavior, it is a small wonder that there is so much fraud in government and a total disregard for the law.
If the primary theory embraced by the Jonathan administration to show his commitment on the war on corruption and his encouragement of transparency in the nation’s government has been his purported exposure of the scam in Nigeria’s downstream sector or EFCC’s assumed 200 convictions as a result of the subsidy report, and the setup of the umpteenth committee this year, they could have fooled us.
No matter how much the administration remixes the few anticorruption accolades achieved, despite the spin put on the glaring cases of grand larceny and brazen venality by the representatives of this government, the deliberate inactions of the president to some of the more palpable cases of government transgressions, alas implicates him.
But beyond his inactions lies a labyrinth of misactions and utterances also. As the number one citizen of Nigeria and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, when President Jonathan discloses to his citizens that he personally knows some of the people involved in corruption, but would not reveal their identity and would prefer to remain silent over it, it is a shock to the system for, even the most gullible within us.
When the president goes out of his way to willy-nilly grant a state pardon to a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who had been convicted on charges of corruption, one can only wonder whether our leader has truly grasped the 101 on the basic tenants of fighting a war on corruption. When select members of his cabinet and other officials that are meant to be representative of the government continue to blatantly undermine any progress that his government may have made in the face of his deafening silence, then it is time for concerned minds to get the pen and paper out and remind the president that he has a duty to wake up, speak up, govern and take action in the interest of the nation, even if that action is not what he would personally choose to take.
By the time President Jonathan comes back from his trip to Israel, one can bet that the dust from the Minister of Aviation’s scandal would still not have settled. Whether he likes it or not, he will have to take a position on Mrs Oduah’s alleged absurdity incongruity. Regardless of whatever he chooses to do, the President must be reminded that his deliberate inaction to the corruption of the urchins within his cabinet has got to stop. He can remain silent no longer and watch while some of his ministers spend government funds in so cavalier a manner. The government officials should be made to account for their indiscretion at every cost.
No matter what this administration will be remembered for, one doubts that the president would want historians to label his leadership as onewith a blatant disregard for the purported war against corruption and utter disrespect for the people of Nigeria. There has to be an end to Nigeria relying on people of questionable integrity to run her affairs and the President’s silence to the corruption speaks volumes.
One hopes that President Jonathan can find his voice in order to expunge some of the more voracious cretins from his cabinet; because when he remains silent to their corruption, he effectively and automatically creates the corruption of that silence.
Ms. Musawa, a lawyer and public policy analyst, writes a syndicated column for Premium Times. Kindly follow her on Twitter @hanneymusawa. You can also visit her website www.hannatumusawa.com and subscribe to her youtube channel www.youtube.com/HannatuMusawa