Monday, October 15, 2007

Who Exactly, Qualifies?

Who Exactly, Qualifies?

By Paul Adujie
Monday, 12 February 2007
I thoroughly enjoy reading essays that encapsulates my thinking or feelings on various issues It is even more so, when , such persons, express my feelings, in much clearer terms, than I could have mustered and marshaled! It is the same way I feel when I find a non-Nigerian who speaks any of the many Nigerian Languages, say, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Tiv or Esan!

I literarily, read everything on Nigeria related websites. I mean everything! written, about Nigeria by anyone and everyone everywhere! And once every while, I nod in agreements.

Eric Terfa Ula-Lisa is a Nigerian lawyer who lives here in America. He frequently writes commentaries about Nigeria and I enjoy his presentations. Even when I disagree with the views expressed on particular occasions, I still enjoy his presentation skills and style.

I saw Eric Terfa Ula-Lisa’s comments to an article titled PDP Trojan Horses at Work and I was elated. Simply elated! I then wondered why hasn’t anyone in the past, felt, or asked the questions that he asked? Why haven’t I articulated his thoughts? Why did I not think of his questions, especially, given the fact that I wholeheartedly support Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s war and crusade against corruption! Eliminating corruption is an imperative.

The key question that had been asked by Ula-Lisa Esquire, among other questions, was, “So who qualifies to fight corruption and when can we start?” He then proceeded to ask more questions that quite clearly very poignant; regarding the recent EFCC list of persons unfit to run for public office in Nigeria, and the demands, allegedly made by some Americans and European governments and agencies, demands, of proof of actual corruption; Mr. Ula-Lisa asks why is it that everyone claims to know about corruption in Nigeria, everyone seemed to possess this authoritative and infallible corruption perception index about Nigeria and yet, nobody believes the EFCC list?

He then queried in these words, why is: “Every person knows of the corruption index and Nigeria's ranking, who showed them proof of corruption? Ribadu, was indeed appointed by OBJ government, he is doing his job.”

“Which of the IBB Boys would stand reputation to reputation with Ribadu and do better? Remember that IBB banned two sets of politicians from even contesting elections.” “ Name one Atiku person that has better credentials to substitute Ribadu.” “Even Buhari had his taint of 53 suitcases.” “They can ban all of the looters from ruling and the heavens will not fall” Wow! And Whoa! Were the expressions that I could find to summarize my reaction to Mr. Ula-Lisa’s glow, flush and florid of questions! He was succinct, he was clear and direct!

It is amazing and beguiling, just contemplating Ula Lisa’s clarity of thought!

Why can’t some Nigerians see what Ula-Lisa esq. See, see so clearly? And why haven’t many Nigerians asks the following questions? Such as, Is the infamous “Perception Index” made notorious and applied to Nigeria by Transparency International authoritatively?

How does anyone empirically measure a perception? Indexed or not? Is there corruption in Nigeria at all? If so, Do we want to fight corruption, if yes, who qualifies to do so? Yes! Who in Nigeria qualifies to fight or embark on the war against corruption, who indeed qualifies to embark on the crusade against corruption? Who qualifies for the necessary efforts to eliminate and eradicate corruption from Nigerian soil? Who Qualifies?

General Muritala Ramat Mohammed Mohammed became the military head of state of Nigeria on July 29, 1975; One of the key policies for which he is remembered, is his war against corruption! General Mohammed retired and retrenched civil servants who were unproductive, lazy or engaged in frauds. He also fought the corruption that was represented by the phenomenon of ghost workers, which had, at the time become prevalent in Nigeria.

Despite General Mohammed’s best efforts, cynics, pessimists, pranksters and affected criminals who sought to detract and distract from the laudable efforts by General Mohammed, started to spread word about his pre-war rule violations, and his war time looting, robberies and sundry violence and rule violations.

Then came General Mohammadu Buhari, and his brother, the unsmiling General Tunde Idiagbon who upon overthrowing the government of President Shehu Shagari and his National Party of Nigeria (NPN) led government. President Shagari by all account is a nice guy, who had rogues and bestially corrupt politicians in his party the NPN, and they robbed Nigeria of public resources!

They abuse Nigerian laws and constitution like drunken sailors. NPN members in Shagari government were brazenly corrupt and indulged in egregious behaviors with stinking impunity! Buhari/Idiagbon were angered enough, to overthrow the Shagari government and Nigerians agreed and hailed the duo.

Soon after, Nigerians were to become disenchanted with the Buhari/Idiagbon arbitrary and draconian tactics with which they pursued their worthy causes! Buhari/Idiagbon, as you will recall, jailed almost every politician of every political party then in existence in Nigeria.

Politicians of the NPN, politicians of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, politicians of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party, GNPP, politicians of Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, politicians of the People Redemption Party, PRP, and many more were jailed for upwards of 300 years each, this even though, the life expectancy in Nigeria was less than 70 per capita!

A majority of Nigerians cried their impatience with the arbitrariness, the draconian ness of Buhari/Idiagbon. I like the War Against Indiscipline, which compelled us all to be reasonable and to behave better than bush animals. I liked the Environmental Sanitation rules. But we rebelled eventually! We voted with our collective feet for free-will cleaner environments in Nigeria, we kicked against dictatorships and tyranny of the Supreme Head-Quarters folks. No election, instead, a cheeky General in the Army, otherwise now known as the evil-genius and Maradonna or Ibrahim Badmouse Babangida or IBB took over Nigeria’ reigns. He legitimized double-speak! He legitimized corruption or settling, he legitimized immoralities and ordained highly perfumed decadence in Nigeria and Nigeria has never been the same ever since that 27th day of August 1985 when the forces of evil of the evil genius struck our moral ffiber and fabrics!

General Sanni Abacha, as bad as he was, also fought corruption. One of his famous and laudable roles, was his attempt to sanitize banking. And he made those who confused their shareholding in banking companies with personal pocket-money or personal safe-deposit box or sacks of money under their mattress pay heavily for the consequences of their misconducts

General Abacha as bad as he is now remembered, also fought corruption and people now wonder why he should be given any credits at all for his corruption war, all things considered

He was a ruthless and meanest dictator and tyrant. He was a brutal killer and Al Mustapha and others were used as General Abacha’s Jackal and Abacha’s Jackals lasted and lasted!

General Olusegun Obasanjo’s first foray into the limelight of Nigerian leadership was as number two man, with his brother General Muritala Ramat Mohammed, then General Obasanjo was the one who continued Muritala’s policies, as Talaka Umaru Yar’Adua of Katsina State will continue Obasanjo’s Reforms Policies.

One of the first policy items which General Obasanjo as Head of state of Nigeria, established after Murtala’s assassinations on February 13th 1976, was to declare belt-tightening fiscal policies of prudence in expenditures. He also announced the eliminations of ostentatious consumptions. He insisted on what he had then termed Low Profile, he sold or got rid of Mercedes luxury cars, in their place, he instructed and insisted on the introduction of Peugeot 504 cars as preferred official vehicles or cars, even for himself as the head of state and of course, the state governors/military administrators followed suit. He decongested the Nigerian seaports, where it was discovered that some folks imported sand and sawdust to cover their corruption.

Fast forward, 1999! President Obasanjo was elected President of Nigeria, this time as a civilian president. He once again, made the eradication, the elimination of corruption from Nigerian soil, one of his cardinal programs! This witnessed the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which is headed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, scion of a famous senior police officer. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is a lawyer, he joined the Nigeria Police in 1986 and he was appointed to the EFCC from there. So, he knows a thing or two about law enforcement and policing. He has more than 20 years experience in law enforcement.

Strident critics have queried, in the most vehement, and sometimes, in even uncouth styles, accused Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of selective targeting of the looters, the pillager and plunderers that he and the EFCC have targeted since the inception of the EFCC and the appointment of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who I fondly call WMD, that is, Nigeria’s Weapons of Mass Destruction against corruption.

Accusations that are clearly unfounded as they are unfair, particularly, and especially against the background of the EFCC record so far at least. The evidences and the facts on ground so far, are that, a majority of those arrested, indicted, prosecuted and imprisoned so far, are members of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP.

Count for examples, the unsavory and sordid tales of Tafa Balogun, the former Inspector General of Nigeria Police. Balogun, a sitting IGP was arrested, indicted and imprisoned and the public wealth that he looted, recovered. I concede that Balogun should have had more time in jail. But jail time at all, and the recovered loot, was good enough for some of us!

Then, add two more high profile looters, governors turned fugitives from the law. Erstwhile governor Alamieseigha and the other fugitive Joshua Chibi Dariye, both, who were formerly of Bayelsa and Plateau States; These two former governors were arrested in London in England, busted for money laundering, money that neither of them earned. Money, which both of them looted from Nigeria’s public treasury. Their misconducts were undeniably clear to the Metropolitan Police in London. Alamieseigha and Dariye, were arrested in London. They were granted bail, I guess, partly because they were “prominent” Nigerian citizens, and high office holders

Alamiseigha and Dariye, most egregiously embarrassing behaviors occurred in quick successions and as if, choreographed! Nigerians everywhere in the world talked and talked about the new levels of infamy, endowed by Alamie and Dariye.

When they were impeached, I celebrated! But some Nigerians questioned whether the methods, legal procedures and processes were flawless. Some Nigerians wondered whether the rule of law and due process were observed. Fair enough!

Let the methods, procedure and processes be flawless. I certainly have no arguments against decency generally, and moreover, I received good legal education, I should ordinarily be one to argue in favor of these high ideals and fine tenets all, of legal principles. But I also like Clint Eastwood’s movie, “Dirty Harry” A movie, in which a savvy career criminals knew how to escape the legal consequences of his criminal behavior to the chagrin of decent members of society, and a citizen that was played by Mr. Eastwood, who played a citizen with self-righteous indignations, as he took it upon himself to eliminate and liquidate the unrepentant career criminal.

A criminal, who repeatedly escaped justice and then lived to laugh, mock and taunt the police with his, criminal exploits or escapades! Of course, the establishment, represented by the citizen officer, played by Mr. Eastwood, admonished him to wait for the long, long, ever long arm of the law to catch up with the career criminal. But Mr. Eastwood played the role of the aggrieved self-righteous citizen who persisted and used every means, some un-orthodox, to get his man! Corrupt Nigerians have been, and they are still doing the same things, such as this career criminal, except that is on larger scales and more dramatic life-changing, life-destroying effects and impacts on Nigerians! We ought therefore aggressively repel them, we ought to exact pints and pints of their bloods!

I am not recommending vigilante, self-help law enforcement for Nigerians.

But consider the toll on Nigeria caused by corruption, cost to Nigerian citizens who are deprived of development, advancement and greatness of country. Deprivations, measured in the absence of public infrastructures, social amenities, roads, hospitals, schools etc

I will have to take the liberties of assuming that, every Nigerian knows what we are deprived. And that we understand that corruption has been a giant monster to Nigerians and Nigeria!

Every Nigerian knows about lack of water and electricity and other basics of life. These are as a result of the fact that monies budgeted for these public purposes, for which such monies were never invested or spent. There have been such budgets for public works, since 1960 but huge monies have not translated into actual, identifiable physical development or advancement and greatness for Nigeria.

This is the effect, the impact and ramifications of corruption in Nigeria (and elsewhere in the world) you can multiply by a factor of a million, the impact of corruption on the lives of Nigerian citizens, crime, unemployment, decayed and abandoned projects in Nigeria.

It is crucial that corruption is eliminated. But, as my father used to ask us his kids, when dire situations arose “who will bell the cat”?

As everyone knows, it is difficult a task to control an angry, unfriendly or difficult cat. Think claws, claws bites and claws! It is difficult to put a collar on an angry or unfriendly cat.

Corrupt persons are worst than angry, unfriendly and difficult cats to tackle. Corruption benefit the indolent, corruption rewards those who never cared about efforts, or skills at producing anything, neither candles nor office pins. They never sold oranges or groundnuts!

Here we are! This is the situation now. The Reform Resistant Army of the corrupt, and the corrupt themselves, seem to have effectively redefined our beliefs and all what we thought we knew about corruption and how angry we were and how we may eliminate corruption.

Corrupt persons and their spokesperson and a chunk of the Nigerian Media Houses have turned logic on its head and redefined for some of us, who the enemies of the people of Nigeria is. In all these, the enemies are not the corrupt, but those in the assiduous fight on our behalf, to eliminate corruption. And from all accounts, the corrupt and their defenders have succeeded in deciding for Nigerians what our priorities really are.

Nigerians and all those who wish Nigeria well must remember that the main purpose of law and law enforcement is to discourage and eliminate crime and criminals from our society. Currently, however, it is as if we want the EFCC and ICPC to operate SOLELY to, for, and in protection of the corrupt persons in Nigeria!

I take it that the reverse ought to be the case. We ought to punish criminals to the severest extent of our laws, even while observing the high ideals and fine tenets of the rule of law, due process, democracy, freedom etc. It certainly cannot be that, we operate the exception as if, it were a substitute for the general rule. The general rule is to fight crimes the exception is the safeguards, observance of necessary safeguards while enforcing the laws. The main purpose is to eliminate crimes. The main purpose is not the operation of laws to protect criminals in order to assure that criminals continue to perpetuate crimes!

The focus has been on those fighting corruption and not those who are corrupt. In all of these, there are now these vexing questions. First, is there corruption in Nigeria? Does the phenomenon exist in degrees and magnitudes as it is popularly believed? How about the Perception Index and all? If the answers to these first sets of question are yeses; If, so, a second sets of questions follows; Does Nigeria need to aggressively fight corruption? Does Nigeria need and require crucially drastic measures to eliminate and eradicate corruption in order to return Nigeria to pristine slate and to the path of greatness? Yes?

Who then qualifies to fight corruption? The “Five Majors” of the January 1966 coup were unqualified, because the had needless bloods on their hands, they acted lopsidedly as to whom they visited with their brutalities and violence; they were usurpers of Nigerian constitution and legitimate institutions and systems and these acts and reactions to them, gave Nigeria a brutal civil war.

General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was unqualified. After all, he was a war time robber and looter of banks and properties, his hands were not clean and heck, he was a military man! And General Obasanjo’s “Low Profile, and austere, non ostentatious ways and Operation Feed the Nation were good intentions, but he too was an army man and he only had two years on top, during the interregnum between Mohammed and Shagari.

President Shagari was unqualified to fight corruption, after all, it was Shagari who had the all-powerful Umaru Dikko, who was at once Minister for Transport, Chairman for “Rice Importation” and Chairperson for NPN presidential campaign organization etc hence Mr. Umaru Dikko landed in the botched kidnap and smuggling attempt by the Buhari/Idiagbon to bring Dikko to justice from England to Nigeria.

General Buhari/General Idiagbon were unqualified to fight corruption, after all, they were tainted by the fifty-three suitcases exception for the important emir, yes, Jokolo. And what was worse? Decree Two, Decree Four, arbitrariness, draconian actions and pronouncements and they were military men, so they do not qualify to rid Nigeria of corruption in “any material particular”!

General Babangida was corruption epitomized in flesh and blood! He is splendidly unqualified to fight corruption. He is immoral and symbolizes decadence, enough said!

General Abacha was unqualified to fight corruption in Nigeria, his attempt at sanitizing the banking industry was okay, except that his brutalities and violence were beyond compare and he was a brutal military dictator, so, never mind his corruption war!

General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Shonekan were brief interregnums, measuring their policies on corruption is rather difficult, because, their regime were interim and short.

AND NOW, here comes the pounded yam and egusi soup of our national story of the present war, crusade and aggressively drastic measures against corruption by President Obasanjo, through the EFCC and ICPC etc.

Critics of the current government of President Obasanjo and his anti corruption czar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu insist adamantly, that the crusade against corruption is lopsided, that it is selective, that it is vindictive and a matter of mafia style vendettas! Critics have accused EFCC of lawlessness and witch hunting of enemies or political opponents and opposition political parties candidates! Critics insist that the head of the snake need to be cut, they insist the fish head is rotten the fish cannot be saved, unless the head is severed!

All these, despite the facts as have been stated above, to wit, a majority of the high profile arrests, indictments, prosecutions and convictions and imprisonments, have been members of the ruling political party, the PDP of President Obasanjo, think Tafa Balogun, think DSP Alamieseigha, think Jonathan Chibi Dariye, think Ministers and others, who improprieties accusations have shooed out of office or even into jails! All these are a first in Nigeria. All things considered.

I am excited and elated that the EFCC and Nigeria Tax Authorities are making public office seekers answer questions or do some somersaults! I thought that we will all applaud Nigerian Joint Tax Board and the EFCC for these groundbreaking efforts? But it appears some Nigerians want the hands of our corruption fighters tied to their backs as they fight the good fights on our behalf? Should Nigerians not focus the search lights on the evil-doing criminals with 172 houses and billions and billions of public money, instead of these fixations on those fighting and crusading against corruption, for our collective benefits?

Would it require a virgin, or an angel to qualify to fight corruption in Nigeria? Should we fight corruption by hiring foreign agents, just as we do with football/soccer foreign coaches or technical adviser? Shall we now have an American, British, Cameroonian or Ghanaian and or Russian anti corruption czar for the war and crusade to eradicate corruption from Nigeria? Who could be that perfect person to fight corruption in Nigeria?

So, who really qualifies to fight corruption in Nigeria?

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