Nigeria's Hierarchy and the Forgiveness Syndrome

You think that when the leaders (3 arms of government) in Nigeria pronounce forgiveness on those who impoverish the masses through stealing, they (leaders) mean well to humanity. Better still, you're tempted to believe that when the word, forgive is used by these leaders; they're true Christians or people that belong to a God fearing religion. Well, if you believe their forgiveness syndrome, then you certainly fall into the category called "mugu" or a fool. Unknown to you, these leaders are poseurs before God. Forgiveness reverberates from one regime to the other and the masses continue to wallow in acute poverty. It's a complete mess that, a country so rich in natural resources could be among the poorest nation on earth. Most of the people are dying of hunger and taste for good drinking water.

The reason for the forgiveness is obvious. They systematically set such precedence so that their successor would as well forgive their looting and numerous atrocities while in office. Thus, they compulsorily want to abide to the negative code of conduct of the Nigeria military - esprit-de-corps which stipulates that all rogues belong to one secret cult and any attempt to probe the other would be a gaffe. Let's digress for a moment. Other nations are proud of their military men and women ÔÇścause of their immense contributions to their nations development. For example, the Internet of today started from a military circle; whereas most of Nigeria's military officers from the onset are a bunch of idiots that has kept Nigerians in perpetual darkness in all aspects of life The military made Nigerians to be wanderers of which many of them have become victims of circumstances across the globe because their fatherland became inhabitable to humanity. Umaru Dikko, a Northern Nigerian is correct to "lament domination of national politics by ex-military officers," says Punch newspaper of February 5, 2008. Yes, the ex-military people would continue to control the politics in Nigeria because they posses all their stolen money. Wryly, the Economic and financial Crime Commission (EFCC) since its inception continues to chase only the civilians on corruption, while the same EFCC paid deaf ear to the military rogues parading themselves as power brokers. The solution to this problem is to ban all ex-military people from holding any public office. This should be a priority for the proposed Constitution review.

General Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) forgiveness of Generals Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) and Sani Abacha was a blunder in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. OBJ being in the corridors of power had called IBB, a fraud before he came to Aso Rock in 1999 and before the birth of EFCC. Therefore, any reasonable person was correct to think that OBJ would retrieve from IBB the stolen wealth after EFCC was set-up. No, this was not the case. Certainly, the deal on IBB's case was struck through IBB's cousin, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar, the man who handed the leadership baton to OBJ. It's therefore not news that Abubakar was rewarded bountifully with the nation's power project that engulfed billions of dollar without anything to show for it. Still under the umbrella of forgiveness, how could OBJ had the effrontery to negotiate publicly with the Abacha family that they should keep a percentage of the loot? OBJ who calls himself a Christian ought to know that the biblical passage did not talk of forgiveness in isolation, but added with clear language to make restitution in full. There is no where in the bible or Koran that permits a thief to keep any part of what he stole. Therefore, if the loots were not monies generated from OBJ's Otta farm, Nigerians should know that OBJ is an accomplice to Nigerians being made poor for ever through the forgiveness syndrome.

"To err is human, to forgive Devine", says Dr. Joe Glaser, Professor of English. Of course, this statement had been misconstrued by Nigerian's hierarchy. The word forgive was never intended to deceive and defraud people. It was originated towards a corrective measure and to happily live in harmony. Forgiveness cannot continue to be the watch-word of any present administration in a country like Nigeria that is plagued by myriads of economic problems and a common history of poverty among its citizens. If the present presidency with their education and exposure is unable to correct this forgiveness syndrome, Nigeria may be doomed forever. It doesn't matter how this presidency came to power if the forgiveness mess has to be fixed. There is a way out of this forgiveness syndrome. It's up to the current presidency to seek solution(s) and they will get it from Nigerians at home or abroad.

In the Judiciary, the center of democracy, the jargon used for forgiveness is "temper justice with mercy." Suffice it to say that, the buck of democratic responsibilities stops at the Judiciary. In the courtroom, the farmland for the Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), you hear the SAN eloquently admonishes his client before the trial Judge. After proven evidences of looting, the SAN tells the Judge that his client meritoriously served his people; as such, the Judge should temper justice with mercy. Ah! You wouldn't hear the Judge ask the SAN a reasonable question like: who has the missing money your client is being tried for? Instead of questions like this, the Judge in chambers writes his judgment that, defendant should refund for example 1 million out of the 5 million proven evidences of looting. Or the Judge agrees to the negative application of the famous plea bargain. This is one of the ways the Judges forgive rogues in Nigeria, then go behind to collect their share of the loot. Certainly, the Judges are not oblivious to their crucial role in society. They prefer to take bribe, then, forgive criminals and impoverish the masses.

If you have to juxtapose the three arms of government in Nigeria, the actions of the National Assembly (NA) are more criminal in nature because this is a body of representatives. The NA made nonentity of the word, forgiveness. This cabal (NA) had to forgive a corpse of one of their colleagues who was sanctioned for his dishonesty while in public office. Isn't this hypocrisy? If the Senators can be that emotional to forgive a dead person who died of a natural course, why are they not thinking of how to improve the lives of those around them who are suffering from hunger and diseases? On one hand, these people in the NA feel that, they want to maintain the Nigeria's family oriented culture by implanting the notorious seed of forgiveness in both houses of legislature. On the other hand, the same group of legislature bluntly refused to pass a simple Freedom of Information bill that would enhance the processes towards a better Nigeria. If we may ask, is there any bill the NA has passed since 1999 that impacts positively on the lives of Nigerians? It should not surprise anyone that, when the lawmakers grant pardon, they do so to pave way for their future subterfuge.

The question we must ask is: do any of these three arms of government have the moral wherewithal to forgive their predecessors for looting local, State, or national treasuries? This writer opines that, those in power today do not have the justification to forgive their comrades in crime of this nature. If there is rule of law on ground, not the present Attorney General's ruse of law, that rule of law should take its course. Thus, the purpose of selecting delegates to the hierarchy was not for these arms of government to inflict hunger on the people, and deny the masses of good drinking water, electricity, hospitals, schools, and other essential utilities for normal day-to-day living. 

Tosan Okotie

Lives in Texas, United States.

June 22, 2008