"This government which I head will continue to fight against corruption. Is it ethically right for a governor to establish an airline while he is still in office? Is it ethically right for a governor to establish radio and television stations while he is still in office, not that he is investing in the public one?" ----President Olusegun Obasanjo (26 November 2004)
I want to tell Mr. President that he should mind his words because in my presence, the President was signing, as President, Ota Farm cheques of First Bank, which anybody can cross check. He signs Ota Farm cheques till tomorrow…He is building an international factory in Ota; he is building so many factories. He is the owner of the factory that is making juice in Ibadan …After all, he ran a failed farm before becoming the President…the President himself should underscore the issue of morality in his action of running a University and building Ota Farm…I challenge the President to declare his assets openly to (the) Nigerian people before 1999."
---- Governor Orji Uzor Kalu,
(unrefuted statement, 2 December 2004)
Hush! President Olusegun Obasanjo is fighting corruption! And to clearly underline how determined he is to stamp out this despicable habit, even with not too clean hands, he went on air two weeks ago, summarily tried his Education Minister, Prof. Fabian Osuji, lavishly decorated him with mud, slime and foul scent, and with indecent fanfare, sacked him from his cabinet, and, perhaps, perpetually from decent and civilized society. Next, he roused Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd.) and his "Independent" Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) from their well-earned sweet slumber, handed Osuji's file over to them, so they could use his prosecution to re-enter the people's consciousness. And because Osuji has no "elders" and "powerful obas" to plead on his behalf, I can already imagine how the bold headlines that would attend his trial would be dully packaged and presented to the outside world as another unambiguous sign that the African President in Abuja "is committed to root out corruption" from Nigeria.
Indeed, the world is already being dully apprised of the "positive developments" in this regard. Only recently, Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her well advertised interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) listed the removal of two judges who had soiled their "learned" hands with corrupt and unethical practices as undeniable evidence that her boss was serious about his noisy battle against corruption. Now, I suppose the two judges she was referring to were My lords, Mr. Justice Wilson "Hurricane" Egbo-Egbo and his learned colleague in Enugu, Mr. Stanley Nnaji, who had both crashed out because they had put their careers and reputations on the line to advance the unwholesome agenda and crude, prehistoric politics of Aso Rock in Anambra State. So, after seducing these men to their doom, and assigning them cosy slots in the discomforting hall of infamy, the Presidency has now turned around to list their disgraceful departure from the bench as evidence of its serious battle against corruption! Nothing could be more villainous.
Prof Osuji's offence was that, under Wabara's most distinguished supervision, he had allegedly paid a 55 million naira bribe to the Education Committees of the two Houses of Assembly to "motivate" them to increase the budgetary allocation to the Education Ministry. And so in his nation-wide broadcast penultimate Tuesday, President Obasanjo also took Wabara to the cleaners and presented the National Assembly as the devil's most horrible oven where all forms of corruption and indecency are baked with glee, vulgar ostentation and demonic efficiency.
I am highly repulsed by this nauseating bribe-for-budget scandal, and my view is that the law should take its natural course. At least we do not have any Immunity Clause to worry about in this instance. And the mere fact that these fellows have been trying to solicit our understanding, makes me terribly sick. How can individuals whose satanic preoccupations have done so well to keep Nigeria several centuries behind civilisation and development have the guts to appeal to the conscience of the same Nigerians they have so heartlessly wronged? Somebody should just walk across to Osuji's place in Abuja and ask him to withdraw his ridiculous law suit immediately, and submit himself for trial. No matter what Obasanjo's motive is for descending on them with his undeniably dubious anti-corruption crusade, the simple fact, like I said on Dariye's case, is: are these fellows guilty as charged? They should immediately be taken to court like every other suspected common criminal to face the law and its full weight. And as for the National Assembly, their complaint that their image was irremediably rubbished by Obasanjo in his broadcast only serves to remind one of that unrepentant whore weeping profusely at the market-place and recounting how someone had made her lose her honour somewhere. Those who derive pleasure and fulfilment frolicking on putrid manure dumps should not complain when anyone reminds them of their repelling stench.
But what I find most sickening in this whole sordid enterprise is the self-righteous air with which President Obasanjo mounted the dubious moral high horse to denounce corruption and haul invectives at the National Assembly, when in actual fact, he should be feeling thoroughly chastened that the monster he invested so much to help nurture and institutionalise is about to consume all our organized systems.
My guess is that the sludge commenced its accelerated accumulation in Jos during that infamous PDP convention that demonstrated clearly how base and dirty some human beings could be. While Obasanjo was in late Gen Abacha's jail, a group of eminent Nigerians led by Dr. Alex Ekwueme had formed the PDP from the ashes of G-34, the group that strongly resisted Abacha's self-succession bid. But some sinister and anti-democratic forces, determined to hold Nigeria down perpetually, hurriedly fetched Obasanjo from jail and with all the money they had looted from the Nigerian treasury, imposed him on the PDP as its flag bearer. What this ceaseless of scandal represents is the just consequences of the unconscionable destruction inflicted on the moral fibre of Nigerian politicians by the huge sums of money lavishly shared in Jos in 1999 to buy the presidential candidacy for Obasanjo.
Once he became president, Obasanjo was minded to empty the entire treasury merely to decide who should head the two Houses of the Assembly. When eventually late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and Mr. Ghali Na'aba emerged as Senate President and House Speaker respectively, Obasanjo battled them with all the money he could find in Nigeria. The movement of Ghana-must-go bags became so rampant that one day, some House members displayed before the world the heaps of cash hauled to them from the Presidency to remove Na'aba. Again, Arthur Nzeribe also came out to announce that he had equally received more than 300million naira to bribe his fellow senators to drop an impeachment move against Obasanjo. And more horrible cases abound.
Now if House members insist on receiving bribes before performing their legitimate duties, who corrupted the system and set this ungodly standard for them? If strange uncultivated characters now populate the House, who distorted the electoral system to make way for all sorts of villains to become Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members? Who deployed money and authority to manipulate INEC and the judiciary to make Wabara Senate President even before he became a senator? Do you plant an evil tree and expect it to bear fine apples?
Now, Osuji is being hounded today because he had paid a bribe (not received) to get a bigger vote for his ministry's operation (bad enough), but what about the people who had downloaded millions and billions of public funds into their pockets? Some of them were graciously retired and left to go in peace with their massive loot. Okay, Afolabi is dead, but are the others involved the multi-million naira ID card scam not free people today? What of Julius Makanjuola of the 400 million naira fraud? When will the Attorney General, in the spirit of anti-corruption crusade, reverse the nolle prosecui scandalously entered in his case? Please, let no one nauseate me any further with this sickening din about anti-corruption. If you ask me, people are just being crucified, for being accurate imitators of their teacher.
Okay, now that the Ikoyi house-grabbing scandal has exploded very close to the president's bedroom, with his wife and in-laws being "settled" with eight choice houses, we are waiting to see what would happen! Good enough, the minister that supervised that odious act has been sacked, but it takes two to tango.
By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye