By Monday next week – to be precise – the 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 announcing 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 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’s 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 People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with its politics of cattle trading, where national interest is utterly subordinated. This still cannot deter 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 sullies 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 has been 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 a transformer. The responses of those against the president now come with pictures of young boys and girls hugging transformers with the saying, “I been hugging this transformer in the last twenty hours and nothing has happened to me because there is no electricity in it”. 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 day 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 his simple appearance, which however was 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’s graft was submitted to the United States Congress by the Secretary of State, John Kerry, which stated categorically that Mr. Jonathan’s administration levitates corruption beyond what is humanly acceptable. 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 favourable 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 programme. 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 criminal charges proffered 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); the 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; the arrest of former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the former Oyo State Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma, and the 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 stated further: “Soon after the court announced Ibori’s conviction, the EFCC issued a statement that 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 observed that: “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 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 Ikhide, a public affairs analyst writes in from Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached on Twitter: @Erasmus_Ikhide and www.fresspress.com.ng