The Code of Conduct Bureau Law, Kogi State and Senator Akpabio, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
Despite all the drama and shenanigans, Nigerians are quietly wading in a stream of ethical rebirth. We are awake and ready to make choices that will define the destiny of Nigeria. Never again will goats eat our yams. Never again will anyone tell us stealing is not corruption and retain his position in government.
Just recently, Kogi State won the triple crown of developmental abortion, political stupidity, and futuristic myopia. Former governor Abubakar Audu contested and won the Kogi gubernatorial primaries under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC). If the political calculations remain the same, Prince Abubakar Audu will be the next governor of Kogi. If Audu becomes the next governor of Kogi State, it puts a question mark on President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war. His case and many others underscore the need for a special court for trying cases of corruption, impunity and abuse of power. The justice system for the corrupt is painfully slow and laden with prosecutorial land mines designed to let offenders off the hook. Abubakar Audu’s case has been in court since 2007. His case file is just sitting there, gathering dust and remains undecided. Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, many of such corruption cases are pending trial or adjudication. Another shameful example is that of Joshua Dariye who was held in London for money laundering twice. Twice, he escaped, came back to Nigeria, was removed as governor but later reinstated without any regard for his egregious violations of his oath of office.
With many of such cases as commonplace and the ongoing Saraki Saga at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), there must be a renewed push for the National Assembly to amend the CCB law. Public servants who have agreed to serve either by election or appointment should submit to public scrutiny. The law should be amended such that the declaration of assets by government officials shall become public. We cannot continue on the path of impunity where a few entitled individuals steal us blind, and in turn hold the country and its judicial system hostage. This needs to be done as quickly possible.
Despite all the drama and shenanigans, Nigerians are quietly wading in a stream of ethical rebirth. We are awake and ready to make choices that will define the destiny of Nigeria. Never again will goats eat our yams. Never again will anyone tell us stealing is not corruption and retain his position in government. As expertly illustrated by Pius Adesanmi – “The gradual degoatification of Nigeria is not all about the conquest and pacification of the goats among us. It is not all a story of yams. There is also the gradual beginnings of an ethical and moral degoatification. Governor Al Makura is finding out that being an irresponsible governor in your relationship with the ordinary citizens of this country has a price. We are still an overwhelmingly obsequious people in relation to the irresponsible people we have in power. But, gradually, ethical degoatification is producing a citizen who now understands that an irresponsible governor’s convoy has no right to bully him or her off the road. Ethical degoatification is producing a citizenship that understands the fact that somebody being a Governor or a Senator or a Minister does not make him or her a super citizen, superior to the rest of us. You are a Governor? And so freaking what?” We are all wiser now. We know our right, we demand respect and our right.
In another sphere, our federal institutions exist to serve us. Public institutions must begin to show appreciation for their responsibilities to Nigerian citizens. We deserve to know what is going on. We cannot continue to be forced to choose between peace and justice. So much rumor surrounds the Akwa Ibom government house raid. We deserve to know the true picture. We do not want half truths and coverups. The Department of State Services (DSS) should make public what happened when they raided Akwa Ibom Govt House. Why did they do it? What did they find? We want transparency from government, we can no longer tolerate the mix of stasis and confusion that characterise our government agencies, where we, the people are taken for granted. We need the DSS to clear the air, they should tell us what happened or the public will think the department is being used to hound enemies of Buhari.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about the raid that only the DSS can answer. It is public knowledge that Godswill Akpabio left Nigeria after the accident he had in Abuja on his way to the airport, on medical grounds even after he was declared fit by medical doctors who attended to him at the National Hospital Abuja. Is there any ongoing investigation into the Akpabio crash at that fateful intersection? Did he stage the accident as a pretext for fleeing the country? Why for instance did the accident affect only his car? How come only him was alleged to have been affected and nothing was wrong with the drivers of the cars involved in the crash? How come his successor – Governor Emmanuel Udom was in the National Hospital just moments after he was admitted? Why did he decide to travel out after he was discharged and certified fit by doctors who attended to him at the National Hospital? Why was he planning to leave the country just two days before he was billed to start his defence at the election tribunal?
Was the presidential wing of the government lodge in Uyo where the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio is currently occupying months after he left office as Governor of the state raided over allegation of stockpiling arms, ammunitions and cash? Is it true the DSS found two rooms staked to the roof with American dollars? Was there a secret armoury with sophisticated guns, ammunitions, bullet proof vests, explosives and a secret tower where highly sensitive and classified documents were hidden?
The DSS cannot continue to shroud this in secrecy. It is quite aggravating for them to clam up under the rhetoric of sensitivity on an issue of national importance like this. Indeed, Akpabio’s long stay abroad on account of a minor accident is suspicious as a minority leader of a major party. If these “rumors” of executive rascality are true, a collaborative manhunt with foreign security bodies for the fugitive former Governor should be launched, if he fails to return to the country soon. The notice has been served via Buhari’s victory. Our old perilous ways cannot be tread anymore. We can no longer tolerate those who serve at the altar and eat the altar along with the offerings.
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board. Twitter: @olufunmilayo