Global Reporters Vienna
Serial corruption is killing Nigeria by installments. This is a fact and it cuts across board and in all facets of our national life. Call it federal, state or local government level, the story is the same. Nearly all operatives of the public service in any part of the country stink of corruption. It is for this reason that it is difficult to eliminate graft in our national life. The question therefore is who will fight corruption in the land where everybody who should stand up and be counted among the righteous is also compromised?
Where do we start from? The executive arm of government, the legislature or even the judiciary are all soaked in the game. So who will check who? The truth is that in the public sector, there are only a microscopic few who can pass the true test of honesty and integrity in terms of handling the public trust. This is the major reason why corruption and bad governance may live with us for a long time to come unless something tragic happens in this country that will reverse this shameful and ignoble trend.
By the ordinary operation of the principles of federalism, the legislative arm of government practically acts like the security dog and gate keeper of democracy and rule of law. With its power of impeachment and genuine oversight functions, it can whip the other arms of government into line. This is also the rule in Nigeria but the legislature we have today is populated mainly by men and women whose primary concern is not the welfare of the people they represent but the fatness of their stomach. A legislature where everything goes. A legislature that hates the nation and her growth. This is unfortunately where we are as a country.
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo publicly described the legislators at both the national and state levels as thieves and armed robbers, many parliamentarians whose skeletons have not been exposed were bold to question his moral high ground in making such sweeping condemnation. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, Obasanjo is right. In comparison, it is easy to see Obasanjo's era as a saintly time even with all the criticisms that trailed his fight against corruption. He used the EFCC under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to settle political scores especially after his third term bid collapsed in the National Assembly.
We have been following the Farouk Lawan/Femi Otedola sting saga. Taking into account what both of them have said so far at various times since the cat was let out of the bag, we have no difficulty in pronouncing Lawan guilty of demanding and receiving gratification. There is no new evidence that will be more potent, more incriminating than what the public already know. His double speak, his denials, his subsequent admission of receiving money irrespective of the motive, his withdrawal of the name of Zenon Oil belonging to Otedola on the floor of the House after receiving the $620,000 initial deposits clearly establish an unbroken chain of criminal trend consistent with intent to commit a crime and actual commission of the crime.
To many Nigerians, what is news today is not the fact of stealing or receiving bribe by a public officer. We are used to that but there are two interesting things about this particular case. First is that Otedola who, many Nigerians believe, is one of the economic saboteurs especially in the oil and gas sector is now a chief whistle blower. We have no kudos for him because he merely acted to protect his financial interest and nothing more. Can Otedola on a good day blow the whistle to expose a Lawan if the money was being paid by another company where he has no interest? Many Nigerians believe that Otedola is not known to be one of those who will stand up to sting anybody if his direct pecuniary interest is not affected.
The second dimension is the person of Farouk Lawan. We see another fall from grace. We see another face of a fraudster. We see another thief who makes laws for Nigeria. As a person, I admired him a lot. He is quiet, influential, knowledgeable and possesses some commendable degree of leadership qualities. His contributions to debates on the floor of the House of Representatives make anybody easily notice his miniature frame and tiny voice. As a politician, I had thought that when the time comes in Nigeria for integrity and merit to count in the choice of who rules the people, the likes of Lawan from the Northern part of the country will take the front seat. Appearances indeed stand for no man. Only the Almighty God and Lawan himself knew the stinking stuff he is made of. Many Nigerians feel saddened and disappointed by the betrayal that has consumed the small Lawan. In public life, the spirit of integrity has left him, leaving only his carcass.
However, many Nigerians I have discussed this mode matter with are of the view that Lawan's case is not extra ordinary as worse cases in the past have made heroes of the victims. All he needs to do now, in their opinion, is to move on as if nothing has happened and try to remain relevant as political events may occur in the future that will throw him up as an ally. In other words, he will simply go the way of the others before him. He will be charged to court by the EFCC or police and thereafter the case file will either be gathering dusts in the court registry or a soft landing is arranged for him. After all, what has happened to Demeji Bankole and his deputy Nafada? Are Ndudi Elumelu and Senator Ugbane not walking the streets free and making laws in the National Assembly? The truth is that Lawan's case is a child's play compared to his predecessors in corruption but Nigerians are watching to see how the ruling PDP and the presidency will twist this case. That is all on this case for now.###