n the week when a former British cabinet Minister and his wife were sent to jail for making his wife take his speeding points, the Nigeria president was granting amnesty to some convicted criminals whose punishment for their crimes did not reflect the seriousness of their crimes and the damage it did to the country. These were men who looted the country in the most audacious manner and got a slap on their wrists and Jonathan has further added salt to injury by pardoning them. As they say, this can only happen in Nigeria. This is yet another evidence that something very sinister, immoral and criminal, is wrong with those who are exercising power in Nigeria. If not, how can one explain this depraved, ill-advised and self-serving attempt to appear magnanimous by condoning evil and criminality, by undermining the rule of law? If this is the right way to treat those who betray the trust of the people, and commit crimes against the state; then Jonathan is saying one thing loud and clear, that crimes pays in Nigeria. It would then seem rational for politicians to be corrupt while in office as there are really no consequences for crimes and corruption in Nigeria, especially if you belong to the ruling party. This is a shame, a real let down by the man who once had no shoes.
For those who believe that Nigeria has a future under the present leadership, it is another example of the extent of the depravity at the heart of the Nigerian government and a demonstration of the contempt which the politicians hold Nigerians. This singular action says loud and clear that the Nigerian government is not a democracy in any real sense but an oligarchy of the type Plato described in the Republic. “A rule of the wealthy few who value money over goodness and do not necessarily have the expertise, rulership requires……It is a society of drones. There is a strong criminal element, which is barely suppressed”. Plato argues that such society values money over goodness, becomes acquisitive and acclaims and admires anyone rich and makes it easy for him to gain power, but they despise anyone poor. There is no doubt that the current Nigerian government is not fit for purpose as they have shown themselves to be corrupt, care more for the interest of the corrupt rich, morally weak and full of deceitful self-serving unscrupulous individuals, whose aim is to hide the truth continue to benefit from corruption.
The international community have very little respect for the Nigerian government and do not have any confidence in it. They deal with her because of oil and the arms it buys from her arms manufactures. Time and time again, Nigeria government sets up committees to investigate allegations or atrocities only to act to frustrate the uncovering of the truth as soon as there is any evidence that the truth would be unearth. The government constantly interferes in police investigations to scupper it. It instructs the police to arrest citizens and gives succour to those who have been exposed as criminals and involved in corruption. The national assembly has constituted itself as an independent group from the people whose loyalty is first to their members. Instead of thinking about ways to end corruption and ensuring that no one is allowed to benefit from crimes, the members spend their time crafting legislations that would give them immunity from prosecution for crimes they have committed and plan to commit. This is one of the worst ways to exercise power. They seem to have no understanding that their loyalty should be first and foremost to the people who elected them. They rally to protect their corrupt members from the arm of justice. They behave more like a gang of criminals than honourable men and women. They have taken the honour out of honourable. Nigeria is a country with its government full of the worst of its citizens. While politics in developed countries attracts the best of people with noblest motives, Nigerian politics is full of its worst citizens with the basest of motives and this is the true tragedy of Nigeria.
This is the reality of Nigeria and the cause of our problems. Our problem is not because Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws Tivs, Yorubas, Hausa. Flulanis’, etc., share the same country. It is because somehow the worst of Igbos, Flulanis, Yorubas, Tivs. Ijaws, Effiks, etc., are in power in Nigeria. Without correcting this anomaly and putting the political process in Nigeria on a sound and independent footing to enable it throw up the best of Nigerians as leaders, Nigeria or any country that will come out of it will remain corrupt, unviable and doomed, unless the country finds a lasting solution to a culture of criminality. One of our problems as a people and nation is the imposition of discretion on the rule of law and due process as demonstrated by the president granting amnesty to his benefactor. This is a very common trait across all strata of our society. This unhelpful habit is often seen by Nigerians as doing good and projected as evidence that we are doing what is right, when in essence they are undermining the very foundation on which strong and civil societies are built. It is clear evidence that Nigerian leaders have no respect for the rule of law and due process means. For example: Recently, the police reported that they have arrested a custom comptroller for gun running. When the head of custom was speaking to the press, he said that he allowed the police to arrest the suspect even though they did not have arrest warrant. He added that it was because he considered the offence very serious. When I read this, it brought back memories of similar action by politicians and leaders in Nigeria. The constant interference of leaders in judicial process, the constant intervention by people in authority in the face of law when people they know are involved.
All these frustrate due process and make it impossible for a culture of the rule of law and due process to take root. When some policemen illegally arrested some journalists, the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo intervened and released them, instead of allowing the journalists to take their case to court and get judgement. This imposition of discretion on the rule of law is possibly one of the reasons why in Nigeria, the politician can order the arrest of people. In real democracies, presidents do not have the power to order arrest of citizens. Only the police, on the basis and strength of their evidence or suspicion can either use existing law or approach the court for permission to arrest an individual either for the purpose of investigation or prosecution. This is how the law is applied. The problem of Nigeria is the same problem that has made Africa a dark continent. We cannot continue to blame everything on slavery and the British. Slavery is not the cause of corruption and the Iboris, Aleyemesaighas, and the many corrupt politicians shielded by Jonathan and granted amnesty are not British. Nigeria is simply what a people get when criminals are in power and we need to act to rid the country of criminal leadership not break up and create small criminal paradises for them.
How difficult could it be to establish the facts in a case of graft in which there are both voice and video recordings of the evidence? How difficulties will it be, to investigate people who came into office with nothing and suddenly become millionaires? Why do Nigerian leaders prefer to deceive themselves about the true consequences of their corruption and abuse of power? It is not difficult to convict corrupt politicians in Nigeria or demonstrate that crimes should not pay. The fact is that a corrupt government cannot lead a war against corruption because criminals do not arrest themselves. All that is required to put things right is a leadership that is prepared to purge the system of criminal elements whose behaviours earned Nigeria the despicable acronym of failed state and ensure the prosecution of people for their crimes irrespective of their position. Without the enforcement of the rule of law, in a way and manner that does not respect persons, Nigeria is ruined.
Since his presidency, any time events that requires leadership occurs, president Goodluck Jonathan has not disappointed in the banality if his decision and the immature attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians. The latest attempts by President Goodluck Jonathan to absolve those who have committed crimes against Nigeria and constitute a committee to verify and reconcile the findings of the technical committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Finance to review all fuel subsidy claims and payments made in 2011; is another example of this charade. Setting up Committees have become the way Nigerian government kick important issues it does not want to deal with because of the people involved, into the long grass. Does a government need a committee to do this? What is the function if ministry of finance and auditor general of the federation? Didn't the government know how much it paid out and who they were paid out to. How will granting pardon to criminals create jobs, reduce armed robbery and kidnapping and end Boko Haram insurgency? The president of Nigeria should provide answers to these questions if he wants to retain any iota of respect and leave any meaningful legacy. It is simply that either the federal government is completely ignorant of how to administer a country or the leaders really take Nigerians for fools. I am running out of words to express my perplexity and bewilderment at the actions, behaviour and logic of the federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigeria has become a soap opera and the world has stopped taking us seriously. It is a tragedy in deed.
Men like Jonathan often do good by condoning evil and see the pardoning of convicted criminals who have shown no remorse for their crimes as act of goodness. This is not because they are bad men, but because they are believers, men whose minds are infected by religious dogmas which enables them to view life through their religious convictions which they accept as truth. They are incapable of viewing the world through another lens. Theirs’ are minds that attempt to change the world through religious proselytization and see anything justified by their religion as righteousness.
They steal from the state but give to the church. They preach change through repentance while committing preposterous evils. They condone corruption but preach against other sins. They are incapable of clear thoughts and see virtue in pursuit of selfish interests. This is why the presidency sees the undermining of due process and the rule of law, which demonstrates to the world that that Nigeria hold committing crimes at very low ebb, as act of goodness. This is a sad commentary on Nigeria.
In a way, corrupt Nigerian politicians and the self-appointed religious leaders they kneel before, are birds of the same feather. They both rob and exploit the people, one by selling hope, the other by selling fear of hell. The politicians by promise of good life on earth and the religious leaders by promise of a good life in heaven. The politicians withhold what belongs to the people, while the religious leaders persuade the people to part with what they already have. It is amazing the way men can rob the people with different convictions and fail to see the similarity in the evil they inflict on the people. The way Nigerian government treats crimes is a serious problem which patriotic Nigerian can no longer ignore.
If the people President Goodluck Jonathan pardoned deserves to be pardoned, and his action an act of goodness in the real sense of goodness; then no Nigerian deserves to be in prison and the president should open the gates of Kirikiri and all the prisons in the country. It is always a sign of a decadent and depraved country, when common thieves and petit criminals spend years in prison and those whose crimes have greater impact on the economy and development of the county are fated and protected by the custodian of the constitutions and the liberty of the people. I suppose there is joy in heaven because Jonathan pardoned the real criminals who destroy Nigeria.