No enemy is worse than bad advice (Sophocles)
O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive (Sir Walter Scott)
Continued from Part 1
his column has maintained it that President Goodluck Jonathan will do anything, and, will go any length to retain his position in 2015. For him, it seems that life starts and ends there, so nothing else matters. This president just deceived few members of the council of state into granting presidential pardon to about eight Nigerians few days ago.
The African Examiner of Wednesday, March 13, 2013 wrote that “The former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Deprieiye Alamieyeseigha, and the former Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya are among those pardoned on Tuesday by the council of state at the State House, Abuja. President Goodluck Jonathan had recommended to the council that Alamieyeseigha and those convicted in Abacha’s 1995 phantom coup be pardoned. Others who received pardon were former Chief of General Staff, Supreme Military Council, Late Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Major Bello Magaji; Mohammed Lima Biu; Shettima Bulama; Late Major-Gen Abdulkareem Adisa and Major Segun Fadipe. With the pardon, it means they would no longer be referred to as ex-convicts. Four former heads of state --- Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Muhammadu Buhari and Abdulsalami Abubakar, were absent at the meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan. While Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Ernest Shonekan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark, and Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, were in attendance”.
A day to the council of state’s meeting, where the eight persons were granted presidential pardon, Bamidele Aturu warned against the move by saying that the Presidential Pardon for criminals would be tantamount to official jail break. On March 12, 2013, the Daily Post quoted Mr. Aturu as saying:
“I have just learnt from very credible and knowledgeable sources that the Council of State has been requested by the President to grant pardon to some convicts including Mr Diepreye Alamieseigha, the former Governor of Bayelsa State, who was convicted for acts of corruption perpetrated while in office. One cannot put such unthinkable gambit beyond this government or our elite, knowing their lack of interest in waging any war against corruption, serious or otherwise. So it is better to act before the rumour becomes reality and we start licking our wounds as a people.
If the plan is indeed afoot, one can only advise the Council of State not to dare. If it dares, Nigerians will have no choice but declare their own war against the government and the state in general. Presidential pardon to those who were convicted, not of political offences, but, for dipping their dirty fingers in the common till, and pauperizing hardworking Nigerians in the process, is nothing but jail break by the state. It will signal the end of the existing phony war against corruption. Unless the government wants to be remembered as the one that officially institutionalize corruption, then the most honourable thing for it to do is to withdraw the provocative and shameless proposal before the Council of State.
I can assure the President that if he succeeds in getting the Council of State to go along with him he will have us, Nigerians, whose resources the convicts looted and personalized, to contend with. The government and its members will certainly live to regret the irresponsible decision. That is a promise. Civil society groups will do all in its power to show the whole world that those who claim to govern us are nothing but common crooks who deserve to be in jail. In my view it is better to fling open the gates of all our prisons and ask all the inmates to walk out into the warm embrace of their relatives than pardon those who force otherwise decent Nigerians to take to crime as a way of life.
A word is enough for the wise”.
The Reuters wrote that “Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has pardoned a former state governor convicted in 2007 of stealing public funds and money laundering, the presidency said on Wednesday, a move which in principle allows him to re-enter politics.
Anti-corruption campaigners say sentences handed down to powerful politicians who steal tens of millions of dollars are too soft, and often compare favourably with those handed to petty thieves and robbers.
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, ex-governor of Nigeria's oil producing Bayelsa state, was sentenced to two years jail in 2007 on charges of corruption and money laundering, but freed days later because he had already been in detention for that long. He was originally arrested in London in 2005, but he skipped bail and escaped back to Nigeria dressed as a woman. He was later impeached on the charges at home and authorities made efforts to seize much of his property in Britain”.
The problem for this writer here is that two of the eight persons, Deprieiye Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama, deserved no pardon due to the fact that they embezzled, looted, stole (call it anything) the money entrusted to their care. A thief deserves no pardon as what the president did has set a dangerous precedent, in that other criminals will feel that they can still steal the people’s money, and, even if convicted, may be pardoned by a desperate president or the one from their own ethnic zone. May be, one day, Nigerians would wake up to hear that James Ibori, another former governor of an oil producing state, who was convicted in London of embezzling 50 million pounds last year and got a 13-year prison term, has been pardoned. Nobody should also be surprised if one day Ms. Ibru, the former Oceanic Bank MD, who embezzled about N190 billion, is pardoned. President Jonathan made it look as if he was magnanimous and caring this time around; he chose to pardon persons from the northern and western parts of Nigeria so as not to be accused of being biased, but, the target was his political mentor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who stole his Bayelsa State blind when he was the governor. This was a man who was a retired Airforce Commodore and was once caught cheating during an Airforce promotional exam. The president is after the Ijaw nation and the Yoruba votes in 2015. This decision was born out of political exigency, and, that’s not good for Nigeria.
Presidential pardons do happen from time to time everywhere and this writer has no qualms with the pardoning of General Oladipo Diya; Late Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Major Bello Magaji; Mohammed Lima Biu; Late Major-Gen Abdulkareem Adisa and Major Segun Fadipe. But nothing in this world can justify the pardon granted to Deprieye Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama. Many Nigerians, according to the African Examiner of Thursday, March 14, 2013, have continued to pick holes in the state pardon granted to the ex-convicts particularly the former Bayelsa governor, Deprieye Alamieyeseigha, and, the former Managing Director of Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama. Deprieye Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama were convicted of corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Many Nigerians such as Chief Olu Falae criticized the pardon granted to Alamieyeseigha and
Bulama while backing the pardon granted to Late Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Gen. Oladipo Diya, Late Major-Gen Adisa, Major Segun Fadipe and others jailed by Sani Abacha. In his words: “In a democratic civilian regime, those who were tried and jailed for stealing public funds should not have been pardoned. Pardon for what? If they are not guilty, they should appeal and the court would set them free. The signal being sent to the public is that stealing is okay, for as long as you have political connection, you will be granted pardon.” Also, Alhaji Balarabe Musa also criticised the pardon saying the “government is not sincere in the fight against corruption.”
Dr Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the president on Public Affairs and the mouth piece of the presidency, said that the president owes no one apology for the pardon and that “the eight Nigerians who were granted pardon were approved after thorough deliberations by the states men and that there were many other names that were not approved by the Council of states during its meeting”.
Whoever that sold this idea to the president has greatly diminished him politically. Jonathan’s presidency has been characterised by a crime wave of epic proportions. This president is not ready to fight corruption despite all he has been saying. Levi Obijiofor, a Guardian Newspaper columnist, once wrote “Jonathan said: ‘We will fight for justice, we will fight for all Nigerians to have access to power, we will fight for qualitative and competitive education, we will fight for healthcare reforms… We will fight to create jobs, for all Nigerians, we will fight corruption, we will fight to protect all citizens. We will fight for your rights.’ These are imaginary words that resonate with the feelings of the common people. However, these sweet promises remain unrealistic because the crusader lacks credibility because of his history of unfulfilled assurances”.
In the developed world, President Jonathan should have resigned or be impeached by now for inconsistencies. Just a few examples would do: He allowed his presidential aide on research, Oronto Douglas, to use a military helicopter to convey his guests to the burial ceremonial of his father and along the line, one thing leading to another, Governor Yakowa, General Azazi and four others lost their lives. That was a grievous offence that can be equated to felony if Nigeria was a first world country. Military aircrafts or helicopters or vehicles shouldn’t be used for civilian purposes no matter who’s involved (only the commander-in-chief or the minister of defence can ride in them). Those who sold the idea, of allowing an aide to have access to military helicopter, to the president should have been in jail by now.
Also recently, we read that the President has made a u-turn by reversing the change of name of the University of Lagos which he renamed Moshood Abiola University in a broadcast to mark the 2012 Democracy Day. We read that the Chairman, Governing Council of University of Lagos, Professor Jerry Gana, disclosed this in Abuja during his inauguration alongside three others by the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai. The name change had been the subject of litigation and protests from students and alumni of the institution while a court recently ruled that the change was illegal. Gana who hailed President Jonathan for retaining the name of the institution said the president had upheld the Constitution by reversing the change of name of the university. (Vanguard of Friday, February 22, 2013)
This writer knew it would happen. In its article captioned “GOWON, ET AL AND THEIR PSYCHOLOGICAL BURDEN” of Monday, June 4, 2012, this column wrote:
“President Jonathan had in his nationwide broadcast, few days ago, renamed University of Lagos, to Moshood Abiola University. In the President words: “after very careful consideration, and in honour of Chief M.K.O Abiola’s accomplishments and heroism, on this Democracy Day, the University of Lagos, is renamed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos”.
President Jonathan didn’t even consult the University Council before making the decision. Even the vice chancellor of the institution, who should have been the first to know about the change in advance, said he read about the change of the name on the pages of newspapers, just like every one else. The national assembly wasn’t informed about the name change. The act establishing the university wasn’t amended.
The President’s decision to unilaterally rename an institution of UNILAG’s calibre was a catastrophic mistake. This column wonders what the President was thinking of before making the decision. Probably, it was intended to deflate Nigerians’ attention away from the myriads of problems besetting the country, and, of which the government has no solutions to. May be, the President was thinking that the south-westerners would have rolled out their drums; pour into the streets en masse, in jubilation and will be doing their Owambe thing all night long, and, then, that would translate into votes for PDP, in the zone, in upcoming elections. Unfortunately, things are not always as they seem!
Anybody who sold the idea to the President has no love for him. The Presidential Advisers are supposed to be sacked for incompetence. Each time, they allow the President to commit one catastrophic blunder or another. That’s not a way to mislead a boss. The salary and allowances they are drawing are colossal waste of the nation’s resources.
The decision of President Jonathan to unilaterally rename UNILAG might not stand as people have gone to court to stop the federal government from effecting the change. Hopefully, the President learns from this, because, many of us who supported him right from the start are feeling disappointed by his actions and inactions. How can a person who holds a PhD, and, who was a university lecture, handle a university that way? Assuming that Goodluck Jonathan was a lecturer at UNILAG and somebody else as president, changed the name of UNILAG by fiat, he (Goodluck Jonathan) would have been the first to protest. We are getting disappointed, with this government, every passing day. Hopefully, the president gets his act together immediately. This President is proving Alvin Toffler (1928) right: "The illiterates of the 21st Century are not only those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn"”.
Re-naming and reversing the re-naming of University of Lagos by this President, although the right thing to do in this situation, is shameful and whosoever that advised him to change the name of the university previously, is supposed to be fired. The retinue of advisers misleading this president have cast him in a very bad light and he’s now seen as a wobbling president who dances to any tune that plays to his hearing. It surpasses all understanding how a president with a PhD can’t think through any issue before making a public announcement about it. This case of issuing a statement and later rescinding it is now the hallmark of this president and it portrays him as a person who missed his road and found himself in a position he’s not qualified to be.
What the presidency and his retinue of advisers and aides always do is the fire brigade approach whenever their principal commits a blunder after another, then they will belatedly look for ways to minimise the damage already done, but, a Proverb says that “Good advice after injury is like medicine after death”.
Just like how it started when President Jonathan didn’t even consult the University Council or the vice chancellor of the institution before changing the name of the institution, he failed to communicate his decision to reverse the change of name of the University of Lagos to the education ministry as the ministry was saying another thing different from what the newly appointed Chairman, Governing Council of the University, Professor Jerry Gana, disclosed few days earlier. What a blunder? The Tribune of Monday, February 25, 2013 wrote that “The Federal Ministry of Education has denounced media reports that President Goodluck Jonathan had made a U-turn on the renaming the University of Lagos. The Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Olu Lipede, told the Nigerian Tribune that the ministry was yet to receive any categorical statement from the Federal Government on such a decision. He noted that the position of the government about the name change remained, adding, however, that there were pending issues at the court over the change of name. He added also that there was a law establishing the university, adding that a bill was currently before the National Assembly on the name change. That the reports that the government has made a U-turn on the renaming of UNILAG are untrue and misleading.”
There’s a pattern here and it’s 2015 that is influencing all these decisions. Like this writer wrote above, the decision to re-name UNILAG was more politically based than rational. As 2015 draws closer, since the re-naming of UNILAG didn’t impress the south-westerners, the president has decided to cancel his first decision and allow UNILAG to maintain its name as a ploy to win votes from the zone in the next election. This president can go to any level to retain the position. Just read and imagine this. Kola Fabiyi posted “FG Moves To Nullify Bode George’s Conviction”:
“Indications emerged that the Federal Government through controversial Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke has begun moves to nullify the conviction of a ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Chieftain, Chief Olabode George.
Olabode George was convicted and sentenced in October 2009 to two and a half years in prison along with five other directors when he served as Chairman of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA on the allegation of theft and diversion of public funds running into billions of naira. The move to quash the conviction is to enable Bode George who had already served the jail terms after failing to upturn their conviction at the Appeal Court, be in the best frame of mind to take on President Jonathan’s campaign battles in 2015 in the south west of Nigeria. To achieve this, Adoke had already directed the acting Director of Public Prosecution in his office, Mr T.O. Olatigbe to write a letter disowning fiery Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo who was hired by the EFCC then to prosecute the George’s case. Armed with the lawyer from Adoke, Bode George has therefore approached the apex court to quash his conviction on the ground that the appellate court erred in law when it failed to upturn the jail term passed on him by the trial court while contesting that the prosecution counsel, Keyamo did not get a fiat from the AGF Adoke to prosecute him. While it is acceptable that Bode George has the fundamental right to seek for the nullification of conviction, it is however surprising that the appeal Bode George filed at the Supreme court is not to contest whether or not he is guilty of the crime, but on the fact that Keyamo did not get a fiat from the office of the AGF’s”.
If the above excerpt is true, then Jonathan has crossed the Rubicon. This writer hopes that one of his advisers or aides will summon the courage to tell him that he will be committing political suicide by such action to make Bode George a saint.
Back to the issue of the resurrected first lady! During the Thanksgiving Service, Dame Patience Jonathan, according to the Tribune of Monday, February 18, 2013, said “The day I came back, I said God, I have nothing to say, I offer myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the underprivileged. God gave me a second chance because I reached there (sic). He knew I have not completed the assignments he gave me. That was why I was sent back.”
The first lady said that she told God, during her ordeal, that she has nothing to say, but, that’s not true. She has a lot to say or do. If she can tell or encourage her husband to work for the good of about “160 million Nigerians”, then, she has offered a lot. If she can abandon her insatiable appetite for wealth and allow our patrimony to be used for the good of all, then, she has offered something that will please God. If she can become a national mother to every Nigerian child, then, she has fulfilled her assignment on earth. But when her own children are growing too fat (overweight) from over feeding, while millions of other Nigerian children are growing thinner with only skeletal frame to show for it due to hunger, ignorance and disease afflicting most of them, then her assignment is never accomplished.
The question is why would God resurrect the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan of all people? The Bible says that God despises the death of a sinner. The Book of Ezekiel 18:23 says “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? said the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” May be, the first lady has been given the second chance to mend her ugly ways. One thing for sure is that she’s overtly greedy and has crass corrupt tendencies (she has delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence). What she should do now is to turn a new leaf in her life and work hard for the betterment of the condition of the poor and the downtrodden, whose conditions were created by the Nigerian ruling class of which her husband is the leader for now. From now onward, as a resurrected person, her job should be to advice her husband well so that his utmost primary priority should be the elimination of poverty, ignorance and disease in Nigeria. The first lady claims that God resurrected her for an assignment; this writer hopes she dares not fail this time around. But, all the same, this writer is afraid that “the leopard may never change its spots”, meaning that the first lady may not have learnt a lesson from her supposed ordeal, and, may not be able to deliver on the assignment she claims God sent her back to carry out. Because, few days after her Thanksgiving Service, and, in the wake of a coalition of political parties forming a new political party called All Progressive Congress, (APC), she was quoted as having said that even a coalition of one hundred political parties would not be able to defeat the PDP in an election. That doesn’t sound like words from a changed person as the woman is drunk with power.
During the Thanksgiving Service, the first lady said that people she trusted and relied on, thought she was dead and would never return to the country alive. That some of them even sold her things off. This is an interesting part. Just as this writer wrote when he did an article on Commissioner of Police Haz Iwendi (who was a fine and compassionate cop), and was repeated in the funeral oration this writer wrote when his uncle, Hon. Chief Francis Enyinna Nwokoma (who was a magnanimous man) was buried recently, there’s a lesson to learn from what the first lady said here. It means that we should work hard to fulfil God’s purpose for our lives on earth as our selfish accumulation of wealth might turn out to be a savings for others, who didn’t work for it, to enjoy when we pass on. Here’s the said excerpt this writer wrote for Haz Iwendi and Hon. Chief Francis Nwokoma:
“For the living, especially the debased or vitiate private/public sector officials who are debauched by the prospect of easy money; the corrupt politicians who have succumbed to temptation and begun questionable practices and are also lacking in native integrity; the venal government officials who acts on mercenary motives, without regard to honour, right, or justice and are willing to sell patronage and the evil; the profligate people who are ruthlessly seeking personal advantage; and, the religious leaders who are more pre-occupied with buying aircrafts, exotic cars, building palatial mansions, establishing businesses and moving around with delectable women instead of attending to the needs of the members of their respective congregations: I have few words of advice from Pastor Ross of USA to share with them: "In business we talk about the 'take away'. It's your net profit, your bottom line reward. Here's a truth you need to know before they tag your toe, arrange your funeral service and lay flowers on your grave: when you live for yourself and fail to fulfil God's purpose for your life, the 'take away' is not worth the investment. Solomon writes, "So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. For though I do my work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, I must leave everything I gain to people who haven't worked to earn it. This is not only foolish, but highly unfair" (Ecclesiastes 2:18-21 NIV). The day is coming when all the stuff you've striven, strained and stressed out to acquire will make no difference. Your résumé and job title will no longer impress anyone. No one will care what clothes you wore or what cars you drove, except your relatives who plan to wear them, drive them or sell them. If you're wise you'll plan to exit this life with a 'take away' that involves these three things: (a) Satisfaction; that comes from having fulfilled your God-given assignment here on earth. (b) Success; that's measured in terms of eternal rewards, not temporal ones. (c) Security; that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. These are the only 'take away' worth living for!”
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
Continued from Part 1