The Sacred Cows And The Culture of Impunity


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The Sacred Cows And The Culture of Impunity




Ja'afar S. Ja'afar




July 8, 2005



A cloud of duplicity, preferential treatment, injustice, contempt to law, intractable inflation, obnoxious laws, poor infrastructure and political intrigues that bedevil Nigeria and becloud Nigerians to see, accept or bear punitive measures, reform programmes, promises or orders given by the government clearly or with seriousness. Failed promises still haunt our minds.


In the recent fast, the government of Olusegun Obasanjo has reactivated its so-called fight against corruption that has since been preached in the president’s maiden speech after taking the oath of office on May 29, 1999. He repeated the mantra (corruption) several times and vowed to fight it head on. The same day Nigerians knew of an acronym: GMG as Ghana-Must-Go that brought Chief Evan(s) Enwerem, who emerged Senate president inspite of the support of majority members of the PDP for late Okadigbo. We neither viewed nor defined the act as corruption for obvious reasons.


No sooner had we become disenchanted with the duplicitous crusade than when the saga of corruption cases set forth. The paradigm of preferential treatment model shown by the President was the case of his kinsman, Dr Julius Makonjuala, former Perm. Sec., Ministry of Defence and four other directors of the Ministry accused for pillaging the ministry of N420m. The duo of Akanbi/Elayo, in a blatant abuse of legal process and powers given to them by section 17(1) of the 1999 Constitution filed a nolle prosequi application to stop the case. It is paradoxical, though nolle does mean acquittal, ditto bail. Makanjuola was never rearrested by ICPC but allowed to sneak out of the country. Poor Bulama (former MD, BON) spent more than a year and half under custody and rearrested several times after being granted bail.


The recent insightful drama of Pentascope deal also provides a goldmine of information on President’s attitude to sacred cows. I need to digress to bring forth some information on the deal from media reports to bolster my view. The House of Reps. committee report on the probe of Pentascope deal indicted Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, a minister in the cabinet, who was DG of BPE when NITEL was handed over to Pentascope, a company that has no office but abandoned church building in Amsterdam, registered in Nigeria on a public holiday and a staff of 8 (including janitors). Pentascope, according to Mr Davis Daramola, former Executive Director, Mobile Communications, who was sacked for refusing to sign the deal, spent N75bn on recurrent and another N73.5bn on infrastructure without changing anything. These, he advised, need a thorough investigation. El-Rufai has no regret, (as well no aichmophobia for OBJ’s anti-corruption dagger he uses when he wants to relish his whimsical instincts) therefore could not see any anomaly in the deal that costs the tax payers about N105bn.


Giving El-Rufai’s pedigree, a demolisher, Obasanjo wondered, a minister in the cabinet in charge of demolition (including sanctuaries; thus, no doubt amounts to sacrilege) could best suit him. The ongoing demolition exercise proves once again the presence of sacred cows in the land; his refusal to listen to appeals from many quarters (including National Assembly), disrespect to Constitution; El-Rufai violated the provisions of Section 53 of the Urban and Regional Planning Act which provides that there must be an order from a tribunal or a court of competent jurisdiction before any demolition of structures could be carried out. In the same vein, the Executive Secretary of the FCDA, Alh. Mohammed Alhassan has decried the act as a clear violation of the Provisions that structures must be valued before demolitions are effected; as no valuations were done before the structures were pulled down with impunity. To remind him, lest he forget when he delivered a keynote address in April this year on the transparency and accountability, El-Rufai criticised among other thing, culture of impunity as the greatest evil that must be fought.


If Obasanjo and his anti-graft hench-men are serious on total fight against corruption and are ready to fight it head on, then the epic corruption cases should not be swept under carpet. We concede that Afolabi is dead, but Akwanga, Shata, Mrs Turie Akerele, Okwesileze Nwodo and Niyi Adelagun are still alive: what happen to them? If Ribadu is “omnivorous” as acclaimed, why didn’t he prey on Makanjuola, et al? Let them also explain to common folk how or why sycophantic Fani-Kayode, was not brought to book for soliciting and acceptance of N15m from Ferdinand Agu-led NMA (it would have been more pertinent to ask Kpakol). The president, ipso facto, needs to revamp Femi’s office (if any) ergonomically to check white-collar vagrancy.


Why didn’t the President and his co-crusaders raise hell over Soludo’s (versed in unfathomable consolidation but ignorant of conventional wisdom – categorisation) donation to the Senate committee on banking, notwithstanding factual newspaper reports? To the best of his Breton Woods’ esoteric knowledge, this is not corruption, but donation!


Other questions are where are those indicted by Christopher Kolade Report? What happen to four-company consortium of Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown and Root and the rest for alleged corrupt practices to obtain a favourable tax treatment and win a lucrative contract to build a large liquefied natural gas in Bonny? These are the real economic saboteurs not Vaswanis who paid more than N10bn for duties, tax and other respective charges a year. With the benefit of hindsight, if Vaswanis were not deported and competition prevails, how could bag rice (deported when it was N3, 000.00!) cost more than N6, 000.00?


The ongoing National Political Reform Conference’s committee on Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Federalism has recommended that the recent cases in which certain Federal Executive organs like the Central bank, EFCC, Committees of the National Assembly and Political aides or Special Assistants are reported to give or receive financial assistance from one another give cause for alarm. Such cases are novel; they tend to breach traditional Financial Instructions – the Civil Service Guide – and give room for corruption. The practice must stop forthwith. So these are some of the issues that are imperative to national development – not Obasanjo’s agitation for six year tenure or reopening of already discussed confab issues, thus staying beyond dashing 2007 which is sacrosanct. This is when our dashed hopes come to life and shall not be tampered or deliberated on henceforth! Because it’s the time of instituting the building block true democracy.


For the betterment of the country, emergent democracy and hapless Nigerians, our dogmatic President should atleast (before he leaves for Ota, where he leads at his will and dearly missed) leave a memento (corrupt-free Nigeria) to reciprocate our kind gesture of donating N4bn to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Study [Oops!] and over N28bn “ex officio earnings” from his (hitherto bankrupt) farm at the expiration of his tenure, May 29, 2007.


                                           Jafar S. Jafar

                                           319 Warshu Hosp. Rd, Kawaji Kano




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