Sanitisers or Selective Inquisitor?
culled from GUARDIAN, October 23,
To conceptualise idea (or vision) is
among the innate attributes of our essence as rational humans. Idea, is a
transcendent entity of our humanity; the template or mold on which the ideal is
fashioned. Ideal, being the perfect archetypal idea. In politics as in our
personal lives ideals are unquestionably important. We aspire to achieve. They
are refreshing. They invigorate.
However, an ideal is subject to
corruption. In other words, ideal that situate only in the mental as mere wave
and not faithfully and seriously actualised or practicalised it necessarily
becomes a parody. Furthermore, when such parody takes on the cloak of a monster,
a selectively haunting monster, our very lives are in jeopardy. Few will
disagree that this is what the earlier refreshing construct of the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has now turned out to be. Not tending to be.
A great vision, EFCC. Dimmed by a not
so genuinely committed or pure spirit. From public acclamation to public
skepticism; to public cynicism; to public censure. All within the span of some
two years! - a very worrisome retrogression indeed. A situation where all
President Obasanjo's non-enthusiasts, opponents are targets of EFCC's ostensible
sanitising crusade; condemned to public odium as villains without due process;
or with some modicum or cosmetic due process put on speed of light fast track,
insults our collective intelligence. Bruises the conscience of those of us with
unrepressed, and unrepressible conscience - the nature-internalised adjudicator
of our actions.
A situation, contrariwise, where all
President Obasanjo's enthusiasts, supporters, lackeys, praise-singers,
sycophants are necessarily 'immunised'against the all-ranging EFCC 'virus';
saints all, not only insults our collective intelligence but wreaks havoc,
monstrous havoc, on our un-corruptive conscience. Condemns us as a most
iniquitous people. It should be embarrassing to President Obasanjo. Because the
"third term divide" has increased the number of people under EFCC beam light.
Not without 'custom-made' (teleguided?) negative verdict. Working from 'answer'
to 'question? Shame.
This situation where all Obasanjo's
supporters are 'saints' and all his non-supporters are 'villains' necessarily
swims against the tide of normalcy or even commonsense. But in Nigeria the
abnormal often pass on, nay celebrated as normal. As when candidates
(politicians) poll more votes than registered voters at elections. President
Obasanjo himself, indeed, when he was in a sort of "state of nature", pure and
unsoiled, believed that Nigeria is "The country of anything goes" (The Guardian,
May 1, 1998, page 53).
This "The tragedy called Nigeria"
(David West, ThisDay August 2, 1998). Not the Nigerian Tragedy. The one is
epitomic while the latter is episodic. In other words, Nigeria is synonymous
with tragedy. When I was confined under the very harsh condition of Bama Prison
(1990) 'courtesy" Babangida and Aminu a paper was smuggled in to me. I was
denied reading the newspaper or magazines. even my letters were screened and
mutilated. There was this statement by Governor Sam Mbakwe. He was sarcastic
about a minister of petroleum (myself) being sentenced to 10 years in prison for
drinking tea and accepting a wristwatch gift from an American company (BOGUS).
Governor Mbakwe, apropos the EFCC
saga, said that the day Babangida will send one of his military friends, who he
saw as looters, to jail he will take him (Babangida) to his "Eze" (High Chief)
to confer a cheiftaincy title on him (Babangida). In other words, the day EFCC
can muster courage to pillory Obasanjo's political 'sons' I will stage a one-man
march to Abuja to congratulate the EFCC boss, Ribadu. And I am sure that like
the Piped piper of Hamelin, others will join me along the way.
The public cannot be all that wrong
when they point telling fingers to some of Obasanjo's 'sons' - great 'sons' in
whom he seems to be well pleased. But time will tell if he has bought pigs in a
poke. "Vox populi vox Dei" - "The voice of the people is the voice of God".
Whether the EFCC agrees with this popular verdict or not does not detract a dot
from its high probability rating. Time, will be the final arbiter! In fact, EFCC
may be covering up to please its 'super-boss', Obasanjo.
We, Kalabaris, say that when a child
persistently points to a direction while weeping either the mother or the father
is most likely to be there. The litmus test is for all public officers, the
President, the Vice-President, Ministers, Governors, Deputy-Governors,
Commissioners to publicly declare their assets. Until they have the courage to
do this what we have is all razzmatazz, histrionics, show-business for the
gallery not worth much. I wish to invite all of them to :"New Malian leader
declares assets" (The Sunday Mail, June 14, 1992 page 6).
Twenty four hours after his
inauguration, the Malian President, Professor Alfa Qumar Konare, publicly
declared his assets at the State capital, Bamako. Assets? A house, three
undeveloped plots of land, a 13-year old Renault car. His wife also declared her
assets publicly: 800 grammes of old jewellery; a 1991 model Peugeot saloon car.
Let me repeat: A public officer who is afraid to declare his assets publicly is
a public thief.
Charity should begin at home;
similarly, ethical crusade must begin with self. "The Assets Of Public Officers"
this was the title of the Editorial of The Guardian of April 12, 1994. The paper
fully supported public declaration of assets by public office. It will usher in
a "uniformly sane polity". The EFCC boss, Ribadu, should please read my essay,
"Combating Corruption With Courage and Equity" (ThisDay, February 14, 1999 page
24). Selective 'justice'; graduated 'justice' is no justice at all. It is brazen
corruption which defiles themis.
To revel in 'success' after
'success'; 'victory' after 'victory' 'triumph' after 'triumph' is to be
spiritually blind to the truism that success, sometimes can be burdensome.
Victory, sometimes can end up as Phyrric victory. Triumph, the procession,
sometimes, hollow put-up by sycophants. plentitude of 'success' or victory can
like plentitude of good 'constipate'. But while constipation by food can be
corrected with the appropriate medication; 'constipation' by 'success'/victory'
has no cure. And its chronicity invariably degenerates into power absolutisms, a
-penultimate stage to self-destruction.
A statesman has his eyes on the
tomorrow. He is never intoxicated by power or position. A politician (especially
the dirty type; and in Nigeria we have lots of them) lives only for today. He is
prone to intoxication by power or position however, transient they are.
Statesmen are always honourable men. Politicians are not always so. Some are
honourable. Some, the majority especially in Nigeria, are self-serving horrible
men. May the Almighty bless us with plenitude of statesman especially in these
portentous times fraught with plenitude of potential destabilisers, nay demise
starring us in the face (Amen).
Professor David-West lives in