Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nigerian States' Government Houses - Cesspools of Corruption

It must be a tough job for the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In the past couple of years under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu, the commission has built a reputation of efficacy and irreproachability. They have gone after big wig fraudsters including the notorious $245 million Brazilian bank scam, governors indicted in acts of embezzlement, an Inspector General of Police and now the Vice President. The stature of the perpetrators the commission has gone after tells of its sterling quality and professionalism.

In the dark ages of IBB and Abacha, the existence of such a commission would have been just to subjugate the common folk and perceived enemies of the dictatorships, especially since the dictators themselves were steeped in institutional corruption, systematically and deliberately looting the coffers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Indeed, these dark ages of Nigerian history saw entrenched a culture of corruption and blatant disregard of law and order such that it was expected of a government or private official in all institutions across the land to extort, embezzle and commit frank acts of fraud for self-enrichment at the detriment of the populace who they serve. In fact, one popular refrain during these dictatorships was - "use what you have to get what you want." This culture spilled over to the first term of the Obasanjo presidency, when we saw various government officials continuing to illicitly enrich themselves through acts of graft.

When the EFCC first came on the scene, many of these grafters thought it was going to be business as usual. They thought their stupendous illicitly acquired wealth would render them untouchable, and those who were governors, were banking on the immunity clause in the May 1999 constitution to protect them from prosecution. How wrong they were. The top echelon of the EFCC has proved to be irreproachable. Refusing to be sullied by bribery, blackmail or intimidation, they have gone after the biggest fish in the land. This has sent many of the governors running scared, particularly those who would be completing their maximum of two terms in May 2007 and who have been indicted in acts of graft.

Knowing that they have a date with the law, many are trying all sorts of blackmail tactics ranging from slander smears in the press to claims of selective indictments and other sorts of diabolical intrigues. The truth is if these governors are honorable, they would waive their immunity protection and subject themselves to the EFCC probes to prove their noses are clean. Clinton did this in the Monica Lewinski debacle when he was accused of perjury because he denied having sexual relations with the intern, enough to warrant impeachment proceedings against him.

Many Nigerians who hold public positions, as we know, are not honorable and as such it will be unlikely that any of the indicted governors will submit to a probe. To make matters worse many of the state assemblies are in complicity with the governors in perpetrating the acts of graft, rendering it virtually impossible that they would institute impeachment proceedings against their governors. Plateau state is a perfect example of this, with many of the legislators themselves arrested for their own acts of graft separate from the governor's. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out come May 29, 2007, after which the immunity protection of these indicted governors would no longer hold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent presentation. The question is what steps can the Nigerian people take based on what you discussed and what its been played out on the pages on the Newpapers. Are you based in Nigeria? Would the Nigerian people step and take charge through the ballot?