Monday, October 28, 2013

When you need a panel to fire a corrupt Minister you have failed as anti-corruption crusader

"Nations have been known to survive in a state of advanced decay or through merely living on the brink. Some are dubbed banana republics, others client nations to more forceful and productive ones. They carry out orders which may or may not coincide with the interests of the people who constitute the nation. “ – Wole Soyinka (2011)

The problem with Oduahgate is not just the level of impunity exhibited by the leadership of Nigeria in every strata but the brazen stupidity of the bureaucrat we employed to man the gate. The defense of indefensible is laughable. The denial of the obvious is ludicrous. The cover up is criminal. We are at a point in our democracy where corrupt politicians need to know that the people of Nigeria may not have power to remove them through the ballot box due to the corruption of the electoral process but we do have power to embarrass and shame them.

The fact that the mainstream press initially shy away from the story is in itself telling on the complicity of the press in Nigeria. Without the ever present vigilance of the burgeoning blogosphere in Nigeria, we may as well give up on our democracy. The valiant work of the likes of Saharareporters and others should be commended. Sometimes they get it wrong and we rightly excoriated them, but in the long run the internet self publishing journalism has saved us more than our mainstream press have done. Their fearless work in mobilizing the citizenry against corruption in the governance of Nigeria should be commended. This is not however to say that we do not need the mainstream press. Their reach cannot be understated. It is heartwarming that they immediately jumped on board as soon as it was apparent that the scandal of overpriced bullet proof car for an aviation minister who celebrate deaths on our airways is for real.

The question is what is next. Many have asked that the president should suspend the minister. I concurred. This will follow the precedent set with former minister, Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku. This is the standard worldwide. You don’t allow a suspect to guard the crime scene. There is prima facie case that a crime was committed, the president appears to have agreed, what should follow is suspension. Nothing more and nothing less, every day the minister spend in that position give her opportunity to tamper with evidence, intimidate witnesses and interfere with investigation. The panel set up by the president is at best a ruse and a cover up. Members of the panel are neither prosecutors, lawyers of law enforcement. The NSA chief is incapable of identifying a crime if it smacks him in the face. The other panel member is a military officer and former head of service. To quote one recent writer “What's needed is expertise, patience, and methodical reasoning.” These have long since banned from Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Nevertheless, this scandal is a big test on President Goodluck Jonathan readiness to defend the integrity of our democracy and fidelity to our constitution, if he failed to dispense justice in a bid to protect his hirelings we should be ready to expose his regime for what it is: corruption ridden malfeasances!

We need to continue to put pressure on the president and the national assembly to expose every facet of corruption in Nigeria. Our future and the future of democracy depend on it.

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