Obasanjo Government: Of the masses or of rogues?
By Comrade E A Friday
Nigerian masses are not different from the masses we have in other countries in terms of their rights as citizens of their country. Today, the masses have been labeled questionable names and characters; as persons, they are called names ranging from crooks to rogues, from thieves to fraudsters, to ‘419’ and what have you. Today, the civilized West has nicknamed Nigerians as having gone-nuts, gone-berserk, gone-haywires, gone-bananas and, to the greatest limits of yield, Nigerian masses have gone ga-ga.
Based on the concurrent report of the Transparency International rating on Nigeria, the degree of corruption has risen to its peak during the Obasanjo’s administration. Today, Nigeria tops the list of the most corrupt countries of the world. And we have maintained this position despite the lip-service and the Obasanjo’s government-mouthed anticorruption programme.
For instance, the open letter presented by the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) to the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on page two (2) states that, and I quote, “Although General Obasanjo daily mouths that his regime is waging war against corruption, in reality high level corruption is daily perpetrated by members of his family, senior members of government and his party, PDP.”
This report’s credibility is not far-fetched; it buttresses the fact that an Obasanjo’s more than 3 years old anticorruption commission has not been successful in arresting and prosecuting a single corrupt public official to the present date. The same government that is posing as the police of corruption in the country stopped the investigation of the national assembly, on their source of money, when it was clear that the truth will eventually see broad day light. The same report presented to the CHOGM by CNPP states, and I quote, “Because this government absently pays legislatures to change their leaders if they fail to ‘cooperate’ with Obasanjo.’ ”
With widespread corruption and corruptible character, traced to our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is this government then of the masses, who are denied in every alienable right due to them, or the rogues who get all they need by rigging every machinery of the state available at their reach to achieve their ulterior motive? Early in the life of the Obasanjo administration, an incident transpired that serves as a litmus test for the government anti-corruption commitment and sincerity in intention. His cousin, Mr. Julius Makanjuola, a federal permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence, was caught stealing a staggering amount of money to the tune of N500 million, by the former Minister of Defence, General T.Y. Danjurna. A man of integrity who handed him over to the police for persecution, but Mr. President, welding his presidential power(s) in favour of a culprit of treasury looting, a crime that he should be indicted for, instead vindicated him, by directing the Attorney-General at the blinking of an eye to enter noble prosecute, which set his cousin of questionable character off the hook. It was after the hue and cry by the people of this nation that the super Permanent Secretary was dismissed from service.
This took place at the early stage of this regime, buttressing the question again whether the government is of the masses of rogues. The same man today is enjoying his loot, ill-gotten (wealth) at the expense of sweating and refuse-feeding Nigerian masses, enjoying a decent life in London.
Today, about 30 Nigerians are reported as having a colossal amount in foreign banks as ill-gotten wealth. The same reports have it that Obasanjo is one of these 30 Nigerians. Anti-corruption programme is in the rhetoric’s; hence no doubt that such an amount if repatriated back to the country, is enough to pay Nigeria’s mounting foreign debts and the surplus used to provide several services and put basic infrastructure in place for the good of investment in the country. Those that have kept this colossal amount – are they the masses or the rogues?
In the open letter presented to CHOGM by CNPP, it reads, and I quote, “the wife and son of General Obasanjo (he has several of each) were alleged to have taken contracts from COJA (All African Games) to the tune of N6 Billion and N50 Million, respectively. The same press report said General Obasanjo, acting through members of his family, is involved in another N30 Billion scandal on COJA attracts.”
The government has not till date come out to defend this accusation. Is it that silence is consent? Only the regime can answer.
Back to our theme; who are the real rogues, the masses or the members and the supporters of corruption and looting of our treasury? Nigerians must know that there is no freedom without sacrifice; no triumph without loss; no victory without suffering.
(Comrade Emmanuel Akoh Friday is the President of the Voice of Democratic Champions, Kaduna).
Culled from Our VISION magazine, Vol.5 No.4, 2004