Before Metuh Becomes Methuselah… By Ogundana Michael Rotimi
Ridding a corrupt country like Nigeria of corruption will take a little while, but it has to start from somewhere and by someone.
Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. It undermines democratic institutions, slows down economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundations of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes and conducts, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is for soliciting bribes.
Economic progress is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption. Corruption threatens our national security and gives rise to a safe haven for terrorist. This is the scenario we find ourselves as a nation.
It was on the ground of ridding the country of corruption that President Buhari came into power. And since his ascension to the highest position in the land, his greatest efforts and strength have been channeled to defeating the Boko Haram insurgency and fighting against corruption. Both efforts seem to be yielding results, as to some extent, one can say that the Boko Haram insurgency has been incapacitated even though not completely defeated while the fight against corruption is just but taking shape.
Nevertheless, corruption is a symptom of deep-seated and fundamental economic, political and institutional weaknesses of a country. The fight against corruption will be effective, when measures against it address the underlying causes and not just the symptoms. President Buhari must move beyond the fighting against corruption, and build lasting institutions that will live on after he is out of office. Emphasis must not just be placed on fighting corruption but also be placed on preventing corruption by tackling the root causes that give rise to it through undertaking economic, political and institutional reforms. The Treasure Single Account (TSA) is a valuable initiative, but it is just one of the many initiatives needed to prevent corruption.
Anti-corruption enforcement measures such as oversight bodies, a strengthened police force, more efficient laws and reliable law courts amongst others, are needed to genuinely curb and prevent corruption. This is because corruption and institutional weaknesses are linked together and they feed on each other. So, getting rid of corruption helps a country to overcome other institutional weaknesses, just as reducing other institutional weaknesses helps to curb corruption.
One of the fights against corruption since the inception of this administration has been the thorough investigation into how the funds meant for arms procurement were spent and those involved in the spending. Quite a number of people have been arrested in connection to the illegal spending of the arms procurement fund and the “latest man” on the roll is the spokesman of the opposition party, Chief Olisa Metuh.
Olisa Metuh is the current spokesman of the onetime biggest political party in Nigeria and in Africa at large. He was not so vocal a spokesman; he was not even vocal enough as his counterpart, Lai Mohammed, when he was the spokesman of the then opposition party. Nonetheless, one thing is sure; he defended his party to the last and spoke always positively about his party. And to him, there was no time his party was wrong.
Unfortunately for him, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, stormed his Abuja home, took him away to their custody and since then, his life has never remained the same. He was remanded in Kuje Prison by an order of a Federal High Court in Abuja with respect to charges of money laundering involving N400m, part of money meant for procurement of arms, which he collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014. He was later produced in court by prison officials and was granted bail to the sum of N400m as bail bond. Not too bad of a bail condition!
But you see, you need not have to run when nothing and no one is pursuing you, and fear no guilt if your hands are clean. But for Metuh, while in the custody of the EFCC, he was alleged to have destroyed the evidence against him and again, re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja, which ordered that he be remanded over two counts of destruction of evidence and mischief preferred against him by the EFCC. And on Friday, 22nd January, 2016, for the second time in just two days, he was granted bail in the sum of N300m with two sureties in like sum. The total bail sum now N600m?.
Putting the two bail conditions together, the spokesperson of the People`s Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, will need a total of N1 billion to secure is bail from Kuje prison while his case continues.
Pathetically, now that the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of his party, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, had said that it would be wrong for anyone to be expecting the party to provide sureties for Metuh when the party did not benefit from the money he allegedly collected from the former National Security Adviser, Lt Col. Sabo Dasuki (retd.). It means Olisa Metuh is on his own and has a long way to go. But to me, it seems his journey has not even started.
The point is, will Olisa risk getting his bail with a bond of N1 billion when it`s not even sure of winning the case? Would it be better he stays in Kuje and seek for a speedy hearing of his case so his fate can be quickly decided? Well, whatsoever happens to Metuh, and those involved in the arms procurement scandal should teach the rest of us that power is transient and the greatest gift a true leader can give to his people is selfless leadership, that is devoid of greed and wickedness.
Less than a month in Nigerian prison, Olisa has grown older than what he`d be in 5 years time. He has grown grey beards and not really looking like the Metuh we used to know- looking skinny and perhaps already experiencing the other part of the world.
Before now; the evil that men do live after them, but now the evil they do live with them. Those that are standing with Metuh should better stand right with him with all their might. Else, he becomes Methuselah in Nigerian prison.
God Bless Nigeria.
Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.