Corruption And The Audacity Of Patience Jonathan, By Gbenro Olajuyigbe
Nigeria’s complex crises are difficult to understand without accepting corruption as a specie of violence.
That we suffered a collective national economic and social rape under the former President Goodluck Jonathan is sad. For Patience, his wife who has no known history of visible work or commerce to brazenly and boldly attempt to legally claim ownership of $31.4 milion, obvious proceed of corruption, in our increasingly volatile country induces a breath-taking psycho-economic depression into our national psyche. It did not only reveal the shocking ignorance of a thief who is merely validating her criminality; the audacity of the claimant calls into question EFCC’s investigative and prosecutorial prowess. In the same breath, it portrays our society as an unstandardized society moving toward a dialectical inequality in pursuant of justice. If not, Patience should have been on trial for corruption like her allies in crime that have been arraigned in court. Corruption is not only an economic crime. It is a crime that lays foundation for the commission of other crimes.
Nigeria’s complex crises are difficult to understand without accepting corruption as a specie of violence. A people bounded by Boko Haram in the North, Avengers in the South-South, Biafra in the East, herdsmen on rampage, kidnappers on the loose, and robbers on the roads have a lot to understand about evolution of violence. They need to know all forms of violence work together for worse for any society that loves oppression, embraces injustice and promotes inequality. They need to know that the persistent ubiquitous violence is sub-cultural reaction to the Twin Towers of Evil of Unjust Wealth and Unjust Poverty that corruption has built! Corruption destroys the basis for equality and equity, weakens institutions and structure in order to enthrone and sustain perversion of justice. Corruption shrinks resources available for development. It makes access to education difficult. It blocks the road to healthcare and frustrates path to security and welfare. It replaces government with Mafia and rights with might. It re-configures a state and imposes on it a Pyramid of disaster. When a country becomes a pyramid where tiny conical top are occupied by few who corner all available resources leaving the broad base of the pyramid to the many who are condemned to poverty and misery, such a country is ripe for any form of violence; whether of economic or of value!
The state prepares crime that violence perpetrators merely commit. When you open the window for corruption, you inevitably shut the door against peace. Corruption negotiates people out of existence. It creates a new world where self-help is attractive by manufacturing people that will use all means to fight back at a society that has taken them off the radar of equal opportunity and enforced the de-marketization of their citizenship. Corruption humiliates its victims, who often are the poor who become poorer and make a society ripe for committing violent crimes. It provides the motivation, the opportunity and the environment that violence needs to thrive.
If we want peace, we must steer away our country from this entanglement.
We can not afford or sustain a country where people draw inspiration from their own callous oppressors; a nation where thieves are heroes; and blood thirsty criminals are mentors!
A nation that can no longer differentiate between evil and good; between righteousness and sin! A nation that uses the prism of tribe to determine who is just or unjust. A nation whose scale of justice stands on ‘mudus’ of corruption. A nation whose people are being stripped naked!
In saner climes, crime suspects hardly want to go to courts. In Nigeria, they want to be swiftly charged to court because they know that our courts are often citadels of corruption-propelled injustice! We cannot continue to have a ruling class using corruption to weaken all apparatuses of social and legal justice, destroying the capacity of judges to dispense appropriate justice and damage a whole legal system of a country; and worse still, turning around to benefit from its own willful incapacitation of justice administration architecture under the guise of human rights.
James Ibori was discharged and acquitted under our corruption–damaged legal process only to be convicted for the same offense in the UK. President Buhari must never again allow our country to be so ridiculed under his watch. Not even with the ‘human rights’ blackmail that has become the battle cry for the liberty of the lawless.
A nation cannot continue to build the barometer to measure human rights on what happens to those that are too defended and too protected to uphold national trust. Doing that amounts to isolating legal justice from social justice. It is not what happens to the out-of-control power merchants that counts. The truest form of justice seeks to protect the weak from the strong; not a cannon fodder for cruel violators of all that is decent about humanity.
Economy, security and corruption are still issues on the front burner of Buhari’s agenda. While the war against corruption is catching global attention with a noticeable margin of success at home, the same cannot be said about the economy and national security. Buhari must design his war against corruption in a way that ensures that recovered loot breathes life into the comatose economy.
Buhari’s inaugural speech a year ago assured justice to all. A pledge to be loyal and faithful to all without owing allegiance to anybody or cabal. It struck the core of national depreciation and ignited a vow for redemption and remediation. Based on it, we can say that we have a president who is not unmindful of the national challenges and the travails of Nigerians but also willing to protect the integrity of his oath. He must make the country work for all, especially the poor who have become the nation’s traditional burden bearers. He must stop listening to the ‘witches’ and their sorrowful songs. All the witches must be hunted down. It’s in my Bible that we should ‘suffer not the witch to live’. If you have stolen Nigeria’s money, you are a witch that must be hunted down. Your witchcraft has led to the death of many on the bad roads and in ill-equipped hospitals, among others! Buhari must not submit to blackmail. It is not in the Constitution that fighting corruption is a subject for Federal Character. It is neither a gender issue nor a party affair. The question is, did you steal or not? Great that Nigerians are increasingly owing the war against corruption. They are now speaking against their oppressors. Their oppressors are tagging their arrest and prosecution, ‘witch-hunt’ as if ‘witch-hunt’ is a defense in law. They are emotionally blackmailing the government that put them on trial under legitimate legal process and procedure. We must ignore them and focus on taking back our country. No state buys gun for her police if the intention is not to hunt down her witches; the vampires that criminally suck the blood out of her economy, and invariably her citizens, among others. A state that has been turned to a criminopolis by larger-than-life vampires must adopt all available strategies, including witch-hunting, to vanquish the nest of her witches. Let those who called their criminal trial political know that It is not for joke that Aristotle called man ‘a political animal’! Where there is politics of mindless stealing, there must be proportional politics of ruthless consequence. We must make it clear to people that we can end terrorism and other extreme violence and crime, not with a barrel of bullets, but when we build a country where no single person takes what belongs to millions of people; a nation that gets worried when individuals and groups are growing taller than law and fatter than justice. To achieve this country, change begins with Patience Jonathan!
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is an Abuja-based human security expert.