The Corruption Of Silence By Hannatu Musawa
The most inequitable behaviour any leader can exhibit in a country facing the kind of challenges Nigeria is, is to be corrupt or support officials who engage in embezzlement, nepotism, bribery, extortion, influence peddling and fraud. The Jonathan administration, or at least some members of the administration, has not only asserted exactly that behaviour in theory, but in practice also, it would seem.
With accounts of a minister’s purchase of bullet proof cars costing millions of naira, reports of judicial officers allegedly requesting for bribes in exchange for favourable rulings and the embezzlement of billions of dollars in Malabu Oil deals being exposed, it is difficult for the president’s officers to compile a defence for him and his administration that could even remotely be considered credible. While the president quietly watches and muses over the corruption that continues to thrive under his administration’s watch without taking any concrete action even in the face of national and international outrage, there is little doubt left in people’s minds that he is giving corrupt officials free rein to do whatever they want. The current deplorable case of the minister of aviation’s shady practices is just the most recent revelation of what can only be termed blatant nonchalance towards the massive, widespread and pervasive corrupt practices with impunity that everyone, including the president, is aware of. But beyond the alleged actions of the minister of aviation, the most damning indictment of this most recent corruption report on the Jonathan administration, is the absolute ignorance and deliberate inaction with which the president has draped all of it.
It seems as if whenever the corruption of one of the officers in his administration is exposed, the president clams up, as he has since news of this scandal broke. The least one expects from him is some effort to penalise wrongdoing when it is brought to light. Instead, we get silence. And woe betides whoever interprets President Jonathan’s silence at such times as an endorsement of the corrupt actions! It is a crying shame for a commander-in-chief to run a government that has zero transparency and zero accountability and continue to watch in silence while officials representing his administration have a jolly good soirée with the public funds of 149.99 million poverty-stricken people.
In better-run countries, there would be a loud call for the removal and prosecution of those who embezzle government coffers, but in Nigeria there is a stony silence on the part of those meant to checkmate such incongruity and protect the interests of the nation, especially the president.
Honestly, there is so much wrong with the manner in which President Jonathan is navigating his war against corruption. By responding to queries with either an apology and a promise to set up a committee, or with silence as if to tell the public that it is none of their business; by not giving a damn about declaring his assets and by appearing to protect those who behave badly, fraud in government and a total disregard for the law is encouraged. If the primary theory embraced by the Jonathan administration to show his commitment to the war on corruption and his encouragement of transparency in the nation’s government has been his purported exposure of the scam in Nigeria’s downstream sector, or the EFCC’s assumed 200 convictions as a result of the subsidy report, and the constituting of the umpteenth committee this year, they could have fooled us.
No matter how much this administration ‘remixes’ the few anti-corruption victories achieved, despite the spin put on the glaring cases of grand larceny and brazen venality by the representatives of this government, the deliberate inaction of the president in some of the more palpable cases of government transgressions alas implicates him.
But beyond his inaction lies a labyrinth of ‘mis-actions’ and utterances also. As the number one citizen of Nigeria and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, when President Jonathan discloses to his citizens that he personally knows some of the people involved in corruption, but does not reveal their identity, it is a shock to the system, for even the most gullible among us. When the president goes out of his way to grant a state pardon to former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who had been convicted on charges of corruption, one can only wonder whether our leader has truly grasped the 101 of the basic tenets of fighting a war on corruption. When select members of his cabinet and other officials who are meant to be representatives of the government continue to blatantly undermine any progress that his government may have made in the face of his deafening silence, it is time for the likes of myself to take up pen and paper, and remind the president that he has a duty to wake up, speak up, govern and take action, in the interest of the nation, even if that action is not what he would personally choose to take.
By the time President Jonathan comes back from his trip to Israel, one can bet that the dust from the minister of aviation’s scandal would still not have settled. Whether he likes it or not, he will have to take a position. Regardless of whatever he chooses to do, the president must be reminded that his deliberate inaction to the corruption of those within his cabinet has to stop. He can no longer remain silent and watch while some of his ministers spend government funds in so cavalier a manner. Government officials should be made to account for their indiscretions.
One doubts that the president would want historians to label his leadership as having had a blatant disregard for the war against corruption and utter disrespect for the people of Nigeria. There has to be an end to Nigeria’s having to rely on people of questionable character to run its affairs. The president’s silence on the corruption speaks volumes. One hopes that President Jonathan can find his voice, in order to expunge those culpable from his cabinet. By remaining silent on their corruption, he effectively creates the corruption of that silence.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org