The Culture Of The Untouchables Under The Jonathan’s Presidency
By Okoi Obono-Obla
Indisputably the Jonathan Presidency is fractured and a jaundiced one. Its image is irremediably battered and beyond repair both nationally and internationally because of its bumbling incompetence, policy flip flops and ineptitude in its handling of so many national issues. It is tottering on the brink because the culture of the untouchables has been elevated one of the cornerstones of the administration. Undeniably the principle of untouchables and outlawry is one of the contributions of the Jonathan’s Presidency into Nigerian political lexicon.
The former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo in his recent book “My Watch” has candidly dismissed President Jonathan as a weak, corrupt, selfish, lame duck and indecisive leader who is grossly incapable of governing Nigeria. General Obasanjo also in the book graphically told a story of what a Chinese Businessman told him of a certain aide of President Goodluck Jonathan who demanded bribe running into millions of dollars just to introduce him to the President.
General Obasanjo lamentably and dejectedly wrote that he reported this aide to President Jonathan right away but President Jonathan characteristically played the ostrich and never took any action against this aide!
The Jonathan‘s Presidency has deliberately created many outlaws, sacred cows and untouchables. Some of the sacred cows and untouchables are even appointees of the regime such as Ministers and Presidential aides. General Obasanjo told us in his book “My Watch” demanded bribe running into hundreds of millions just to introduce a Chinese investor to the President but got away with his indiscretion because he is a sacred cow and untouchable!
In a presidential system of government there is no collective responsible of appointees of the government to the President; as it is customarily in a parliamentary system of government. This is one of the distinctive distinctions between a Presidential and Parliamentary system of government.
In a Presidential system all ministers and aides of the president are appointed by the President and are therefore individually and collectively responsible to the President.
So the President has the absolute discretion and prerogative to fire any of his ministers or aides that fell out of the minimum standard required of them.
But in the Jonathan’s Presidency, we have seen and experienced several cases where ministers who indulged in dereliction of responsibilities and duties; corruption and financial impropriety are never punished because they are considered sacred cows, outlaws and untouchables.
We saw how Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation used N250 Million to purchase two vehicles but whom the President disappointedly refused to fire despite the fact that she was indicted by Committees of the National Assembly. It was the huge outcry by enraged and outraged Nigerians that forced her to reluctantly resign her appointment.
We saw the pathetic and inexcusable case of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke who frivolously squandered a whopping N10 Billion on leasing private aircrafts to globetrot. Despite massive act of financial indiscretion, the President refused to reprimand her.
When the National Assembly wanted to probe the scandal the Minister rushed to the Court to stall the probe. Curiously the President supported her in her impertinence to towards the National Assembly.
The President further lobbied for a recent appointment as the President of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Another untouchables Minister, is the Minister of Interior Affairs, Comrade Abba Moro.
In April, 2014 the indiscretion and dereliction of Comrade Abba led to the bungling of the recruitment exercise of the Nigeria Immigration Service and the death of many young people.
Until this moment Minister Abba Moro has not been asked by the President to account for his action. He is one of the untouchables created by the Jonathan’s Presidency.
Apart from the aides of the President; there are several people that are close to the President that are untouchables. They are outlaws and above the law. They can do anything they like and nobody who hold them accountable.
One of these outlaws or untouchables created by the Jonathan’s Presidency is the repentant former militant/terrorist known as Chief Government Ekpemupolo (also known as Tompolo). Despite his antecedence and record of violence, militancy and suspected involvement in crude oil theft and bunkering in the Niger Delta has enjoyed patronage of the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Jonathan through the award of many lucrative contracts running into hundred of millions of dollars to maintain security along the country coastlines.
Tompolo is one of the close associates of the President. He is reputed to be super rich. He has his own private army. He threatened people around him who do not agree with his crude methods.He has since been threatening to deal with the Itsekiri ethnic nationality in Delta State over some local land issues they have with his Ijaw people. He is above the law so much so that recently he phoned the fiery Human Rights Lawyer, Festus Keyamo and threatened that he would kill him.
The offence committed by Festus Keyamo was that he took a legal brief on behalf of an aggrieved candidate against the brother of the almighty Tompolo concerning the Chairmanship election of a Local Government Council in Delta State that was illegally awarded to the brother of Tompolo by the Governor of Delta State.
As expected of a good and law abiding citizen, Festus Keyamo promptly lodged a written complaint against Tompolo with the Commissioner of Police, Delta State and the Director of the State Security Service, Delta State over the threat to his life. Until this moment the Police nod the SS has refused to investigate the complaint of Festus Keyamo.
Last week it was reported in several newspapers , that Tompolo has purchased six Warships from Norway which he intend to deploy to his Private Navy in the Niger Delta under the guise of maintaining security over the maritime coastlines of the country.
One of the statutorily responsibilities of the Nigerian Navy is the maintenance of security of the country coastlines. It is not clear whether the Federal Government has also contracted the statutorily responsibilities of the Nigerian Navy to Tompolo under the cloak of protection of maritime coastlines.
So I wonder aloud if Tompolo acquisition of warships has not compromised the national security of the country. Curiously until this moment we have heard a whimper from the Inspector General of Police; National Security Adviser, Nigerian Navy and the SSS over the reported importation of warships by Tompolo perhaps because he is a protégé of the President and one of the country‘s outlaws under Jonathan’s presidency.
Another protégé of President Jonathan who is seemingly untouchables is the former Governor of Bornu State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. He is figured as one of the alleged sponsors of the murderous and nihilistic Boko Haram.
A mediator, Dr. Davies Stephen appointed by the Federal Government to negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the abducted Chibok girls told a startled nation that Boko Haram Commanders mentioned Senator Modu Sheriff and former Army Chief of Staff, General Ihejirika as its sponsors but until the Federal Government has refused to investigate this grave allegation.
Rather we have seen Senator Sheriff travelling in the entourage of President Jonathan in one of its visits to Chad to discuss security issues concerning Boko Haram with the Chadian President Idriss Deby.
One a recent visit to Bornu State, Senator Sheriff was protected with a contingent of well armed Mobile Police Officers and a Company of soldiers armed to the teeth with armoured vehicles and other lethal weaponry.
It is as clear as the crystal ball that the culture of protection of sacred cows, outlaws and untouchables that is characteristic of the Jonathan’s Presidency is anathema to a democratic set up where everybody is expected to be treated equally before the law. It is one of the factors what the country is gradually sliding into a failed State.
One of the characteristics of a failed State is the institutionalization of outlawry. This what citizen Festus Keyamo‘s complaint of threat to his life against Chief Government Ekpemupolo would be treated by the Police and other security agencies with almost levity and contempt.
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