Jonathan, Sanusi and Bankole By Sabella Abidde
Corruption, militant ethnicity and religious fanaticism are not the only threats to the Nigerian nation. And in fact, these may not be the greatest dangers. The greatest danger to the country’s well-being and national security interest may actually be the combination of evil, docility, indifference, fatalism and the personalisation of the rule of law.
Just the other day, I was thinking of evil doers. I was thinking of all the terrible things that happen in Nigeria on a daily basis. And I was thinking of Albert Einstein who believed that “the world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”And then I kept thinking of lawyers, judges, politicians and members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and private citizens who do nothing to rectify but contribute to the pool of travesty that is Nigeria.
I was thinking of members of the clergy who will rather look away and or partake in gory feasts, than speak for and speak in the name of the downtrodden. This year alone, President Goodluck Jonathan has visited churches almost a dozen times to curry favour and to give policy statements. How many of his hosts looked directly in his eyes and told him the truth? And just this month alone, he has visited a half-dozen or so traditional rulers. Were they frank and honest with him? Did they tell him the truth?
In terms of potential and possibilities, Nigeria is the most disappointing country of the 20th and 21st centuries. This is a country where, 53 years after independence, a majority of the people still live in agony and abject poverty. The citizenry are so debased and dehumanised that many have no inkling of how bad things are. This is a country where poverty, in all its dimensions and ramifications, is the new normal. These were the kinds of perversions I was thinking about.
And of course, I was also thinking of the violence and maelstrom being unleashed by that ragtag militia. When aggregated, Boko Haram has killed seven or more Nigerians every day for the past two years. (As this article was going to bed, news flew in that about 29 schoolchildren were slaughtered by Boko Haram insurgents in a secondary school in Yobe State.) Nearly all the major officials responsible for the nation’s security are still in office. And the Jonathan administration is still in place. Frankly, the President ought to be man enough to resign and allow competent hands to take over. After all, someone has to take responsibility for these monumental failures and atrocities.
Jonathan won’t resign, and the leadership of the National Assembly does not have the moral courage to initiate impeachment processes against him. But it should impeach him for, amongst other things, dereliction of duty. And do it now! And of course, I was also thinking about events in Ukraine, Syria and Palestine when, voila, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, was suspended by Jonathan. My goodness, how do you suspend a whistle-blowing-activist CBN governor like Sanusi? He’s been good for the banking sector and for the economy in general.
A President who didn’t have the temerity to fire corrupt and inefficient ministers and subordinates suddenly found the nerve to fire one of the most brilliant public servants in the country. What a shame! What a country! This is backward thinking!
And just before the news of Sanusi’s fate became public, I was thinking about the country that once was. In this regard, I miss Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. I miss Gani Fawehinmi. I miss Dele Awojobi. I miss Tai Solarin. And I miss all those voices that once made Nigeria an intellectually vibrant society: the gadflies, rubble rousers, leftists, iconoclasts, poets and writers of various colourations. I was thinking of the men and women who gave the Nigerian military hell – men and women who sacrificed so much for several generations. In today’s climate, it might be difficult to imagine that there was a time when “trouble-makers” were the real doyens of our society – not moneybags, duce bags or political ruffians.
If you are an avid reader like me, you can’t but group Reuben Abati as a member of that club. I meant Abati of The Guardian newspaper – not Abati of Aso Rock. Had he remained a journalist, he would have taken Jonathan and his administration to the cleaners. And by 2015, he most likely would have been the most influential journalist and public intellectual of his generation. Jonathan snatched him, members of the President’s inner circle have hinted, because of the fear they had of him.
Now, back to the CBN matter. Was Sanusi politically naïve? The problem with Sanusi was that he “mistook common stealing to mean corruption.” Whose business is it if $20bn or $35bn was missing, stolen or pocketed? He also expected Jonathan to fire his oil czar Diezani Alison-Madueke for a paltry $3bn.What was the Prince of Kano thinking? Only if he knew that some balls are bigger than others! And only if he knew that that money, along with several other billions, was earmarked for electoral votes and loyalty in the upcoming presidential election.
Since his days as the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Jonathan has never pretended to fight corruption. He’s never been interested in such matters. Never! He has always been an insider. Always! Since Sanusi didn’t know, let me tell him what Frederic Bastiat told us a while back: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.” From Obasanjo to Jonathan, corruption has been glorified and codified. We thought Shehu Shagari’s boys were corrupt; well, by today’s standard, they were just louts.
Less than 15 per cent of stolen money is ever recovered in Nigeria. And even the recovered amounts are usually re-stolen ala Abacha loot. Insofar as the amount Sanusi is looking for is concerned, well, a million here and million there may be returned. By the way: Give it a month or two, this saga would be forgotten much the same way the people have forgotten other matters.
Didn’t the court recently set free the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole? In less than a year, he’d be back in politics; his people will give him chieftaincy titles; a pool of pastors will pray for him; several hundreds of Nigerians will pay courtesy call; and many will prostrate before him! That’s Nigeria for you.
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