Institutionalising impunity

What went through my mind last weekend as I watched Abba Moro, the minister of interior as he inspected a guard of honour mounted by a contingent of immigration officers is the sense of helplessness of Nigerians who come under daily assault from government’s various acts of impunity  Subdued prayerful and miracle seeking Nigerians have come to accept  all government  foibles and eccentricity which have  attracted strident criticism from our  neighbours and  the international community with a sense  of ‘it is God’s will’ since they are coming from Goodluck Jonathan, whose leadership our religious leaders claimed was ordained by God. We have been told to ignore ex-President Obasanjo’s recent confession that he immorally imposed him on Nigerians after dismissing a clause in the PDP constitution which disqualified Jonathan’s candidacy for the 2011 presidential election.

Moro, supervised the March 15 immigration recruitment exercise which some cynics described asa swindle organized by PDP swindlers who feed on the blood and sweat of the weak. In the exercise, about 1.5m application forms were sold to fill 4500 vacancies and the ensuing organized anarchy at various stadia across the nation led to the death of 20 job seekers. DREXEL Technologies Limited, the outsourcing company engaged by the Nigerian Immigration Service, (NIS), for recruitment was according to umbrella body of outsourcing companies in Nigeria, Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria, HuCaPAN was an unregistered company. Political enemies even libelled the senate president claiming without proof that the company belong to his wife. While not a few called for the sack of Moro, students of Jonathan presidency predicted he would survive the scandal because as Senate president’s former aide, his nominee and a PDP stalwart, who like Princess Oduah, a former aviation minister who knows how to mobilize people for electoral victory, he is beyond reproach. Typical of President Jonathan, he set up a committee headed by the chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Deaconess Joan Ayo. It has been business as usual afterwards. In fact Moro has been receiving all manners of awards of excellence from all manners of bodies just as Stella Oduah was recently celebrated by her Akili-Ozizor community of Anambra resident in Lagos for her outstanding performance as minister.

But to be fair to President Jonathan, he was not responsible for the institutionalization of the culture of impunity He might have found it an effective political tool among miracle-seeking Nigerians who attribute all acts of inhumanity of man to man including exploitation of our fears and anxieties to God. The credit should go to his godfather, ex- President Obasanjo. It was in fact the act of impunity of Obasanjo who often tries to play God that produced Jonathan. If the president is guilty of anything, it is that impunity has thrived under him. And I am not sure if anyone can blame a man who was never given a chance for cultivating a political strategy that has served him well in the race for nomination as his party’s candidate, and the landslide victory he secured from his miracle-seeking compatriots who in their various churches and mosques successfully secured God’s intervention on behalf of Obasanjo and Jonathan who undermined their party’s constitution, dismissing their act of betrayal as ‘an act of God’.

President Jonathan has continued to pile up victory after victory through what many have described as his politics of impunity while the landscape is littered with carcasses of critics of this winning policy. Obasanjo who accused the president of impunity by his imposition of Buruji Kashamu, a man he alleged has criminal cases to face in the US as the leader of PDP in the South-west has become the latest victim. To spite Obasanjo, Kashamu and President Jonathan in turn imposed Ayo Fayose whose impeachment was organized by Obasanjo  and who, in spite of criminal cases still hanging on his neck on Ekiti PDP has gone ahead to win an unprecedented landslide victory over a highly rated incumbent governor.

While Obasanjo is still licking his wounds, Fayose is already threatening to have him expelled from PDP if he fails to toe party line. The governor elect told The Punch over the weekend: “It doesn’t matter whether you are a former president or former governor; if you disparage the party again, we will take you out….. If former President Olusegun Obasanjo wants to join the APC, let him go to APC…Obasanjo should stop making uncomplimentary statements about the party, if he continues, we will suspend him; nobody is bigger than this party”.

Who now says impunity does not pay?

But before Fayose, there was Boni Haruna, also a former governor of Adamawa. Reprieve came his way after being drilled in court for about seven years by EFCC over corruption charges when he switched allegiance to PDP after denouncing Abubakar Atiku his godfather. It took just three days to get an acquittal and another one week to become a minister. Before both was a convicted former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who secured a presidential amnesty while still on the run from justice in Europe. He is today a distinguished member of the ongoing Confab.

It will also be recalled that the President’s Christian  fold  hailed him when he openly embraced Pastor Jonah  Jang who lost a governors’ forum election by 14 votes to 16 as a winner as well as when Oduah, embroiled in armoured cars deal with Coscharis,  went as an advance member of the president’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Today, Muslim faithful among Kano PDP stalwarts are also hailing him for his recent presidential order to withdraw all criminal cases against Ibrahim, a scion of Abacha family over parts of about $4 billion siphoned from the Nigerian state by his father. It is said Abacha is being groomed to confront Governor Rabiu Kankwaso, the president’s estranged Kano political ally.

As 2015 draws nearer, Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria and Protectors of Nigeria Posterity have reminded us of the qualities our president share with President Obama, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. They have insisted Nigeria’s energy crisis is over even when it was only late last year the minister for power said “only 25 per cent of Nigerians have access to electricity” a nightmare he said was “caused by human beings used by evil forces”; his Minister of State, Zainab Kuchi, would say that “We have 160 million Nigerians now and we are only giving power to 40 million of that population”.

Perhaps with the string of successes chalked up through various acts of impunity including the Ekiti miracle where an impeached former governor without an agenda, ran and secured a landslide victory, the president seem to have become persuaded that that performance, issue-based campaign and public perception of candidates are distractions that don’t guarantee victory in elections in Nigeria. This probably explains the impunity displayed by the president’s promoters who stormed Unity Fountain Abuja where grieving parents have kept vigil for about 10 weeks over the abduction of Chibok girls with ‘customised vehicles and giant electronic billboards, with engraved achievements of the president, his picture and that of his vice, Namadi Sambo’. They seem determined to finally dislodge the irritants that the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners have become to government after an initial stand-off to a sponsored group, who according to Oby Ezekwesili “came in a bus and turned the Unity Fountain into a joke”.

A people deserve the leadership they get and a society where leaders and the led pray for miracles trying to reap from where they have not sowed is a nation of 419ners. Even exasperated foreign friends of our nation have now left us to our fate. The British Deputy High Commissioner said over the weekend that they ‘expect the federal government to double its efforts’ to bring back our abducted girls. The New York Times, reacting to our president’s bored celebration of his administration’s achievements in an op Ed page in Washington Post simply wished Nigeria ‘good luck’

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