Jonathan And Celebration Of Corruption
The seventh Media Chat President Goodluck Jonathan had with journalists last Sunday finally confirmed the doubts Nigerians have nursed about the President’s promise to fight corruption or ensure it is drastically reduced. That day, Nigerians had cause to conclude that this government is not ready to muster enough will to battle the endemic corruption in the country. Many Nigerians were disillusioned with the comments and diversions Mr. Jonathan made in attempts to dodge the question he was asked concerning what he was doing to combat this monster called corruption.
President Jonathan, who was asked what had happened to his promise to employ the services of forensic auditors to investigate the alleged disappearance of $20 billion from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC, deliberately evaded the question and instead took on Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who had blown the whistle.
In his defence, he tried to portray Sanusi as one who did not know what he was doing; someone who was inconsistent. He said Sanusi started with the complaint that it was $50 billion that was not remitted to the federation account, then days later, he reduced it to $20 billion making him (the President) confused on which of the figures to believe.
Jonathan then misfired by saying such an amount cannot be stolen because “America will know” since “it is their money”. When and how has money accruing to Nigeria become an American money? Was there a shortfall in the money that should be remitted by the NNPC? Though he later said he was still investigating the claim, we are forced to say his body language and his choice of words showed otherwise.
Again, in trying to defend the $10 billion jet scandal involving the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, the President suddenly turned the heat on the House of Representatives and tried to paint the House as a cog in the wheel of progress. He also gave the impression that there was no big deal about the allegation against the minister.
He said this was not the first time the Ministry would charter aircraft to carry out its activities. To him, Alison-Madueke was being persecuted by the House members some of whom also use private jets whether chartered or given them by friends, a possible allusion to the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal’s use of the jet belonging to Rivers State.
Mr. President also tried frantically but failed in his attempt to separate corruption from stealing. To him, the word ‘corruption’ had been overused to the extent that when a public servant steals a few amount, he is termed to be corrupt.
A simple definition of corruption states that it is a spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. Is stealing, therefore, not corruption? Under Jonthan’s watch, anti-graft agencies such as EFCC and ICPC have been reduced to toothless bulldogs. The agencies only go after petty internet fraudsters and allow big thieves who steal billions of naira from government’s coffers go scot free.
President Jonathan must demonstrate in pratical terms that he is ready to fight corruption. If not, the incubus will consume all of us. He still has some months to right the wrongs before the 2015 general elections.