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November 29, 2005

Obasanjo's War on Corruption: Casualties Galore!

by Mike Ozulumba, Esq. (Boston, Massachussettes) --- As Nigerians are treated yet to another case of Executive corruption convulsion in the recent case with the Executive Governor f Balyelsa State, it has become obvious that no amount of low or allegation can ever compel our public leaders to take an honorable step and resign from their office.

We are witnessing the power tussle between the President and his Vice President. We witnessed the struggle between the President and the Government of Joshua Dariye and Plateau State. We witnessed the charade between the Governor of Anambra State and the President. Now Queen (Gov.) DSP Alams has jolted us with a higher dose of power intoxication.

As President Obasanjo’s so called war on corruption rages on, I find myself applauding his guts and at the same time suspicious of his style in prosecuting this war on corruption. For long a time in Nigeria’s existence as an Independent nation, it appears that corruption has continued to out pace any other indicia of development and underdevelopment of our nation. As we attempt in token times to curtail corruption, we have yet to sensibly apply the technological know how required to truly check this serious badge of shame. Nigeria is currently ranked 6 in the worst corrupt country in the world by Transparency International. This record you might not believe is an improvement from where we were a few years ago. Corruption breeds a whole lot of other social issues including crime, health care, jobs etc. The staggering amount of money lost through corruption is mind boggling. Could the people of Bayelsa state imagine what the state could benefit had the present amount of over 300 million Pounds lost as forfeiture in assets and bail by their embattled Governor in far away London been used to improve their lives?

Corruption is endemic in High places of our public leadership ladder. The leadership has every opportunity since 1999 to implement serious reorganization of our Judiciary. The courts are in a mess. The judges are poorly paid and staffed. The system that would ensure swift justice is in shambles. The police become the initiator and terminator of justice in most cases. Nigeria is riddled with crime as our leaders look for convoy and security protection to pass through the neighborhoods they were selected to govern. The Nigeria Police was rocked with a high scandal by the IGP that recently resulted in a plea bargain with a paltry 6 months sentence. Yea, good enough, but watch the ex IGP soon and see how as he boasted “he would bounce back.”

The recent case in Bayelsa state has parallels to the Anambra State saga a year ago. The Queen himself recently alleged that the President is on a crusade for ethnic hunting against his Ijaw people and compared his dilemma to Anambra crises a year ago. Nothing could be farther from the truth Queen! Gov. Ngige is heads and shoulders above you on good governance and accountability, but you both equal the same malaise of attempting to cling on to power by hook or crook. In that regard, you have a point. The Gov. seems not to care about the magnanimity of his alleged offences. Comparing his assets declaration in 1999 and 2003, he seemed a modest man on paper. The allegations that has placed him in ownership of companies and bank accounts running into multi millions from California to Maryland USA, through South Africa and Britain are staggering. He has posited the same mega physical frame in a short stance in public office as the inglorious ex IG Tafa Balogun who derived joy from extortion and out right stealing of police funds. Queen Alams best advice is to simply do Nigerians a favor and resign honorably from the office. You have woefully failed to use the resources allocated to your State to develop your region. I support resource control but when you need more control of resources to better your personal pockets, even Bayelsans could agree that you have let us down as a Governor.

The President shall not relent in pursuing these greedy leaders and hopefully by this wobbling effort, spare our people from the continued hemorrhaging of state funds by the criminals who parade themselves as state executives. The rot is not confined to State Executives. The President’s private friends have shown clear signs of wallowing in ill gotten wealth. The President’s personal friend, Chief Anthony Anenih, a former Works Minister, is alleged to have owned millions of Pounds worth of Property in London managed by his eldest son. The present condition of Roads in Nigeria is pathetic while over 3 Billion Naira was budgeted and supposedly spent while Chief Anenih held sway as Obasanjo’s Minister. Another close friend of the President, Otunba Fasawe was recently arrested by EFCC in connection with embezzlement of over N2.6 billion bank loan while hiding under his close ties with the President.

Nigeria is in a struggle for survival from internal rot. When or why would it seem difficult for the President to understand the true solution to most of our problems. The President should spend a little money to retrench, retrain and decentralize Nigeria Police. The regional based outfits would still be under the Presidents command, but the Police departments should be answerable to the Minister for Internal Affairs (not police affairs). The regional police should spot distinct uniforms and competition should usher higher excellence. The Government should order modern fingerprinting equipments and build state of the art crime labs to collect and collate database on any arrests within the region.

You will be shocked to see how most crimes bear the fingerprint of known suspects! As a start, all arrests made in Nigeria both at local offices of Police and urban centers , the suspects must be finger printed and the prints forwarded to the crime labs for analysis and storage. We have present technology to transfer the data to off shore or other storage facilities including back up zip drives that would provide safety should the central Server be compromised in any way. As a further start, all police officers must be fingerprinted. You will be amazed to notice correlation in prints of known officers even in crime scenes they ought to be preventing. All criminals started with common offenses. Assault, shop lifting, car theft, breaking and entering etc would easily be solved as suspects would know that their prints are already in the system. I have taken only a light time to enunciate on this solution.

I have spoken to so many policemen in Nigeria. Their morale is so low, that you wonder what they are doing in the Force. They claim that they were poorly paid (N10,000) per month for a Constable. No communication gadget. No road worthy vehicles to use. No money to repair and fuel the vehicles. They resort to their own checkpoint barricades to extort money from road users, while heavily distracted from the crime prevention they were employed to serve. They hate politicians but see the job as a simple way to make ends meet. They are very rude and un professional. The Government claims to have lavished the Force with much more equipment and increased pay and personnel since the inception of this administration. The result is woeful. Recently the IGP Sunday Ehindero requested for Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) for use by the Police to combat armed robbers whom he claims now own and use more sophisticated guns than the police! Terrible indeed! He put the requested price tag for these palliatives at N3 billion. No matter the amount of money spent on your Force, the result would not significantly change.

The President should continue to work hard to sanitize our corrupt public officials. The war should always be devoid of selective prosecution. It should be steady and assured. Nuhu Ribadu and his EFCC has done a creditable job. How long this war would last is as dicy as whether the President’s present alleged romance with elongating his term to another unconstitutional third term. As in Nigeria, anything is Possible!

Posted by Administrator at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)


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