By Taoheed Ajao
At the height of the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, people had suspected that the president could not have been totally in control given the brazenness and audacity with which some favoured ministers conducted themselves in office regarding probity and accountability. Nigerians knew there was more than a whiff of corruption then. However, it is doubtful if people knew the extent of the corruption, the magnitude of the looting and the precariousness of the nation’s economy!
It took an opposition party take-over of government and the reins of power to expose the sordidness of the graft, the stench of corruption and the propensity for avarice that defined the latter days of the administration. Being able to vote out the GEJ administration is just as good because, that in itself, is a vindication of the true essence of democratic pluralism and giving of fillip to the spirit of fair competition in a democracy. Mercifully, president Jonathan was not bereft of that spirit of fair competition.
Imagine if Nigerians were not able to democratically vote out the regime even by now! Suppose president Jonathan had used all kinds of devious tactics — rogue-judges spewing out ethical and legal travesties about election matters; selective enforcements of contradictory rulings of courts by security personnel; high destabilization tactics of opposition parties through sponsored pawns and agents — Nigerians would never have known the extent of the material corruption under the former president.
However, attitudinal corruption begets material corruption: no moral corruption is free of the inducing and dishonest influence of money. There is no judge that will stand law on its head to risk the odium of the public and the censure of the Nigerian Judicial Commission, NJC, for nothing. Similarly, no businessman worthy of the criticality of the bottom line, will want to be a pariah in his home state just to advertise and celebrate his nuisance value and love of confusion!
The unfolding corruption cases being witnessed by Nigerians would not have been so if Jonathan were still president. The corollary to this is that it takes a later opposition party scrutiny of any current administration — state or federal — before this attitudinal blight can be gradually stamped out from our system. The pretension to a messianic salvation of the country not withstanding, things are happening in Nigeria now that give the usual tell-tale signs of unabated corruption; at least, judging by the activities of a cabal in the present administration that is seized by a fixation for power in 2019!
Therefore, the perspective of corruption is dependent upon the prism from which one looks at it in Nigeria. The story changes when different parties succeed one another: that may be why the tenacity to hold on to power and prevent a regime change appears to be too overpowering and all-consuming in Nigeria.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, there is widespread elite accommodation for and indulgence with unethical and dubious behavior through what appears to be a deliberate misunderstanding of issues involving such attitudinal and moral corruption. Unless a Nigerian is caught or alleged to have embezzled millions of money, people, particularly corruption watchers, are not actuated to get concerned. No amount of attitudinal and moral corruption, particularly committed in the name of politics, can galvanize the elite class into any revulsion against the effects and ancillary social ills that this type of endemic malaise engenders.
Legal luminary, social critic, human rights activist and anti-corruption gadfly, Femi Falana together with irrepressible Festus Keyamo, have come to the conclusion that the seeming intractable intra-party imbroglio in Ondo State PDP is a matter amenable to legal solution and that until there is a higher court order upending the subsisting one given by Okon Abang of FHC, Abuja, INEC should stick to the candidature of Jimoh Ibrahim. Celebrated Punch columnist and our brother of great erudition, Professor Niyi Akinnaso, has somehow surmised that the statewide protests that greeted the INEC substitution of the legitimate candidate of PDP in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede, with that of Jimoh Ibrahim, smacked of lack of party restraints more so, when APC had not done a similar thing when it had a comparable crisis of gubernatorial candidature!
Conveniently forgotten in both instances is that the PDP internal troubles are traceable to the absurdity of judicial rulings that pit courts of coordinate jurisdiction against one another; not remembered again are the illogic and illegality of validating a primary election done in a rented hotel room in far away Ibadan over that conducted in full compliance with extant electoral laws and with INEC in attendance!! It was believable when Asiwaju Tinubu insinuated the collusion of a cabal of serving ministers wanting to frustrate him by working against his preferred nominee for the APC gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State but now, people prefer not to see any master puppeteer controlling the puppets in the unfolding absurdities starring Jimoh Ibrahim et al.
It is such double standard of morality that vitiate the pungency of the fight against corruption. Having an elastic tolerance for such turpitude committed in the name of politics portrays one to be one-sided in the fight against corruption. Therefore, it seems it has become de rigeur among some members of the political class in Nigeria that once they are in power, they do everything, legal or illegal, to hold on to the power so that they forever forestall a day of reckoning — that is, being probed by an opposition party in government.
Current ministers, governors and purveyors of power and influence are afraid of the way the EFCC and DSS may be used to hunt them down. Nigeria, we hail thee!!!