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Published On: Tue, Mar 11th, 2014

Jonathan’s regime has institutionalised corruption – Amaechi (II)

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Gov Rotimi AmaechiLike was said earlier, corruption is not a repository of the military alone. The politicians were also experts at it. We had earlier reported the institutionalization of the fight against corruption through a state agency fro the first time in the history of Nigeria by President Obasanjo. The degree of progress that was made may be open for debate especially as it was alleged that he used the same agency to go after his political opponents. John Campbell continued in his treatise,

“Where he created anti-corruption agencies, he used them against his own political enemies. Nevertheless, their establishment bodes well for the future if they evolve into mainstay for the political enforcement for the law.”

The progress made in fighting corruption began to erode under President Yar Adua. His short-lived region cannot be assessed in this wise. Currently in the present regime of President Goodluck Jonathan corruption appears to have been institutionalized. A whopping sum of twenty billion dollars is alleged to have been missing. The stories of both fuel and kerosene subsidy are not anything to behold. It smears of corruption and rottenness. The aviation bulletproof saga remains unresolved. The Shell Malabu story is a macabre dance. The response of the regime to corruption is to imprison those exposing corruption. The impunity in corruption is extended to the punishment of those who fight corruption. The removal of the Governor of Central Bank is unconstitutional. Constitution means nothing to the current government. What we see is the re-emergence of civilian dictatorship, but enough about corruption.

Statistics emanating from both the World Bank and National Bureau of Statistics states that unemployment rate is 23 percent in Nigeria. It was by far lower than this before the enthronement of the Government of President Jonathan. Unemployment rate averaged at 14.6 percent, reaching an all-time high of 23.9 percent in 2011. It had an all-time high record low of 5.3 percent in 2006. Nigerians live in want, hunger and penury. Unemployment and poverty may differ in regions to varying degrees, but it knows no faith, nor religion, knows no tribe, nor nation. It brews violence and has led to the annihilation of families in the North East and South-south of Nigeria. Death on the streets of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Kano, and Bauchi are no longer lessons for discussions. They are a daily occurrence. The debate is whether it is religious, motivated or it is driven by ignorance, hunger, and poverty. Whatever part of the divide you find yourself, you will know that violence has overwhelmed the government. Kidnapping is an everyday affair in the Niger Delta. It becomes strange, any day it does not occur. Political assassination is also on the rise. Violence is the order of the day. Richard Dowden in his book, Africa, Altered States, Ordinary Miracles, had this to say “ Nigeria is famed for its sudden explosions of violence, usually in cities where a politician has stirred up his own ethnic group or co religionist to try to wipe out a rival. These brief explosions regularly leave 400 or 500 dead in a couple of days when gangs of thugs take up clubs, machetes and knives. Whole suburbs are burned down – often with people locked in their homes.”

This is a similar picture with the burning of the Federal Government College in Yobe State and the killing of the existing students. There are ethnically driven violence as exemplified in the cases of the Fulani Herdsmen in Zamfara, Benue and Plateau.

Nigeria is famous for out of school children. We top the list with a figure of 8.6m-10m out of school children. Education is not affordable and accessible. Education infrastructures are deteriorating or non-existent.

Beyond the education infrastructure are the softer issues, insufficient, poorly trained and ill-motivated teachers, a static curriculum, a lack of monitoring and quality control to ensure that education is not only available but is fit for purpose, competitive and qualitative. The result is that our children leave school, half baked at best and uneducated at worst.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has spoken variously about its commitment to infrastructure development on a broader scale. Its efforts in resuscitating the railways and its sale of the power infrastructure are commendable initiatives that should be followed through. Regardless of the first steps though, complaints by the different buyers of the generation and distribution companies point to debilitating challenges in the roll out that might affect the government’s power delivery promises. In the roads and maritime sector however much remains to be done. Water and sanitation should also receive better attention especially with donor agencies anxious to support investments in that sector.

THE RULE OF LAW

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of our nationhood is the arrogant display by the elite of power above the rule of law. The learned Joseph Bodunrin Daudu, SAN, in his welcome address at a stakeholders symposium on the rule of law organized by the Nigeria Bar Association, puts it very succinctly. I have taken the liberty to quote him quite generously “ Strict adherence to the rule of law remains the hope and solution to Nigeria’s multifaceted problems. it is a guarantee against unworthy livelihood. the rule of law helps to forestall vices such as dictatorship totalitarianism, anarchy, oligarchy personifies. it also serves a s a guarantee that those who are strong and valiant today will not be molested in their moments of weakness and infirmity brought about by old age and ill health. Thus the able politicians of today require no other protection whether in or out of office than the existence of an entrenched rule of law regime. the same goes for the citizens.”

It then is evident that the failure by government to provide the appropriate environment for the people to thrive, and a failure to guarantee the people’s right could lead to a breakdown of society. Democracy requires more than just the right to vote. A democratic country has to guarantee basic human rights to every person. Although these rights are enshrined in the country’s Constitution, it is crucial that the rights are ensured and protected by government as well as the citizens themselves. I will quote the learned Daudu again, “ Breaches or non observance of the Rule of law breeds inequity. Some may say that all fingers are not equal but at least we take equal care of all fingers when we wash our hands.”

Good governance is the responsibility of every democratic government working in the interest of the public, as is the smooth handing over of batons from one administration to another. Nigeria is at the threshold of history with yet again another election. The Electorate is already demanding a better deal. The poll commissioned by the All Progressive Congress being unveiled today has shown that more than half of those polled insist that they are dissatisfied with the status quo and want change. The message is clear, the people want to be allowed a chance to freely make up their mind about who should lead them.

In political circles the drums of war and voices of intolerance gives cause for worry about the determination of the Federal Government controlled People’s Democratic Party to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections in 2015. It is crucial that the elite and those of us in government understand that disallowing free elections would not just be an albatross but could be an invitation to anarchy.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says with regard to change, “Students of political systems must grapple with a subject matter that is today in constant flux. They must deal not only with the major processes of growth, decay, and breakdown but also with a ceaseless ferment of adaptation and adjustment. The magnitude and variety of the changes that occurred in the world’s political systems beginning in the early 20th century suggest the dimensions of the problem. Great empires disintegrated; nation-states emerged, flourished briefly, and then vanished; world wars twice transformed the international system; new ideologies swept the world and shook established groups from power; all but a few countries experienced at least one revolution and many countries two or more; domestic politics in every system were contorted by social strife and economic crisis; and everywhere the nature of political life was changed by novel forms of political activity, new means of mass communication, the enlargement of popular participation in politics, the rise of new political issues, the extension of the scope of governmental activity, the threat of nuclear war, and innumerable other social, economic, and technical developments”.

For an extended period of time, change became somewhat subdued around the world? Then came the blinding sand storm dubbed the Arab Spring, our own January protests in Nigeria ( which while I may not entirely agree with was an indication that Nigerians do have a potential to rise up) and more immediate the spectacle in Ukraine and Venezuela.

People around the world have become restless because certain existing political systems are trampling on the two key internationally adopted United Nations covenants:

1. The international covenant on political and civil rights

2. The international covenant of economic, social and cultural rights.

These rights define the very substance of life and once abused or denied will ultimately lead to birth pangs of unpleasant change.

The state has three key institutions, each with separate powers: government has executive power to run the country according to the policies of the ruling party, parliament has legislative power to enact the laws which government has to enforce and the courts of law have the judicial power to protect the Constitution and legislation passed through parliament.

Civil society, labour, business, media, communities and citizens, along with government, carry the responsibility to protect the country’s constitutional rights. Participation is central to these stakeholders fulfilling their obligation. It can be realized in a number of ways. After the end of apartheid, more democratic structures were established to enable active participation at local, provincial and national levels. However, if people do not become part of these structures, decision-making is left to a minority group.

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