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Published On: Sun, May 11th, 2014

Mr. President, what’s corruption?

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jonathan-sadIf there are some Nigerians who cannot wait to see the back of President Goodluck Jonathan come the next elections, they may be justified in doing so. The reason was provided by none other than the president himself who during his last media chat betrayed his administration’s disdain for the fight against corruption. What many Nigerians took away from that presidential misadventure disguised as a media chat was that with a president like Jonathan in the saddle for another four years, the nation’s till will be left wide open for whosoever wishes to dip their fingers and it will be quite convenient for the government to look the other way.

While most Nigerians saw the opportunity of the chat as that which the president would use to shed more light on what his government has been doing to get to the bottom of the missing $20 billion which the former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, alleged was stolen, the president instead did all he could to first of all discredit Sanusi as someone who did not know what he was talking about. He went on to say no such money was missing but disclosed that his government would still go ahead with the forensic audit of the NNPC accounts. Although the government finally named the firm that will carry out the audit after about two months silence, we wonder whether an independent audit is possible when both the petroleum minister and the NNPC GMD who are principal actors are still in their seats. We also wonder whether the audit will reveal anything after the president has declared that no money went missing.

On the controversy surrounding the use of private jets by Diezani Alison-Madueke, the petroleum minister, and the ongoing probe by the House of Representatives, the president again left many Nigerians disappointed by his reaction when he said the House was on political witchhunt. He said the House had invited the minister over 200 times and therefore she was within her rights to ignore their invitation on the private jet matter. Such a statement would have been excused if it had been made by an ordinary man on the street but for the president to say so shows the lowly depths Nigeria has sunk to in terms of leadership and clearly suggests that the president will do all in his power to protect his inner circle from the law.

Nigerians have not forgotten how long it took him to sack the former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, despite the countless corruption controversies she found herself in. Neither have they forgotten the pardon he granted his former boss in Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, who had been convicted of stealing from the state government while he was governor. The mysterious manner in which the head of the presidential task force on pensions escaped the clutches of the law enforcement agents after he was indicted by the Senate has not been forgotten either.

Unlike most Nigerians, the president does not seem to believe corruption is a problem in the country and he made no bone about it during the chat when he said that corruption matters are usually blown out of proportion. He said cases of mere stealing are celebrated as corruption. Mr. President, what then should constitute corruption and how do you intend to fight it? We hope an answer will be forthcoming soon.

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