Date Published: 10/29/09
Bode George: Lessons for abusers of public trust By Louis Ata Imobioh
Yesterday, it was Senior Sunday Afolabi, Tafa Balogun, DSP Alamiesegha, Lucky Igbinedion etc . Today, it is Chief Bode George,former Chairman of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), PDP chieftain and former President Olusegun Obasanjo's hatchet man being sentenced to two years imprisonment for abuse of public office. Tomorrow is pregnant. It may be you or I because of the greedy Nigerian factor in all of us. What does this show? We as Nigerians fail to learn anything from history, history keeps repeating itself and those who ride on the back of the tiger will one day end up in the tiger's belly. The earlier we see our public positions as that of trust, thinking of what we can do for our country work and rather not as “Come and Chop” regime, the best for every Nigerian. The era of “This is your Time” use it well will soon end and a new Nigeria is being born, where probity and accountability is the order of the day and if you cannot stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen before the system will make a mince meat out of those who stand as cog in the wheel of its progress. We should also learn that the fall of a green leaf is a warning, for others to thread with caution and it is no longer business as usual for corrupt office holders, who breach public trust.
Truth be told, Bode George (BG) and his fellow nest of convicts did not just award these contracts to themselves and their families alone but to fight and dislodge the progressive government in the South West and to empower PDP government at different levels in the country so as to entrench the reign of PDP in Nigeria for another 60 years or more, of which the present regime is a beneficiary.
Bode, the loquacious man, you should have learnt some bitter lessons in your quiet time at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos, where you are presently serving your jail term that you were used as a sacrificial pawn in the chess game of power to be sacrificed in the altar of power so as to give the anti-corruption war some measure of credibility. I know you never bargained for these and those you fought for, together with your able commander to install are sacrificing you to gain a measure of credibility for the anticorruption war being waged and where there are no sacred cows. Who is the ultimate beneficiary of this scheme? The new Nigeria, a standard has been set and such standards will only get better, like the old wine which gets better with age.
Those happy that a big fish has been sentenced should not rejoice yet. They have to learn the biblical lesson that there will come a time, when Pharaoh that will not no Joseph and the sons of Jacob in will one day rule our beloved nation, then judgement will come upon every looter and the New Nigeria will get better, where things will be near utopian state, wishful thinking but some day the dream will come to reality.
Baba Iyabo, this is not the democracy you bargained for when you waged a battle of wits against your political adversaries, your own standard is now being used to try your foot soldiers and convict them, especially those that helped you with the “Do or Die” battle to impose the present regime on the sensibility of Nigerians. They are either being hounded into jail like BG, some still have cases to answer in court like Fani Kayode etc or have their perceived birth right taken from them like Andy Uba and some of the bank managing directors (MDs) that campaigned vigorously with you providing the financial leverage to fund the "Do or Die" campaign. Some of the good ones that believed in a New Nigeria have gone on self exile like Nuhu Ribadu and Mallam Nasir El Rufai, all to discredit and humiliate you, but you built a legacy and a yardstick that will always make the new Nigeria better off even when the bigger than life leaders, who see themselves as the owners of Nigeria are still working freely and commenting from the sidelines and the flanks, one day justice will take its course, the full weight of the law will come upon them and the grain will be seperated from the chaff.
Maybe Baba, your perceived silent mien, should not be taken as an act of weakness because you are a good strategist and tactician. Even if your lieutenants that fought for the gradual emergence of a New Nigeria have to swallow that same bitter pill of yours you forced down the throat of your foes leaving them humble and humiliated by the time the pills started working. Some of your enemies were also tried and sent to jail in your era as the C-in-C, when the war on corruption was declared for the betterment of a new Nigeria, which will flourish when these political plunderers are kept far away in no distant time. The fight should also be taken to every facet of the country, to make Nigeria a better place, where it will no longer be a criminal offence to still ten kobo, daring to rob a bank and a mark of honour to loot the nation’s treasury but the contrary, where looters of the treasury and their accomplices will no longer find a safe haven, once they are conscious of the fact that, accounts of stewardship will be demanded and given by them. If found to be wanting, they will face the music, it should even start with election riggers, who rob the collective voices of the people to effect positive changes through the power of the ballot. That is what separates the developed countries, where you have due diligence, and individuals and looters are not spared of corruptive tendencies, from some of the developing countries, even with whistle blowing, treasury looters are being shielded from justice and with selective sacrifice of one of the offenders, once in a long while to gain a measure of credibility in the eyes of the international community.
One day, the tide will change for good and everybody will account for his misdeeds and deeds in and out of office and the relevant agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) and The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should be empowered by relevant legislations so that they will no longer be perceived as toothless bulldogs, lame ducks, kudos to the EFCC, this is one convictions in series of many legal battles against corrupt practices, which is aimed at restoring sanity to every facet of the new Nigeria so that we can take our pride of place in the comity of nations.
Our nation should no longer be perceived as a corruption haven, where corrupt leaders hobnob with leaders in power to destroy whatever credibility we have left as the giant of Africa or worse still make mockery of the system in the eyes of international.
With Bode Goeorge's case justice has been perceived to have been done, even if it was slow in finally coming, he will spend weeks or days behind bars if we take into account, the number of months he stood trial.
As we await the outcome of series of such cases in courts both at home and abroad, these convictions will serve as a deterrents to others, and encourage those pessimists who see these litigations against these treasury looters fizzling out with time, according to Richard Ben Sapir, time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial, which these cases were being perceived as . Justice will always take its course no longer how long the time frame.
“How are the mighty fallen. How are the mighty fallen so low.” Whenever we are appointed to any position of trust, let us remember that we must always have recourse to “Due Process”. We should always strive to keep our nose clean and learn practice good corporate governance at all times, when called upon to give account of our stewardship, with head high, we should come out clean will come out clean because we have the tendency of breaching public trust.
We should see the rebranding of Nigeria exercise, which is ongoing as a way of changing our attitudinal orientation. The rebranding campaign will only be a flash in the pan, just like the Heart of Africa project, with billions of tax payers money being wasted if we do not imbibe attitudinal reorientation. Changes should begin from the internal before thinking of the external. We have no other country other than Nigeria and to salvage our great country from these brigands, who have looted the nation from independence and institutionalise corruption till date.
Nigeria is a country of paradoxes, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel following the trends of recent times. Those who sacrificed lambs by putting them on trial yesterday are being tried today and those who are trying sacrificial lambs today will be tried as sacrificial lambs tomorrow. It is a merry go round, to be on the safe side of history everybody should be prepared to serve our fatherland incorruptibly or on the contrary, failing to adhere to this rule, organisations and individuals should henceforth vote part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) budgets to reform, rehabilitate the prisons because some day, in their lives they are going to be guests of these prisons, even for a fraction of a second, hour, days or years, when found guilty of compromising and breeching public trust. An “Ex-convict is an Ex-convict “even if you pay your fines or meet other conditions and you need presidential pardon to expunge it from your record.
Let’s all meditate with BG's lesson and turn a new leaf in the ways we see positions of public trust. We must not loot with impunity because we think we are above the law. That day may never come but what are we going to do when the judgement day comes and we are found culpable, should we just go spend time in the prison we did not rehabilitate, without foams and air conditioners we are used to as free men and women?
The choice is ours because most of the Second Republic politicians and Governors jailed by the General Muhammadu Buhari's administration are not alive to tell their tale because dead men tell no tale. Some of the politicians died even after the presidential pardons and bailouts by individuals to keep them from prison because of the psychological and emotional trauma imprisonment brings to a man. When we come out of prison, we become changed souls because despite being free in the eyes of the public in our nervous systems, we cannot wash away that stigma in our own conscious and silent moments.