Corruption is tearing Nigeria down –Opadokun
Thursday, January 26, 2012

• Opadokun

Former secretary of Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Ayo Opadokun has described government’s fight against corruption as insincere. In an interview with CHINELO OBOGO, he speaks on the fight against the menace and other national issues.
Government’s fight against corruption

Honestly, the Federal Government is only pretending to be fighting corruption but in their hearts, there is nothing to show that they are serious about it. To the extent that the major personalities that are supposed to be fighting corruption are neck deep in it. When you have an attorney-general that has a unique profile of dubious style, they will not be able to do anything about corruption.

On the executive side of the government, you will know that they are not interested. There is a litany of cases of corruption that the Nigerian media has published and laid out, yet the government has done nothing about it. For instance, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria set up by government to make power generation, transmission and supply easier, especially in the big states…the chairman of the Power Committee in the House of Representatives went and collaborated with the officials of that organisation and awarded contracts worth over N5 billion in a disorganised manner, not following any procedure. That matter was charged to court to fulfil all righteousness. So, who are they fooling? The level of corruption in Nigeria is tearing us down and the perpetrators are not willing to give up.

For instance, the success of the Aladja Steel Company for some time now has been frustrated by our executive from becoming useful and productive. Right from the time of Obasanjo, the executive gives out that organisation to private ventures in a very tattered Memorandum of Understanding and agreement, not knowing that when the people get there, they continue to steal the assets of the organisation and this has gone on more than five times. That place is now a shadow of itself. I continually ask myself why this country remains comatose when we have a legislature that is supposed to be doing the checks and balancing, ensuring that the executive performs to the dictates of the law.

They will budget for some activities within a year and you will find out that five years later, that thing for which they budgeted money has not been done, yet nobody is doing anything about it. Under our constitution, the legislature has what is called ‘oversight function’ of their various committees. But why is it that nothing has happened, and no one has been brought to book? It is because, the parliamentarians themselves as a corporate body and many of its members are neck deep in corruption. That is why those over inflated contracts cannot even be located.

Maybe the small group of the present lawmakers that are articulate will be able to raise their voices against the evil regime that is prevailing in our land, but these people are only in the minority. So the executive is totally bereft of sanity and the parliamentarians are worse off because they compromise themselves a lot. From the media reports that we have been getting, what they do is that they go to a ministry or parastatal and they force them to come and defend their budgets before their committees. This action is very wrong, and it ought not to be so, because they are not supposed to rewrite the budget that was sent by the executive. But that is what they normally do now. After they inflate it, they ask for their own share.

Democracy vs. the military regime
It is painful to compare the military to democracy because they are poles apart. The best of the military should not even be compared to our democracy. When people compare former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure as a military president and his tenure as a civilian president, I will say that there were some factors that were at play that made it look like he performed better as a military president. As a military president, he was actually not in charge, because there were people in there like the former Chief of Staff, Theophilus Danjuma who could call him to order if he tries to roughshod anyone.

He was not the most loved as the military head of state; it was because of the discretion of Gen. Danjuma who insisted that since Murtala has died, the next most senior was Obasanjo and he should take over. There was a lot of pressure on Danjuma to take over but being a decent man, he rejected the offer and instead supported Obasanjo to emerge as the Head of State.
However, what we are supposed to have now is a democracy, but what we have is a decadent situation. Honestly, any decent person can achieve and perform excellently well in this system if he has the political will to do so. There is substantial evidence to show that after Obasanjo retired as a military Head of State, he felt very bad that there was not enough money to do what he wanted to do.

But the thing with Obasanjo is that if you help him, he will pay you back in betrayal. He will do everything to make you feel sorry for yourself. During his time, he knew that a lot of corrupt activities were going on at the state and the national level but he did not do anything about it unless the fellow involved raised a political opposition against him. Some of the things that are traceable to him now ought not to have happened. For instance, before the end of 2004, Obasanjo knew how wicked James Ibori was in the manner by which he was handling everything about the affairs of Delta State. They had it on good authority, lots of evidence on how he was changing naira into hard currencies.

He decided to be so friendly with Obasanjo so much so that if Obasanjo wanted anything, Ibori will use the state’s money and get it for him. That is why he provided so much money to run Yar’adua’s presidential elections and that was why he and his friends were able to execute a lot of things during Yar’adua’s tenure. Another instance is that of his private Doctor friend, Dr. Makonjuola whom he made permanent secretary of Ministry of Defence. There was a time when over N400 million was traced to Makonjuola’s account. They allowed him to be taken before the court and that ended the matter.

Anyone that is willing to reduce corruption to the barest minimum, can handle corruption..there was this research by the Economic intelligence Bureau that said that from the time of Obasanjo till now, Nigeria has earned over N233 billion dollars..where is the evidence? Where was the money spent? What we have is the total collapse of our economy and infrastructure? Many people have died because they could not afford drugs worth N1000 but when our supposed leaders are sick, some of them are even flown with air ambulances abroad to receive treatment. When we talk of education, in the last four to five years, less than 20 per cent of our students are able to pass Mathematics and English successfully. What kind of society is that? Their own children are abroad so they do not care about you or I. The succeeding governments in Nigeria are not ready to fight corruptiuon, they just mouth it and this amounts to mere rhetoric.

The Judiciary
I base my premise on one perspective and that is, when you have leaders who have the political will to do what is right, they can do anything because they control the political equation. They decide who emerges as the Judge. Higher benches in Nigeria are now on the basis of loyalty to government for all time. So the judiciary has corrupted and perverted itself. The perverted minds that have occupied the highest offices of our land have deliberately conspired to pervert justice. Those in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and other privileged positions now depend on whom you know.

That is why most of those who could not succeed in private practice are the ones in the High Courts. Like the former Chief Justice of Lagos who during the time of Babangida as President said that he was the almighty, so he issued a decree that no one should challenge him. That is why we had a situation some months back where the National Judicial Council that is supposed to be the greatest promoter and defender of the rule of Law decided to ignore it and become a judge in its own court. It was the same Ibrahim Auta that gave the infamous judgement that led to the killing of Ken Sarowiwa and the Ogoni nine

This system is so perverted. So for one to perform successfully, the person has to be a self-contented person who is not ready to acquire wealth indiscrimately.

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