MY LORD, CORRUPTION WILL FIGHT YOU
7/12/2012 5:53:02 PM -
It is becoming clearer by the day that gone are indeed the days that newly appointed political, executive or legislative appointees will bombard the discerning members of the public with half-baked, small-minded, utterly meaningless and irrelevant inaugural or pre-inaugural speeches in Nigeria.
From available empirical evidence, it is becoming clearer that persons who get appointments in our contemporary political epoch are increasingly becoming aware that Nigerians and indeed members of the international community do not pay much attention to the torrents of dramatic inaugural addresses of newly appointed members of the hierarchies in the three arms of government.
This global cynicism is informed by the fact that in the last five decades since after Nigeria gained political independence, leaders in the different sectors of the country have largely betrayed the trust of the electorate even when they make generous pledges to right the many wrongs that have operationally crippled the nation and denied Nigerians the benefit of enjoying the fruits of good governance, transparency, accountability and a zero-tolerance to corruption.
Nigerians as well as the learned members of the global community have unanimously accepted the fact that corruption as a hydra-headed monster is responsible for the collapse of the basic socio-economic infrastructure in the country.
What most modern day political, judicial or legislative leaders now do before they are inaugurated is to do extensive research and introspective soul searching sessions to arrive at writing or delivering speeches that would strike the audience in the right chord with the anticipation that this pre-inaugural speech would generate the momentum of support base so that the occupant of such high profile office could gain some moral high ground and positive reinforcement from well-meaning members of the general public.
Against the backdrop of the quest to gain some moral high ground, most newly appointed heads of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government in the last decade have made sensational but heavily loaded pre-inaugural speeches that have indeed struck the nation's conscience at the right chord.
During late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua's inauguration, he upped the ante when he openly castigated some electoral infractions that marred the 2007 General election of which he was the chief beneficiary.
The late President Yar'adua was vastly aware of the general sentiments of disgust by a lot of people in Nigeria who rightly or wrongly perceived that the 2007 election was marred by irregularities and so he made a solemn pledge at his inaugural event that electoral reforms would form the bedrock of his federal administration.
The late President Yar'adua immediately followed up his inaugural pledge to reform the decadent electoral system by establishing a panel made up of respected opinion leaders to work out strategies and recommend far-reaching measures to reform Nigeria's corrupt-ridden and inept electoral system. That body was led by the retired Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais which made radical recommendations to the then federal administration in which the current Head of State was the vice President and some of these radical and comprehensively revolutionary recommendation included the suggestion for granting greater autonomy to the nations electoral umpires - INEC.
Though the then Umaru Musa Yar'adua's led government developed cold feet and never implemented the core components of the findings of this body but it went a step further to demonstrate that at least it was prepared to take the bull by the horn with the setting up of the Justice Uwais-led panel which seriously engaged a broad spectrum of Nigerians who spent quality times debating the ways forward for the nation's decadent electoral system. Soon after President Yar'adua passed on to the great World beyond, his successor and his then vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan appointed Professor Attahiru Jega, a member of the moribund Justice Uwais-led electoral reform panel, to head the independent national electoral commission which is anything but independent.
Also President Jonathan made profound statement at his inauguration on May 29th 2011 when he disclosed to Nigerians that he would be committed towards actualizing a political transformation agenda to turn around the collapsing economic fortunes of the country that is severely weighed down by corruption and plethora of economic crimes. Jonathan told his childhood stories to Nigerians and informed his listeners all across the nation and the World that he would fight poverty because he was born in poverty -stricken environment and that indeed he went to elementary school without the privilege of wearing shoes. Jonathan has made a name for himself in the memory of most discerning Nigerians as a man who rose from grass to grace and from a 'shoeless' primary school rural boy to the powerful holder of the holder of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On July 11th 2012 when Justice Alooma Maryam Muktar successfully passed the senate screening process, she made a pre-inaugural pledge to fight corruption which has become endemic in the nation's judiciary.
My Lord, the brand new Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Kano-born legal luminary, Mrs. Alooma Maryam Muktar and who indeed made history when she became the first female lawyer of Northern extraction, stated thus; 'corruption is in every system of our society and I can't pretend that it is not in the Judiciary. What I intend to do to curb this is to lead by example and hope that others will follow'. Well spoken, my lord. But my Lord, beware: Corruption will fight you.
My lord if you are in doubt, could you ask the former executive chairman of the economic and financial crimes commission Mr. Nuhu Ribadu how corruption fought him and dethroned him from his very exalted position as the nation's anti-graft Czar. Nuhu Ribadu almost lost his life when centripetal and centrifugal forces combined to remove him from the hot seat of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] when he moved against some powerful friends of the then President Yar'adua including the now convicted former Delta State Governor Mr. James Ibori Ibori. Ibori was set free by the Nigerian corrupt judiciary but the British lower magistrate court convicted and sentenced him to jail term in the United Kingdom for alleged economic crimes against the Nigerian state. If Justice Muktar consults Nuhu Ribadu she would be told how some powerful members of the crude oil cabal stole over N1.7 trillion from the subsidy scheme.
My lord will learn from Nuhu Ribadu that in a corruption-infested environment that we all operate, when you try to be revolutionary and distinctive by trying to change the system positively, corrupt powerful elite will team up to battle you.
Does this then mean that my lord, the Chief Justice of Nigeria should not fight the hydra-headed monster of corruption?
My reply is in the negative because if corruption is not fundamentally fought and defeated from the temple of Justice in Nigeria, then the lesser mortals, the citizenry of this beloved nation will no longer trust the judiciary but will accept resort to self help and violence as the way out whenever their rights are abused.
The new Chief Justice of Nigeria should fight corruption and build a strong institutional framework to expose, punish and shame corrupt judicial officers and Judges so that our collective trust in the nation's judiciary can be restored.
Justice Muktar should learn from President Barrack Obama of the United States of America who at inauguration made a solemn pledge to bring health care to the poorest of the poor and followed through with his revolutionary Medicare called Obama care even when the opposition Republicans went as far as the Supreme Court of the United States to seek to upturn it without success.
At his inaugural event on Tuesday January 20th 2009, at exactly 12.05pm, President Obama pledged thus; 'That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet'.
President Obama stated further thus; 'On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.'
Like President Obama, the new Chief Justice of Nigeria should be resolute in her crusade against corruption and ensure that other members of the nation's judiciary learn from her good example and examples of great minds like that of Justice Augustine Aniagolu who jailed his would-be bribe giver and such other Icons like Justice Mustapha Akanbi who fought corruption in and out of office.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, writes from www.huriwa.blogspot.com.