Opinion

Pardon for Dariye, Nyame: Big boost for corruption

Last week the National Council of State, presided over by President Mohammadu Buhari, shocked the nation by granting an undeserved state pardon to former Governors Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame of Plateau and Taraba states respectively, who were jailed for mindlessly looting billions of their states’ funds, while in power.

It was more disgusting than the President, who was voted to power because of the general belief that he had solid anti-corruption credentials to tame the monster, which has been the albatross of our national development, was the very one who superintended over the obnoxious decision.

Definitely, it will worsen the spate of embezzlement of public funds in the country. How can Nigerians come to terms with the contradiction that President Buhari, who gained popularity as an anti-corruption czar, along with his Deputy, Late Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon, during his reign as a military head of state, is the same one who romanticizes corruption and treating it with levity?

As a military head of state, he jailed some politically exposed persons up to 200 years for stealing public funds.

The question now is: why is he soft on corruption this time around? Is it true that the brain behind the relatively successful war against corruption at that time was his no-nonsense Deputy, BrigadierGeneral Tunde Idiagbon? The President has unwittingly given credence to this impression by the unprecedented level of corruption ravaging the country since he came to power in 2015.

The situation is so bad that some Nigerians are now clamouring for the return of his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan, who was voted out on account of what was then considered as an abysmally high level of official graft. It is a paradox that Jonathan’s administration, contrary to all expectations, is being adjudged as less corrupt than Buhari’s.

Anyone who is seriously committed to fighting corruption in Nigeria must focus his searchlight on the executive governors. For one, they wield enormous powers comparable with that of ancient Roman emperors. Secondly , they enjoy immunity , which they see as a license to misbehave.

Thirdly ,they use state security budget as slush funds which they don’t account for. The combination of all these factors create an enabling environment for them and their cronies to steal public funds with impunity. The situation is even made further worse by the pliant and mercantile judiciary which enables them to escape justice or, at best, given a mere slap on the wrist.

This probably explains why out of the over 30 ex-governors investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and charged to court for corruption, between 1999 and 2019, only about six have been convicted and one acquitted. This is why Nigerians are generally very disappointed that two of the convicts have been granted pardon by the Buhari’s administration.

Reacting to the pardon, Mr Femi Falana, a reputable human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was so furious that he asked Mr President to go further and release all those jailed for corruption in this country.

He spoke the minds of most Nigerians who saw the unwarranted pardon as an action tantamount to an official stamp on unbriddled reign of official looting of public funds. We should not also forget in a hurry that under the watch of the same government, a former governor of Abia State, Mr Orji Uzor Kalu, who was jailed for pocketing N7.56 billion of his state’s funds , was released from prison on some so- called technical grounds.

Since then, not much has been heard about his case. With the pardon granted Dariye and Nyame, no former governor is currently in jail, though the governors, and their cohorts, obviously constitute the worst thieves of humongous public funds in the country.

With this scenario , can the Buhari administration really thumb its chest that it has effectively delivered on its electoral promise to drastically reduce corruption? What is playing out in Nigeria is that thieving governors will now have the confidence to even steal more, knowing fully well that at the end of their immunity , no serious punishment will be meted out to them.

The charging of ex- governors to court for corruption is now being regarded as a mere formality to fulfill all righteousness. After all, by far the majority of them have been under going trials for over a decade, and in most instances, the cases are as good as abandoned. What a way to fight looting of public funds in a country once described as “fantastically corrupt” by the immediate past Prime Minister of Britain, Mr David Cameron.

After leaving office, with the stupendous ill-gotten wealth at their disposal, the exgovernors usually retire to the Senate where they continue with the plundering of our common patrimony. Many of them merely warm their seats because they neither propose tangible new bills nor contribute meaningfully to debates, The Trumpet gathered.

They are just there to while away time and, without conscience, receive full senators’ remunerations, in addition to the huge pensions that most of them enjoy as former governors.

Read Also: General allegedly shuns hearing on land grabbing

At the 8th Assembly, for instance, there were 15 former governors and two ex-Deputy Governors in the Senate. They were Bukola Saraki, Kwara; Theodore Orji, Abia; Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom; George Akume, Benue; Sam Egwu, Ebonyi; Danjuma Goje, Gombe ; Joshua Dariye, Plateau; Jonah Jang, Plateau and Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Yobe. Others were Ahmed Sani Yarima, Zamfara; Rabiu Kwankwanso, Kano; Adamu Aliero, Kebbi; Abdullahi Adamu, Nasarawa and Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto state.

Also rubbing shoulders with them were two former Deputy Governors: Eyinnaya Abaribe, Abia and Biodun Oluyemi of Ekiti State.

With this abhorrent political norm deeply entrenched in our country, it will be really difficult to reverse the anomic behavior of our governors who are in power, not to deliver the dividends of democracy to their constituents, but mainly to serve their selfish interests.

President Buhari should be mindful of how posterity will judge him. He should, therefore, use the remaining 13 months left in his administration to restrategise to rejuvenate his dwindling reputation as an anti-corruption czar.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button