by Sam Nda-Isaiah
President Goodluck Jonathan is obviously waiting for the hoopla surrounding the aviation minister’s bulletproof car scam to blow over so that he can sweep the matter under the carpet as he has done with all other corruption issues since he became president. The only job our president has done with distinction is protect and give state cover to the institution of corruption. And he does not even pretend about it. Corrupt public officeholders love him. He is their hero. But the president will need to know that, even as president, he does not have the power or the right or even the privilege to protect thieves and other criminals, because he holds power only in trust for the people; he cannot use that same power freely given to him in trust to the detriment of the same people. At the moment, he is holding power to the detriment of the people. He is deploying the people’s power to protect the people’s enemies.
When the news of the over N2 trillion theft of the people’s money in the name of fuel subsidy payments broke, our president did everything to avoid bringing up the matter at all. He was even very angry that the story was allowed to leak. Neither he nor his office did anything to apprehend the thieves until the House of Representatives started investigating the matter. The president did not say anything to show that he was upset about the unprecedented theft of public funds that had just been uncovered. Instead, his cronies started plotting to incriminate the head of the House of Representatives adhoc committee set up to investigate the matter, Hon. Farouk Lawan, so as to disable the committee and render its findings impotent. There were even reports that the president sometimes personally involved himself in attempts to kill the matter. It was both embarrassing and depressing. In the end, Hon. Lawan allowed himself to be messed up. The president and his friends rejoiced and the case of the theft of more than N2 trillion of the people’s money is dead. Effectively dead! The president has not mentioned the case again since then.
Then came the theft of the police pension fund estimated to be more than N100 billion. The Senate fingered a deputy director in the civil service. But this deputy director was said to enjoy a chummy relationship with the president and therefore could not be arrested, as if it was the president’s money that was at issue. When the Senate accused the presidency of shielding the criminal and moved to embarrass him, the presidency quickly aided the thief’s escape. Nothing has been heard about the matter again since then. And the president is happy that the issue is no longer on the front burner. After that came the Nuhu Ribadu committee report on the unbelievable scam in the oil industry. That too was killed by the president’s friends planted in the committee for that sole purpose.
Now the industrial-scale oil theft threatens to permanently ground the country. As I write this, the country has no money to sustain itself next year. This level of oil theft is not known to any oil-producing country, yet the president pretends to be helpless. When one of the militants close to him, who goes by the funny name “Boyloaf”, boasted that they were the ones stealing the oil and warned all of us never to use the term “steal” again to describe what they were doing – because they were merely “taking” what rightly belonged to them (as if they were sharing the loot with every family member of the oil-producing community) – people thought Jonathan now had a lead to pursue the thieves. Of course, the president did absolutely nothing to Boyloaf; the SSS did not invite him to clarify what he said and the police avoided him. Predictably, the theft has left the country stranded. The oil currently being stolen by Boyloaf and co is greater than what is left for the country, and yet the president has done nothing to the thieves.
And now, bulletproof Stella, and all the president is waiting for is for the storm to blow over as in all the other cases. No sir, Mr President, it’s not your money and you don’t have that liberty. Not even a president is powerful enough or has the right to cover up theft of public funds, because it is not his money.
If President Jonathan continues to protect thieves, he himself could become an accessory to the crime. He certainly will have vicarious liability for all the damage that has been done to the Nigerian state and its people as a result of this wicked plunder of the nation’s patrimony. Leaders prepare themselves to lead. It is obvious that our president did not prepare to be a good president.
President Jonathan’s Acute Abdomen
I am glad that President Jonathan is now hale and hearty. Many of us were disturbed when we heard the news that he had been rushed to the hospital in London. We are now happy that the president is well and fit and proper to present himself as the PDP candidate for the 2015 presidential election.
But the issue of whether the president actually fell sick after the birthday bash organised for him at the London Hilton Park Lane has refused to die off. The rumour mill insists that the president fell ill after he drank excessively at the birthday bash. The presidency has flatly denied it. But that is the problem because Nigerians only start believing a story after the presidency has denied it. Stories of the president’s drinking problems are rife among Nigerians and the diplomatic community in Nigeria. But the drinking issue was not what bothered me when the news of the president’s sudden acute stomach ailment broke. People appeared not to have noticed the number of cakes the president cut in his birthday photograph pose. I counted about six massive birthday cakes. If Nigerians cannot prove that the president over-drank and therefore had acute abdomen, at least, we all saw the six cakes. I hope the acute abdomen was not caused by the excessive consumption of those six massive cakes.
Yes, I have not forgotten that Reuben Abati told us in an essay sometime ago that his principal, the president, was not a glutton. But something must have caused the acute abdomen anyway. As with all presidents, the president of Nigeria is public property and all those who serve him those kind of drinks including “kaikai” – the one that every Nigerian talks about – should know that they might actually be committing a crime. If anything had happened to the president in London, they would all have been rounded up. If the security agents cut off access of some people to the president – which is part of their job in any modern nation – we may be able to prevent future acute abdomen afflicting our president – and that should benefit the country at least between now and 2015.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Sam Nda-Isaiah/Leadership