A Moot Pardon: Jona Don Fall Our Hands/By Wale Odunsi



As spotted, the title of this commentary is in pidgin English; it was with intent. As literates, we seem to write to please only readers who understand plenty ‘Oyinbo’, forgetting that half of the population is not so educated to read a plethora of vocabulary.

In addition, I am inspired by writers who blend our culture, tradition, happenings in our surrounding and mother’s tongue in order to pass across their views in a staid but witty manner; Yomi Odunuga, Sonala Olumhense, Pius Adesanmi, Tunde Fagbenle, SOC Okenwa, most recently Tunji Ariyomo, just to cite a few fall into this category.

‘You don fall my hand’ is a native phraseology which in proper English means ‘You have disappointed me’. This locution rightly depicts President Goodluck Jonathan’s absolution of certified superlative rouge.

Last Tuesday, the National Council of States, an advisory body on policy making to the President, granted pardon to former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Also granted pardon were Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya; Brig. Gen. Abdulkarim Adisa; Maj-Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju; Major Bello Magaji; Mohammed Lima Biu; and erstwhile boss of Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

Predictably, of all the names, Alamieyeseigha’s has been singled out for pummeling. It was not unexpected of a man who, like his senior terrific thief James Ibori, magnetized a deleterious attention to us as a people. At present, opinions are divided with antagonists scoring high marks.

The pros believe that the number one citizen is being attacked since he hails from same state as Alams. This is incorrect. Absolutely, one is tempted to look at it from that perspective but it isn’t precisely what the grumble is about. We are talking about pride, morals, decency and of course impression of the international community. Have we short memory? Have we forgotten so soon that it took us a decade to repair the downright damage the military junta did to our image?

I can concoct the kind of pressure GEJ faced before he exonerated his former boss. He might not have actually wished to succumb knowing full well the consequence of such on his administration. However, bowing ultimately to the force was a monumental blunder that will remain on record. The apologists who did the idiosyncratic job of efficaciously convincing him, must have spoken extensively on the 2015 project, how they fought to install him as Commander-in-chief, reflect of his home state (and by extension South-south region), and other factors they rehearsed.

But then is there any sense in granting mercy to someone who in spite of everything is at risk of arrest? For crying out loud investigations are ongoing, so the President should have tactfully turned down the request by his kinsmen, insisting he would only let off Alams with the proviso that there are no further charges against him, home or abroad.

In good conscience, GEJ should not have easily erased the ex-convict tag off a man accused of allocating a chunk of state funds to himself and family, accumulating properties, investments and cash exceeding £10m – overseas that is. The loot lodged in local accounts might actually be close to that or above.

Adding their voice to the already gargantuan condemnation trailing this matter, the United States Government through its embassy said, “We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption.”

I am all the more so irritated each time I think about the threat by the USG that it may withhold a whopping $660.5 million it budgeted as assistance to Nigeria in its 2012 budget. It is germane to note that this figure is the highest when compared to any other sub-Saharan country except Ethiopia. Ladies and gentlemen, the import of the above is that we are about to lose more than N93 billion because of one obese crook who once changed into a woman.

Even if our leaders decide to ‘chop’ half of the USG financial support and would be kind to use the remainder on developmental projects, it would go a long way in stirring the standard of living of the impoverished electorates.

For criticizing the decision of Nigeria’s overall Oga at the top, his men say we are exhibiting sophisticated ignorance, a refined way of calling us ‘Olodos’. I myself take the slur in good faith. However, posterity will not only judge but also ruthlessly punish those hiding under the prerogative of office to unapologetically insult the poor masses who essentially want to see corrupt public officials get appropriate punishments and resultant ridicule.

This pardon is just one too many and if truth be told, President Goodluck Jonathan really ‘fall our hands’.





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