Nigeria’s Untouchables: Chibuike Amaechi And The Reality Of Fantastic Corruption – By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu



A few weeks ago, the British PM David Cameron was overheard telling the queen that leaders of some “fantastically corrupt countries” in particular Nigeria and Afghanistan; possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world would be coming to Britain for an anti-corruption summit.  Many found the comments of Cameron offensive. The president’s spokesman Garba Shehu tried to suggest that Cameron was referring to the past administration even though it was obvious Cameron had pointedly spoken of the present and not the past. But much of Cameron’s rebuke was driven by sheer propaganda, hypocrisy and a denial of the reality of Nigeria’s growing problem of fantastic corruption under Buhari’s administration. It is even notable that while the Afghan government perhaps having chosen to be more sincere about their corruption problem largely refrained from offering any response to Mr Cameron,  the Nigerian government  ever so prone to self righteousness have been busy making all kinds of fuss about what was an emphatically correct statement about Nigeria’s corruption.

Those who have been hasty in trying to debunk Cameron’s statement have forgotten so soon that Buhari himself has been junketing around the world either calling Nigerians criminals or labeling the nation an address soaked in corruption. They also perhaps forgot that as a government with intelligence agencies, diplomatic institutions and partnership with agencies such as transparency international that issues annual reports on corruption around the globe—the British government and by implication Cameron is privy to information that most us do not have. Thus much as the Buhari administration has been making noise and sponsoring a massive media propaganda on its alleged war on corruption, Cameron knows from information available to him that a corruption war targeted exclusively at the opposition party and critics while his own corrupt party members  are untouchable lacks any substance. There is no doubt that Buhari has a corruption war, but it’s a war that is designed not to reduce corruption but to decimate the opposition and silence his critics so as to pave way for a one party state.

For example we are inundated every day with news of money dispensed to various individuals by Jonathan’s administration to prosecute the 2015 elections. As a matter of fact elections everywhere cost money and every electoral circle in Nigeria certainly witnesses the disbursement of funds at every level. This has never been a secret. Buhari himself came to power through the same means. Governors that owed salaries and pensions in their states and eminent godfathers donated looted billions to the Buhari campaign. Kobo for kobo Buhari’s campaign outspent the Jonathan campaign. Yet today Buhari is busy demonising and hounding all opposition party members and critics who brought/received funding for the 2015 elections while his own party members who likewise brought or received looted funds for his campaign are being rewarded with cabinet posts.

A genuine approach to prevent abuse of electoral funding would have been the introduction of election campaign funding laws that would regulate how elections are to be funded as obtains in other climes, more so when Buhari and the APC are just as guilty as the PDP in abusing and or using looted funds for electoral purposes. But what we see is using the pretext of fighting corruption to target only PDP members and critics who participated one way or the other in the 2015 elections. Selective persecution of political opponents is corruption in itself and represents the height of fantastic corruption Cameron was talking about. Little wonder a British tabloid; the daily mail published an incisive report about Chibuike Amaechi described as the “fantastically corrupt pal of Nigeria’s president.” The report gave an analysis of how Amaechi fleeced Rivers state during his tenure, contributed billions of looted funds to the Buhari campaign and most importantly maintains his cabinet position and remains untouchable despite the humongous evidence of corruption against him.

In today’s world nothing can be hidden and the Amaechi saga as analysed by the media in faraway Britain provides the most compelling evidence of fantastic corruption in Buhari’s Nigeria.  Truth be told; Amaechi has a long history of corruption. He was a speaker for 8 years in Rivers state under the then fantastically corrupt governor Peter Odili. Consequent to his implication in the looting of Rivers state, he was the only gubernatorial candidate denied a party ticket in 2007 on the basis of a report by EFCC. He was later to become governor through a Supreme Court judgement and his stewardship leaves a stinking trail of monumental corruption. In spite of being the richest state in Nigeria, he left the infrastructure comatose, owed salaries and pensions and piled up massive debts for the state. Having decamped to the APC and invested looted funds in the Buhari campaign, he now enjoys a ministerial post and struts the land majestically as one of Buhari’s corrupt untouchables.

But therein lies the contradiction. When Buhari claims to be fighting corruption, but then has an army of untouchables who in spite of overwhelming evidence of corruption are practically untouchable either because they are in the ruling party or because they provided the financial backing  (looted funds) for his election—then there can be no other definition for Nigeria other than being fantastically corrupt as Cameron stated. The intention of the rule of law was to create a system where all irrespective of status will be beholden to the same rules and where it will apply equally for infractions of similar value. It was never the intention of the law for some to be prosecuted and even persecuted while some others who have committed infractions of greater calamity would face no consequence while they strut the land like peacocks.  If the law was designed to function on selection and double standards, the essential ingredient of justice would be removed and a state of injustice and anarchy would prevail—this as we all know would serve no purpose other than to further entrench impunity/corruption in the polity.

In the last few months and weeks, some things have happened around the world that gives us practical lessons in how corruption is and should be fought. A few weeks ago the Brazilian president Dilma Roussef was impeached for administrative misconduct. Similarly in February the former Israeli Pime Minister Ehud Olmert received a jail term of 18 months for bribery and obstruction of justice. Iran had in March also sentenced an influential oil mogul and billionaire Babak Zanjani to death for corruption. In all instances; there is a common theme and it’s that the anti-corruption agencies and investigators could investigate, indict, prosecute and punish anyone no matter their status in society. This is in sharp contrast to Nigeria where Buhari virtually controls the anti-corruption agencies which he uses to persecute his opponents while making sure that his corrupt supporters and enablers are untouchable. This is why Nigeria is fantastically corrupt and will remain so until everyone becomes equal before the law.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu




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