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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
more articles by Terver



Genuine leaders go an extra mile to ensure that their actions and inactions reinforce the ideologies and value system upon which the society they are called upon to lead is built. A President should lead not just physically but also morally. 


Pardoning Corruption

The granting of state pardon by President Jonathan  to ex-convict DSP Alamyesiagha, and a host of other Nigerians convicted of various offences in the past has once again  brought to the fore the penchant for this government for the absurd. This government loves absurdity and President Jonathan himself is absurdity personified. How this president manages to come up with several silly actions in quick succession is something psychologists may need to study. The outcome of their study could help Nigerians in the future to avoid persons with certain personality traits when choosing their leaders.


Psychologists need to unearth the fundamental discrepancies in moral development that can make a human being so shamelessly at home with evil and corruption. There must be something inherently wrong with a leader who is utterly out of touch with the feelings and yearnings of the people whose mandate to lead them he claims to have. How Jonathan manages to escape the understanding that, apart from fuel price and power supply, the next most emotionally sensitive subject to the average Nigerian is corruption, is a mystery.

Even though I predicted before he became President that Goodluck will be bad luck to Nigeria, I hadnít the faintest idea he could get this bad .In the past three years Jonathan has callously hurt national sensitivities is such a manner that one wonders if he has sworn an oath before some god to be a twinge rather than a balm to Nigeria.

The New Year fuel price hike of 2012 was just a prelude to things to come. Jonathan went on to remove the so-called (phantom) subsidy despite the huge outcry from the masses against it. The argument of the government then (even though we knew they were lying) was that, the hike was a necessary surgery to heal the economy, which Okonjo Iwuela deceitfully told us was about to crash. Bogus committees with ambiguous mandates were then constituted to manage proceeds from the fuel price hike and huge amounts of money were used to set up offices, and to oil the propaganda machinery for the government, and once the masses retreated to their daily toils, the government returned to its looting coven and life continued.

It did not take long before the lies of this government were exposed. The report of a House of Representatives probe into the (phony) subsidy expenditure revealed that a racket of very powerful friends of the President actually swindled the nation of billions of Naira. Instead of prosecuting the offenders, this government set up another committee (the Ribadu Committee) to investigate the oil industry. The presentation of the Ribadu report became a comedy show, in which the Deputy Chairman of the Committee (Steve Orosanye) engaged in a shouting match with the Chairman and that marked the death of the report. Since then this government has pulled out many tricks in the books to shield the culprits from prosecution. In their stead, a diminutive honorable was made dishonorable, as it were to say it is better to destroy one man than for a whole gang of thieves to be put into jail.

While our astonishment was barely subsided, we were jerked back to bewilderment when this government looked on as a Director in the Police Pension scheme, Yakubu John walked away with a pat on the back, after pocketing N23billion of Police pension money. Jonathan obviously gave not a damn that the legitimate owners of the pension are dying while a rogue feasts on their sweat. Still on the Pension scam, we have the Chairman of the Pension reform tax team, Abdulrasheed, Maina, who is alleged to have also embezzled billions of pension fund, cannot even be arrested by the Police even after a warrant of arrest has been issued by the Senate.

To prove further that this government is only playing lip service to the fight against corruption; it appointed Chief Tony Anenih chairman of the Board of the NPA and also railroaded him to the PDP board of trustee chairmanship. This is a man widely believed to have, as then Minister of Works, flittered away over N300billion meant for reconstruction of the Lagos-Benin Expressway.

All these instances point to one fact; that the body, soul and spirit of President Jonathan is completely detached from the fight against corruption. It is simply not in his character to attack corruption. Looking into his history, one realizes the reason for his shyness towards the anti-corruption war may not be unconnected with his own personal failing to stay above board. He was among the 30 governors on that infamous list compiled by Ribadu of corrupt governors during his time as governor of Bayelsa State.( Even though I have issues with the manner Ribadu used that list as a tool for blackmail instead of a genuine desire to bring those governors to book)

So while Jonathan mechanically motions the war against corruption with his lips, his body language says the contrary. That he found no moral impediment in pronouncing a state pardon on Alamayiesigha who is actually a fugitive who jumped bail and is still under investigation for corruption by the US and UK governments, proves beyond any doubts that Jonathan finds nothing wrong with being corrupt. Through this thoughtless act, Jonathan has pardoned corruption!

Those who are quick to quote the constitution to justify this latest act of indiscretion by the President do miss a very fundamental point; that corruption by its very nature (just like adultery or homosexuality) is a moral question that cannot be discussed or analyzed in isolation from moral considerations. That the Constitution allows a President to pardon law breakers does not mean he is exonerated when the exercise of such powers conflicts with national interest. The interest of the Nation here is that the President should not only be fighting corruption but should also be seen as being serious about the fight.

There is something wrong with a President having more concern about removing a stigma on criminals than putting criminals into jail. Those of us complaining against this pardon are not ignorant as Reuben Abati wants us to believe. We have issues with Mr. Jonathanís zeal to pardon ex-convicts while showing no zeal to fight corruption. In essence we are concerned about the wrong priorities of Jonathan than his helping a political benefactor. When a man's house is on fire, it takes some good dose of insanity for him to be playing draughts in the backyard! Jonathan has not really come to terms with the huge moral responsibilities that go with the office he occupies.

Genuine leaders go an extra mile to ensure that their actions and inactions reinforce the ideologies and value system upon which the society they are called upon to lead is built. A President should lead not just physically but also morally. 



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