Benjamin Nwanze: What I learnt on Thursday? Jonathan doesn’t understand how serious corruption is

by Benjamin Nwanze

The biggest perpetrators of the fuel subsidy scam, after extensive legislative investigations, have gone unpunished. The pension fund scam has also not been resolved…

When Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber referred to President Jonathan as a “Chauncey Gardiner figure with no obvious vision for his presidency beyond holding office,” no truer words about this president have ever been written. With his every statement, President Jonathan continues to display the fact that he does not understand the importance of fighting corruption at all levels decisively and instead chooses to trivialise the disease that has ravaged the country beyond all measure.

His much repeated statement about stealing not being corruption, trying to parse the truth by sending his proxies out with dictionary definitions to try and obscure the meaning and confuse the public (hint: the definitions also include the word “embezzlement”), have fallen on deaf ears. His latest rally in Lagos to start his re-election bid demonstrated clearly how uninformed the president remains on this issue six years after entering office..

Instead of outlining a concise, defined plan for the future of this country tackling electricity, large scale corruption and economic recovery, he spent much of his time  continually mocking Buhari’s attempts at putting corrupt politicians on trial when he was head of state, saying that putting people in jail is not the way to fight corruption. Putting people in jail for billions of dollars of embezzled fund does not seem to be a priority for this administration.

This approach is not working. In 2012, Nigeria’s corruption perception score was 27, in 2013, it was 25, while the 2014 number moved us back to a score of 27. The result is that Nigeria remains one of the most corrupt in the world, one in which all the political will to follow the biggest cases to their logical conclusion has long since evaporated.

The biggest perpetrators of the fuel subsidy scam, after extensive legislative investigations, have gone unpunished. The pension fund scam has also not been resolved. The huge sums of money unaccounted for by the NNPC, that most opaque of institutions, have not been resolved either, and the CBN governor who raised alarm at the occurrence was forced out before the end of this tenure.

  1. Fuel subsidy scam = $6.8 billion
  2. Pension fund scam = N33 billion
  3. Forensic audit to resolve unaccounted NNPC funds = $10.8 billion

Personal misconduct also seems to be glossed over by this administration. Where as Muhammadu Buhari had opportunity to commend the late Dora Akunyili for her financial responsibility, President Jonathan is scrambling to cover for former bosses and indiscriminate ministers. To wit: Diepreye Alamiyeiseigha, from whom Jonathan took over as Bayelsa governor after he was impeached for corruption, was pardoned by this administration with no apologies, and the former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, who procured luxury vehicles without following due process, also escaped censure.

In a recent media chat, he also queried the frequent invitations that federal lawmakers have extended to Petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to explain the use of public funds. Many of these invitations have been snubbed, and no action has been taken.

At every stage, Goodluck Jonathan has displayed a weakness when dealing with corruption, and this stems directly from the way he perceives it. Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International, said that countries at the bottom of the index need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people. This will not happen in a Jonathan administration.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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