…what we discovered last week was that the DG of the SEC has allegedly been eating quite a lot.
‘Arunma’ literally means ‘good body’ in Igbo.
With the sort of buzz Ms Arunma Oteh got on social media, when she was newly appointed as the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was obvious that she was aptly named. She got a lot of attention for her physical attributes; probably even much more than for her excellent resume. I’ve met her a few times, the most recent being at a wedding where her height and command of the English language left me in awe.
She seemed like one of those who would be in government, do their job and quietly retire back to some teaching job in a university. That was until last week when the House of Representatives opened a new episode in their never-ending series of ‘Hey, look Nigerians, we are great at draining your soakaways while we forget to flush our toilets’. Yeah, that is a really long title I know. Probably reflective of how long the National Assembly has been setting up probe committee after probe committee with almost no tangible result.
“Why do we live in a country where government officials know other people in government who ask for bribe and condone it; until they get caught in a fix themselves?“
Anyway without all the tough English to boot, what we discovered last week was that the DG of the SEC has allegedly been eating quite a lot. She ate as much as N850, 000 at once. To put it in perspective, buffet per head at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Victoria Island, probably the newest ‘posh’ hotel on the block, costs roughly N6000. So basically, ‘Aunty Good Body’ allegedly ate for about 141 people. That’s more than the number of Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by a mile. She also allegedly collected rent illegally on government property.
We also found out that the House Committee Chairman on Capital Markets, Herman Hembe (I actually like his name) allegedly asked the SEC DG for a N44million bribe and decided to investigate her office when she refused. This, coming way after they had allegedly collected funds to travel abroad without eventually doing so. Basically, the D’Banj and Don Jazzy split has nothing on the House drama that was broadcast live on TV. Too bad if you missed it all.
The bitter payback game is as entrenched in our system as is corruption. President Obasanjo allegedly crushes his Vice President’s dream of becoming President for ‘disloyalty’. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu allegedly arrests only people who have stepped on the President’s toes. The Senate allegedly unseats its president for not sharing committees favourably to the big boys. President Jonathan allegedly unseats the governor of his home state for not being in his camp. The list is endless. It is almost as if no one decides to act until they have been burnt.
Why do we live in a country where government officials know other people in government who ask for bribe and condone it; until they get caught in a fix themselves? Why do we have a House of Representatives who have nothing against government extravagance until they ask for their share and don’t get a piece of the pie? The doctrine of coming to equity with clean hands doesn’t exist in these parts. Equity probably took off a long time ago as the poor thing was tired of seeing hands dirtier than the waterways in Makoko! What bothers me the most is how these probe panels all end up. Now that it seems like both sides to this investigation are burnt, sitting will become few and far between until we hear little or nothing of them.
We live in a very unique country and many have argued that Ms Oteh could not have picked a better time to spill the beans. But the problem still remains that we would never have known of these allegations on Hon. Herman Hembe if she hadn’t been so blatantly accused of foul play. Sadly, it is these small acts that show us up for our disregard for doing right. It is not until a James Ibori steals your grandfather and his coffin that it should become a national embarrassment? ‘Dem say na from handshake woman dey carry belle.’ You can’t expect to keep fighting the big fight when the small acts of corruption continue to slide through.
It would be great to see how this probe ends and who gets to be punished after all of it. It would be even greater to see that Nigerians get to draw important lessons from the entire episode. Most importantly, as much as we like people in government having good bodies, a good heart and good intentions are all we ask for. I believe we are due some of that already. Did I hear you say Goodluck with that?