Opinion: OduahGate and the importance of ethics to National Dialogue

by Adeolu Ademoyo


While President Jonathan awarded Elbit Security-gate without bidding, Stella Oduah-gate was awarded without bidding. While Elbit-gate has two costs in the public domain, Stella Oduah-gate has inflated prices. Same thing, no difference.

The ethics of motive is an aspect of ethics that allows us inspect and assess the moral worth of an act.  In ethics, we say in popular folk terms that a good act may be done for the wrong motive and bad act may be done for the right motive.  At the end of the day, a potentially good act is often undermined by the weight of poor motive in ethics. So it is with the call for dialogue by President Jonathan’s regime whose lack of public ethics in governance is incurable and for this reason will tar and soil any potentially good act.

Thus, given the ethics of motive my proposition is that an instinctively corrupt regime, such as President Jonathan’s regime lacks the moral credential to midwife a genuine Sovereign National Conference or create an enabling environment for one. So for anyone to rush into a so-called dialogue is to fail to ask a morally sinking and a morally and politically challenged regime to answer for its serial moral failures in governance.

On why ethics is prior to this national dialogue, please let us note that this is pre-election period in Nigeria. And Nigeria runs cash and carry elections. Nigerian elections are about money.

The last time we had issue based political campaigns with clearly enunciated moral and ideological divide was in the first and second Republics. Those were through Obafemi Awolowo’s parties Action Group and the Unity Party of Nigeria and Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party, Joseph Tarka United Middle Belt Party, Ahmadu Bello’s Northern Peoples Congress, and Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC, and Ibrahim Waziri’s GNPP’s “politics without bitterness”.

Even in the latter days of the second republic between 1975-1980, the NPP and NPN were indistinguishable in their lack of clear-cut commitment to any character or programmatic covenant with Nigerian peoples. However, Waziri Ibrahim’s GNPP struggled to articulate a moral character through its slogan of “Politics Without Bitterness” which represented an ethical model of campaign.  The only parties then (1975-1980) that had a clear ideological, political and moral vision which was welfarist to the left of the ideological spectrum and social democratic in its vision and which one can disagree and agree (i.e. argue with intelligibly) with substantively were the Unity Party of Nigeria and Peoples Redemption Party.

In the third Republic, MKO Abiola’s “Farewell To Poverty” of the SDP was a social democratic program which   tried hard to make itself politically distinguishable from Bashir Tofa’s NRC

But things have gone worse such that today in Nigeria, elections are without ideologies, political, ideological and moral manifestoes, which are covenants with voting public. Elections are about money.  The party with the largest election war chest “wins”. So politicians who masquerade as political “leaders” desperately look for raw cash in violation of the ethical in our lives.  They rest their campaigns on money rather than clearly spelt out ideological, moral and programmatic vision for the country from which we can all choose. In Nigerian elections, money talks, money “wins”, not votes, not manifestoes.

So in this context dubious contracts such as, Malabu Oil contract, Stella Oduah armored car contracts, President Jonathan’s Internet Monitoring Elbit Security contract and other dubious contracts which Nigerian politicians struggle to screen and keep away from   the scrutinizing view of the ever watchful Nigerian media are sources through which the PDP-the ruling party and President Jonathan use to gather money for re-election. This is why the Stella Oduah-gate and other corrupt gates and the so-called national dialogue –a diversionary ploy -have occupied the center stage.

Thus, exactly two weeks ago, in response to the call for a national dialogue, I set forth the ethical question. I argued on this platform that in the specific and present situation we are in, even when the political is significant and may sometimes take a life of its own, however in our concrete situation under Jonathan’s presidency the ethical is prior to the political where the political is conceived as how to solve what everyone calls the national question. I rest my position on the view that the violation of the ethical in our life as the present government under President Jonathan has consistently done is what produces the political problems.

In my argument I observed that corruption is at the core of that ethical violation. I observed that   some ministers are fronts for President Jonathan’s incurable disposition to corruption and that the president himself is deeply invested in Nigeria’s corruption (Premiumtimes October 13 2013).  I cited the most (at the time) recent corrupt act –the Internet monitoring contract awarded to the Israeli company-Elbit Security without bidding. The Elbit Security contract has assumed a hushed tone in the presidency. It is one issue the presidency would wish we just “forgot”. But we will not until the Presidency publicly comes out clean on it by telling Nigerians its present status.

Hence, on the linkage of the ethical to the so-called national dialogue, I concluded as follows: “…President Jonathan’s moral deficits have diminished and reduced the country so badly such that a honest national dialogue is impossible if his presidency does not come clean morally on these issues that have generated serious political crisis.”

“To fail to see this and move on with a conference which is flawed from the beginning is to again putting the political cart before the moral horse which ought to drive and pull the political cart…”

About ten days after we made the preceding claim, the Stella Oduah-gate became public thus confirming our moral explanation of President Jonathan’s diversion.

These are the highlights of this chronic moral sickness in President Jonathan’s government. When the Stella Oduah-gate broke, the Aviation ministry denied it only to agree that it is true. Also, the reason for the purchase of armored cars changed at least once.  It is a contradiction to deny that X exists and to later affirm that X exists as the government has done through its aviation authorities on the Stella Oduah-gate.

Also, it is strange to give two different unrelated reasons on different occasions for an act (the purchase of armored cars) as it has been done in this case. So two unrelated reasons cannot be one, and be both right at the same time as the aviation authorities have claimed shamelessly on the Stella Oduah-gate.

On the basis of these contradictions the culpability of Minister Stella Oduah is obvious. Thus the president does not need any committee to “look” into the case as it is doing to again muddle the issue and buy time. An ethically inclined government will take its decision with precision. But not President Jonathan.

The poor ethics in Stella Oduah –gate manifested at various point.  When it   would not go away, despite all spinning, ethnicity was read into it in order to muddle the issue. It is strange that a government, which is calling for a “national” dialogue, would allow this deliberate ethnic muddling of bare facts about corruption to flourish.  With a poisoned well by the same government and its handlers that called for a dialogue- the question is: how do you get Nigerians to sit down honestly and talk?

Also, when Stella Oduah-gate would not go away, it was suggested that Stella Oduah should sit tight because according to Mrs. Oduah’s handlers this was how Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was “hounded” but she “stood her ground” and she is still there as minister. In other words, when you are corrupt under President Jonathan’s government and you are caught the solution is that the corrupt minister should just “stand his/her ground” and the President will take care of the rest on your behalf.

The error Nigerians can make on this is to take an atomistic or isolated view of the Stella Oduah-gate. Such simplistic view would wrongly isolate the Stella Oduah-gate from the systemic corruption, nepotism, impunity and politically motivated graft headed by President Jonathan. Whatever is the outcome of the Stella Oduah –gate I challenge Nigerians and the Presidency to tell us the difference(s) if any among (i) the corruption Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke sits on in the Nigerian oil industry and (ii) the covert award by the Presidency of the contract for internet monitoring to Elbit Security without bidding and the fact that we have two figures in the public domain on the Elbit Security contract (iii) Stella Oduah-gate.


The facts show that there are no differences. While President Jonathan awarded Elbit Security-gate without bidding, Stella Oduah-gate was awarded without bidding. While Elbit-gate has two costs in the public domain, Stella Oduah-gate has inflated prices. Same thing, no difference. Perhaps the difference is that Stella Oduah-gate came from a ministry while Elbit Security-gate came from the Presidency that supervises the ministry Stella Oduah-gate came from.

Second, it will be simplistic to isolate the Stella Oduah-gate as a signifier of the endemic corruption in President Jonathan’s presidency from his hurried call for a national dialogue.  But they (the corrupt acts) are inseparably linked. The point of President Jonathan’s “national Dialogue” is to sell a dummy of a talk such that while Nigerians “sweat” it out at a so-called dialogue, the presidency solidifies for the next election while the treasury is cleaned up. The point is how can a government that is completely lacking in any moral-as we have shown- be trusted with a dialogue?

For a national dialogue to have any meaning, there must be a strong moral environment for it, that is it must not be a ploy to buy time for the President’s re-election bid as it obviously is at present.  The dialogue must be sovereign because its moral worth lies in its sovereignty. But both President Jonathan and the National Assembly stand in opposition to these two conditions. Therefore there are sufficient grounds to conclude that the dialogue is President Jonathan’s ploy for re-election. It is a waste of productive time of Nigerian people.




Read this article in the Premium Times Newspapers


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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