Newsexpress place banner advert Yudala genuine products
Ibori and a nation united by corruption, By Chido Onumah

By Chido Onumah on 01/01/2017

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

Views: 711

Chido Onumah
Chido Onumah

One of the highlights of the year that has just ended was the release from a British jail of one of Nigeria's most notorious politically exposed persons (PEPs), James Onanefe Ibori. Ibori’s rap sheet is as long as the 338km East-West Road in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, but the reason for his latest freedom was the conviction and sentencing – 13 years in prison – by a Southwark Crown Court in April 2012 after he pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of money laundering, corruption and conspiracy to defraud.

Of course, it wasn’t Ibori’s release that dominated the news, as newsy as his expected release was. Rather, it was his triumphant return to the warm embrace of his kinsmen, supporters and well-wishers. James Onanefe Ibori or James Onanefe Ochuko Ibori, depending on if you are appearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is an enigma. He was governor of Delta State from 1999-2007. He and his bosom friend, Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s current senate president, bankrolled the political machine that led to the emergence of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president in 2007. And if not for providence – the death of Yar’Adua in May 2010 – Ibori, who up until then was the de facto vice president of Nigeria, would have succeeded Yar’Adua.

Yar’Adua died and Nigeria dodged a bullet or so we thought! Ibori was subsequently jailed in 2012, two years after he was arrested – and extradited to the UK – by the Interpol in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was hiding after fleeing Nigeria. Even in prison, he maintained his godfather role and from the public admission of one of his surrogates played a key role not only in the emergence of high-ranking public officers in Delta State but the leadership of the National Assembly. For the trajectory of the Ibori saga and persona, readers will find this piece, “The welcome party for Ibori” by Simon Kolawole, instructive.

Depending on where you come from, perhaps your political affiliation and how much you benefitted from the Ibori heist in Delta State, either directly or through a third party or even tangentially as a hanger-on, the celebratory Mass held in honour of Ibori’s release from prison, though detestable, was quite understandable. After all, there is an Ibori in many of us. There are countless Iboris in the National Assembly, criminals making laws and posing as “distinguished senators” and “honourable members”. There are Ibori’s in various government houses across the country; scoundrels posing as executive governors. There are Iboris in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Police, our universities and sundry public institutions where those who have been kept in charge of what Peter Ekeh in his seminal essay, “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, referred to as “civic public” conveniently and unconscionably steal from it and divert their loot to the “primordial public”.

That is the sorry state of Nigeria. And it explains the Ibori conundrum. According to Ekeh, “A good citizen of the primordial public gives out and asks for nothing in return; a lucky citizen of the civic public gains from the civic public but enjoys escaping giving anything in return whenever he can. But such a lucky man would not be a good man were he to channel all his lucky gains to his private purse. He will only continue to be a good man if he channels part of the largesse from the civic public to the primordial public. That is the logic of the dialectics. The unwritten law of the dialectics is that it is legitimate to rob the civic public in order to strengthen the primordial public.”

So, just as it is often the case where one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s militant, as a people, Nigerians seem not to be in agreement on what constitutes corruption or who a corrupt person is. What one Nigerian sees as corruption, another sees it as “blessing from God”, their own opportunity or “turn to eat”. The national cake is there for the taking. The state has abdicated its responsibilities – roads, water, school, health, sanitation, etc – and instinctively we have learned to “manage” by helping ourselves to as much as the national pottage, in the “civic public”, as we can lay our hands on.

Take the ongoing spat between the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and his predecessor, Solomon Arase, who has been accused of making away with over 20 police vehicles when he retired in June 2016. Arase didn’t deny carting away police vehicles. He is just piqued that when it was his “turn to eat”, the police authorities suddenly became amnesic. To show his righteous anger on an issue that has caused public discomfiture, Mr. Arase’s reminded the all-righteous police authorities that there is nothing new in Inspectors General of Police making away with enough vehicles to open a car shop when they retire.

“I expect that former occupants of the office of the Inspector-General of Police should not be demeaned. This explains why Force Order 295 was emplaced by the force management under my leadership as acknowledged in your letter in reference,” Arase wrote to his predecessor in his defence. “In spite of the emplacement of this order and despite the fact that my two immediate predecessors left office with 13 and nine vehicles of different makes and models respectively, I never pressurised either of them to return any of such vehicles neither did I engage in any act that was capable of bringing them to ridicule as being done to me of late by a force I dedicated my life to serving up to the highest level.”

Clearly, pubic office in Nigeria is simply a sinecure and you would be eternally excoriated by your kinsmen and associates for not taking advantage of a life-changing opportunity.  As someone once reminded me, public office in Nigeria is like climbing a mighty tree with lots of fruit. Once you climb, you are required to get as much as you can because you may not have a second chance. So, we are all, ceaselessly, engaged in the race of getting a nibble at the cake. To appreciate the Ibori phenomenon, you must understand Nigeria. Here, the best private schools, including universities, are owned by those whose responsibility has included how to make our public schools functional. It is the same story for the health, transport, and indeed, every sector of the Nigerian society. 

It is as if Nigerians, wherever we find ourselves in the “civic public”, are in a race for a medal on how best to pillage the country. The “Villa Repair Heist”, as someone has described it, provides a fitting example of this brazen larceny that is called public service in Nigeria. The 2016 budget for repairs and rehabilitation of Nigeria’s Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, was N642.5 million.
By 2017, the budget had shot up to N5.6 billion. “Was the Villa hit by a bomb or earthquake unbeknownst to us citizens?” “Was there a war akin to Aleppo in the place?” one commentator asked. No, there wasn’t. It is simply “their time to eat.” In the same budget, there is a provision of N2.3billion for the Defence Headquarters to clear backlog of electricity bills that is budgeted for every year. 

In July 2012, I was part of an audience at Chatham House, London, where an ex-governor of Niger State and Chair of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was guest speaker. Dr. Aliyu spoke on “Nigeria’s Unity and Regional Socio-Political Groups: Influence and Impact of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF).” He noted that “corruption was the single unifying factor of the elite in Nigeria and that the way to deal with it was to reduce the focus on the centre.” Aliyu is right in many ways. But it is not just the elite. It is about Nigeria.  

Today, if someone is robbed, we no longer get jolted. The refrain will be, “Thank God he is alive.” “We praise God the robbers took his possession and spared his life.” “God bless those robbers.” It is the same response you get when kidnappers strike. We no longer bother to interrogate armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices that have become part of our national ethos.

The celebration of Ibori’s return from prison, therefore, provides an opportunity to interrogate what Nigeria means to us as Nigerians. The problem is not really with Ibori or those who have elected to celebrate him. The problem is with Nigeria, a place where allegiance is to the “primordial public”, where rulers live in mansions and religious centres luxuriate in splendor while public schools and hospitals wallow is squalor. 

Onumah, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is the author of We Are All Biafrans Contact him on conumah@hotmail.com; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah

Source News Express

Posted 01/01/2017 01:25:22 AM

 

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon


 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!

 

You may also like...
Rivers APC dares Jonathan •Says PDP cannot reclaim...

Washington Post Editor to speak at AUN

FG warned against negotiating poor deal with Niger...

Bayelsa youths protest sale of oil field by...

50 Cent arrested for cursing on stage

FIFA bans ex-VP Jack Warner for life

Bayelsa pays salary to avert teachers’ strike

Bayelsa gets N1.24 billion bailout fund

Nwaoboshi commends Okowa’s prudent management of resources

Libelous Advertorial: LEADERSHIP, BusinessDAY apologise to Dangote

Declare Anambra senatorial seats vacant, APGA tells INEC...

Entrepreneurs from 170 countries gather in US for...

 

Latest News South African church bars blacks Drug abuse rate among girls worrisome — NDLEA Lambo, Jemibewon, others declare support for Dino Melaye Sacked whistleblower regains job at Foreign Affairs Ministry NIIT to subsidise scholarship fees Anambra Guber: Bishops pray for Chidoka, urge spirit of sportsmanship among politicians Farmers to get agronomy training for yam export Land tussle: Iwaya Community Lagos floors Anglican Church at Supreme Court Book on Brigadier Maimalari killed in 1966 coup for public presentation Grazing Reserve: Yobe provides 2,500 hectares of land 38 Nigerian Universities increase tuition fees IBB calls for restructuring of Nigeria

 

Most Read Nigerian female sex addict opens up, says ‘I like it with both men and women’ (259,476 views) NUDE PHOTO OF OMOTOLA JALADE-EKEINDE surfaces online (238,834 views) Shameless Genevieve Nnaji exposes breasts in public (195,885 views) Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-Kayode •Demolishes claims on Igbo/Yoruba history with facts and figures (169,973 views) Finally named: The full list of friends of Nigerian female sex addict who prowled Facebook (165,274 views) OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU (the one who called himself God) IS DEAD (146,838 views) Breaking News: POPULAR REVEREND CONVERTS TO ISLAM in Kaduna (Nigeria) (127,319 views) THE FINAL DISGRACE: Igbo scholar unleashes more facts about Igbo/Yoruba history, finishes off Femi Fani-Kayode with second article (121,509 views) OBJ’s son reported dead in Lagos plane crash •Names of more victims emerge (112,234 views) Gunmen kill ASP, 2 other police officers in vain bid to kidnap Rivers PDP chieftain (105,403 views) Lagos plane crash: Journalist releases victims’ names (105,361 views) APC cries foul as PDP’s Fayose takes early lead in Ekiti governorship election (98,145 views)

 

Categories Advertorials (3) African Press Organisation (81) Art & Literature (27) Business (2,601) Business Verdict (17) Columnists (702) Complaints & Requests (92) Enterprise & Opportunities (159) Entertainment (335) Features (461) Global Business Monitor (154) International (1,427) Interviews (124) Live Commentary (28) Love Matters (59) News (25,818) Opinion (736) Pidgin (8) Politics (3,745) Religion (567) Sports (1,281) Stock Watch (18) AMA & Al Jazeera Global Update

 

CBN words on marble advert

 

 

Thousands of Biafrans gather at Nnamdi Kanu’s father’s palace for address...

 

APO Newsbreak logo

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!

GOCOP Accredited Member

GOCOP Accredited member

 

 

Africa Media Agency and Al Jazeera

Advertisement



 

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

Let us build the most comprehensive online database of worthy and credible Nigerians from all walks of life. It is worth doing!

Loss Off Your Belly Fats, Upper Arm Fat and Body Fats In 2weeks Time.. Click HERE To Start Now!