Monday, 24 February 2014

THIEVES AT WORK, DON'T DISTURB by Sam Nda Isaiah

Jonathan & latest Saint Sanusi

With President Goodluck Jonathan, many things we once thought were impossible have become very possible. It’s only under Jonathan that we started spending N2 trillion on fuel subsidy without any significant increase in our population. In his first year in office, the president spent about N2 trillion fuel subsidy even though only N245 billion was appropriated for this. Only in the Nigerian style democracy would this man continue as president two years after this revelation. In decent climes, a president like this would have long been impeached and removed from office by the National Assembly in the national interest.


I once wrote on this page that we have a president who gets very angry if you catch a thief. He gets very, very angry. And many people have started wondering if there is a linear relationship between him and these thieves. He wants thieves to be left alone to ply their trade quietly and efficiently.

Sometime ago, the media exposed the squalid conditions police cadets lived in at the Police College, Ikeja. Those who exposed the sorry condition thought they were helping Jonathan to do his work as president. The first thing the president said when he was shown the place was, “Who brought pressmen to this place?” It was like saying, “Why are you exposing the thievery in this place?” In other words, “thieves at work, don’t disturb.” Till date, nothing has happened. Vintage Jonathan.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, has been shouting himself hoarse that $20 billion or N3.3 trillion of the revenues that the NNPC was supposed to have made for the country has not been remitted to the nation’s coffers. The first thing any normal president would do on getting this kind of information is get very angry. And if you were the kind of president who stole along with your minister, the best first thing to do would be to pretend to be angry. Our president did not get angry at this very serious revelation, and he did not even think it was worth his while to pretend to be angry. Our wonderful president did not even get angry when his beloved minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, confessed that she had spent N3.5 billion on kerosene subsidy without appropriation, a power the president himself does not have. He also did not waste his time pretending.

Sanusi was obviously the only one angry on behalf of Jonathan and his government, and he kept raising the alarm. As Sanusi continued to raise the alarm, our president got more desperate. The president knew he did not have the power to remove the CBN governor, as he needed the Senate’s approval to achieve that. Sanusi had earlier rebuffed his order to resign. A smart president would have just respected himself and waited for Sanusi’s tenure to run out. An even smarter president would have simply announced Sanusi’s successor and, by so doing, he would have made Sanusi a lame-duck governor at once and made his comments largely ineffective. People would now be waiting for the incoming governor to either confirm or repudiate Sanusi’s allegations.

But, instead, Jonathan has, by the needless or even groundless suspension of the CBN governor, further confirmed the reasoning of many who have said that he (Jonathan) should not be president in the first place because he lacks the reflexes of the president of a nation. Jonathan’s detractors should go to sleep because the president himself is doing their job excellently for them. They can’t do it better. The president is his own greatest enemy.

The reactions from around the world about the Nigerian president in the wake of such a very unpresidential action should embarrass every Nigerian. Some in the international community are already comparing Jonathan’s Nigeria to Idi Amin’s Uganda, except that the latter was not nearly as corrupt.

I still find it incomprehensible that a CBN governor would complain that a minister has misappropriated N3 trillion and, instead of the president to suspend the minister first, pending the outcome of an investigation, it is the CBN governor who reported the theft that has to be suspended. Indeed, our president is a wonderful man.