The Malabu Oil Deal: End Game for Opportunists By Femi Amosun
The recent SaharaReporters’ publication about the Italian prosecutors’ breakthrough in the investigation of the Malabu Oil Deal ($1.3 billion) is an astonishing development in the oil deal saga. Once again, we’re confronted with the atrocious scale of the corruption-inclined deals perpetrated by the former government led by ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his felon officials. The Italian prosecutors’ findings are another evidence of the Jonathan Administration penchant for highest corruption level in the history of Nigeria. How is it possible that 16 years of PDP-led government have resulted into non-payments of workers’ salaries across the country? Suddenly, Nigerians are confronted with poor and badly-managed infrastructures including roads, electricity, schools, hospitals etcetera. Slowly, but steadily, we’re now beginning to see the systemic damage of 16 years of PDP rule. The pathetic and reprehensible records shall not be forgotten in haste because innocent Nigerians are now experiencing hardship of the highest proportion.
As a matter of urgency, the Buhari-led government should speedily move to prosecute and jail all indicted former public office holders including ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Attorney-General Mohammed Adoke, former Minister of Defense and ex-National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau, former Minister Dan Etete, and other senior government officials and corporate executives who shared hundreds of millions of dollars. Sadly (and without apology), these are the kind of people that we shower with accolades, celebrations, and even allude them with dignified introduction “His / Her Excellency” What’s excellency or noble in stealing the national wealth?. The consequences of their predetermined and rippled actions have transformed into the current recession and sufferings being experienced in Nigeria. As such, the Buhari-led government should be more audacious and deal decisively with these corrupt former officials. This is beyond the Party politics level; it is now a national issue. Nigeria is bigger and stronger than their collective personality.
The USA model adopted by Nigeria is not working to our advantage. The principal reason is very simple; the United States of America Senators, House of Representatives, Governors, and other public office holders are not only capable of dealing with any emerging or intrigue issues; they’re equally subject to the laws of the land. In our own context, the opposite is the case. In other notable countries such as China, Britain, Brazil, North Korea, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Germany, Belgium, andNorway, once indicted and convicted, public officials (former or incumbent) face highest custodian sentences. This austere and undiluted legal compliance has consistently espoused accountability, integrity, and transparency in public office. So prosecuting ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his felon former Ministers should not be perceived as perilous move by the Buhari-led Administration. In fact, such move will send strong message to the international community that Nigeria is no longer a safe haven for corrupt and selfish-minded public officials. If the present Administration fails to act then we’re back to another James Ibori saga, which caused major embarrassment to Nigeria and many Nigerians living in the United Kingdom.
Is there any real hope for Nigerians? The Nigerian Senate is allegedly involved in corrupt practices mainly to enrich themselves. It’s absurd that Senator Dino Melaye can openly boast on the social media about his taste and acquisition of foreign exotic cars whilst his constituency is languishing in abject poverty. This is clear evidence that the so-called “Constituency Projects” budgets are another fraud of an unimaginable proportion. Similarly, the National Assembly is entangle in budget “paddling” and other financial improprieties. Why is the Nigerian Senate reluctant to debate and enact Capital Punishment laws for corruption and other financial crimes which are robbing ordinary Nigerians of general wellbeing and increasingly damaging our image abroad? Most readers may recall that the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, once referred to Nigeria as a “fantastically-corrupt” country.
In tackling this heartrending issue of corruption here and there, the government may want to consider the introduction of new laws preventing political office holders including Senators, Governors, and LG Chairmen from authorizing payments or signing cheques. Corruption can also be tackled through the introduction of capital punishment for indicted and convicted public officials and their felons in the private sector. Such laws would ensure sanity, accountability, transparency, and ultimately prevent the State resources from being used as slush funds.
As right-thinking and positively-minded Nigerians may agree, the business of government is a very serious process which requires an in-depth comprehension of emerging trends or issues, uncompromising strategic thinking and planning, undeterred determination to make “things happen” (in positive context), absolute and unbiased commitment to development in all its ramifications. In effect, you cannot entrust the responsibility of governance in the hands of dubious, corrupt, egocentric, and inept group of individuals who are only interested in personal gains. Bribing ignorant voters with bags of rice, grains, yam, oil, and cash at election times is both irresponsible and shameful. It is, therefore, unequivocal that only tested and responsible persons should be allowed to take the mantle of leadership positions otherwise the worst may yet to come.
Femi Amosun is a business adviser, management expert, and social observer with Best Practice inclination.